Document from the papers of Stanlislas Mikolajczyk (Hoover Institution, Stanford, California)
We decided to write to you once more at this juncture, when the plans of the future organisation of the world are being shaped and defined. Your friendship and sympathy have been to us, throughout this war a source of comfort and encouragement to persist in our fight. To you, therefore, we address ourselves and beg you to be willing to be the spokesmen of our aims and desires.
We are deeply disturbed by tendencies showing in political discussions in Britain, which, to our mind, may have fatal consequences for Europe opening a period of anxiety and troubles all over the world. Our anxiety over the future of our nation and of the central and eastern European region increases with the growth, day by day, of the danger menacing our country.
We write our letter to the awe-inspiring cracking of the guns of the German squads carrying out the public mass executions in the streets of our towns. Since October, when this new method of terrorism and exterminations had first been applied, till the 1st of January of this year, 950 hostages, seized in the streets or dragged out of their homes, have been shot in Warsaw -- only in groups of 10 to 100, publicly in the squares and streets of the city. This happens in many other towns and villages. Simultaneously, the killing of prisoners continues as before. There is no doubt, that the Germans will go on killing our youth, our workers, peasants, and educated classes right to the end of the war, cho[o]sing the best people, the most valuable and forceful individuals with the aim of weakening and disabling our nation to the utmost degree. And, parallel to this mass-murder, round-ups and raids go on night and day and hundreds of our men, women and young people are being arrested. Transports to concentration camps continue in endless procession, and in these camps the Germans have brought to perfection their bestial tortures from which there is no escape, but death. The crematories in the camps burn day and night.
In this fight against the Polish people the Germans use every available means, including lethal gas. In Oswiecim [Auschwitz], Belzec, Majdanek and Treblinka, they have built special gas chambers to destroy prisoners wholesale. The Germans already embarked upon gas warfare in this war! Not yet on the fronts -- but hundreds of our fellow-citizens perish in gas chambers daily serving at the same time as test [objects?] for various kinds of gas.
Our losses have mounted to 5-6 millions dead -- of whom 2.5 millions are Polish citizens of Jewish faith, who were murdered last year for the simple reason, that they were born Jews.
These holocausts, of millions of Polish people, destroyed already the majority of social and political leaders, scientists, scholars, technicians and a multitude of ordinary working men and women, whose only fault was, that they remained Polish. Add to this over two million workmen and peasants deported to the interior of Germany and over a million driven into Russia, of whom only small numbers succeeded in getting out to the Middle East, while the great majority gradually pass away in the frightful conditions of the Soviet "penal labour camps". The most active elements the most useful and vigorous were chosen, so that they should not stand in the way of the aims of another age-long aggressor against our country and our freedom.
This is the price we have already paid for our decision to fight tyranny.
We know how difficult it is for you to believe that all this has really happened. The idea of a cruel biological extermination of nations is so foreign to you, that your imagination simply does not grasp such terrible pictures, which we face every day and which reminds every one of us that it is only by chance that the life of this or that man will be saved.
And the final cost is still to come. Himmler already decided and [Hans] Frank already sent instructions as to the evacuation of Polish territories. The educated and professional classes and all unable to work are to be destroyed. Those fit to work physically will be deported as slaves in the wake of the retreating German armies. We know how these orders were executed in the Ukraine. We have no illusions, The Germans will execute the orders in Poland with the same meticulous thoroughness.
We do not complain. We want, however, the world to know of our fate, so that the sacrifice of our people shall not be in vain. We do not despair, but get ready to face the new horrors. The world may rest assured, that before we die we shall fight first. But let it be known that we shall die in thousands and tens of thousands in our fight against the Nazi hordes, their tanks and airplanes, their automatic guns and pistols ourselves equipped only with the most primitive weapons. We are disarmed. We clamour for arms. The degree of our resistance will be measured by the level of our armaments. We can get that assistance from you, from Britain only. As, according to your letter to us, it is impossible to paralyse the murderous activities of the Germans by retaliations from the air, there remains nothing for us, but to hope for salvation through speeding up of military operations and delivery of arms to us.
What our Home Forces, with whom we closely cooperate received, has become a serious factor of defence. But it is inadequate especially in view of the German evacuation plans. Our first request to you is, therefore to multiply the arms' deliveries for our Home Army.
Permit us, however, not to confine ourselves to this only. In spite of our losses, our political life continues and if only for the sake of a historical record let us state, that the working classes of Poland preserved all their spiritual fortitude and that every gap torn in our ranks by the terrorism of our the invader is quickly filled by new men ready for work and sacrifice. Our organisations to an ever increasing degree embrace all the working people. The political, military, and special organisations of our Party and of the Trade-Unions work ceaselessly. As representatives of this vigorous and undaunted movement, we have the right and the duty to present to you our political standpoint.
Until now, despite our tragic conditions, we felt certain, that our sacrifice will lead to a victorious end for us as well, to the reconstruction of an independent and strengthened republic, in which the workers and peasants in brotherly union with the non-manual workers will be able to realise the ideals of liberty and social justice.
