The Text of Ambassador Grzybowski's Reply to Potemkin

To date there has been no critical discussion of the many and puzzling variations in the different texts of the note attributed to Grzybowski.

According to a Polish government website the original text of Grzybowski's reply to Potemkin is as follows. Passages in this text that are not in or are different from the Żaroń text below are in boldface.

Żaden z argumentów użytych w nocie dla usprawiedliwienia uczynienia z układów polsko - radzieckich świstków papieru nie wytrzymuje krytyki. Suwerenność państwa istnieje, dopóki żołnierze armii regularnej walczą. To, co nota mówi o sytuacji mniejszości narodowych, jest nonsensem. Wielokrotnie w naszych rozmowach mówił pan o solidarności słowiańskiej. Gdzie się podziała wasza solidarność słowiańska?

W czasie I wojny światowej terytoria Serbii i Belgii były okupowane, ale nikomu nie przyszło na myśl uważać z tego powodu zobowiązań wobec nich za nieważne. Napoleon wszedł do Moskwy, ale póki istniała armia Kutuzowa uważano, że Rosja również istnieje. Warszawa się broni, państwo polskie istnieje.

- http://www.rg1.republika.pl/teksty/56.html

A Russian-language translation of Grzybowski's note is given in I.S. Iazhborovskaia, A.IU. Iablokov, V.S. Parsadanova, eds., Katynskii Sindrom v sovetsko-pol'skikh I rossiisko-pol'skikh otnosheniiakh. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001, Chapter One (Online at http://katynbooks.narod.ru/syndrome/Docs/Chapter_01.html. This is the text quoted by IUrii Mukhin, Antirossiiskaia podlost', sect. 179. In order to display the correct character set we have put it online again on a separate page here.

According to footnote 128 the authors have taken this text from Żaroń P. Agresja Związku Radzieckiego na Polskę 17 września 1939 '.: Los jeńców polskich. Toruń, 1998, p. 47.

The Żaroń text is somewhat different from that quoted in the Polish government website above. Passages in the Żaroń text that are not present in the text from the website are in boldface.

Żaden z argumentów użyty do usprawiedliwienia uczynienia z układów polsko-radzieckich świstków papieru nie wytrzymuje krytyki. Według moich wiadomości głowa państwa i rząd przebywają na terytorium polskim [...]. Suwerenność państwa istnieje, dopóki żołnierze armii regularnej biją sią [...]. To, co nota mówi o sytuacji mniejszości, jest nonsensem. Wszystkie mniejszości dowodzą czynami swej całkowitej solidarności z Polską w walce z germanizmem. Wielokrotnie w naszych rozmowach mówił pan o solidarności słowiańskiej. W chwili obecnej nie tylko Ukraińcy i Białorusini biją sią u naszego boku przeciwko Niemcom, ale także legiony czeskie i słowackie. Gdzie więc podziała się wasza solidarność słowiańska? [...]. W czasie pierwszej wojny światowej terytoria Serbii i Belgii były okupowane, ale nikomu nie przyszło na myśl uważać z tego powodu zobowiązań wobec nich za nieważne. Napoleon wszedł do Moskwy, ale póki istniałi armie Kutuzowa uważano, że Rosja również istnieje.

What follows is an English translation of the Żaroń text, the one used by Lebedeva, with variants from the Polish website text. Passages in the Żaroń text that are not present in the text from the website are in boldface. Passages in the website text that are not in or are different from the Żaroń text are in italics.

Not one of the arguments used in the note to1 justify turning the Polish-Soviet treaties into empty paper can withstand criticism. According to my information the Head of State and the government remain on Polish territory [...]. The sovereignty of a state continues to exist as long as the soldiers of the regular army continue to fight [...]. What the note states concerning the situation of national minorities is nonsense. All the minorities are proving in action their full solidarity with Poland in the struggle against Germanism. You have spoken many times in our conversations about Slavic solidarity. At the present moment no only are Ukrainians and Belorussians fighting together with us against the Germans, but so are Czech and Slovak legions. So where is3 your Slavic solidarity? [...].During the First World War the territories of Serbia and Belgium were occupied, but it entered no one's head to regard their obligations to these States as non-existent on that account. Napoleon entered Moscow but, as long as the armies of Kutuzov existed, it was considered that Russia also existed. Warsaw is defending itself, the Polish state exists.

