Amerykanie w Polsce – Americans in Poland, 1919-1947 is a visually stunning bilingual catalogue for the exhibition which was held last summer in Warsaw at the History Meeting House (Dom Spotkań z Historią) in partnership with the US Embassy and American Center Warsaw. The catalogue can now be purchased online (follow instructions listed below) to help cover the expenses involved in preparing the second edition of this exhibition being planned in the US for 2021. The text is bilingual, English and Polish, making the book a perfect gift for Polish and Polish-American and Polish-Canadian friends and relatives, as well as for non-Polish Americans and non-Polish Canadians who would be interested in learning more about Poland’s history and Polish-American relations in the 20th century. By buying this book, you can help bring the exhibition to the United States.

The exhibition catalogue highlights a generation of Americans, none of whom had Polish ancestry, who devoted their talent, influence and energy to help Poland recover and defend its independence between 1919 and 1939. During WWII and immediately after, they fought against impossible odds, never giving up on their conviction that Poland would eventually rise up again. 

Among them were three diplomats: Hugh Gibson, Anthony Drexel-Biddle, Arthur Bliss Lane; military pilots including Merian Cooper; journalists including Pulitzer Prize war reporter Larry Allen; humanitarian workers including a Nobel Peace Prize winner Maurice Pate; and Herbert Hoover before and after his US presidency.

The authors of the catalogue are Jan-Roman Potocki and Vivian H. Reed. Jan-Roman Potocki graduated from the Institute d’Études Politiques in Paris and Cambridge University. His own family history motivated him to illustrate Poland’s place in the world through stories of Americans and Poles cooperating for a common cause. His uncle, Jerzy Potocki, was the Polish Ambassador in Washington (1936-1940).

Vivian H. Reed is an American historian who together with M.B.B Biskupski, Jochen Böhler and Jan-Roman Potocki wrote and edited An American in Warsaw: Selected Writings of Hugh S. Gibson, US Minister to Poland, 1919-1924.

A superb bi-lingual catalogue (EN/PL) for Amerykanie w Polsce – Americans in Poland, 1919-1947 is now available for purchase online, 120 pages, in color , with 100+ rare archive photos, soft cover.

Unfortunately, the catalogue is not listed on Amazon, but it can be purchased through a PayPal platform from Potocki Spirits Ltd (Jan-Roman Potocki is also a successful entrepreneur in charge of his family’s spirits production. If you are buying the catalogue for a library, a club, an organization or a business, you may want to alert your management that this is a book purchase in support of an educational cause.)

Order the bilingual catalogue to help bring the Americans in Poland exhibition to the United States in 2021.

https://www.paypal.me/battleforthetruth

If you follow these instructions listed here, the company promises that the book will be mailed promptly from Poland.

I ordered several copies for delivery in Poland and in the US. It is possible to leave shipping instructions on the PayPal platform. All books were shipped and delivered within the promised time period. It was possible to enter different shipping addresses in the PayPal comments section. All of my instructions were honored. For delivery in Poland, I used the regular mail price.

  • On the PayPal platform click on GBP, go down the list of currencies and choose USD currency.
  • Calculate your price for delivery to US or Canada (regular mail – 3 weeks, or airmail – 1 week).

1 catalogue: US$ 20.00 Regular Mail / US$ 25.00 Airmail
2 catalogues: US$ 40.00 Regular Mail / US$ 50.00 Airmail
3 catalogues: US$ 50.00 Regular Mail / US$ 60.00 Airmail

DO NOT CLICK on the box “goods and services” on the PayPal platform. (Clicking on it will not affect the delivery, but I was informed that not clicking “goods and services” makes it a purchase in support of an educational initiative.)

  • Provide address for delivery and any additional instructions.

I am certain that you will enjoy reading Americans in Poland as I did. In addition to being visually stunning, the book is also superbly written by Jan-Roman Potocki and Vivian H. Reed. It has one of the best concise descriptions of Polish-American relations in the 20th century.

As noted by Piotr Jakubowski, Director of the History Meeting House, the United States was one of the first countries to officially establish diplomatic relations with Poland after the end of World War I.

Without President Woodrow Wilson’s strong political support and President Herbert Hoover’s relief effort, Poland’s transition to independence would have been a much more difficult process.

