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January 7, 1959

Code Message No. 234 from Ambassador Szymanowski in Stockholm to Birecki

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January 7, code message of the ambassador in Stockholm

Regarding a conversation at the Swedish MoFA


Top secret


Code message No 234

from Stockholm, transmitted on Jan. 7, 15.00 hrs




Conversation with Astrom, director of the political department of the MoFA.


1) I informed via our foreign ministry about the idea to invite cultural activists. It was enthusiastically welcomed as a wonderful and ‘generous’ project. MoFA will help in whatever way it can.


2) A. announced that they would respond to our plan R. initiative,5[1] and their main objective is to prevent to plan from “drowning in the confusion surrounding the Berlin affair,6[2] and – more generally speaking – in the German affair.” I replied that we understand the plan, among others, a contribution to the German cause.


3) In A.’s assessment, transfer of functions to the GDR authorities is inevitable. Question is how they would utilize these functions, especially with respect to air transport (e.g. they could practically disrupt air traffic by jamming the radar), and ground level military transport. The Swedish MoFA suppose that the GDR can multiply difficulties, mainly as an instrument to force the FRG and the West to talk with them. All in all our assessment is rather optimistic, because the USSR shows a clear eagerness to negotiate, but maintains its ‘position of strength’. This is, nevertheless, actual strength (missiles), no saber rattling. Such western replies, although ostensibly harsh in tone, clearly leave an open path to negotiations. Results of eventual negotiations uncertain, especially in view of the weaker position of Eisenhower’s administration after the election,7[3] but what is paramount for Sweden is that no negotiations take place. After all, the Geneva results8[4] are far the worst. If no negotiations take place, only spring can bring substantial tension around the German case, which remains the most important one in Europe.


/–/ Szymanowski


AMSZ, ZD 6/77, w. 65, t. 957




5 The reference is to the initiative to establish a nuclear-free zone on the territory of Poland, the FRG, the GDR, and Czechoslovakia, put forward by foreign minister Adam Rapacki on October 2, 1957 at the 12th of the UN General Assembly (September 17–December 14, 1957); see K. Ruchniewicz, T. Szumowski, eds. Polskie Dokumenty Dyplomatyczne 1957 (later PDD 1957), PISM, Warsaw 2006, passim.

6 On November 27, 1958, the USSR sent the governments of the three powers (and the FRG) a note that proposed transforming Berlin into a demilitarized, free, independent of both the GDR and the FRG, will guarantees of the powers and the UN. The USSR announced that there is no reaction to the note, it would lead to a bilateral agreement with the GDR, and on this basis it would gain complete control over West Berlin. The governments of France, Great Britain, and the USA replied on December 31, 1958 (the FRG – on January5, 1959), taking a negative stance and pointing at the lack of legal foundations of the Soviet proposal; see doc. no 297.

7 The reference is to the Congress elections of November 4, 1958, which brought success to the Democratic Party.

8 The reference is to plans to call a conference in Geneva (at the level of foreign ministers) on inter-bloc relations. The conference initiative came from the Soviet prime minister on December 10, 1957; negotiations and exchange of notes about its scope and its date continued throughout 1958. Finally the first phase of the conference opened on May 11, 1959 with representatives of the USSR, the US, Great Britain, France, the GDR and the FRG participation went on until June 20. The second phase began on July 13, but the session was suspended with no agreement reached and no accord signed; no resumption date was set.

The ambassador in Sweden recounts his conversation with Astrom, director of the political department of the Swedish MoFA. Astrom mentions his desire to prevent the Plan from becoming overwhelmed amidst the Germany debate, along with his desire that negotiations do not take place with the Soviets.

Document Information


Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1959 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #6, pp.10-11. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski.


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