Early in January 1944, their victorious offensive against the Germans carried the Soviet forces across the Polish-Russian frontier and they advanced on a narrow sector into Polish territory.
In connection with this the Polish Government on January 5, 1944 issued a Declaration, to which the Soviets replied on January 11th by proposing the Curzon Line as a boundary. This the Polish Government answered on January 15th and these documents together with the Soviet rejoiner of January 17th are appended.
This exchange of declarations is sufficiently revealing to enable political conclusions to be drawn with regard to Polish-Russian relations. It seems fair to emphasize that:
1) the initiative to resume conversations concerning mutual collaboration came from the Poles (Declaration of January 5, 1944) and that
2) all attempts to come to an understanding have been defeated temporarily by the unyielding attitude and intransigence of the Soviets.
However, the Soviet Government realized that public opinion in the United Nations would not approve its refusal to collaborate with one of their oldest members. Poland enjoys a very high moral standing in the public opinion of the United Nations, because Poland was the first to resist Germany and has never ceased to fight her on land, at sea and in the air, and despite the cruel terrorism of German occupation, she has never collaborated with the invader. So in their declarations the Soviets bolstered their refusal to cooperate with Poland by a number of arguments neither accurate nor well founded.
These concern the following problems:
1) the Polish-Soviet frontier as established by the Treaty of Riga in 1921,
2) Curzon Line,
3) ethnography of Eastern Poland,
4) Soviet plebiscite in Eastern areas,
5) massacre of the Polish officers at Katyn,
6) organization of the Underground Movement in Poland, and its identity with the Polish Government,
7) attitude of the Polish Government toward the Soviet Union.
We discuss further each of these arguments separately to enable the reader to form his own opinion on these matters and to discriminate between fact and fiction.
Treaty of Riga 1921
Injustice caused by the Treaty of Riga in 1921, that was forced on the Soviet Union .
(From the Soviet Declaration of January 11, 1944.)
The Peace Treaty signed at Riga on March 18, 1921, gave real expression to Poland's sincere desire for a lasting agreement with Russia; it was not a dic-tated peace imposed by victor upon vanquished, but a treaty freely negotiated by men who sought a just solution that would afford equal protection to the interests of both Poland and Russia, and once for all liquidate the age old conflict between the two countries. This spirit found its official expression in the preamble to the treaty itself, which stated explicitly:
"Poland on the one hand, Russia and the Ukraine on the other, desiring to put an end to the war in which they had been involved, and desiring to conclude a definite, lasting and honorable peace based on mutual under-standing, decided to enter upon negotiations with each other."
Mr. Joffe, Head of the Soviet Delegation to the Peace Conference of Riga in 1921, said in his speech after the signature of the treaty:
I am glad to be able to state, that although the international situa-tion has changed several times in the course of the Russian-Ukrainian -Polish peace negotiations in Riga, the atmosphere of these conversations has remained invariably favorable and this facilitated the conclusion of a satisfactory agreement.
We have been calmly negotiating a peace here in Riga, and not only have we not displayed any aggressiveness, but we have concluded a peace treaty giving full satisfaction to the vital, legitimate and necessary interests of the Polish nation."
It is important to emphasize that the instructions given by the Polish Gov-ernment and Diet to the Polish delegation when it went to Riga after PoIands military victory were virtually the same as those it had received for the pre-liminary conference at Minsk in August, 1920, when the Soviet armies were at the gates of Warsaw.1 The Polish people did not want their relations with Russia to be dependent on a temporary state of affairs or on the military situa-tion. The Polish delegation did not go to Riga with instructions to secure for Poland the greatest possible extent of territory, and a frontier as far to the east as possible, it sent with instructions to "establish a basis for good neighborly relations" between the two nations, by making a peace "without victors and vanquished" based on "a just harmonization of the vital interests of both parties."
In order to achieve such a compromise, Poland consented to great sacrifices and showed herself more conciliatory than either of the two other signatories, in particular as regards territorial provisions of the Treaty.
By this Treaty Poland abandoned her claims to territory of some 120,000 square miles that had been hers before the partitions at the close at the XVIII century, almost one-half of her territory at that time. She relinquished to Russia the provinces of Minsk, Mohylev, Polock, Witebsk, the Ukraine on the right bank of the Dnieper, half of Volhynia, and the whole of Podolia3 except those parts of it which prior to 1918 had formed part of Austria.
It should not be forgotten that the Russian Government itself had formally admitted Poland's right to the restitution of her pre-partitions frontiers. By its decree of August 28, 1918, the Soviet Government annulled all the treaties partitioning Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795 and also all the subsequent treaties concerning Poland up to 1833. This decree signed by Lenin and Karachan, was published officially on September 9, 1918, and communicated to the German Government on October 3, 1918.
The Treaty of Riga moved the frontier between Poland and the Soviet Union westward, even farther than the line proposed by the Polish delegation to the Peace Conference in Paris. The Soviet Government itself suggested to Poland -in private conversations in the autumn of 1919 and in an official declaration of the Council of People's Commissars of January 28, 1920 - a frontier which was more favorable to Poland than the final line agreed upon at Riga.
The Treaty of Riga fixed not only the frontiers between Poland and the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic, but also the frontier with the Ukrai-nian Soviet Republic, a delegation frorn which took a direct part in the peace negotiations, and the white Ruthenian Republic, represented by the Soviet Russian Delegation.
Sincerely desiring a peace that would lay the foundations of permanent good relations between Poland and Russia, the Polish delegation decided not to push the southernmost sector of the frontier further east than the old eastern frontier of Galicia, which had belonged to Poland from the middle of the XIV century, and had never at any time belonged to Russia. Even in the peace conditions proposed at Minsk the Soviet Union had laid no claim to Galicia whose population, irrespective of nationality, was mostly Catholic.
The best proof that the Treaty of Riga was far from being an extorted and unjust peace, is an article in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, official publication of the Soviet Government published in Moscow in 1940, i.e. after the invasion of Poland and the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty partitioning Polish territories.
Under the heading "Polish-Soviet War 1920" the Encyclopaedia states that at the time of the peace treaty in Riga the Soviet Government wanted to give Poland a frontier much further East.
"On March 18th, 1921, the Peace Treaty was signed. In accordance with its provisions Poland kept Galicia and part of White-Ruthenia. However, the new Polish-Soviet frontier meant for the White Poles much worse conditions in comparison to those which the Soviet Government suggested to Poland in order to maintain peace in April, 1920. The frontier determined after the Polish-Soviet War runs 50-100 kilometers to the West of the line which was suggested at the beginning of the war, This means that Soviet Russia emerged victorious also from this struggle against the forces of counter-revolution."
On March 15, 1923, the Conference of the Ambassadors, representing the "Principal Allied and Associated Powers" (Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan) referring to art. 87 of the Versailles Treaty, recognized the boundary line determined in Riga as the eastern frontier of Poland. Three weeks later (April 5, 1923), this frontier was recognized by the United States of America. Thus the matter was definitely settled from the point of view of international law and a basis found for the establishment between the two countries of normal neighborly relations.5
When the new Soviet Constitution of July 6, 1923, called into being the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, the Soviet Government in its Note of December 14, 1923, addressed to the Polish Government, again confirmed all the treaties concluded by the various Soviet Republics before the creation of the Union, including the Treaty of Riga, and pledged itself solemnly to observe and fulfill them.
