177 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram S83 [1] LONDON, 6 May 1943, 12.22 a.m.


My telegrams S.81 and 82. [2]

Now recognized here most undesirable that either the United Kingdom or the United States should undertake the protection of Polish interests in the U.S.S.R. Clark Kerr has suggested that the best solution would be that Australia or Canada or the two acting jointly should agree to do so. Personally I would greatly welcome this solution.

Firstly because it would remove the danger of the United Kingdom who are under great pressure from the Poles [3] weakening and agreeing to undertake the representation which I feel would be disastrous to the future of Anglo-Soviet relations; secondly because I believe that our acting either by ourselves or in association with Canada would enable us to exercise an influence on the Poles and bring a greater measure of realism into the handling of this issue the importance of which cannot be exaggerated.

I therefore urge for your most earnest consideration the desirability of your cabling the Prime Minister saying you have heard from me that Clark Kerr has suggested that Australia or Canada or the two jointly should undertake the representation of Polish interests in the U.S.S.R. and indicating that in the event of the Poles approaching the Australian Government requesting such representation Australian Government would agree.

I would also suggest that in your telegram you should state if such is your view that you consider it most undesirable that the United Kingdom should undertake representation of Polish interests in U.S.S.R. Personally I would prefer if Australia is to be in the picture that we should undertake the representation alone and not in conjunction with Canada. I have, however, so much confidence in Clark Kerr's judgment particularly as he is the man on the spot that I would not press this view.

Matter is of utmost urgency but is being delayed by the United Kingdom hesitancy to raise the question with you owing to doubts as to how you would receive the suggestion. I therefore urge that you should deal with the matter as of the utmost urgency and either cable Prime Minister as suggested above or advise me you would not be prepared to agree, so as to enable consideration of an alternative to Kerr's suggestion.

Every day's delay is dangerous and a reply from you within 24 hours would be a tremendous help.


1 The London copy (on file AA:M100, May 1943) was numbered S84.

2 Both cablegrams were dispatched on 4 May and are on the file cited in note 1. S81 conveyed Bruce's view that the representation of Polish interests in the Soviet Union by either the U.K. or the U.S. Govts would have a disastrous effect on relations with the Soviet Govt and would make Anglo-American mediation in the Polish- Soviet dispute difficult. S82 reported that the U.S. Govt held similar views.

3 See circular cablegram D262 of 3 May on file AA:A989, 43/715/5/2, i. It reported that Poland was 'urgently pressing' the United Kingdom to take over Polish interests in the Soviet Union and 'We are in a most difficult position. The Poles have a special claim on us since we have a Treaty of Alliance with them and it was on account of our obligations to them that we entered the war.

Although their International behaviour is sometimes unwise, they have been gallant and faithful Allies and we are very reluctant to let them down. On the other hand, to assume protection of their interests in the Soviet Union would be to place a very heavy strain upon our relations with the Soviet Union.' On 8 May the U.K. Govt advised that it had reluctantly agreed to undertake the purely formal representation of Polish interests in the Soviet Union for the time being; this decision had been taken because of the lack of alternatives and the undesirability of leaving Polish interests unprotected after the departure of the Polish Embassy. See circular cablegram D272 on file AA:A989, 43- 44/715/5/2/2.

[AA:A989, 43-44/715/5/2/2]