It is a book not only about Americans in Poland but about American friends of Poland. I believe that most Americans, had they known all the facts before the 1944 Yalta conference, would have not tolerated President Franklin D. Roosevelt giving Stalin essentially a free hand in post-war East-Central Europe, even if not much could have been done by the United States to change the situation on the ground at the end of World War II. Anyone with any knowledge of history would have known that Stalin would not keep his promise to FDR of holding free and democratic elections. While the book only covers the period until 1947, some of the Americans whom it presents, including Ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane, were already working on trying to reverse the tragic consequences of Poland’s post-Yalta fate. The authors point out that the collective reporting by US journalists who were in Poland between 1945 and 1947 “yielded important evidence of Soviet methods, but also illustrated the Poles’ efforts to rebuild their country and lives at all costs.” Ambassador Bliss Lane was urging that the Voice of America (VOA), which during the war broadcast pro-Soviet propaganda, be reformed through a change of programming and hiring of non-communist Polish refugee journalists. A few years later, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ambassador Bliss Lane and a young Ronald Reagan contributed to the setting up of Radio Free Europe.

The “battle for the truth” continued during the Cold War on the basis of contributions made by the American friends of Poland highlighted in the book. They laid the ground for President Carter’s policy of advocating for human rights and peaceful engagement advised by Zbigniew Brzeziński. The culmination of this policy was President Reagan’s decisive support of Solidarity in the 1980s, the fall of communism and the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty. As US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher pointed out in her introduction to the catalogue, Poland is now “one of the strongest European allies of the United States, being part of both NATO and the European Union.” I highly recommend this book to all of my American and Canadian friends.

Please help to bring the Americans in Poland exhibition to the United States in 2021 by ordering the bilingual catalogue.

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A.

Ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane’s warning about naive idealism in foreign policy

I Saw Poland Betrayed by Arthur Bliss LaneTedLipien.com SAN FRANCISCO — Arthur Bliss Lane (16 June 1894–12 August 1956) was the United States Ambassador to Poland (1944–1947). He served earlier as the U.S. Ambassador to the wartime Polish government-in-exile in London and was with the U.S. diplomatic mission in Poland in 1919. During the interwar period, he had a number of other diplomatic assignments in Western Europe and Latin America.

 

Arthur Bliss Lane served as Minister to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from June 1936 to September 1937, and was later transferred to Yugoslavia. He remained in Belgrade until the German occupation of April 1941. Later during the war,  he was Minister to Costa Rica, October 1941 to April 1942, and Ambassador to Columbia, until October, 1944.

 

From October 1944 to May 1945, he was Ambassador to the Polish government-in-exile in London.  In May 1945, he became Ambassador to the Polish Government in Warsaw after the United States and the United Kingdom transferred their recognition to the Soviet-dominated regime in Poland.

 

Ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane resigned from the State Department in 1947, after a distinguished career in U.S. diplomatic service, in protest against what he saw as the betrayal of Poland by the United States and other Western allies toward the end of World War II and in the immediate period after the war.

 

In his book I Saw Poland Betrayed An American Ambassador Reports to the American People, he criticized President Roosevelt’s naive trust in Stalin and his concessions to the Soviet Union at the expense of Poland and other East Central European nations. The cost of Roosevelt’s deals with Stalin was not only decades of Soviet domination and communist repression in Europe but ultimately the Cold War, wars in Korea and Vietnam, thousands of American lives lost and billions of dollars in U.S. defense spending.

 

Roosevelt’s intentions, however, were not evil. In fact, they were noble and idealistic by the standards of international politics of his time. Roosevelt refused to see Stalin for what he really was, a ruthless dictator who had earlier made a deal with Hitler to divide Poland and take over the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and parts of Finland and Romania.

 

Naive idealism combined with appeasement are dangerous qualities in any U.S. president. Former Czech president, playwright and human rights activist Vaclav Havel, who has been a supporter of Barack Obama, had this warning  in response to the U.S. president’s refusal to see the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama:

 

“It is only a minor compromise,” Mr. Havel said of the nonreception of the Tibetan leader. “But exactly with these minor compromises start the big and dangerous ones, the real problems.”

 

Appeasing the Kremlin and the Chinese communists in the hope of winning concessions makes such concessions far less likely, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found out during her humilating visit to Moscow last week.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Medvedev couldn’t be more brutal in telling her that putting pressure on Iran to end its nuclear programs was not in Russia’s national interest, when in fact they meant their own interest. Prime Minister Putin went to China and was not around to receive her.

 

In fact any Russian scholar with a good sense of realism could have told President Obama that the current leaders in Russia want the U.S. out of Eastern Europe but don’t believe that they owe America anything if the Americans leave. They will also continue to rely on anti-Americanism to consolidate their power internally. They want oil prices to be as high as possible, and therefore want tensions to be high in the Middle East. For that reason, they want the United States to be bogged down both in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The only thing that the Obama Administration should expect from the Kremlin are Russian concessions that would allow the U.S. to continue and expand military operations in these two Muslim nations.

