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Orders of the Day — War and International Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th September 1944.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington 12:00 am, 29th September 1944

I am very sorry if I have not made myself plain. I think the answer is a fairly simple one. There are those who believe that there are good Germans, and there are those who believe that all Germans are bad. My position is that I am not interested in which argument is right, because I know that there are men in Germany who are working already for a recurrence of these events in a later generation. So I say that the occupation of Germany, and not only the occupation but the taking of every precaution that can be devised to prevent the recurrence of these affairs, becomes the insistent and most important responsibility of each one of the Allied Governments. I think I have made my position clear.

Now I come to the speech of the hon. Member for West Leicester and the remarks he made about Bulgaria. He said he hoped that Bulgaria would not be allowed to retain any part of her ill-gotten gains. I am in entire agreement, and, not only am I in agreement, but His Majesty's Government are in agreement and the Governments of our Allies are also in agreement on that point. It is indeed essential that Bulgaria should withdraw her troops from Greece and Yugoslavia, and no armistice will be signed with her until she does.

My hon. Friend asked me about France, and he said he was not quite clear what the Prime Minister meant yesterday—whether he intended to convey that there could be no recognition of the Provisional Government of France until an election had been held, which, of course, in turn, depends on the return of prisoners from Germany. It certainly was not my right hon. Friend's intention to convey that impression at all. As we understood the decrees issued at Algiers, it is the intention of the French Provisional Government to set up, very shortly, a consultative body, and it was to that process, and not to the election, which we can fully understand cannot take place for perhaps 18 months, that the Prime Minister was referring. I can only add, as further comfort to my hon. Friend, that we, like him, wish to see France an equal and a potent partner in all our affairs. We are already in discussions with our Allies about this problem, which I, personally, agree is a relatively minor one, of recognition or non-recognition of the French Provisional Government.

There has been some discussion about the machinery which exists between our Allied Governments for handling the various work which confronts us and our daily problems. We have of course our diplomatic channels, and the cables are sometimes pretty heavily charged. There is also the work of the European Advisory Commission established here in London as the result of a suggestion we made at the Moscow Conference a year ago. The task of that Commission was to discuss and advise us on the questions which must arise as the result of the cessation of hostilities with Germany, or any of the satellite countries—questions which call for an agreed solution between ourselves, the United States, and the Soviet Union, and with other Powers as they develop. That Commission has already, since it began this year, had nearly 50 meetings and, though its work has not been publicised, I am confident that it has laid a firm foundation for collaboration between the three Powers for the post-hostilities period.

Against this background, I want to deal with some of the more difficult questions raised in the Debate and, more particularly, those of the relations between our Soviet and Polish Allies. I think it will be fair to say, and I have listened to almost all the Debate, that each point of view has been put quite fairly in this House. It is all to the good, in my judgment, as Foreign Secretary, that that should happen, and that foreign lands should know what the people of this country think on these problems. There is no subject that causes the Government, or myself as Foreign Secretary, more concern than this, and there is none, I beg the House to believe, on which we have laboured more persistently to try to make our contribution to a solution. In 1941, we reached a happy moment, to which we have never since been able to get back, when we managed to help to secure a Polish-Soviet Agreement, which was signed here in London. Events cut short the life of that Agreement, but I can assure the House that our efforts have been unremitting to try to build again on the foundations which we laid then.

I have been asked certain questions by my Noble Friend the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) in a very admirably phrased speech. He asked me whether, for instance, at Teheran my right hon. Friend and I had made it clear to our Russian Allies how much importance we attached to a settlement of the differences then outstanding between them and the Polish Government. The answer to my Noble Friend is "Yes." We made it plain at Teheran, as we had made it plain earlier at Moscow, at the conference there, and as we have done many times since. There has been a suggestion by one or two of my hon. Friends that perhaps we had failed in the emphasis of our language. I do not accept that. We have spoken as friends to friends and when speaking thus it is, perhaps, wiser and also more effective to speak firmly in private rather than to hector peremptorily in public. Nobody in this House should suppose—and I ask the House to accept the assurance—no member of any party should suppose, that we have failed to make clear our position or our anxiety.

I am going to make only two observations on the present situation, and in particular about developments at Warsaw. I have been asked to give some account of them and I know the House will understand me when I say I do not propose to do so. It would not be very difficult for me to retail events, but I do not think it would be helpful in the light of the outcome of the representations which have been made. Of course we have considered the Warsaw situation. There have been discussions, arguments, representations between the Allies, but I think, on the whole, I will not give a detailed account of these. I will make only two observations. The first is that we ourselves have done everything in our power by military effort to bring help to the garrison at Warsaw since the first day of the rising and every tribute that the House can pay to the Royal Air Force, Polish, British or South African, is justified. The second observation is that we have done everything in our power by diplomatic initiative to co-ordinate the efforts of our Allies in the same sense. For my part, it is a source of thankfulness that, since last week, help is being brought to Warsaw by ourselves, the Americans and the Soviet Union also. I believe other problems will equally find themselves capable of solution.

There has been some discussion about the Eastern frontier of Poland and on that I would like to make an observation or two. I have, in one or two of the speeches, found an assumption that these matters were a little clearer than in fact they are, and that they may be simplified or solved by reference to this treaty or to that. The truth, as the House knows well, is that there has been no more vexed issue in all history than these Eastern frontiers of Poland, and His Majesty's Government, bound as they are by treaty to both their Allies—Poland and the Soviet Union—will not swerve in playing their part to try to reach a solution, which will result in bringing about that to which we are all pledged—all three of us—the creation of a strong, sovereign, independent Poland which can play its full part in the comity of nations.