It is also worthy of note that never in the past eighteen years has Russia questioned the justice of the Treaty of Riga, and has never regarded the frontier as unfair to herself. She always considered it permanent and advantageous.
The passage from the official Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of 1940, quoted above, is only one instance. In the same Encyclopaedia7 a quotation from Lenin's "Works," Vol. XXV, pp.482, 483 and 484, says:
"We found ourselves in such a position that without achieving interna-tional victory-the only permanent victory from our point of view-we have attained conditions in which we can exist at the side of the capitalist ~ - During this war we have won the right to independent
The preamble of the non-aggression pact, signed in Moscow between Poland and Soviet-Russia on July is; 1932, says:
"Considering that the Treaty of Peace of March 18, 1921, constitutes now as in the past, the basis of their reciprocal relations and undertakings have decided to conclude the present Pact . .
On May 5, 1934, this pact was prolonged until December 31, 194~ (and is therefore still in force).
On this occasion Maxim Litvinov, the Soviet Commissar of Foreign Affairs, delivered a speech in which he underlined the friendly and cordial relations existing between the two largest countries of Eastern Europe. Finally, on No-vember 26, 1938, a joint communique was issued by the Polish and Soviet Governments, the first paragraph of which read as follows:
"Relations between the Polish Republic and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are and will continue to be based to the fullest extent on all existing Agreements, including the Polish-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression dated July 25, 1932. This pact . . has a basis wide enough to guarantee the inviolability of peaceful relations between the two States."
Only after Hitler's unprovoked aggression, when Poland was overwhelmed by superior German forces, did Russia decide that she was not bound by any treaties, and on September 17, 1939, the Red Army entered Polish territory.
From that moment Russia began to complain about the Treaty of Riga, which had existed for 18 years to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.
Was the 'tCurzon Line" Proposed as a Frontier?
"The so-called Curzon Line was adopted in 1919 by the Supreme Council of Allied Powers and provided for the incorporation of the western Ukraine and Western White Russia into the Soviet Union."
(From the Soviet Declaration of January 11, 1944.)
The so-called Curzon Line never constituted a boundary line between Poland and the U.S.S.R., and was never proposed as such. The term was used for the first time during the Spa Conference in 1920 (not in 1919), to designate a line suggested by the Supreme Council of the Allied and Associated Powers on December 8, 1919, in the following declaration:
"The Principal Allied and Associated Powers, recognizing that it is important as soon as possible to put a stop to the existing conditions of political uncertainty, in which the Polish nation is placed, and without prejudging the provisions, which must in the future define the eastern frontiers of Poland, hereby declare that they recognize the right of the Polish Government to proceed, according to the conditions previously provided by the Treaty with Poland of June 28, 1919, to organize a regular administration of the territories of the former Russian Empire situated to the West of the line described below."
(The detailed description of the line follows.)
"The rights that Poland may be able to establish over the territories situated to the East of the said line are expressly reserved."
So it is quite dear that this line had been proposed in 1919 only for admin-istrative purposes. The Supreme Council did not contemplate its adoption as a permanent frontier; on the contrary, it explicitly reserved Poland's right to territories situated to the east.
When this same line was put forward by Lord Curzon at the Spa Conference in 1920, again it was not in any way proposed as a frontier. Poland had appealed to the Allied and Associated Powers to intervene in the Polish-Russian war, and they declared their readiness to do so, provided Poland signed an agreement submitted to her Government on July 10, 1920, under which Poland agreed to promote and to sign without any delay an armistice, the first condition of which would be the withdrawal of the Polish army from the line of battle to the line indicated by the Peace Conference on December 8, 1919.
Thus, the Curzon line was proposed by the Allies exclusively as an armistice line, and at no time was there even a suggestion that it was a frontier line, nor was any attempt made to settle the frontier problem.
It is most important to note that the Declaration of December 8, 1919, and Lord Curzon's proposal of July 10, 1920, concerned only territories which in 1914 were under Russian rule, having been annexed by her in the partitions of Poland in the XVIII century (See Map ). They never concerned the South-Eastern Polish territories (Galicia), which at no time in history had ever been under Russian rule. (The term Western Ukraine as applied to these territories was coined by Russia after her aggression of 1939).
Polish administration in Eastern Galicia was based on decisions of the Supreme Council of June 2nd and December 22, 1919. In relation to this territory, both in accordance with the agreement of July 10, 1920, between Poland and the Powers which met in Spa, and in compliance with the condi-tions of the armistice proposed by Lord Curzon, the Polish and Soviet armies were to stand on the line which they occupied on the day 6f the proposed armistice.
It must be emphasized that on July 11, 1920, the Soviet army had not at any point entered the territory of Eastern Galicia. Even at the time of the deepest penetration of the Soviet army to the West, Lwow was never occupied by the Soviets.
The so-called Curzon Line:
(1) was never proposed as a Polish-Soviet frontier by any Allied Power,
(2) was never advanced as a legal basis for the incorporation of Polish ter-ritories into the Soviet Union, and therefore
(3) cannot be used to justify any such attempts in the future.
Ethnography Survey of Eastern Poland.
The territories of Western Ukraine populated in an over-whelming majority by Ukrainians.
The territories of Western White Russia populated in an overwhelming majority by White Russians
(From the Soviet Declaration of January 11, 1944.)
Nowhere in Europe are ethnographic frontiers dearly delineated and at any point where two neighboring countries meet there are always territories inhabited by mixed population. This is true also of the Franco-German frontier (Alsace and Lorraine), of the Danish-German frontier (Schleswig), of the Balkan peninsula (Macedonia), of the Italian.Yugoslav frontier (Fiurne), of the Austrian-Italian frontier (Tirol), of the Czechoslovak-German frontier (Sudetenland), etc. So it is virtually impossible to find a rationally uniform population in any border territory. On either side of the frontier one finds mixed groups, in which one nationality is only slightly stronger than the other.
Eastern Poland is an instance of such a mixed population where two different cultures and two civilizations meet and penetrate each other. All through history the influence of the West (Roman culture) has here been opposed to that of the East (Byzantine influences).
With the exception of the partition period these territories have of their own accord formed part of Poland ever since the XIVth Century. Christianity, modern civilization, literature and arts came to them from Poland and they were saturated with Western influences. This process was temporarily halted during the partition of Poland (1772-1918) which President Wilson called "one of the great crimes of history," an opinion unanimously endorsed by the whole civil-ized world of today.
What is at Stake?
Polish territory, occupied temporarily by the Soviets in September, under the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, comprised 77,606 square miles, i.e. an area greater than the whole of Czechoslovakia or of Greece, greater indeed than Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Hungary combined. So according to European standards, this territory is quite large. Indeed, it is more than half of Poland, 51.6% to be accurate. This territory inhabited by 13,199,000 people (1939), or 37.3% of the whole population of the Polish
Republic. This is more than the entire population of the Argentine.
Historical and political conditions in northern Poland are different from those in southern Poland. So when discussing the ethnographic problem of Eastern Poland it is necessary to analyze separately:
(1) the northern territory annexed by Russia during the partitions, and
(2) the southern territory', which never at any time belonged to Russia.
Statistical data concerning all the Polish territory occupied by the Soviets in September, 1939, is appended.
The north-eastern territory of Poland, between the boundary defined in the Treaty of Riga and the Ribbentrop-Molotov Line (marked on the map with the letter "A") comprises
53,732 square miles and has 5,803,900 inhabitants.
