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34 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 14A LONDON, 27 January 1944, 7.42 p.m.


For the Prime Minister.

Russo-Polish relations.

No developments have taken place since I last cabled [1] other than those reported in Dominions Office telegrams. [2] It has been possible to keep the Poles quiet in face of the Russian reply [3] and on the whole I think it can be said that the position has not deteriorated. How it is to be resolved is another question.

Considerable controversy has developed here as to the significance of the Russian note.

One school of thought argues that it shows that the Russians are hopeless-that they have no intention of co-operating and that Stalin's signature to the Moscow Declaration [4] and cordial atmosphere at the Tehran Conference mean nothing.

The other school of thought maintains that this summing up of the situation is nonsense and that the people who have reached it are attributing western reasoning to the Russian mind whereas in fact they are really eastern in their mentality. They argue that too much significance should not be attached to the Russian reply which they maintain was merely intended to warn the United Kingdom and the United States of America that Russia will not tolerate too much interference in the Polish dispute which is really a question for the Poles and themselves, and as a warning that the undertakings given with regard to a second front must be lived up to.

They urge that the reply is not an indication that the Russians do not want to play in the comity of nations, but was merely a 'kick on the pants' for the United States of America and the United Kingdom similar to that administered when Maisky [5] and Litvinov [6] were withdrawn, a procedure which Russian processes of thought deem to be necessary from time to time.

My own view is strongly down the second line, but before communicating with you I wanted to hear from Benes [7] his impressions on his Russian visit and to check them up with Clark Kerr who was in this country for a few days. I have now had an opportunity of doing this.

Benes' views are strongly down the line of the second school of thought and Clark Kerr endorsed them. A good deal of fuel has been added to the first by Pravda's publication of the rumours with regard to Anglo-German peace negotiations. The publication has certainly strengthened the arguments of the first school of thought but the second school is unperturbed, arguing that it is only another indication of the way the Russian mind works.

With regard to the publication of these rumours the Prime Minister has sent a personal telegram to Stalin which in my view is an admirable mixture of toughness and good humour. The Prime Minister has seen the Poles and is endeavouring to find a way out of the impasse. He indicated in the above-mentioned telegram to Stalin that he hoped to send him a personal communication on this question after he had further investigated the position.


1 Cablegram 9[A] of 17 January, on file AA: A989, 44/715/5/2, ii.

2 Cablegrams D77 and D80 of 17 January and D82 of 18 January, on the file cited in note 1.

3 Presumably the Soviet communique of 17 January on the file cited in note 1.

4 i.e. the Four Power Declaration.

5 Soviet Ambassador to the United Kingdom 1932-43.

6 Soviet Minister to the United States 1941-43.

7 President of the Czechoslovak Provisional Govt (in London).

[AA:A989, 44/715/5/2, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History