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January 25, 1958

Unsigned File Note

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)



January 25, unsigned file note: report of the permanent representative

at the UN in New York on reactions to the Rapacki Plan

Warsaw, Jan. 25, 1958

Top secret

File note

Michałowski reports by letter from New York, date: the 19th of this month:


“Over the past two weeks I had no direct contact with the official circles of the US, because the American representation at the UN is in their domestic and holiday mood, and I did not go to Washington. However I conducted a series of conversations on the R. Plan and disarmament negotiations with chiefs of other Missions (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Greece, Mexico, the USSR, senior officials of the Secretariat (Cordier. Protich, De Seynes, Dobrynin), and journalists (Hamilton and Daniel – NYT, Lash – NY Post, Freudenheim – ChDN, Ascoli – Reporter e. a.), as well as with several serious personalities from the world of finance and economy.


Below I provide the key information and conclusions from those conversations regarding the ‘Rapacki Plan’.


I) US official position and conclusions from those conversations represented by Dulles and a substantial part of the State Department is clearly negative. There are, however, differences of opinion at the SD and in the political spheres in Washington, but a different view held by Stassen and allegedly, Sherman Adams at the White House as well as by one of the presidential advisors, General Gruenther. In this matter, Dulles has Acheson’s support.


According to information gathered, the negative position of the American government, regardless of the publicly expressed and well known arguments, is a result of the following:


a) At the moment the US government does not want to negotiate with the Soviet Union. The main reason, in brief, is their backwardness in missile technology and its effect on the configuration of power and in propaganda and psychological effects both for the equalization of forces in the arms race and in view of economic necessities (clear signs of oncoming recession, market and employment difficulties), the faltering of the allies and the need to strengthen one’s position before the negotiations, attempts to regain influence un the 'neutral' Asiatic countries also before the negotiations, regaining influence in the Middle East. Also the tactical factor: at the moment, negotiations would be 'imposed' by the USSR and they would underline the strength and peaceful intentions of the [Soviet] Union.


Finally, some interlocutors mention on the key factor: Washington lacks a definite conception of the purpose of negotiations. All the ideological assumptions of Dulles’s policy turned out to be fictitious, because they consisted in a mistaken assessment to the configuration of powers, among others. New conceptions have not crystallized yet, neither with Dulles or elsewhere, which facilitates Dulles’s hold on power.


This principal attitude to the negotiations as such determines the attitude to the 'Rapacki Plan'. Since this plan offers specific chances for a limited accord and is an attractive theme that facilitates negotiations – so it should be attacked.


b) another weighty reason behind the negative attitude to the plan is the German question. The fear that the R. Plan would be the first step toward a neutralization of Germany, which means undermining the foundations of NATO. There is, however – according to the Scandinavians – one more aspect of this matter: the fear that the signs of hesitation on the part of the US in this matter would cause the FRG to turn autonomy and come to terms with Soviet interests. According to this information, Washington had gone through a time of deep anxiety after the Paris conference, not because of the position taken by Denmark and Norway, but due to the enigmatic stance of Adenauer. That is where the major US diplomatic effort was headed and the latest speech by the Chancellor was accepted with great relief.


c) One of the principles of US policy is maintaining the impossibility of reaching agreement with the USSR and its loyal execution. The State Department is well aware that the R. Plan can be realized and implemented quite easily, and that is why it is so attractive in Europe: that is why it believes the plan needs to be opposed. The plan if implemented, not only would undermine the very principle itself, but it could entail further, partial agreements, not condition-bound terms in the interest of the US.


d) Discussion of the R. Plan would require some form of contact or rapprochement between the FRG and the GDR. This is again, one of those issues that strike fear into the SD as it could lead Bonn to conclude that a German reunification is possible in a different form than that promised by the US.


e) The SD also promotes, in the press. The argument that a separate status for Germany in this single case will mark the beginning of relaxation, of the German attitude to the organization of 'United Europe' and thus of the 'Common Market'.


f)There are also numerous military arguments against the plan, they often contradict one another, for example, on the one hand they say that the plan is not important, because the advances in missile technology render the existence of a relatively narrow nuclear-free belt worthless; on the other hand, they claim that depriving the troops in the West Germany of atomic weapons weakens NATO forces vis-à-vis the forces of the Warsaw Pact. One should conclude that military arguments were treated by all that interlocutors as minor. Primary importance was always assigned to the political aspect.


II. It is remarkable that in its critique of the Rapacki Plan, the SD generally avoids underlining its Polish authorship, but rather associates it with Soviet proposals. According to my interlocutors, there is no malice in it. Everybody believed that the plan as a Polish proposal would have been more interesting for public opinion, and as one of Soviet proposals is easier for US propaganda to attack under the overall umbrella of propaganda. What is more, disqualifying the Polish project, the SD finds at present uncomfortable.