Our hope is now shattered. That hope gave us till now, the strength to face death steadfastly. Today, however, there is fear in the eyes of our fellow citizens, fear caused by increasingly growing symptoms of a return to imperialistic methods in international relations. Doubts enter our hearts, and the painful thought hurts our brains, that our people who were honoured as "the inspiration of mankind in the fight against nazism" weakened and bled in the unceasing struggle and perhaps laid prostrate tomorrow, is being sacrificed by the great powers to the insatiable greed of Russia. Where conscience raises its voice the conservatives will silence it by an appeal to "statesmanship", while the so-called progressive elements will feel absolved by the partnership with Soviet Russia, which for ignorant and snobs of all kind has become a symbol of progress.
How well we Poles know this situation! Our history is full of analogies. Had not the three partitions of Poland been executed by Prussia in partnership with Russia, in the same fashion as the fourth partition of 1939 by the Nazi Reich and Soviet Russia. Was not Catherine, Empress of Russia, the personification of progress for the European snobs of the XVIII century, was not she the Semiramis of the North and the defender of dissidents. Diplomacy watched with indifference the destruction of a nation -- for that was "statesmanship".
You do know, however, the communists and communism. You know how they tried to weaken the British people's will to fight Nazism. How much, be [sic. by] spreading cowardice in France, they were responsible for the capitulation of that country. You know that communism in Russia is a disguise for the old imperialism, which always tried to devour its neighbours.
We consider ourselves to be members of the western European family of nations. We want to live and to progress together with other European peoples. We have once overthrown the "Moscow["] yoke, and we are ready to give our lives once more in order not to be under that yoke again, even if for a transitory period. Even a temporary occupation of Polish territories by the Soviet will magnify the calamities caused by the German occupation.
You may not know and perhaps you cannot understand the tragic fate of our officers -- mainly of the reserve -- who surrendered to the Russians after the September campaign. But you do know the fate of Alter and Erlich and you will not think that we exaggerate when, after what we have experienced in our relations with Russia throughout these long years, we expect from a Soviet occupation nothing but a final destruction of the active elements of our na-tion, in the first place of the socialist movement, which will not agree to any compromise with the Soviet tyranny and will not betray its ideals of freedom.
Trust us. We do not hate Russia. We want to live on the friendliest terms with her. In the interest of peace, of our economic development and of the general progress of our country, we want a peaceful and friendly co-operation with Russia. However, our generation still bears in mind the Tzar's predatory attempts to russify our country -- and now, after a short respite granted to us by the Russian revolution, we face again the violation of solemn non aggression pledges and undisguised tendencies to grab a part, if not the whole of Poland.
Absolute certainty that the sovereignty of the two countries, Poland and Russia, will not be impaired, is a condition of a friendly and peaceful relationship. Without that certainty, Russian nationalism and imperialism, will always look on Poland, as its ready prey on the road to further conquests in the West and South of Europe.
Security and a lasting peaceful settlement in the eastern part of Western Europe are indispensable not only for the welfare of Poland, but also for the good of Russia in order to rid her of imperialism and aggressiveness, for the good of Europe in order to guarantee her against Russian imperialism
The fate of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the territorial integrity of these countries and their security through an international organisation, will determine on the fate of a future Europe. Any concession to Russian imperialism will serve as an encouragement and a prize for Russian nationalism and chauvinism.
We are well aware, how little moral values count in international relations. However, leaving in the hands of Russia even the smallest bit of land which the Soviet acquired through their alliance with Hitler, directed against the entire democratic world, would absolve the USSR of her policy in 1939-40 and would amount to approval of that policy. If Russia will not comply with the will of the world to restore independence of countries, overpowered by Hitler, where it has been done with her co-operation -- then the future may indeed bring an intensification of the danger from that most powerful empire.
That's why we reject categorically Russian annexation plans as regards our eastern territories and demand that the pre-war Polish-Russian frontier be maintained. That is why, in full agreement with our party, the Delegate in Poland of the Government of the Republic has ordered that in the event of the Russian armies entering Polish territory, the population not only must remain on the spot and resist the German evacuation, but also reveal to the Soviet armies the fact, that a Polish under-ground administration exists on all territories legally belonging to Poland.
We know, that we shall not be strong enough to assert ourselves. It will depend entirely on the Soviet how we shall have to treat their armies -- which we, as the appeal of the Government's Delegate put it, will meet as the "allies of our allies" -- and whether we shall, have to regard them as invaders.
When we were signing in Riga the peace Treaty with Russia we had left beyond the frontiers of our Republic two million Polish people who for centuries lived on Ukrainian and White Ruthenian soil. Where are they now. Remnants could be traced in official Soviet statistics, dispersed in the remotest parts of the Soviet Empire. Yet, we kept silent for the sake of maintaining peaceful relations with Russia. We have no claims on Russia now, but we cannot agree to any attempts at weakening us today, when the biological war waged against us by Hitler is devastating us to the extreme.
