The Pittsburgh Press (March 2, 1943)
Reds say Atlantic Charter is violated by exiled government
By John Parris, United Press staff writer
London, England –
Diplomatic observers believed today that Poland’s hopes of regaining her pre-war frontiers are definitely ended, although Polish Premier Władysław Sikorski may attempt to contact Joseph Stalin in an effort to reach some understanding.
A Russian declaration, distributed by the TASS Agency, accused the Poles of imperialism and violation of the Atlantic Charter in asking for the pre-war frontier, but in spite of this, the Polish government-in-exile stood firm today in its demands.
Most observers here believed Russia is determined to retain the frontier that existed in 1940 at the time of the Nazi blitz on Russia, which resulted when the Russians marched into Poland from the east after the Germans had attacked from the west.
Seek U.S. intervention
It is known that Polish leaders are anxious for the United States and Great Britain to use their influence with Russia, but it was believed that they would not interfere since the question is one which solely concerns the Russians and Poles.
It is generally thought that the Soviets will have a dominant voice in the determination of frontiers in Eastern Europe.
A. J. Cummings, writing in The News Chronicle, said:
Russia certainly will insist on a satisfactory and strategic frontier for its own military security and in the view of most diplomatic observers this will require the 1940 boundary.
The dispute centers around the territory in eastern Poland, populated by Ukrainians and White Russians, which was occupied by Russia when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.
The dispute seemed to lengthen the shadow of one of the cardinal principles of the post-World War I settlement – the self-determination of peoples – which figured in much of the discontent preceding the outbreak of the second war.
The 1921 peace treaty between Russia and Poland established a border which, according to authoritative estimates, included four million persons of Russian antecedents in Poland.
Lord Curzon, then British Foreign Minister, had suggested a border based upon ethnographical considerations and TASS referred to his efforts saying that:
Despite his unfriendly attitude toward the Soviet Union, he understood that Poland could not make any claims on Ukrainian and White Russian territory.
A Polish spokesman took issue with the statement by TASS which contended that the occupation united Ukrainian and White Russian peoples who had been under Polish rule with their “blood brothers” who were Russians.
On the contrary, the Poles constitute a large part of the population in the area, which historically always has belonged to Poland.
Poland, like Russia, is made up of a number of different races and Russia is attempting to claim for itself what it is denying to the Poles, the spokesman said.
Calls cities ‘Polish’
The two largest cities in the disputed area, Vilna and Lvov, were described by the spokesman as “purely Polish.”
The TASS statement said the Polish government’s statement of Feb. 25 demanding a restoration of the pre-war borders represented a continuation of the policy of:
…imperialistic governments who divide among themselves the traditional Ukrainian and White Russian territories.
Leading Soviet circles consider that negation of the right for Ukrainian and White Russian peoples to unite with their blood brothers is evidence of the existence of imperialistic tendencies in the Polish government and that their references to the Atlantic Charter can have no foundation whatsoever.
Cites ‘national rights’
The Atlantic Charter gives no one the right to encroach on the national rights of the Ukrainians and the White Russians – on the contrary it springs from the principle of acknowledgement of the national rights of peoples, including the Ukrainian and the White Russian peoples.
TASS said Poland’s claim that it never agreed to collaboration with Germany against Russia before the war “does not tally with the facts.”
The whole world knows of the pro-fascist policy of the Polish government of rapprochement with Hitler’s Germany and its [former Foreign] Minister Józef Beck, who strove to oppose Poland to the Soviet Union.
The Polish spokesman denied that the pre-war Polish government was pro-fascist and said Beck went to Moscow as well as to Berlin:
…in line with the policy of balancing between Russia and Germany.