Polish American Relations in the Wake of World War II
by Richard C. Lukas (1982), 190 pages.
monography deals with America-Poland relations within one specific
period, 1945-1948. The author considers it a sequel to his earlier
book titled The Strange Allies, which was dealing with the War.
Although this scholarly work was published some twenty years after the
events, it is an exemplary offering of a significant piece of history.
No wonder, for the author wrote many excellent works in this field. As
he was born in 1937, he has to rely on his sources and wisely refrains
from personal views, although we recognize where his sympathies lie.
While the main facts are pretty well known, it is instructive to
refresh our memories of this sensitive subject.
there is the Potsdam Conference. Here, near Berlin, the victors of the
War met. In July 1945, the new American President Harry S Truman
confronted for the first time his partners. His talks with Stalin had
a serious impact on Polish affairs, particularly because Churchill had
just been voted out of office. This was not a happy time for Polish
delegates who faced an uphill fight regarding exact western frontier.
How this problem was handled will be of great interest to the reader.
there are chapters about the post-war relief. Political considerations
deeply affected relations‑between the American and the. Polish
governments. UNRRA shipments and other assistance were heading towards
Poland and were of tremendous help. Consider that 90% of Polish.
children were undernourished and 25% of them had TB. Still, there was
always an undercurrent of doubt in the U.S.: are we assisting the
communist regime or are we engaged only in an emergency mission of
mercy. One is reminded of the Hoover Mission in the late 20s, when
thousands of packages marked “amerykańska kaszka manna” were
widely distributed in Poland and became a constant symbol of American
aid. But at that time there was no political angle.
and lastly, we follow an intriguing yarn in the diplomatic world.
American ambassadors during this period were Arthur Bliss Lane and
Stanton Griffis. It seems today that they were placed in an impossible
situation. Poland was in a violent upheaval, with no bright prospects
in sight. The Lublin Government was deeply suspicious of the West.
This was not only obvious in the economic negotiations (the offers of
the Marshall Plan were rejected) but also evident in the reception of
returnees from the West who were viewed with suspicion. The U.S.
ambassadors kept sending their urgent warnings to Washington but to no
avail. By 1948 the fraudulent elections took place, and prominent
leaders such as Mikołajczyk, Stefan Korboński, and Mierzwa were
compelled to escape to the West. The Iron Curtain descended. The
bitter legacy, in the author’s words, ”was the consequence of
Washington’s having habituated the Kremlin to deal with political
issues in eastern Europe without the United States during the war