196 Evatt to Hodgson

Cablegram E95 WASHINGTON, 18 May 1943, 12.30 a.m.


Reference Bruce's telegram S.57 repeated to Washington. [1]

I think Bruce's contact with the Polish Ambassador quite unnecessary. Bruce was informed by me of the matter and the procedure to be adopted; namely a clear indication that no action was necessary in London. [2] He knew that the Prime Minister has authorized me to deal with Churchill. [3] The United Kingdom was acting for the Commonwealth in duly obtaining the Polish Government's consent. There the matter ended in London. Bruce's intervention increases the risk of premature disclosure and consequent embarrassment. Bruce is not our Minister to the Polish Government. For instance, it would be inappropriate for formal letter referred to in S.99 to go through Bruce when United Kingdom acting for us.

You will agree to this point of view. Please watch Bruce's cables closely in order to keep me informed of any others of similar nature. This, coming on top of his asking for Officer be appointed Minister [4], confirms the suspicion that the two have been in communication on the matter without reference to you or me. Having reference to the previous conduct of Officer [5], wish you to be on your guard throughout all these negotiations. [6]


1 This appears to be an incorrect reference to Bruce's cablegram S99 of 17 May (on file AA:A989, 43-44/715/5/2/2), which was repeated to Washington as no. 31. It reported a conversation with the Polish Ambassador to the United Kingdom (Count Edward Raczynski), who had told Bruce 'that his Government was most appreciative of Australia's spontaneous offer to take over Polish representation in the U.S.S.R.'. Bruce's note of the conversation (on file AA:M100, May 1943) recorded that he and Raczynski had agreed 'that the next move was for the Polish Government to write a formal letter', but that Bruce had stressed 'that the real move would come from Washington, in view of the fact that Dr. Evatt was in touch with the Prime Minister and President there'.

2 This is apparently a reference to the message cited in Document 194, note 4.

3 See Document 184.

4 i.e. Minister to the Soviet Union. See Bruce's cablegram 30 of 16 May on file AA:M100, May 1943.

5 This is probably a reference to Officer's relations with Australia's first Minister (William Slater), who had left the Soviet Union because of ill health in mid April. Slater met Evatt in Washington in the course of his journey back to Australia and Evatt subsequently cabled to Hodgson: 'From what I can gather Officer and Heydon gave so little help to Slater that the case is almost one of sabotage' (see extract from cablegram E27 of 24 April on file AA:A4764, 4). No evidence to support Evatt's accusation has been found; indeed Slater's report on his term in Kuybyshev stated: 'The whole of the staff is giving satisfaction and working well together as a team' (see Slater's letter to Curtin of 17 June on file AA:A989, 43-44/845/4, i). Evatt may also have regarded Officer with suspicion because the latter had worked in the past with Bruce and Casey.

6 Evatt informed Curtin on 20 May that the Soviet Foreign Minister, V. M. Molotov, had agreed to Australia representing Polish interests in the Soviet Union and Curtin made a public announcement on 25 May (see Evatt's cablegrams E102 of 20 May and E107 of 24 May to Canberra; Evatt's cablegram E4 of 24 May to Kuybyshev; and External Affairs Dept cablegram 58 of 25 May to Kuybyshev). The Soviet Govt initially took the view that there was no need for an announcement in the Soviet Union, but on 18 June Evatt, who had been approached by the Polish authorities in London, asked Officer to make representations for the issue of an appropriate communique (see External Affairs Dept cablegram 78 of 16 June to Kuybyshev, Kuybyshev cablegrams 106 of 17 June and 114 of 23 June to the External Affairs Dept and Evatt's cablegram 6 of 18 June to Kuybyshev). On 3 July Officer advised Evatt that the Soviet authorities had agreed to the publication of a brief announcement in Izvestia (see cablegrams 32-3). All cablegrams cited in this note are on file AA:A989, 43-44/715/5/2/2.

For a detailed account of subsequent developments see Sir Peter Heydon, 'Protecting Polish interests in the USSR 1943-1944: An episode in Australian representation', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol. XVIII, no. 2, 1972, pp. 189-213.

[AA:A4764, 4]