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2008 | 43 | 169-193

Article title

PERSPECTIVES OF MILITARY COOPERATION BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND MOSCOW AND THE POLISH QUESTION (JANUARY-JULY 1944) (Perspektywy wspolpracy militarnej Waszyngtonu i Moskwy a sprawa rzadu polskiego (styczen-lipiec 1944))


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Resolutions accepted at the time of the Teheran Conference indicate that relations between the coalition leaders had undergone a positive turnabout, and that the agreements attained at the time would make it possible to end the war in the nearest future. The Allies established that Operation Overlord was to take place in May 1944 and would be connected with operations in the south of France. At the same time, the Soviet Union was to inaugurate its offensive along the eastern front; in connection with the planned operations in Europe the Allied Staffs would retain close contacts and jointly prepare a deception plan, later to be known as Operation Bodyguard, of misleading the enemy on the eve of the invasion. The United States President, however, expected something more, i. e. greater engagement on the part of the Soviet Union in the war in the Far East. His anticipations were well founded, since already during the first meetings held in Teheran, Marshal Stalin declared that after the defeat of Germany and the end of the war in Europe the Soviet Union would declare war against Japan. The President hoped that the success of the Teheran Conference would denote a commencement of military cooperation between Washington and Moscow and the implementation of a special project devised by the Department of War, which assumed close Allied cooperation in air raids over Germany. The project in question foresaw that due to their short operation range bombers taking off from bases in the United Kingdom and Italy would be permitted to use airfields in the Soviet Union. The American President was of the opinion that shuttle bombing, subsequently known as Operation Frantic, would not only demonstrate Allied solidarity, but also pave the path for a later deployment of Soviet bases in Siberia in the war against Japan. Moreover, the US President attached great hopes to the work conducted by Ambassador Harriman, and to his experiences and skills reflected in achievements in American-Soviet relations. He was also aware of the fact that Harriman appreciated his current priorities and far-reaching objectives. This is the reason why the Ambassador received unrestricted carte blanche for pursuing assorted political issues in Moscow. Endeavouring to establish the best possible relations with Moscow, Harriman was anxious about the growing crisis in Polish-Soviet relations. He believed, however, that difficult problems could be resolved and, following the example set by Edvard Benes, the President of Czechoslovakia, maintained that the crisis in question could be assuaged and that it would be possible to set up a Polish government accepted by Stalin. In his talks with the Soviet leaders Harriman frequently expressed his interest in the question of the Polish government. In Moscow this approach was interpreted as a lack of resistance against plans for the inclusion of politicians of Polish descent from the USA, the United Kingdom and the USSR. From the beginning of 1944 the President took into consideration the emergence of a new Polish government. He opposed the appointment of the new ambassador in London after the resignation of Anthony Drexel Biddle. Presidential consent to the trip to Moscow by Oskar Lange and Rev. Stanislaw Orlemariski signified permission for a reorganisation of the Polish government. From the President's viewpoint, the prime obstacle in creating a new Polish government that would concur with Stalin's wishes, was the stand of Americans of Polish descent who protested against Soviet policies and demanded that the President represent a decisive attitude towards the annex- ionistic intentions represented by Moscow. At the beginning of February 1944, when Harriman made all possible efforts to commence talks about military cooperation, Stalin skilfully took advantage of the Ambassador's stance and linked the question of reorganising the Polish government with American-Soviet air force cooperation in Europe, in which Washington was greatly interested. The growing hopes cherished by Washington for deploying Soviet airfields in the Far East and the participation of the Soviet Union in the war against Japan, stimulated Harriman's endeavours for establishing such a Polish government that would be accepted by Stalin. In July 1944 Harriman consistently pursued this path; he paved the way for the representatives of the State National Council aiming at contacts with Washington and, at the same time neutralised Hull's support for the Polish government in London. It was Harriman who impeded chances for obtaining 10 million dollars for the needs of a Polish Underground army, which was the sole actual accomplishment of the June visit paid by Prime Minister Stanislaw Mikolajczyk in Washington. In July 1944, on the eve of Mikolajczyk's visit to Moscow, it was expected that the project of reorganising a Polish government, pondered from the beginning of 1944, would gather speed. Harriman was one of those few persons who were well aware of the fact that the development of air force cooperation with Moscow and, subsequently, Soviet participation in the war in the Pacific, depended on the outcome of this visit.







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