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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 22, 1944

STALIN AND A POLISH PEOPLE’S HOME COUNCIL (KRN) DELEGATION MEET IN MOSCOW

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    The Polish State National Council (KRN) visits Stalin in Moscow to discuss Polish politics.
    "Stalin and a Polish People’s Home Council (KRN) Delegation Meet in Moscow," May 22, 1944, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, 44.5.22 Gomulka, Wladyslaw. Pamiętniki (Memoirs) (Warsaw: Polska Oficyna Wydawnicza “BGW,” 1994), Vol. 2, pp. 415-17.Translated by Maya Latynski https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/219832
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8. A Turning Point in Moscow’s Stance Toward the KRN

The KRN [Trans. Note: Krajowa Rada Narodowa] delegation’s trip to Moscow had many important political consequences and changed the existing state of affairs in issues under discussion. Most important was the positive attitude of the highest Soviet authorities toward both the fact that the People’s Home Council had been created and its establishment of provisional executive power in Poland at the appropriate moment. This attitude was expressed in the KRN delegation’s reception at the Kremlin by Stalin, with Molotov and other USSR party and state leaders present. Stalin had his initial conversation with the delegation on May 19. On May 22 a second significant discussion took place in the Kremlin, during which the delegation acquainted the highest representatives of the USSR with the principles and activities of the KRN and presented the issue of weapons deliveries to the People’s Army [Trans. Note: Armia Ludowa, AL]. These discussions indicated that, until the delegation’s arrival in Moscow, Stalin either had not known anything about the creation in Poland of the KRN[1] or he had received very imprecise and superficial information on the subject.

It is certain that at that moment the KRN became a precious gift from the gods for Stalin. For only a few weeks earlier he had asked Roosevelt to allow two American citizens of Polish origin, Professor Oskar Lange and Father Stanislaw Orlemański, to come to the Soviet Union, where Moscow intended to make them members of the Polish National Committee [Trans. Note: Polski Komitet Narodowy, PKN] or the Provisional Government. They would be the non-communist plums in the executive organs being created then to take over power in Poland in the future. Stalin understood well how very unpopular a Polish government made up solely of Association of Polish Patriots [Trans. Note: Związek Patriotów Polskich, ZPP] activists and Central Bureau of Polish Communists [Trans. Note: Centralne Biuro Komunistów Polskich, CBKP] members hiding behind the ZPP name in the Soviet Union would be to world opinion and the Polish people. In order to soften that unpopularity, he attempted to include Poles living in the West in this government.

[…]

The moment that the KRN delegation came to Moscow, Stalin and other Soviet state leaders suddenly no longer needed to worry about all the political troubles relating to the creation by the ZPP of a Provisional Polish government in Moscow. Hence, in his conversation with the delegation on May 22, Stalin was satisfied when it announced that this Poland-based representative center should play a decisive role in the future in creating provisional executive organs in Poland and that the ZPP, a Polish center active outside Poland, should subordinate itself to the KRN.[2]

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1 [orig. note] This supposition is unlikely. Stalin was apprised of too much rather than too little. Moscow’s permission for the KRN delegation to visit the USSR and the involvement of Soviet intelligence, partisans, and air force in helping it cross the front line would not have been possible without Stalin’s approval.

In accordance with the instructions received from Warsaw, the KRN delegation stated in the course of the conversation that it wishes to return home as soon as possible. This intention could not, naturally, have pleased Stalin. He immediately saw the delegation as the perfect political instrument, which he decided to use in his battle with the western allies over a victorious – from the point of view of the USSR’s interests – resolution to the Polish question. The KRN had been working in Poland for almost five months. Soviet agents, by including Dimitrov as a representative of the WKP/b [Trans. Note: All-Union Communist Party] had nothing to do with creating it, developing its ideological declaration, or setting its goals for today and tomorrow. The KRN’s policies fully corresponded to the Soviet government’s stand on the Polish question. Regardless of the reach of the KRN’s influence on the population, it represented a genuine Poland-based center. In a word, it was not a Soviet creation, “Moscow’s agency.”  And this was precisely what mattered most to Stalin.

This is why he not only advised the delegation not to return to Poland, but he also believed it necessary that the party’s whole leadership group and the KRN transfer to the Soviet Union, to the lands liberated from the Germans, from where it could lead the work being done in Poland by the remaining activists who would create a surrogate center. The delegation promised to relay Stalin’s suggestions via radio. The delegation also agreed to remain in Moscow and, in accordance with Stalin’s suggestion, decided to turn to the leadership of the PPR [Trans. Note: Polish Workers’ Party, Polska Partia Robotnicza] and the KRN to broaden its composition, by adding representatives of the radical wing of the SL [Trans. Note: People’s Party, Stronnictwo Ludowe], The “People’s Will” [Trans. Note: Wola Ludu], and representatives of the People’s Army’s commander in chief.

Wanda Wasilewska, the representative of the ZPP executive council, also participated in these discussions, and suggested that the KRN delegation visit the Polish military units in the USSR. Stalin supported this suggestion heartily by saying:  “The KRN has no army and the Polish Army has no government.”  The delegation returned to discussions with Stalin on June 22, 1944, in the meantime visiting the units of the Polish Army.

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2 [orig. note] For brevity’s sake, portions of the extensive accounts of meetings and discussion by the KRN delegation in Moscow quoted from publications by E. Osóbka-Morawski and M. Spychalski, were omitted here and in the following pages.

[1] [orig. note] This supposition is unlikely. Stalin was apprised of too much rather than too little. Moscow’s permission for the KRN delegation to visit the USSR and the involvement of Soviet intelligence, partisans, and air force in helping it cross the front line would not have been possible without Stalin’s approval.

[2] [orig. note] For brevity’s sake, portions of the extensive accounts of meetings and discussion by the KRN delegation in Moscow quoted from publications by E. Osóbka-Morawski and M. Spychalski, were omitted here and in the following pages.