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Soviet-Polish Dispute

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1943

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The House will no doubt wish me to make a brief statement about the unfortunate difficulties which have arisen since the House rose between the Soviet and Polish Governments. There is no need for me to enter into the immediate origins of the dispute; I would only draw attention, as indeed the Soviet and Polish Governments have already done in their published statements, to the cynicism which permits the Nazi murderers of hundreds of thousands of innocent Poles and Russians to make use of a story of mass murder, in an attempt to disturb the unity of the Allies. From the outset His Majesty's Government have used their best efforts to per- suade both the Poles and the Russians not to allow these German manoeuvres to have even the semblance of success. It was therefore with regret that they learned that, following an appeal by the Polish Government to the International Red Cross to investigate the German story, the Soviet Government felt compelled to interrupt relations with the Polish Government.

His Majesty's Government have no wish to attribute blame for these events to anyone except the common enemy. Their sole desire is that these differences between two of the United Nations shall be repaired as swiftly as possible, and that relations between the Soviet Union and Poland shall be restored to that basis of collaboration established, in spite of all the difficulties, between Marshal Stalin and General Sikorski, which has proved of such benefit to the cause of the United Nations and is of far-reaching importance for the future well-being of Europe. In pursuing this policy, His Majesty's Government are, of course, working in the closest consultation and collaboration with the Government of the United States. They trust that the statesmanship which led to the conclusion of the Soviet-Polish Agreement of 30th July, 1941, will succeed again where it succeeded before. One thing at least is certain: The Germans need indulge in no hope that their manoeuvres will weaken the combined offensive of the Allies or the growing resistance of the enslaved populations of Europe.

May I take it that the right hon. Gentleman means that the United States and ourselves will continue to do what we can to dissipate the differences there may be between Poland and the U.S.S.R. with a view to reaching the largest measure of common understanding?

Was the Foreign Office informed beforehand by the Polish Government of their intention to make this appeal to the International Red Cross?

There are a number of possible questions I might answer, but I feel fairly certain that the best contribution I can make is to remind the House that on this subject "Least said, soonest mended."

Will the right hon. Gentleman encourage newspapers and various organisations throughout the country to follow his example and advice?