Classified according to the mother tongue of the population, there were:
Poles 1,867,700 32.1%
Jews 623,800 10.6 %
Ukrainians and Ruthenians 1,324,700 22.8 %
White Ruthenians 993,000 17.1 %
Russians 118,900 2.4 %
Lithuanians 75,800 1.3 %
Germans 53,500 0.9 %
Others and not given 746,500 12.8 %
Total 5,803,900 100%
Wilno is the largest city and the cultural center of this area. The population of Wilno (195,100 inhabitants) was divided as follows:
Poles 128,600 65.9%
Jews 54,600 28.0%
Ukrainians and Ruthenians... 200 0.1%
White Ruthenians 1,700 0.9%
Russians 7,400 3.8%
Lithuanians 1,600 0.8%
Germans 600 0.3%
Others and not given 400 0.2%
Total 195,100 100.0%
South-eastern Poland, otherwise known as "Eastern Galicia" (marked on the map with the letter "B") comprises 23,874 square miles and had 6,208,000 inhabitants. This population was divided as follows:
Poles 2,926,300 47.1%
Ukrainians and Ruthenians 2,814,300 45,3%
Russians 1,100 0.0%
Germans 31,00 0.5%
Others and not given 13,700 0.3%
Total 6,208,100 100%
Lwow is the largest city of this territory and the center of its tradition and culture. It has 312,200 inhabitants, divided as follows:
Poles 198,200 63.5%
Jews 75,300 24.1%
Ukrainians and Ruthenians 35,100 11.2%
Russians 500 0.2%
Germans 2,500 0.8%
Others arid not given 600 0.2%
Total 312,200 100%
Eastern Poland as a Whole
Covering the whole territory occupied by the Soviets in September, 1939, under the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement (77,606 square miles), the figures according to the 1931 census are;
Poles 4,794,000 39.9%
Jews 1,045,000 8.4%
Ukrainians and Ruthenians 4,139,000 34.4%
White Ruthenians 993,000 8.5%
Russians 120,000 1.0%
Lithuanians 76,000 0.6%
Germans 85,000 0.7%
Czechs 32,000 0.3%
Others and not given 728,000 6.0%
It is estimated that eight years later, i. e., on August 31, 1939, that the number of Polish citizens on this same territory was 13,199,000.
Classified according to the mother tongue there were:
Poles 39.9% Lithuanians 0.6%
Jews 8.4% Germans 0.7%
Ukrainians and Ruthenians 34.4% Czechs 0.3%
White Ruthenians 8.5% Others and not given 6.2%
Religious statistics for Eastern Poland are as follows:
Catholics 7,066,000 58.8%
Rom. Cath. (Latin rite) 4,016,000 33.4%
Greek Cath. (Uniate) 3,050,000 25.4%
Greek Orthodox 3,529,000 29.3%
Protestants 99,000 0.8%
Other Christians 81,000 0.7%
Hebrew 1,222,000 10.2%
Other non-Christians 7,000 0.1%
Unknown and not given 8,000 0.1%
Total 12,012,000 100.0%
In connection with Russian Claims to these territories, the Russian population is as follows:
Northeastern part (A)-1 18,900 Russians, i.e. 2.4% of whole population:
Southeastern " (B)- 1,110 " " 0.01%
Whole territory 120,000 " 1.0%
Because the number of Russians is so insignificant, the Soviets are seeking to make the world believe that any non-Polish inhabitant whether Ukrainian, White Ruthenian or Jew, must ipso facto desire to be a Russian and live under the Soviet regime. This is absolutely contrary to the true state of affairs, which fact had been sufficiently demonstrated during the temporary occupation of Eastern Poland by the Red Army from September, 1939, till June, 1941.
It is surely more logical to assume that the relative ethnographic majority of Poles in the area between the Riga boundary and the Ribbentrop-Molotov line constitutes the political nucleus of an absolute majority in favor of leaving these territories to Poland. Besides in these Eastern provinces of Poland other demo-graphic groups are seeking the solution of their national problems in democratic institutions; and in this part of Europe, these can be fostered only by democratic Poland.
Especially as regards the Jews it is noteworthy that on January 24, 1944, the Representation of Polish Jewry in America cabled to Polish Prime Minister Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, that "at the present crucial moment our Representation wish to assure you of the solidarity on the part of Polish Jewry with the Polish nation and with the Government of the Polish Republic in the defense of Poland's cause."
(1) Everywhere in Eastern Poland, a territory of mixed popu-lation, Poles form a relative majority of the population.
(2) The largest cities in this area, Lwow and Wilno, have an overwhelming Polish majority.
(3) Eastern Poland is the borderland of Western culture, civilization and humanitarian ideology. East of the Polish border stretch lands where Byzantine influence was predominant.
(4) In the Eastern provinces, as everywhere in Poland, the people desires to live under republican form of government in which, as in all Western democracies, authority is vested in the elected representatives of the people. This applies to local self-governing bodies (rural and municipal administrations), as well as to the parliamentary organization of the central Government. The totalitarian one-party concept of government is completely alien to the thirteen million inhabitants of eastern Poland, imbued with traditions of individual freedom. It would have been unbearable to them irrespective of creed or nationality.
Individual ownership of their farms, houses, workshops and other means of production created in the predominantly peasant and lower-middle-class popu-lation of eastern Poland, a profound distrust of state ownership or collectivism which the Soviet authorities had endeavored to force upon them during the period of occupation.
Soviet plebiscite" in Eastern Poland
The Soviet Constitution established a Soviet-Polish frontier corresponding with the desires of the population of the Western Ukraine and Western White Russia, expressed in a plebiscite carried out on broad democratic principles in the year 1939."
(From the Soviet Declaration of January 11, 1944.)
To understand the value and meaning of the so-called "plebiscite" in Eastern Poland one must realize the reasons why the referendum was held and the con-ditions in which it took place.
In its note of September 17, seeking to explain and justify:
(a) the breach of neutrality by the USSR in the Polish-German war;
(b) the violation of treaty of non-aggression with Poland, and
(c) its unprovoked attack against Poland from the East,
the Soviet Government adopted the German thesis that the Polish State and its Government had in fact ceased to exist.
Putting this theory into practice, the Soviet armies did not treat Polish terri-tory invaded after September 17, 1939, as occupied during military operations.
They did not apply to it the provisions of the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, concerning the military occupation, but considered it as a no-man's land into which they introduced the Soviet regime, without delay.
All Polish authorities, administration officials, judges, prosecuting attorneys, policemen and other employees of the Polish State were immediately arrested and charged with criminal counter-revolutionary activities (Article 58 and the following of the Penal Code of the USSR).
The same fate awaited members of local municipal or rural boards, whose offer to collaborate with the Soviets was rejected, while they themselves were jailed.
This "purge" included not only Polish officials, but also all "enemies of the people." Among the latter were:
(a) commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the Polish Army or reserve;
(b) the constabulary, erroneously thought by the Soviets to be similar to the former Czarist gendarmes" connected with the political police ("ochrana");
(c) all men who since 1918 had enlisted in the Polish army as volunteers;
(d) the so-called military settlers, i.e. veterans of the 1918-1920 wars, who had obtained farmsteads under the Agricultural Reform Act;
(e) persons suspected of collaboration with the Polish police;
(I) owners of landed estates, of factories and commercial enterprises;
(g) all active members of non-communistic Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish and other parties (leftist labor parties such as the Polish Socialist Party, the "Bund," etc., being considered the most dangerous);
(h) active social workers, trade-union leaders, directors of educational and cultural organizations, of co-operative societies, economic associations, religious brotherhoods and societies; in short, all elements active in a given community or which in the opinion of Russian authorities could play a role in organizing the local population.
