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May 6, 1958

Department III Deputy Director Lewandowski, 'File Note regarding the British Position regarding the Rapacki Plan'

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May 6, file note of Department III deputy director:

London embassy information in the British position

regarding the Rapacki Plan


Warsaw, May 6, 1958

Top Secret


File note

regarding the British position regarding the Rapacki Plan1[1]0


Counselor of the PRP Embassy in London – Małcużyński reports by letter:


“To supplement and confirm information sent to you by dispatches we discusses below the issue of British counterproposals to the PRP1[2]1 recently described as a government project of a ‘zone of limited armament’ in Central Europe. The matter recurred recently in a number of conversations we conducted.


In government statement and replies the recurring phrase was: “the Polish plan is being carefully studied” or that “despite obvious objection […] it can be subject to constructive counterproposals.”


In private conversations senior FO [Foreign Office] officials, journalists, and diplomatic reporters, of whom we knew that they have links with the FO, made similar statements, stressing that this is no casual remark, but that the Rapacki Plan truly is an object of analysis especially at the State Department and that G. Britain is to submit it to NATO members for discussion.


To complement the picture, we also repeat that some of the left-wing journalists of the Labor [Party] (Foot, David Ross) voiced their apprehension that in fact FO is not conducting any analysis, and the government replies are mere excuses made in the hope that the interest in our action will fade.


In the last two weeks we received further information on the matter:


1) Brimelow, Head of the Northern Department of the FO, in conversation with Embassy Counselor Szewczyk on different disengagement conceptions, mentioned the issue of the territorial scope of the ‘neutral belt’. He said that it would be hard to imagine NATO consent for creating a special status for the FRG, which could be considered as a kind of discrimination or distrust. By coincidence, more or less at the same time, the FRG minister of defense, Strauss, in an interviewed by Crossman said that the FRG makes efforts to purchase Matadors, because it does not want… to demand other rights for itself other than those of the remaining NATO members. According to Brimelow we should rather make efforts to draw the borders of the neutral zone independently of state borders, thus for example, by drawing a several hundred ‘miles’ wide belt east and west of the Elbe.


That such conceptions are discusses while preparing the government disengagement draft could be confirmed by a fragment of commentary of the diplomatic correspondent of The Times of April 15, 1958 on Adenauer’s visit to London,1[3]2 namely the following sentence: “Neither the British nor the German government believe that the political gain from the establishment of a buffer zone in Central Europe will balance off the military risk but he would support a certain dilution of forces on both sides of the East-West line, with one stipulation in favor of the Germans, namely that on the part of the West it would concern not only West Germany.”


2) During supper at my place I spoke with Heayley (Labor MP, member of the Shadow Cabinet), Blit (DPA correspondent) and Jaszuński on a number of topics, such as those government disengagement counterproposals. As we were aware that Healey submitted a relevant inquiry at a House of Commons session on April 21, (text: “What kind of proposals did the foreign secretary submitted to the allied governments regarding the zone of reduced nuclear armament in Central Europe?”), we tried to find our whether Healey knows something about those FO studies or if he only wants to provoke the FO to [offer] further explanations.


Healey said that he is aware that such studies are being conducted and that British counterproposals are being drafted, but he does not know any details. Despite this reservation, our conversation seems to demonstrate that Healey does have certain information. He did say that FO links the proposal to establish the nuclear-free zone with gradual withdrawal of troops from the zone. At the same time, particular attention is allegedly devoted to the timing of such stages, i.e. preparing such a schedule so that at no point during the neutralization of the central zone the balance of forces is upset and the Warsaw pact achieves advantage in conventional forces. (At this moment, Healey admitted that in consequence of the recent Soviet steps, it is now difficult to speak of an overwhelming advantage of the occupational troops on the Eastern side).


3) Burgoin, the head of the Polish-Soviet desk at the FO Press Dept., at a dinner with Jaszuński claimed with all certainty that FO studies in the British disengagement counterproposals are already completed. He said that he had already seen the draft and according to his information, they have already been sent out to the allies, and “they were certainly handed to one of the allies,” as he literarily put it. (One can surmise that he meant the US or the FRG).


There words was confirmed by S. Lloyd’s to Healey inquiry of April 23, 1958: “We exchange views with our allies regarding matters that would probably be discussed at a top-level conference. This exchange of views must be confidential.”


4) In conclusion, we should  note that after the first day of Adenauer’s stay, the FO spokesman in reply to a question said, that “the Rapacki Plan was not directly discussed at a press conference” by Macmillan and Adenauer.


It also seems characteristic that the entire British press virtually overlooked Adenauer’s very brusque and unfavorable reply at the final press conference. What is more, Adenauer’s reply bore all the signs of assault on the very principle of disengagement.


These remarks would imply that:


a) The British government intends to influence NATO members, especially the US, so that the Rapacki Plan be discussed (perhaps at a summit), but on the basis of specific Western counterproposals (comrade Małcużyński’s file note had been written before we received the US reply to our memorandum).


b) The basis for these counterproposals would be an extension of the concept of neutralization onto the gradual reduction of conventional armed forces as well and a gradual withdrawal of occupational forces.


c) In order to avoid a [creating] ‘special status’ of the FRG, the neutral zone should not be drawn along state borders, but along a belt delineated in miles that runs independently of state borders.


Finally, we should note that almost in every conversation, this part of our argument meets, as a rule, with much interest and attention which says that the establishment of the nuclear-free zone could contribute to elaborating a pilot scheme of an international control system and that such experience could help solve the international control problem in view of broader and more far-reaching disarmament accords.”


/–/ Lewandowski


AMSZ, z. 23. w. 14, t. 163


10 For the British reply to the Polish Government memorandum of February 14 see doc. no 156.

11 The reference  is to ‘Plan of European Security’ drafted by the British Foreign Office Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd, asked about the British counterproposals on May 19 during a House of Commons debate, replied that the matter of counterproposals should be considered, but the British government does not undertake to publish then before the top-level conference.

12 Adenauer visited London on April 16–18.

Małcużyński, Counselor of the Polish Embassy in London, reports on the current attitude in Britain towards the Rapacki Plan. After conversations with FO officials, reporters, and journalists, he concludes that Great Britain intends to influence NATO members on behalf of the Rapacki Plan, and that some changes will need to be made to the Plan, especially in light of the status of the FRG.

Document Information


Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1958 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #144, pp.324-327. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski.


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