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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 29, 1944


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    Ambassador Harriman's telegram about a conversation Joseph Stalin and Clark Kerr had about issues with the Polish government in London and the future of the Polish government post war.
    "Paraphrase of Embassy’s Telegram No. 673 of February 29, 1944, to the Department of State.," February 29, 1944, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Container # 171, W. Averell Harriman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
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PARAPHRASE of Embassy’s Telegram No. 673 of February 29, 1944, to the Department of State.


For the President and the Acting Secretary. Personal and Secret.

Molotov informed me on Sunday that Stalin was back in Moscow and would see me within the next several days. I sent word that, as the British Ambassador had not up to that time presented the Prime Minister’s cable outlining his new Polish proposal, I would prefer not to see Stalin until he had seen Clark Kerr. Last night Stalin was the British Ambassador [sic], who some hours before the meeting had sent to Stalin the Prime Minister’s message. Prior to the meeting I transmitted your message to Marshal Stalin.

After the meeting I saw Clark Kerr but have not yet seen his detailed report of the meeting submitted to his government. He told me in general that no progress was made. It was indicated by Marshal Stalin that he had no intention of dealing with the Polish Government in London as now constituted, as he was convinced that they did not represent the Polish people, that “they were hiding behind the broad back of Churchill”, and that they could not be trusted. Stalin asked why patriotic Poles from the United States, Russia or Poland weren’t brought in. In reply to the Ambassador’s statement that the Poles Molotov had suggested to me were American citizens, Stalin said that perhaps they would be willing to assume Polish citizenship again as others have. He said he understood that they were “good men, not communists”, although he did not know them.

As further indications of the attitude of the Poles in London, Stalin brought up the recent article in the London Polish publication demanding the return of all Polish territory and Sosnkowski’s rather begrudging statement about cooperation of the underground movement with the Red Army.

Stalin said that the Poles were trying to make trouble between the Soviet Government and the British, but he expressed no criticism of Churchill or the British Government and its attempt to find a solution.

I concur in the belief of the British Ambassador that Stalin will have no traffic with the Polish Government in London unless or until a reconstruction of the Government is effected. Stalin considers Sosnkowski Fascist-minded, not democratic, and irreconcilably antagonistic to any real friendship with the Soviet Union. He is convinced that Sosnkowski and his associates control the policies of the Government. Stalin considers that he (Stalin) is committed to a strong and independent Poland, and he is not willing to have men who will create trouble in the future put into power by the Red Army.

During my call on Stalin, which I expect will be today, I will so my best to impress upon him the adverse reaction which is developing in the United States. I doubt whether I can change his mind about the military value of the Polish underground movement, to which he had not attached great importance. However, I shall try to impress upon him that it is highly important that civil war within Poland be avoided.


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