Tens of thousands of people were arrested on the basis of reports of 'local residents" and "labor guards" of the temporary administration. Inasmuch as abuses and the settling of personal accounts were rife, virtually no one could feel safe. Thus the population of the occupied territories was terrorized.
Why a Plebisdte?
The Soviet-German agreement for the partition of Poland concluded on September 28, 1939, stipulated that the partition of the Polish State between the two Contracting Powers excluded any interference with this decision on the part of the other Powers.
Had the partitioning States succeeded in carrying through the above claim, the USSR would-under accepted international law-have been released from its legal international responsibility for the violation of its treaties with Poland (especially the treaty of Non-Aggression of May 5, 1934), and the obligations resulting therefrom, and have acquired legal title to its annexation of Polish territories together with the Germans.
This explains the pressing appeal of the Soviet Government and press (Sep-tember, 1939) to England and France, demanding that they stop further mili-tary operations against Germany and agree to consider the partition of Poland as the conclusion of the war.
The two Western Democracies, however, kept their pledges to Poland. That deprived the Soviet Government of any possibility of sanction in international law for its acts on the territory of the "conquered" Polish State.
When it became clear that the theory of the non-existence of the Polish State and its partition could not be upheld, the Soviet Government looked for new arguments which might at least confer some semblance of legality in inter-national law to Soviet activities in Eastern Poland. It was then that the Soviets struck upon the idea of a "free expression of the will of the population" inhabit-ing the territories occupied by the Red Army, in favor of joining the Soviet Union.
Having doubts as to the eventual reaction of the local population, should annexation be put squarely and plainly before them, the Soviet authorities re-frained from organizing a plebiscite but resorted to "camouflage" and called instead for an "election" to the so-called National Assemblies of "Western Ukraine" and of "Western White Ruthenia."
It should be emphasized that the terms "Western Ukraine" and "Western White Ruthenia" had never before been used not were they even known to the local population. They were arbitrarily introduced by the Soviet authorities which, following their illegal occupation, had divided Eastern Poland into two parts: "Western White Ruthenia" to the north and "Western Ukraine" to the south.
On October 6, 1939, Soviet Army commanders and military councils of the southern (Ukrainian) and northern (White Ruthenian) front, announced their decision that the election to the so-called People's Assemblies would take place on October 22, 1939. The elected Assemblies met a few days later in Lwow and Bialystok. The same authorities published simultaneously election rules, patterned after those in force in the Soviet Union. The elections were to be held in Lwow and Bialystok, under the supervision of special committees con-sisting of citizens and officials of the Soviet Union, and representatives of the Supreme Councils of the White Ruthenian and the Ukrainian Soviet Republics.
In the Wilno territory, which at first had been included in the so-called "Western White Ruthenia," similar measures were taken to induce the popu-lation to vote in the election of delegates to the National Assembly in Bialystok. This electoral campaign was suddenly interrupted, and the announcement made that the city of Wilno and the Wilno district had been ceded by the Soviets to Lithuania.
This was done without ascertaining the views or wishes of the population of Wilno. Had it been consulted it would never have agreed. This was confirmed by Mr. Molotov, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs in his speech before the Supreme Council of the USSR, on October 31, 1939. Mr. Molotov declared that the Soviet Union had decided to transfer Wilno to the Lithuanian Republic not because the city's population had a Lithuanian majority. No, that majority was not Lithuanian."
Organization of Plebiscite
The so-called "plebiscite" was recently described by a British writer, F. A. Voigt, in an article "Poland," that appeared in the "Nineteenth Century and After" (Vol. CXXXV, No.804, of February, 1944. Pp.53-56). He says:
"The elections for 'Popular Assemblies' to represent the Polish White Ruthenian and Ukrainian territories were held on October 22, 1939.
"Space does not allow us to describe in detail the complicated procedure by which elections of a type unknown in Poland, were organized in about a fortnight. Only a few days were allowed for dividing a population of 12,662,000 people in 2,424 constituencies.
"In some villages there was much abstention, but it was not to be traced in the returns. In Lemberg the poll amounted to only 43.48 per cent. The Russian authorities ordered a new election-it was never held.
"Out of 1,493 candidates for all Eastern Poland, 1,484 were returned. Many of them-especially those from White Ruthenia-were illiterate.
Unanimous"-by a Show of Hand!
The returned candidates formed the two National As-semblies-the White Ruthenian and the Ukrainian-which met on the end of October. The latter was at-tended by Marshal Timoshenko. Both Assemblies passed the following resolutions-not by ballot, but by a show of hands, and unanimously.
"1. That 'Western White Russia' and 'Western Ukraine' pass into the hands of the working class.
'2. That 'Western White Russia' and 'Western Ukraine' be 'admitted' to the Soviet Union.
"3. That the big estates be confiscated.
"4. That the banks and industries be nationalized.
"5. That homage be paid to 'the great Stalin.
"This was the plebiscite referred to in the Russian Declaration of January 11, 1944. In this way Eastern Poland was annexed to Russia,"
That is the story as told by an impartial British writer.
Some Legal Remarks
To conclude this account of the saddest "plebiscite" in the history of modern democracy:
On November 1st and 2nd, 1939, the fifth special session of the Supreme Council of the USSR decided to grant the aforesaid request, and thereby "legalizing" the status of the provinces, that had existed for the past six weeks.
To furnish further proof of the "legality" of the incorporation of these Polish Eastern pr6vinces in the Soviet Union, the Constitutions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and of the Ukrainian and White Ruthenian Soviet Republics were changed and new maps and atlases published, showing these Polish terri-tories as forming part of Soviet Russia.
In defending Russia's territorial acquisitions of 1940, the Soviet declaration of January 11, 1944, refers to these territorial changes in the Constitution.
While the Soviet Government maintained that the constitutional amendments of November, 1939, definitely established the western frontier of the USSR, it later took the Curzon Line (which does not correspond to the Ribbentrop--Molotov Line), as a basis for frontier negotiations with Poland.
Obviously the Soviet Constitution can no more create international law than any other state constitution.
By its declaration of January 11, 1944, the Soviet Government has shown that in practice if not in theory, it shares this point of view.
Murders in Katyn
Soviet circles wish that it should be borne in mind that diplomatic relations with the Polish Government were broken off through she fault of that Government because of its active participation in the hostile anti-Soviet slanderous campaign of the German invaders in connection with the alleged murders in Katyn."
(From the Soviet Statement of January 17, 1944.)
On September 17, 1940, the first anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Soviet armies, the official newspaper of the Russian Army Red Star pub-lished a report on that campaign, stressing the capture of 181,000 Polish pris-oners, among them some 10,000 officers.
The latter were first (1939) quartered in three camps on Soviet territory: in Kozielsk (about 4,000 officers); in Starobielsk (about 4,800 officers) and in Ostaszkow (380 officers). On April 5, 1940, the Soviet authorities began to evacuate these camps, transferring several scores of officers daily to an un-known destination. A few of them (some four hundred or so) were trans-ferred in a northerly direction to Griazovec in the Vologda district.
