ADSS 1.275 Alfredo Pacini, Charge d’affaires, Polish Nunciature, Angers, France, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.
Monday, July 17, 2017
ADSS 1.275 Pacini to Maglione: Glos Polski incident
Reference: Report 21/40 (AES 3267/40)
Location and date: Angers, 02.04.1940
Summary statement: Members of the Polish government condemn the article in Glos Polski and precautions have been taken. Pope’s concern for Poland has been mentioned in many official statements.
I reply with some delay to message 2476/40, regarding the article of the Polish newspaper Glos Polski (Voice of Poland) – on the visit of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Vatican (1). The delay is due, in part, to the slow nature of the Polish people, who always say jutro, “tomorrow”, and partly to the scattered location of the various offices and of responsible people who reside anywhere between Paris and Angers and are difficult to meet.
And now, here is what I report to Your Eminence.
The Glos Polski is printed in Paris, where all its writers and editors live. The paper is in contact with the Propaganda Ministry – a beehive of ultranationalist elements. Because of these contacts and also because the paper prints public notices about Government officials and audiences of the Polish President, it has gained a sort of semi-official character. Moreover, in Paris the Polish writers often meet the French newspapermen with left wing tendencies: this explains the tinge of certain opinions and feelings.
As soon as I arrived in Angers I Immediately considered what would be the best way to call the attention of the Government to the article in Glos Polski. However, I found a very different climate here than the one I noticed in Paris and the article either had not been noticed or had already been censured. (The Polish papers, of which a considerable number are published, are read very little by the Polish people themselves, who prefer the French papers, even when they only have a little knowledge of this language).
The first person to be surprised when I spoke to him about it, was the Foreign Minister as I had the honour to mention in my report 14/40 of 19 March (2) the article – he said – “has escaped me and I am very sorry, because all of us here are convinced that the Holy Father has a great love for Poland”. The Welfare Ministry, mentioned in my report 16/40 of 27 March, expressed similar thoughts. Many other persons were also surprised.
On 28 March, as soon as I received your message, 2476/40 (3) I went to the office of the President of the council of Ministers, where there is also the Press Relations office, to protest the incident. The Director General, Count Romer, who frequently deputises for General Sikorski who mainly looks after military affairs and is always busy with inspections, received me (4). Count Romer had not read the article in question and was shocked when I read it to him. He declared wonderment as to how such an article could have been written, saying they would ask for immediate satisfactory explanations.
He in fact wrote a letter to the Propaganda Ministry in Paris at once, asking for explanations and how they proposed to remedy the matter. He also enquired about the writer of the article, severely criticising the Editor of the paper.
The Propaganda Minister replied deploring the article – which had also escaped his notice and he apologised for that (5). He has reprimanded the Editor in chief of the newspaper for not having shown the article to him first, since it dealt with such a delicate matter; he has also expressed in stronger terms, a reprimand for the writer, instructing that articles of his should no longer appear in the newspaper which is now being put under the direct control of the Propaganda Ministry. A Polish censor will examine it (up until now only a French censor examined it) with instructions to watch carefully that nothing that offends Polish feelings be printed. He mentioned that distribution of Glos Polski has been forbidden to soldiers. Finally the Propaganda Minister has ordered a series of articles be written to offset as far as possible the painful impression which the article might have given to public opinion. I enclose the most important paragraphs of the first such articles with this report.
Furthermore, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, M. Zaleski, addressed words of respectful homage and thanks to the August Pontiff on behalf of the entire Polish nation in a speech he made to the Polish National Council on 28 March. I reported this in my submission Number 20/40. On 31 March the Propaganda Minister broadcast a speech where he spoke about the benevolent attitude of the Holy See towards Poland and of the affection of Poland for the Holy See. At its General meeting in Angers on 2 April, the Polish National Council unanimously acknowledged the work done by the Holy Father in favour of Poland and addressed to him devoted words of homage, thanks and filial affection. M. Paderewski, Vice-President of the Council, who does not participate actively at the meeting because of his age and ill health and now lives mostly in Switzerland, reported these matters to me personally (6).
I hope these manifestations of filial devotion to the August Pontiff from the highest Polish Authorities can alleviate the distress felt by the Holy Father.
(1) ADSS 1.273
(2) Not published in ADSS. August Zaleski (1883-1972) Polish Foreign Minister in Exile 1940-47.
(3) ADSS 1.273
(4) Tadeusz Romer (1894-1978), Director General in Exile 1939-42; Wladislaw Sikorski (1881-1943), Polish Prime Minister in Exile 1939-43.
(5) Polish Propaganda Minister
(6) Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), Chief of the National Council of Poland 1939-41.