Date range
Open the calendar popup.
Open the calendar popup.

264 Bruce to Evatt

Cablegram S25 LONDON, 31 August 1944, 7.20 p.m.


Your 165. [1]

I am in the most cordial agreement with your view as to the unwisdom of attaching too much importance to events which, although infuriating in themselves, are relatively minor. I am also in agreement that the Soviet Government has at times 'caused some real embarrassment'. I have constantly urged that these things should not be taken too tragically (my 14A of January 27th [2]) and your telegram will reinforce me in continuing to do so.

I have conveyed your views to Eden. As far as he personally is concerned it is to a large extent a case of preaching to the converted and the Prime Minister is equally sound. There are, however, others both in the Foreign Office and in the United Kingdom Government who are not sufficiently alive to the paramount need for co-operation with the U.S.S.R. and who are too prone to exploit any trivial incident.

The recent dismissal of the Soviet air representative at Bari (Dominions Office D.1148 of August 15th [3]) was in my view a clear instance of taking the Soviet too seriously. Soviet Government activity in Greek affairs to which you refer was of an unfortunate character and the behaviour of Novikoff [4], their representative in Cairo (my 59A of April 28th [5]) has contributed to the creation of a wrong atmosphere.

The most serious matter, however, is the Soviet attitude towards the resistance movement in Warsaw, particularly the refusal of the Soviet Government to allow the landing of the United States air force in Russian territory (Dominions Office D.1176 [6]). This action has had a deplorable effect both here and in the United States mainly because of sinister rumours that the Soviet are deliberately refraining from pressing the attack on Warsaw to the end so that the resistance forces may be annihilated.

The Warsaw episode is tragic and may have the most unfortunate consequences including the resignation of Mikolajczyk. [7] Its explanation is I think, the following:

The Poles behaved foolishly in starting their Warsaw insurrection without previous agreement with the Russians. On the other hand, the rising was undoubtedly to some extent provoked by Russian broadcasts (Dominions Office D.1178 paragraph 7 [8]). When the rising Government got into trouble and there was not an immediate thrust by the Russian land forces to relieve them, an operation which would not have fitted in with the Russian plan of campaign, the Poles in Warsaw denounced the Russians and in broadcasts referred contemptuously to the 'so-called Curzon Line' and announced the intention of fighting to the last man for Polish Vilna [9] and Polish L'vov. The attitude of the insurgents naturally antagonised the Russians and the present unfortunate situation was created.

The position is deplorable but if handled with patience, I believe, may be resolved. Today's Times conveys an admirable article analysing the position with sympathy and understanding and concluding with an earnest appeal that the matter should not be allowed to rest where it stands and that a renewed and sincere endeavour should be made in London, in Washington and in Moscow to resolve the deadlock.



1 Document 261.

2 Document 34.

3 In AA:A3195, 1944, 1.29764.

4 N. V. Novikov, Soviet Minister to Egypt and Ambassador to the Royal Yugoslav Govt-in-exile.

5 In fact dated 20 April. On file AA:M100, April 1944.

6 Dispatched 19 August. On file AA:A989, 44/715/5/2, iii.

7 Polish Prime Minister.

8 Dispatched 21 August. In AA:A3195, 1944, Folder, Inwards Most Secret and Top Secret Master Sheets, from Secdomin (large D Series and Australian Series), May-December, 1.30424/31/23. Paragraph 7 referred to Soviet broadcasts which advised the population of Warsaw to 'drop all caution and start a general rising against the Germans'.

9 i.e. Vilnius.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History