We should add, however, that recently there has been a certain change in the official US position with respect to the plan, which manifested itself in the not too categorical tone of Eisenhower’s letter in contrast to previous statement made by Dulles and opinions expressed in the press.


According to information from more serious journalists, one key factor was the pressure exerted on the president by Stassen and Gruenther. In their view the plan offers a chance to start negotiations ‘regarding minor issues’, in order to prepare negotiations concerning major issues and postpone them until a more opportune moment when the balance of power is restored. The SD also has a plan consists in putting four items on the agenda of the first phase of negotiations:


1) The Rapacki Plan,

2) Ban on testing,

3) Neutralization of space above the atmosphere,

4) Terms and dates of further negotiations.


I have also come across such a conception with the Hindu, who informed me that it is being promoted and addressed to Eisenhower by a group of politicians hostile to Dulles and is quite popular among White House advisors (Sherman, Adams); this group also uses the argument that the neutralization of Central Europe, which, in turn, is a logical consequence of the plan and this would undermine Soviet influence in Europe.


As for the details of the plan, the most interesting is the issue of control. Most queries from the press and political institutions concern this matter. On the other hand, the broader opinion is rather disoriented as to the substance of the R. Plan, particularly in view of the avalanche of letters and statements of the last few weeks. To be sure, a significant section of American society strongly favors negotiations with the Soviet Union. But one could say that the Soviet claim about the meeting of the heads of government does not have the society’s support. There is a general view that negotiations require lengthy diplomatic preparation, and doubts about Eisenhower’s health further fuel mistrust towards the Big Four.


III. Gromyko’s interview with the Italian delegation has not made waves here. The Scandinavians welcomed the idea, but expressed some doubt as to the chances of adopting such an extended version of the plan. In their conversations with journalists, the FRG delegation identified this project as a confirmation of suppositions that behind the R. Plan hides the idea of European neutralization and the dismantling of NATO.


IV. I do not relate here the published opinions of the press, because undoubtedly the Ministry is familiar with them from PAP [Polska Agencja Prasowa, Polish Press Agency] dispatches and from the embassy. I just wish to point out that in the entire series of articles (which generally concern East-West relations and correspondence exchange between heads of government), the press points out the growing interest in the R. Plan, in Europe, in spite of the US policy and efforts. It is not the plan as such that worries the press, but the fact that Europe deals with the security issue on its own, paying no attention to US interests. For the press, which now unanimously condemns Dulles, this is a new proof of the bankruptcy of his policy. As Ascoli, Reporter’s editor, told me: “now it would be enough for the Labor Party to win in England, and it would turn out that the United States are out of Europe.”5[1]1


V. According to information that the Scandinavians have and to senior officials of the UN Secretariat, Hammerskjoeld has a strong tendency to reintroduce disarmament onto the UN forum this goal is that the UN play a role in this matter, to preserve the organization’s prestige, and he also has some personal ambitions.


There are three technical possibilities envisaged to take it up on the UN forum:


1) Convening the disarmament commission (i.e. the '25'),5[2]2 which was the object of recent American pressure. However, Hammerskjoeld opposed this idea, which the Scandinavians, Canada, and India) also opposed. The fear that a number of other states, except the socialist countries, would not take part in the commission (Burma has already said no), and have already convinced the Americans that it is not feasible.


2) Holding a special session: Hammerskjoeld and a large group of  'neutrality-leaning' states welcomed the idea. However, the Americans oppose it strongly, which would mean victory of the Soviet tactics.


3) The Security Council, with the minister of foreign affairs, in accordance with Art. 28, item 2 of the UN Charter. This possibility was served to Hammerskjoeld by the American, who treat it as an indirect way to a conference of foreign ministers they propose. Initially, Hammerskjoeld was skeptical, but according to the latest information, seeing that France and England support, he begins to believe in its usefulness and intends to consult the USSR. However, according to Sobolev’s sources by Jan. 18 there have been no such attempts on his part.


VI. This week, I shall be speaking with Hammerskjoeld and shall raise the subject of the 'Rapacki Plan'




51 The British elections were held on October 8, 1959 (the Conservatives won).

52 Probably the reference is to the UN Disarmament Commission, established in 1952 by the UN General Assembly. In 1958 (temporarily) 28 states were members.

Michałowski explains reasoning behind negative the attitude of the U.S. State Department towards the Rapacki Plan after speaking with other foreign representatives.

Associated Places

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Document Information


Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1958 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #43, pp.88-92. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski.


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