1 Minor grammatical difference.

2 Use of different verb with the same meaning.

3 Slight change of word order.

As can be seen, the two Polish texts far from identical.

1. Only one sentence is identical in both texts: "Wielokrotnie w naszych rozmowach mówił pan o solidarności słowiańskiej." "You have spoken many times in our conversations about Slavic solidarity." Every other sentence shows at least slight differences in the two texts.

2. Three sentences occur in the Żaroń text that do not occur in the Polish website text.

3. The longer Żaroń text also contains three ellipses that are not indicated in the website text. These ellipses mean that the Żaroń is an abbreviated version of yet another text.

Footnote 57 in the Żaroń gives the source Żaroń used:

57 Tamże, s. 68; MiD, WJH, sygn. V-20-10, dok. 2.

'Tamże' means ibid., the work cited in the previous footnote. Footnote 56 is as follows:

56 A. Bregman, Najlepszy sojusznik Hitlera, s. 67.

This work is identified on page 467 as 'Bregman A. Najlepszy sojusznik Hitlera. Studium współpracy niemiecko-sowieckiej 1939-1941, Londyn 1941.'

The Żaroń volume does not explain the abbreviations 'MiD' and 'WJH.' On page 51 there is a footnote identifying a document as 'Mid, WIH, sygn. V-20-10, dok. 0.' Another document is identified on page 110 as 'WIH, MiD, sygn. V-20-10, s. 7.' These must be the same abbreviations used without consistency.

Such archival abbreviations (for such they must be) suggest that originals of these documents exist somewhere and could be consulted.

The Official Text?

An English translation of this note is given as a part of Ambassador Grzybowski's report to the Polish government in exile in Paris dated November 6, 1939 and printed in the volume Documents on Polish-Soviet Relations 1939-1945. Volume I: 1939-1943. General Sikorski Historical Institute. London: Heinemann, 1961, No. 69 pp. 71-90. The source of this text is stated as: Republic of Poland, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Official documents concerning Polish-German and Polish-Soviet relations, 1933-1939. London: Hutchinson, 1940, pp. 211-212. This is the Polish White Book". The text in question is on pp. 87-88.

We can immediately see that there was no "note" as such. The text described as a note is here given as a short part of a much longer report completed much later. It is represents a part of Grzybowski's official report, not a precise summary of what he may actually have said to Potemkin seven weeks earlier.

In this text (below) annotations are identified as follows:

* The three ellipses in the texts given above are underlined.

* Passages tacitly omitted from the above texts are in italics.

* One interesting alteration in the texts above is given in boldface. This helps us date the deliberate and unacknowledged alterations in the texts of Grzybowski's "note" given above, both of which mention "the First World War", an expression rarely used as early as September 1939.

None of the arguments intended to justify the transformation of those agreements into "scraps of paper" would withstand criticism. According to my information the head of the Polish State and the Government were within the territory of the Republic. The functioning of the Government was by the nature of things restricted by the state of war. "You will not demand that at such a time the Minister for Agriculture should carry out agricultural reforms?" For that matter the question of the Government was not so essential at that moment. The sovereignty of the State existed so long as a single regular soldier was still fighting. "You will not maintain that the Polish soldiers are no longer fighting!"

That which the note said about the position of the minorities within our borders was nonsense. All the minorities, including the Jews, had not only given expression to their loyalty, but were actively proving it by their complete solidarity with Poland in her struggle against Germanism. More than once in our conversations, I told him, "you have appealed to Slavonic solidarity. At our side at this moment not only Ukrainians and White Russians, but also Czech and Slovak legions are fighting the Germans. Where is your Slavonic solidarity?"

So many times has the USSR indignantly condemned and stigmatized the Germans' perfidy. The note which you have read me would signify that you had taken the same road.

During the Great War the territories of Serbia and Belgium were occupied, but it entered no one's head to regard their obligations to these States as non-existent on that account. Napoleon was once in Moscow, but so long as Kutuzov's army existed it was considered that Russia existed."

The Russian text is a faithful translation of the Żaroń text above. I reproduce it here because it was the basis for Lebedeva's discussion which is analyzed in the article.