After the conclusion of the Polish-Soviet agreement of July 30, 1941, the Polish Government began to organize on Soviet territory a Polish army re-cruited from Poles in Russia (deported civilians and prisoners of war). Officers taken prisoner by the Red Army, among whom fourteen generals, were to form the cadres of that army.
However, only a small group of army officers, who had been interned in Griazovec, reported to the Polish base, while not one of the officers who had been transferred from the above mentioned camps in the direction of Smolensk, appeared.
Greatly concerned by such a state of affairs, the Polish Embassy in Moscow and the Polish High Command appealed to the proper Soviet authorities for information about these officers.
Polish Ambassador Kot in conversations with Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov and Vice Commissar Wyszynski (and General Anders in conversa-tions with Soviet military authorities) repeatedly raised the question of the lost Polish officers, insisting that they be furnished a list of all war prisoners, that had been compiled in 1939 by the Soviet authorities. General Sikorski, Polish Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief, during his visit to the Kremlin in December 1941, also sought to obtain the liberation of all Polish prisoners of war. To facilitate research, he handed Premier Stalin an incomplete list of missing army officers. The list contained the names of 3,643 Polish army officers.
Premier Stalin gave the same answer as had previously been made to all Polish inquiries, namely the amnesty had been of a general nature, and the Soviet Government had set all Polish army officers free.
Simultaneously with these efforts in Russia, diplomatic measures were taken in London. On January 28, 1942, the then Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Edward Raczynski, delivered a note to Mr. Bogomolov, Soviet Ambas-sador0 calling the latter's attention to the fact that a number of Polish army officers, prisoners of war, had not been traced or released as yet. Ambassador Bogomolov's answer was the same as that made by Premier Stalin-all of them had been set free.
In April 1943, the German radio and press announced the discovery of a mass cemetery of Polish army officers in the forest of Katyn, near Smolensk.
Despite its origin the announcement caused a sensation throughout the world and its effect on Poles everywhere was tremendous. It was the first reply to the question what had become of the army officers who had all disappeared without leaving a trace. To understand the tragic impression created, one must
realize that every man in the Government, every officer in the army, all the leaders of the Polish underground and many Polish refugees had friends or rela-tives among the lost officers, whose number exceeded 8,000.
The Polish Government could not possibly ignore the German reports. The fate of the officers of its army was a matter of supreme importance to its war effort. Despair and indignation among Poles at home and abroad reached a critical pitch. The disappearance of the elite of the Polish army was not only a great blow to Poland's military effort, it deprived the Polish State of a large number of her intellectuals. Among the prisoners, besides regular army officers, were many reserve officers, civil engineers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc.-to mention only the camp of Starobielsk, four hundred Polish army doctors were interned, men who would have been invaluable in the reconstruction of a country devastated by war.
Under these circumstances, the Polish Government asked the International Red Cross to make an investigation and establish the facts on the spot. In doing so the Polish Government made it clear that it was appealing to an in-stitution that enjoyed the respect and confidence of the civilized world, and that it placed no reliance on German political propaganda reports.
There was no other way to get at the truth. The city of Smolensk was under German occupation, and neither the Polish nor any other United Nations Gov-ernment could make an investigation there. The International Red Cross in Geneva is the official institution for the settlement of all matters connected with prisoners of war. The Board of the International Red Cross is composed of representatives of all civilized countries without regard to politics.
That is why it was not only the most suitable, but the only institution that could undertake the difficult task and perform it with complete impartiality.
Moreover, international precedents existed. In 1942, Great Britain had asked the International Red Cross to investigate cruelties committed by the Japanese in Shanghai and Hongkong.
This was he only action taken by the Polish Government concerning the mur-der of its officers at Katyn. The Soviets, who asserted that the Polish Govern-ment lent itself to "active participation in the hostile anti-Soviet slanderous campaign," were unable to give a single instance of such a campaign. The fact is that in this difficult position, the Polish Government showed great restraint.
On April 16, 1943 the Soviet official news agency TASS published a communique concerning the disappearance of the Polish army officers. The Polish Government had waited in vain for more than eighteen months for such a communique. According to this statement the Polish prisoners of war, who had been doing construction work west of Smolensk were captured by the Germans during the Soviet retreat in the summer of 1941. The assumption was that they had been murdered by the Germans.
Had this explanation of the capture of the Polish officers by the Germans near Smolensk been given to the Polish authorities at any time during the many conversations and diplomatic exchanges in 1941, 1942 and 1943, Poland's appeal to the International Red Cross would not have been made Moreover had the civilized wo4d known about the seizure by the Germans of the pris-oners-it is probable at the Germans would not have dared to exploit this tragedy for the benefit of their propaganda.
The Polish Government's effort to establish the truth of and responsibility for the mass murder of defenseless prisoners of war met with a violent reaction on the part of the Soviet authorities and the official Soviet press. The Soviet Government considered it sufficient ground for breaking off diplomatic rela-tions with' the Polish Government (Note of the Soviet Foreign Office of April 25, 1943). At the same time the Soviets went as far as to charge that the Government and army of the Nation which had been the first to fight Hitler and had never for a moment ceased to do so, was in league with the Germans. Such an accusation was so improbable and monstrous, that it found no credence anywhere.
The Red Cross refused to undertake the investigation on the ground that as an international institution it would have to have the agreement of all inter-ested parties. As the Soviet Union opposed any investigation by a commission, the Polish Government on May 1, 1943, withdrew its appeal to the Interna-tional Red Cross.
In September 1943, after the Katyn district was reoccupied by the Red Army the Soviet Government appointed a special Commission to conduct an investi-gation of the Katyn murders. No representatives of any Allied institution, not even of the Red Cross, were invited to participate in the investigation of the Soviet Commission.
Upon the conclusion of this investigation, Soviet correspondents and representatives of the American and British press in the U.S.S.R. were invited to go to Katyn to see the graves, where the final report of the Commission was made known to them. It was to the effect that 11,000 Polish officers had been mur-dered in August 1941 by the Germans.
The underground movement in Poland is by far the best of its kind in any occupied country and works with the Polish Government in London, which has its full support. How close the contact and collaboration is between the people in Poland and the Polish Government in London is well known to the govern-ments of the United States and Great Britain. Only a few, days ago, the Lon-don press reported that British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Anthony Eden, heard a report from an underground leader, who had recently arrived from Poland.
On August 15, 1943, the four largest Polish political parties in Poland-the Christian Democrat Labor Party, the National Party, the Peasant Party, the Polish Socialist Party-issued a joint manifesto setting forth their political views and their relations with the Polish Government. The Declaration asserted that until such time as democratic elections could be held in Poland, they would collabo-rate with each other on the basis of the declaration made by the Polish Gov-ernment in London on July 27, 1943.
This manifesto signed by the representatives of the four most important political organizations in Poland promises full collaboration between the Political Representation in Poland and the Council of National Unity and the closest possible contact with the Delegate of the Polish Government.
On September 1, 1943 the Fourth Anniversary of Germany's unprovoked aggression, the underground organizations in Poland addressed themselves as follows to the Polish Government in London:
"We assure our President, the Polish Government and our British and American Allies that even the great sacrifices Poland is bearing today, will not hinder the nation in its struggle to restore an independent demo-cratic Republic, within unreduced boundaries."