The Polish people for centuries have lived with the Ukrainian and Whiteruthenian [sic] peoples on the confines of our Republic. Our Party has always been the most loyal friend of the Ukrainians and White Ruthenians during the lifetime of the Polish Republic, and we always protected them against the abuses of bureaucracy. More than once they have elected our comrades to represent them in the Parliament, thus demonstrating their confidence. We do not hesitate to tell men arid women all the world over, and especially you, comrades, that the heart of the masses of the people of those areas is filled with fear at the prospect of incorporation into the USSR The fraudulent comedy of the so-called "selections for self-determination", when people were compulsorily driven to the polls and no political group but the communist party had the right to nominates candidates -- was a nauseating exhibition of cynicism of both its authors and actors.
We are all the more entitled to take such a stand, that the major Polish parties, which support the Government and co-operate with it both at home and in exile, have solemnly adopted this principle of full equality of all Polish citizens regardless of their faith or nationality. This found its expression in the declarations of the Government and guarantees for the future that the national minorities and the Poles will henceforth live together in full harmony and friendship on the basis of "equals with equals and free with free".
It is, therefore, the duty of our allies to safe-guard this rights of the Polish state on the territories, which may be occupied by the Soviet armies pursuing the Germans westwards. It has come to our knowledge that the Moscow conference made decisions regarding the obligation to withdraw forces from foreign territories on the cessation of military operations in particular areas. If this is not to remain a hollow promise, conditions must be created for the work and activities of the authorities set up by the government of the country. The Soviet, paving their way for "faits accomplis" have broken off diplomatic relations with our government and have created puppet Polish formations in Moscow. It is, therefore, imperative, that at the time the Soviet armies will be crossing the Eastern borders of the Polish Republic, political allied missions, should be present there, with the mandate to cooperate in the establishment of a loyal relationship between the onmarching Soviet troops and the recreated Polish authorities, to safeguard the lives and the liberties of Polish citizen; and to prevent further accomplished facts.
This is a most acute problem. A satisfactory solution of that problem will serve as a basis and a precedent for future general political settlements.
As to these future settlements, we must categorically protest against and oppose any tendencies to establish a Russian sphere of influence over the Baltic States, Poland and the Balkans. These countries wish to and can develop as independent units. Even the most backward of them are havens of civilisation compared with Russia. The creation of a "sphere of influence" would amount to forcing that European region at least a century back in the development of its civilisation. We fully appreciate Russia's effort in her upward drive. We wish her a speedy progress. But the world should be aware that to place any non Russian areas under Russian influence would retard the development of Russia herself. It will open new sources of national antagonism -- for none of these nations will agree to Russian supremacy without resistance -- it will foster Russian nationalism and divert their efforts from urgent problems of internal reconstruction and progress to a struggle against these nations rising against being forcibly placed under Russian tutelage.
This is not what mankind expects from an allied victory. All human beings the world over are yearning for a life of peace, for socially organised creative work, for a development of the civilisation of various nations and the pooling of its efforts in one world civilisation embracing all mankind. That is why we aim at a closest union with our neighbours in the north and the east on the basis of uniting "equals with equals, free with free". That is why we cherish the ideal of a Central European Federation, the foundation[s] of which were laid by our government in the Polish-Czechoslovak confederation agreement. Yet, hardly born, that scheme had to face a formidable enemy, Soviet Russia. The Soviet spared no efforts to prevent that scheme from materialising. They attacked it by diversive activities of the communist bands in Poland, who fight the Poles rather than the Germans; they torpedoed the federation with the help of a group of the Czech exiles. How significant it is! Will this scheme of a new organisation of Europe not materialise for the reason that it may guarantee a full independence of Central Europe from both Russia and Germany, an independence which is a prerequisite for international cooperation. We shall fight to the end for that idea. We are convinced that the entire socialist movement of Europe will fight for it and that you, with all your force, will be in the forefront of that fight.
Such a voluntary regional federations will form the foundations of a Union of the Free Peoples of Europe, friendly cooperating in full security, having at their disposal a military force, which will be a guarantee of that security. Russia and other great powers should also be members of that Union. A far flung international co-operation will develop in this union as well as the consciousness of a European unity and solidarity and of world's citizenship.
We are fully aware, that we may be told reproachfully how little we can materially contribute today to the realisation of our ideas, But the very fact, that we daily face death, that in the nearest future we shall be faced by an even greater tragedy, moves us to express to you our feelings, to inform you of our aims and ideals which give us the necessary strength to persist in the uneven struggle. And who can know our situation better than ourselves, as well as the situation of that strip of Europe on which our people have lived for a thousand years.
The knowledge that our ideals will be realized in this war, and the assurance that our sacrifice will not be in vain, enable us to follow the path we had chosen and increase tenfold our strength in our struggle.
This knowledge and this assurance we shall derive from a clear stand of the governments of Great Britain and the United States of America as regards our basic aims:
To secure our territory against the prospects of a Soviet occupation.
To take in consideration in the operational and strategic plans of the Allies the use of our forces is exile in such a way, that they should reach their homeland is the shortest possible time.
Finally -- to equip us with arms and munitions, so that we shall successfully resist the German evacuation plans.
This could again create an atmosphere or confidence and security so badly needed in a country which is being ruthlessly devastated. .
We write to you in the conviction, that our thoughts and aims will be properly reflected and expressed in your political activities.
Central Executive Committee
Warsaw, 10th January, 1944