 

During World War II, when the stakes were still much higher than they are now, Arthur Bliss Lane was not the only one to see the danger in Roosevelt’s policy of appeasing the Soviet dictator. In 1942, another American diplomat, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union William Christian Bullitt Jr. accurately predicted the “flow of the Red amoeba into Europe“. Roosevelt responded to Bullitt, Jr. with a statement summarizing his rationale for war time relations with Stalin:

 

I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man. . . . I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won’t try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 

Since President Obama’s vision of U.S. foreign policy seems to resemble to some degree President Roosevelt’s worldview — as seen by Obama’s unilateral concessions to Russia on the missile defense, his often expressed hope for a “reset” in relations in Moscow, as well as his refusal to see the Dalai Lama at the White House in order to appease the Chinese communist leadership — the following excerpt from Ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane’s I Saw Poland Betrayed book, might be relevant to any media discussion of current issues in U.S.-Polish and U.S.-Russian relations:

 

The public has a right to know when the executive branch of the government makes far-reaching commitments which affect millions of persons and which might seriously endanger the security of the United States. (…) The peace of the globe itself calls for the maintenance of a policy of firmness by the United States backed by military strength. History has already proved that such a policy is a far more effective deterrent of international aggression than a policy of inertia, vacillation or appeasement. Arthur Bliss Lane in “I Saw Poland Betrayed”

 

Ambassador Arthur Bliss Lane’s book was published in 1948.  

 

A book about Poland which Arthur Bliss Lane had with him while serving at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Warsaw in 1919. The book is now in my library.
A book about Poland which Arthur Bliss Lane had with him while serving at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Warsaw in 1919. The book is now in my library.

 

 

The Yale University Library, where Arthur Bliss Lane’s private papers and documents are archived, has on its website additional information about his diplomatic career and his public activities after he resigned from the State Department.

 

“From April 1947 until his death in August 1956, Arthur Bliss Lane undertook a number of lecture tours, radio programs, articles and letters by which he worked to stimulate public opposition to the activities of the Soviet Union, particularily in Eastern Europe. In his speeches and writings, … Lane denounced both the spirit of the Yalta Agreement and the manner in which it was carried out. He became a critic of the Roosevelt Administration and of the Democratic Party.

 

During this period, Arthur Bliss Lane was a member and participant in many Polish charities and anti-Communist organizations, including committees supporting the investigation of the Katyn Forest Massacre. Lane campaigned vigorously in 1952 among the Slavic ethnic groups for the Republican Party and Dwight D. Eisenhower. After 1952, he urged diplomatic relations with the Vatican.”

 


As the Wikipedia article about this remarkable American diplomat correctly points out, while in Poland, “Lane was so saddened” by the Soviet domination of the country and the communist suppression of Polish patriots and democrats that he resigned his post on February 24, 1947. He wrote I Saw Poland Betrayed, “which detailed what he considered to be the failure of the United States and Britain to keep their promise that the Poles would have a free election after the war. In that book he described what he considered betrayal of Poland by the Western Allies, hence the title, I Saw Poland Betrayed.” The book was translated into Polish and published  by an underground publishing house in Poland in the 1980s.

 

The Polish Wikipedia has a much longer and more detailed biography of Arthur Bliss Lane.

 

If any relatives or friends of Ambassador Bliss Lane would like to contact me with more information about his life and diplomatic career, please send an email to mail@tedlipien.com.

S.

September 17 could be a new date in US-Polish relations

President Obama with President Putin
TedLipien.comStratfor global intelligence analysis website reports that “rumors are flying late Sept. 16 that the United States could be shelving its plans to build a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in Poland and Czech Republic. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly will hold a news conference on the issue sometime Sept. 17 or Sept. 18, and U.S. security officials are apparently in Poland briefing Warsaw on the development.”

 

If these reports are accurate and indeed the announcement is made on September 17, the date might have a historical significance that the Obama White House may have not intended. 70 years ago the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939 under the terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact while western and central parts of Poland were being overrun by German armies.

 

Stratfor reports that “a U.S. concession on BMD would be one of the first major steps in a Russian-U.S. deal — one which could see Iran’s greatest foreign backer flip sides.”

 

President Obama’s “flip” on the Bush Administration’s BMD deal with Poland might remind the Poles of another popular and progressive US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who made a deal with Stalin in Yalta at the end of World War II to get Moscow’s military support against Japan. Poland and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe paid for that deal with decades of Soviet domination.

 

These may be completely different times and different political stakes, but the Obama Administration has already demonstrated its lack of historical sensitivity and public diplomacy strategy when it refused Poland’s invitation to send a high level representative to the official observances in Gdansk of the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II. Prime Minister Putin was there and even made sort of an apology for the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

 

The Poles are proud and they think in historical terms. This may turn out to be a new public diplomacy disaster for President Obama.