These resolutions are unequivocal; they mean that the 'Polish Government in London is the actual leader and representative of the underground movement in Poland.
There even exists a "shadow parliament" which meets from time to time "somewhere in Poland," to discuss all political issues. It communicates its views to the Polish Government in London, thus maintaining unity between the people and the Government.
Underground in Poland there exists a complete Polish State, fully organized in all phases of state administration, political) military, social and economic. The highest authorities of that State acting abroad on its behalf reside in London. The Delegate of the Government in Poland is the representative of the Polish executive. He holds the position of the Deputy Prime Minister in the London Cabinet.
This organization has proved its efficiency during four and a half years of German occupation.
In spite of the most difficult living conditions, in spite of the systematic extermination of the nation, no Quisling has been found in Poland to collab-orate with the Germans. Poland is the only occupied country of which this can be said.
Polish underground courts pass sentence upon German officials guilty of murder and other crimes. These sentences are regularly carried out by the Polish Underground as in the case of the Chief of Police in the Government General, Gen. Kruger, the Chief of the Gestapo in the Warsaw District, Gen. Fritz Kutschera, the Directors of the Labor Bureau (Arbeitsamt) in Warsaw-Hoffman, Werner and Lubberg and many other German criminals.
It is not possible to give a full picture of the many acts of sabotage and armed resistance of the underground. Several forms of fighting and sabotage cannot be mentioned because of the danger of the Germans discovering methods with which they are as yet unfamiliar, nor can any estimate be given of the results of industrial sabotage, the "Work slow" campaign. Only a small part of the actual fighting and sabotage has been revealed by Polish sources or the German press.
As stated by Mr. Banaczyk, Polish Minister of Interior, at a press conference on March 2, 1944, the record of the Polish underground army in 1943 was as follows:
Armed encounters with Gestapo, Wehrmacht, Bahnschutz and Grenzschutzs units 81
Attacks on prisons and convoys of prisoners (liberating 652 persons active in
underground movement) 19
Germans killed in these operations 740
Death sentences passed by Polish courts and executed by the Polish under-ground:
Gestapo agents 1,163
German higher officials 18
Destruction of German communications and seizure of large amounts of military equipment, arms and ammunition:
Railroad derailments 81
Attacks made on trains carrying. war material 474
Ammunition trains blown up. 3
Bridges. blown up 6
Railway stations blown up 9
Petrol train burnt 1
Germans killed and wounded in above actions 393
Locomotives damaged 2,013
Trucks destroyed 9,980
Tankers damaged 212
Gallons of petrol burnt 562,000
All of the above achievements of the underground army have received official German confirmation.
The Poles are proud of their underground movement for no other underground organization in Europe has done as much.
The Attitude of the Polish Government toward the Soviet Union
The emigre Polish Government has proved incapable of establish-ing friendly relations with the Soviet Union(From the Soviet Declaration of January 11, 1944.)
The present Polish Government does not desire to establish neighborly relations with the Soviet Union.
(From the Soviet Statement of January 17, 1944.)
On June 23, 1941, within forty-eight hours after Russia had been attacked by Germany, General Sikorski, then Prime Minister of the Polish Government in London, passing over the wrongs done to Poland by the Soviets in 1939-1941, held out the hand of conciliation.
After brief negotiations the Polish Government signed an agreement with the Soviet Union on July 30, 1941.1 On this occasion General Sikorski broadcast to Poland) saying in part:
In 1795, in their pact for the third partition of Poland, the two Germanic Powers and Russia declared that Poland and the Polish name were to disappear forever. An identical agreement seeking the annihila-tion of Poland forever was entered into in September 1939. The former was wiped out by history; the latter has lived less than 2 years. Such pacts are but scraps of paper in the face of the vitality and dynamism of our nation. Poland is immortal!
"Now that this last pact has been obliterated, we stand on the threshold, of a new era in Polish-Russian relations. The present agreement tempo-rarily adjusts our ancient differences. It contains no suggestion of doubt about Poland's frontiers as they were before September 1939. It contains no suggestion that Poland might surrender part of her territory. It restores normal relations between the two nations and promises mutual and re-ciprocal assistance.
When today Russia, in mortal combat with the German avalanche, takes the path of reconciliation with Poland and seeks common action against our common enemy, we approach this action ready to forget the bloody wrongs we have suffered at her hands. The future of the agree-ment just concluded will depend on the goodwill of the other party.
'Russia has her own social and state system entirely different from ours. We, Poles, belong in the camp represented by our ally Great Britain and a friendly United States of America. We fight German tyranny and cruel totalitarianism in the name of Christian ideals and principles of freedom and justice.
"God looks into' our hearts and sees our absolute sincerity. Our nation bears up under the worst trials in history. To us, every Pole, especially every one of those who survived the hardships of their life in Russia with-out breaking down, is enormously important for our future. This was one of the reasons why the Polish Government did not hesitate to assume responsibility for this historic decision and signed the pact with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And when by God's grace we regain our independence, we shall build our State on those principles for which we fight, side by side with our Allies. We shall strive for genuine social justice, in keeping with the principles of Christian morality.
"Poland is far from communism. And yet she has never allowed herself to be used for an anti-communist crusade, nor did she seek to interfere in Russia's internal affairs. She expects the same attitude on the part of her neighbor. A brotherhood in arms must be stimulated by respect for our sovereignty and for all that is and will be the countenance of Poland."
On August 14, 1941 a Polish-Soviet Military Agreement was signed which provided for the formation of a Polish Army in the USSR to embrace all Polish citizens fit for military service.
A few months later, on December 4, 1941, Polish Prime Minister Sikorski visited Moscow and signed with Marshal Stalin a Declaration concerning the cooperation of both nations in their fight against Germany. On the same day General Sikorski broadcast as follows:
Both sides have agreed to let bygones be bygones. We are con-fident that the Russian people will remember that we rallied to their side in their hour of trial, that they will appreciate the good will and friend-ship of Poland; mutual respect for national sovereignty will make these relations durable. Recognizing realities and taking advantage of them, we shall do our best to hull our agreements of July and August 1941. Thus we shall demonstrate to the world at large, that international problems can be settled peacefully in the name of common sense and for the good of all."
When in winter of 1942-43 substantial difference developed between the Polish and the Soviet Governments, the Polish Ambassador T. Romer was sent to Moscow with a personal letter from Prime Minister Sikorski to Premier Stalin, expressing the Polish Government's desire for the settlement of all difficulties and close cooperation between both States.
However, despite Polish good will, the relations between Polish and Soviet Governments were severed on April 23, 1943, not by the Polish but by the Soviet Government. The pretext for this suspension of relations was the appeal of the Polish Government to the International Red Cross to conduct an impartial investigation into the mass murder of Polish officers at Katyn.
What has been the attitude of the Polish Government, since relations were broken off by the Soviets?
On May 4, 1943 Premier Sikorski broadcast to Poland as follows:
No one can reproach us if, after having accepted single-handed the challenge of Germany's whole military might, staking the entire heri-tage of a thousand years of our history in defense of the Polish Nation's integrity, sovereignty and honor, we do not want to sacrifice the same values in favor of one of our allies. We believe that our martyrdom and our struggle for the common cause will spare us untimely reproaches and render impossible the putting forward of claims to our land so painfully redeemed in blood. We are carrying on with our duties. It is beyond human strength to do more. We have given of ourselves '~l that materi-ally and morally can be given for victory and solidarity. Accordingly the security of friendly relations with Soviet Russia has been and continues to be one of the main guiding principles of the Polish Government and the whole Polish Nation. Therefore the facts that are separating US must be removed as soon as possible.
