Skip to main content

Historical documents

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

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-

[AA:A989, 43-44/715/5/2/2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top