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Remarks by the Vice President of the United States Upon Arrival at Polish Union Hall, Buffalo, NY

October 17, 1960

It is appropriate here in this great city of Buffalo with its largest percentage of population of Polish descent to say something about Poland, a great country and a great nation which has always occupied a very special place in the hearts of Americans. It is a subject which is close indeed to my heart, and not only because of many years of friendship with Polish-Americans and frequent participation in their activities in this country, but also because of those unforgettable moments - perhaps the most moving moments of my public life - amidst hundreds of thousands of Poles in the streets of Warsaw on that Sunday afternoon of August 4 just last year.

Senator Kennedy has announced a so-called 7-point program for help to Poland. But most of his points have already been carried out by the present administration, not only in this campaign year but since 1957, when substantial American help to Poland first became possible.

No one can argue with such items as the increase of exchanges, both economic and cultural, between our two countries because I am all for it - not only a few weeks before the election - but as I think has been demonstrated by my efforts in the past. And these things must be a part of any program for Poland. The same applies to the question of the use of so-called blocked currency in Poland. I can proudly say that in spite of political difficulties, constantly created by the regime in Warsaw, the U.S. Government under President Eisenhower has already provided Poland with help worth nearly one-half billion dollars. This includes specifically, administration for a pioneering effort in the use of blocked currency in the execution of an American research hospital for children in Cracow.

If I become President, all possible economic and humanitarian assistance as well as cultural exchanges will be continued and will be increased, provided only that circumstances, including specifically the attitude and policy of the Warsaw regime, will make it possible.

President Eisenhower's phrase, which I have heard him use so often, about the relation of words and deeds, is particularly relative to the Polish problem. In helping Poland we have already demonstrated in action our genuine friendship for the Polish nation in its time of need. This it seems to me should count more than glowing phrases and promises. I remember the words some years ago, "Poland is the inspiration of the world." It was a beautiful sentence. But shortly thereafter Poland was secretly divided and at Teheran one-half of its territory given to the Soviet Union. There were many beautiful words also in the infamous agreements of Yalta. All kinds of comforting assurances were offered at the very time that 100 million people in Eastern Europe, including the Poles, were put at the tender mercies of the Soviet rulers in Potsdam. Our Government also uttered some fine words about the totally fraudulent Polish elections of 1947, and at that time the United States was the only major power in the world. But they were only words. Every American, regardless of party, is ashamed of these actions.

I am happy that Senator Kennedy now says we must never recognize Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, thereby restating precisely what President Eisenhower and I have repeatedly pledged over the years. Senator Kennedy may now be trying sincerely to correct the terrible sins of omission and commission of earlier administrations of his party, not only against the Polish nation but also against the ideals upon which America was founded. I hope his chief advisers on foreign policy, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Bowles, and Mr. Schlesinger feel the same way. But actions speak louder than words.

Concerning the problem of Poland let me say simply this:

A truly free and independent Poland is essential to the people, security and for the development of Europe, and consequently of the whole world. When the Polish people are once again about to exercise their invaluable rights to self-government, when foreign overlords no longer impose their will on Poland, the security of all European nations now free and independent will be enhanced and the area of freedom will inevitably expand to those other European nations now enslaved.

During the 5 years of World War II and the postwar years of moral, political, and economic exploitation, the Polish people suffered immeasurable misery. As a result of Teheran and Yalta agreements, Poland was not only deprived of freedom but of her eastern territories. Millions of people who escaped Siberia were forced to move hundreds of miles to the west, to rebuild their homes and to start a new life in the present western territories. This is a fact of postwar history. Another fact in relation to these territorial changes is that all Poles in Poland as well as abroad are united in their determination to defend the new western frontier. These facts must inevitably influence the attitude of the Western Powers, particularly since Poland is the largest natural ally of the West among the Communist dominated nations and also, as I myself have seen, one of the most anti-Communist nations in the world.

It is urgent, therefore, that the next administration formulate and carry out its policies in such a way as to contribute to the maintenance of the hopes and to the strengthening of the morale and vitality of the Polish people. There must be nothing done on the American side which would hurt the basic interests of the Polish nation. On the contrary, everything must be done to strengthen the determination of the Poles to be, one day, their own masters in their own homes.

Richard Nixon, Remarks by the Vice President of the United States Upon Arrival at Polish Union Hall, Buffalo, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project