"We expect the Soviet authorities to allow the tens of thousands of Polish soldiers' families to leave the USSR as soon as possible, together with tens of thousands of Polish children and orphans. We also ask for the release of men fit to carry arms and, in conclusion, for the continuation of welfare and relief work for Polish citizens in Russia, deported after 1939 until they are able to return to their homes in Poland.
"After all these are not problems that affect allied unity. If they are solved it will perhaps facilitate the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Russia. But there are limits to concessions which no one in the Polish nation will pass. We state calmly: do not waste your efforts. The Polish Nation, though bereft of the protective armor of its own Statehood, has rallied to the Government composed of representatives of peasants, workers and professional classes; and in so doing it displayed maturity and strength of spirit. when the time comes for the Polish Nation to be judged by its actions, it will prove to be a solid nation of high assay, strong nor only in moral but in true brotherly unity."
The next day General Sikorski gave a correspondent of the "N. Y. Times" the following statement ("N. Y. Time?' of May 5, 1943):
The Polish nation wants, of course, to continue its friendly rela-tions with Soviet Russia and' to base them on an alliance directed against Germany.
"However, it is difficult for me not to be reserved, even in the face of such a favorable declaration as that of Premier Stalin, at the very moment when the Polish Ambassador is leaving Russia and masses of the Polish population in the USSR are left without the assistance and care of their Government.
"Yet in spite of this and many other facts, the Polish Government is ready to give a positive answer to any Soviet initiative which will coincide with the interest of the Polish Republic as defined in the common Polish-Soviet declaration of' December 4, 1941, and in my speech in London yesterday."
After the tragic death of General Sikorski in an airplane crash off Gibraltar on July 4, 1943, Stanislaw Mikolajczyk was appointed Prime Minister of Po-land. In his first address to the Polish National Council on July 27, 1943, he de dared:
Understanding between Poland and Russia is an historic necessity for both our countries, but it is also an historic necessity for Europe as a whole, for on it will depend the consolidation of Europe. Europe regards the Polish question as a test case which will show what is to become of the European continent as a whole. Therefore Polish-Russian understand-ing must be honest, just and permanent. Poland is necessary to Europe, just as a consolidated Europe is necessary to Poland."
Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tadeusz Romer, addressed the Polish National Council on September 13, 1943 in the same tone:
"Our attitude towards Soviet Russia is quite simple. We look forward not backward, and we fully realize that any break in the harmony of the United Nations cannot but harm this cause. We do not wish to minimize in any way the position due the Soviet Union in the post-war world organ-ization on account of the magnitude of its contribution, vastness of its territory and number of its population. We desire a full and just under-standing with the Soviet Russia based on complete loyalty and recognition of mutual rights to independence and we look for the re-establishment of normal relations with the Soviet Union along these lines, not only for collaboration during the war and solidarity in the Allied camp but also for peaceful neighborly cooperation between Poland and Russia in the future.
In his broadcast to Poland of September 30, 1943, Stanislaw Kot, Polish Minister of Information, outlined the Polish attitude towards Russia:
There was profound truth in his (General Sikorski's) unchanging statement that in her geographical position Poland could not afford the luxury of two enemies. and must therefore transform her historic quarrel with one of them into 'good neighborliness.' Since Germans have always been and always will be Poland's mortal enemies, determined on the biological, economic and cultural extermination of the Polish nation, it fol-lows that Polish relations with Russia must be placed on a basis of a lasting and straightforward understanding that will take into consideration the vital interest, honor and rights of the Polish nation."
These texts show that both the Government of General Sikorski and the present Polish Government sought and now seek to collaborate with the Soviet Government.
Official declarations of the Polish Government are clear proof of the desire of the Polish Government to come to an understanding with Soviet Russia.
To facilitate this understanding the Polish Government proposed the media-tion of the governments of the United States and Great Britain. This sugges-tion was declined by the Soviet Government.
That the attitude of the Polish Government is not influenced by the fortunes of war, is shown by the fact that the Polish Government sent its first Ambassador to Moscow in the early autumn of 1941, when German armies 'were hammering at the gates of the Russian capital. General Sikorski, visited Premier Stalin in December 1941, although the situation of the Russian armies was still critical.
The solid front of the United Nations was broken by the Soviet note sever-ing diplomatic relations with Poland. That solid front must be restored, because a fair agreement, safeguarding the vital interests of both countries, is a con-dition for lasting peace in Eastern Europe. Such peace existed on the territory in question for the eighteen years preceding the war.
Poland is still fighting the common enemy on land, at sea and in the air, and she wants to live in harmony with Soviet Russia. So far no friendly answer to the repeated overtures of the Polish Government has come from the other side.
Early in January 1944, their victorious offensive against the Germans carried the Soviet forces across the "Polish-Russian frontier and they advanced on a narrow sector into Polish territory. When news of this reached London the Polish Government issued the following declaration:
Declaration of the Polish Government of January 5, 1944
'In their victorious struggle against the German invader, Soviet forces are reported to have crossed the frontier of Poland.
"This fact is another proof of the break-ing-down of German resistance and it fore-shadows the inevitable military defeat of Germany. It fills the Polish nation with hope that the hour of liberation is drawing near. Poland was the first nation to take p the German challenge and It has been fi0ghting against the invaders for more than 4 years, at a cost of tremendous sacrifices and suffering, without producing a single Quisling and rejecting every form of com-promise or collaboration with the aggressor.
The underground movement, among its many activities, concentrated upon attack-ing the Germans in their most sensitive spots, upon sabotage in every possible form and upon carrying out of many death sen-tences on German officials whose conduct had been particularly outrageous.
"Polish forces were reorganized outside their country, have been fighting cease-lessly in the air, sea and on land, side by side with our Allies, and there is no front on which Polish blood has not been mingled with the blood of other defenders of freedom,
"There is no country in the world where Poles have not contributed to furthering the common cause. The Polish nation, therefore, is entitled to expect full justice and redress as soon as it is set free from enemy occupation.
The first condition of such justice is the earliest re-establishment of Polish sov-ereign administration in the liberated ter-ritories of the Polish Republic, and the protection of the lives and property of Polish citizens.
"The Polish Government, as the only legal steward and spokesman of the Polish nation, recognized by Poles at home and abroad as well as by the Allied and free governments, is conscious of the contribu-tion of Poland to the war and is responsible for the fate of the nation. It affirms its indestructible right to independence, con-firmed by the principles of the Atlantic Charter common to all the United Nations and by binding international treaties.
"The provisions of those treaties, based on the free agreement of the parties, not on the enforcement of the will of one side to the detriment of the other, cannot be revised by accomplished facts. The conduct of the Polish nation in the course. of the present war has proved that It has never recognized and will not recognize solutions imposed by force.
"The Polish government expects that the Soviet Union, sharing its view as to the importance of future friendly relations be-tween the two countries, in the interests of peace and with the view of presenting Ger-man revenge, will not fail to respect the rights and interests of the Polish Republic and its citizens.
"Acting in that belief, the Polish Gov-ernment instructed the underground authorities in Poland on October 27, 1943 to continue and to intensify their resistance to the German invaders, to avoid all conflicts with Soviet armies entering Poland in their battle against the Germans and to enter into cooperation with Soviet commanders in the event of resumption of Polish-Soviet relations.
