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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]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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