Speaking in the Caxton Hall on Monday at the inaugural meeting of the Anglo-Polish Society, the Archbishop of Westminster discussed "the realities of the Russo-Polish tragedy.
" You are wise to have your suspicions," Hit Grace said • to the Poles. " You are not wise if you act as though the worst is inevitable."
The meeting, which was attended by the President of Poland, was a very crowded one, and proceedings had to be relayed to a smaller hall. Hundreds were turned away.
Archbishop Griffin said:
" Four weeks ago 1 acCepted with great eagerness an invitation to address this word of greeting to you, my Polish friends. I did not then foresee that within so short a time world events would have altered the nature of to-day's meeting. I had hoped to offer you my felicitations, Instead I rousi offer you my sympathy.
" Let me say frankly that no Englishman who retains [nide in his country's honour can stand to-day before a gathering of his Polish comrades without embarrassment. (Applause.) I do not wish to exaggerate the gravity of the present situation.
should not care to accuse British statesmen of infidelity to Poland —that nation which first. dared to dafy the Nazi dictator: that nation whose sons, with tireless courage, guarded the English skies in our own day of peril and holation. (Applause.)
THE RUSSO-POLISH TRAGEDY " I do not, like many, accuse our Prime Minister of selling both Allies and honour for political advantage. Nor do I believe that his courage was unequal to the task of standing up to Marshal Steen. 1 am willing, indeed I any anxious, to believe that the representatives of Great Britain at the recent Crimean Conference did all in their powei to save the integrity and freedom of Poland; all in their power save this: they did not break the Grand Alliance. They might have disrupted the unity of the United Nations.
"Before we condemn them for refusing to pay this price we must, in justice, he quite certain that Poland has in fact been sacrificed. Before disappointment turns to anger and anger to bitterness, we must confront the realities of the Russo-Polish tragedy.
"/ call it the Russo-Polish tragedy because every honest man admits that there would be no dispute, no cause for grievance, and no tragedy, if Poland had to deal only with the Western Democracies. (Apple use.)
" Whet are the facts ? The facts are that Marshal Stalin refused to yield to the persuasion of his British and American colleagues. " There would appear to be no word in Russian for compromise. (Laughter.) Whenever democratic statesmen make terms with the Marshal (hey, not he, must compromise.
"This being so—and no sane man denies the obvious—the alternatives before President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill at Yalta were either to accept the Russian solution of the Polish problem or to take the first step leading to separation and ultimately to a state of war between the Soviet Union and the Democracies. That is the brutal truth.
" You may say that appeasement of a dictator postpones but does not prevent war. I beg of you, nevertheless, seriously to examine the crisis and all its implications before declaring that it was the duty of the Western statesmen to break with Russia. You know, as I know so well, that a breach between Russia and the West to-day would Mean that all the sacrifices of the -last five years would be made void.
FRONTIERS " Is the position as hopeless as you, my Polish friends, in this your day of trial, are quite naturally inclined to assume ?
" Let us examine the situation a little
" On the question of frontiers I have nothing to say. I am not a politician. I am not qualified to decide what precise delimitatioa of boundaries between Russie and Poland would be just to both nations. 1 feel that the frontier question is of secondary importance. " I take it for granted that Polish cies-ens would he permitted to transfer to Poland if the boundaries were to include them in Soviet Russia. I also take it for granted that the millions of Polish citizens alleged to be in Soviet captivity will be -allowed 'to return to their native land. I may add that it is a matter of eurprise and sorrow to me that champions of liberty the world over have not long ago demanded the release of these innocent Polish captives. (Applause.) INDEPENDENCE
" The supremely important aspect of this problem is the future independence of the Polish State. That, perhaps, is only another way of saying the freedom of the Polish people to elect the kind
of Government they desire. I know that you do not believe that you are likely to enjoy the opportunity of free and unfettered elections on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot.' But are you wise tb presume the had faith of the British Government ?
" Remember that the Prime Minister hes declared that every word of theYalta Declaration was the subject of most profound and searching attention by the heads of the three Governments and by the Foreign Secretaries and all their experts.'
" The British Government has pledged its word that the elections will be genuinely free.
"The Foreign Secretary last week in Parliament admitted that he disliked the Lublin Committee. (Applause.) He knows, as indeed every English politician knows, that the Lublin Committee is, from the Polish point of view, utterly bogus. Everyone outside of Soviet Russia admits that this Committee is without the backing of the Polish people. " Now the Committee set up at Yalta for the constitution of a new Polish Government consists of three people, only one of whom is Russian. Surely, then, there are grounds for hope '2 I think that you would be unwise to presume that the words of M. Molotov will prevail over those of the British and American Ambassadors in Moscow. You are wise to have your suspicions. You are not wise if you act as though the worst is inevitable. (Hear, hear.) HONOUR STAKED " I want to stress that the honour of the political leaders of Great Britain and the honour of the whole British people depend upon. first, the setting up of a genuinely representative Polish( Government and, second, the holding of genuinely free elections in Poland. "I beg of you, my Polish friends, not to presume, despite the sad experience of the past, that Great Britain will refuse to carry out what Mr. Eden describes as 'its right and duty.'
" You are Christians. You are pledged, therefore, to forgive your enemies, however black may be the record of their crimes. Soviet Russia has done you grievous wrong. Nobody unblinded by political prejudice would dare to deny that fact. But, surely, the greater the wrong. the greater the grounds for forgiveness.
-" I appeal to you in the name of your great Christian traditions to give the S0111a Union a chance to redeem itself. (Applause.) Give to your British Allies a last opportunity to honour the pledges which have been sealed by Polish and British blood.
" Here is my final word of counsel. Do not put your trust in princes. Poland has a Queen—Mary—who is the ' Comfort of the Afflicted ' and the
' Help of Christians.' In her and in her Divine Son let Christian Poland place her trust in this the day of her afflictiou."