If a Polish-Soviet agreement, such as the Polish Government has declared itself willing to conclude, had preceded the crossing of the frontier of Poland by Soviet forces, such an agreement would have en-shied the Polish underground army to co-ordinate its action against the Germans with Soviet military authorities.
The Polish Government still considers such an arrangement highly desirable. At this crucial moment, the importance of which in relation to the outcome of the war in Europe is evident to everyone, the Polish Government issues the above decla-ration, confident in final victory and in the triumph of the just principles for which the United Nations stand.
"This declaration has been handed to all the United Nations with which the Polish Government had diplomatic rela-tions."
Six days later came the answer of the Soviet Government
Declaration of the Soviet Government of January 11, 1944.
"On January 5, a declaration of the ex-iled Polish Government on the question of Soviet-Polish relations was published in London. It contained a number of errone-ous affirmations, including an erroneous affirmation concerning the Soviet-Polish frontier.
"As is known, the Soviet Constitution established a Soviet-Polish frontier corre-sponding with the desires of the popula-tion of the Western Ukraine and Western White Russia, expressed in a plebiscite carried out on broad democratic principles in the year 1939. The territories of the Western Ukraine, populated in an over-whelming majority by Ukrainians, were incorporated in the Soviet Ukraine, while the territories of Western White Russia, populated in an overwhelming majority by White Russians, were incorporated in Soviet White Russia.
"The injustice caused by the Riga Treaty in the year 1921, which was forced on the Soviet Union, with regard to Ukrainians inhabiting the Western Ukraine and White Russians inhabiting Western White Russia, was thus rectified. The entry of the West-ern Ukraine and Western White Russia into the Soviet Union not only did not interfere with the interests of Poland but, on the contrary, created a reliable basis, for a firm and permanent friendship be-tween the Polish people and the neighbor-ing Ukrainian, White Russian and Russian peoples.
"The Soviet Government has repeatedly declared that it stands for the re-establish-ment of a strong and independent Poland and for friendship between the Soviet Union and Poland. The Soviet Govern-ment declares that it is striving toward the establishment of friendship between the U.S.S.R. and Poland on the basis of firm good-neighborly relations and mutual respect, and, should the Polish people so desire, on the basis of an alliance of mu-tual assistance against the Germans as the principal enemies of the Soviet Union and Poland. Poland's adherence to the Soviet Czechoslovak treaty of friendship, mutual assistance and post-war cooperation could assist in the realization of this task.
"The successes of Soviet troops on the Soviet-German front speed day by day the liberation of the occupied territories of the Soviet Union from the German invaders. The selfless struggle of the Red Army and the fighting operations of our Allies that are unfolding bring the rout of the Hitler-ite war machine nearer and bring libera-tion to Poland and other nations from the yoke of the German invaders.
"In this war of liberation the Union of Polish Patriots in the U.S.S.R. and the Polish army corps created by it and oper-ating on the front against the Germans hand in hand with the Red Army are al-ready fulfilling their gallant tasks.
"Now an opportunity for the restora-tion of Poland as a strong and independent state is opening. But Poland must be re-born, not by the occupation of Ukrainian and White Russian territories, but by the return of territories seized from Poland by the Germans. Only thus can confidence and friendship among the Polish, Ukrai-nian. White Russian and Russian people can be established. The eastern borders of Poland can be fixed by agreement with the Soviet Union.
"The Soviet Government does not con-sider the frontiers of the year 1939 to be unchangeable. The borders can be cor-rected in favor of Poland on such lines that districts in which the Polish popula-tion predominates he handed over to Po-land. In such case the Soviet-Polish border could approximately follow the so-called Curzon Line, which was adopted in the year 1919 by the Supreme Council of Allied Powers and which provided for the incorporation of the Western Ukraine and Western White Russia into the Soviet Union.
"Poland's western borders most be ex-tended through the joining to Poland of age-old Polish lands taken away from Poland by Germany, without which it is im-possible to unite the whole of the Polish people in its own state, which thus will acquire a necessary outlet the Baltic Sea.
"The just striving of the Polish people for complete unity in a strong and inde-pendent state must receive recognition and support. The emigre Polish Government, cut off from its people, proved incapable of establishing friendly relations with the Soviet Union. It has proved equally in-capable of organizing an active struggle against the German invaders in Poland it-self, Moreover, with its wrong policy, it frequently plays into the hands of the German invaders. At the same time, the interests of Poland and the Soviet Union lie in the establishment of firm and friend-ly relations between our two countries and in the unity of the Soviet and Polish peoples in the struggle against the com-mon outside enemy, as the common cause of all the Allies requires."
The Polish Government, anxious to avoid any aggravation of the conflict, refrained from public discussion with the Soviet Government and sought to negotiate through diplomatic channels, approaching the Governments of the United States and of Great Britain with the request for their participation and mediation in these negotiations.
Statement of the Polish Government of January 15, 1944
"The Polish Government have taken cognizance of the declaration of the Soviet Government contained in a TASS commu-nique of the 11th of January, issued as a reply to the declaration of the Polish Gov-ernment of January 5th.
"The Soviet communique contains a number of statements to which complete answer is afforded by the ceaseless struggle against the Germans waged at the heaviest cost by the Polish Nation under the direc-tion of the Polish Government. In their earnest anxiety to safeguard complete soli-darity of the United Nations, especially at this decisive stage of their struggle against the common enemy, the Polish Government consider it preferable now to refrain from further public discussion.
"While the Polish Government cannot recognize unilateral decisions or accom-plished facts which have taken place or might take place on the territory of the Polish Republic, they have repeatedly ex-pressed their sincere desire for the Polish-Soviet agreement on terms which would be just and acceptable to both sides.
"To this end the Polish Government are approaching the British and the United States Governments with a view to secur-ing through their intermediary the discus-sion by the Polish and Soviet Governments with participation of the British and American Governments of all outstanding questions, the settlement of which should lead to friendly and permanent coopera-tion between Poland and the Soviet Union.
"The Polish Government believes this to be desirable in the interest of victory, of the United Nations and harmonious rela-tions in postwar Europe."
The Soviet Government's reply to this proposition was voiced in an official Soviet News Agency's (TASS) communique, in which it declined to negotiate over the points at issue.
Soviet "TASS" Statement of January 17, 1944
In reply to the declaration made by the Polish Government in London on January 15, TASS is authorized to state:
"First, in the Polish declaration the Question of the recognition of the Curzon Line as the Soviet-Polish frontier is en-tirely evaded and ignored. This can be interpreted only as a rejection of the Curzon Line.
"Second, as regards the Polish Govern-ment's proposal for the opening of official negotiations between it and the Soviet Government the Soviet Government is of the opinion that this proposal aims at misleading public opinion, for it is easy to understand that the Soviet Government is
not in a position to enter into official nego-tiations with a government with which diplomatic relations have been severed.
"Soviet circles wish that it should be borne in mind that diplomatic relations with the Polish Government were broken off through the fault of that Government because of its active participation in the hostile anti-Soviet slanderous campaign of the German invaders in connection with the alleged murders in Katyn.
"Third, in the opinion of Soviet circles, the above mentioned circumstances once again demonstrate that the present Polish Government does not desire to establish good neighborly relations with the Soviet Union."