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Cracking a Vietnam War Mystery

New Book Uses Long-Hidden Communist Sources to Explore a Potential Missed Opportunity for Peace in 1966

Evidence from James G. Hershberg, Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam (Stanford University Press/Wilson Center Press, January 2012)

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 369

Posted - January 15, 2012

Edited by James G. Hershberg

For more information contact:
James G. Hershberg - 202/994-7000

Purchase Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam at Amazon.

Review of Marigold by Gordon M. Goldstein, The Washington Post, February 24, 2012.

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Who Murdered "Marigold"?

Warsaw, Poland. December 6, 1966: a date which should live in diplomatic infamy. Five thousand miles away, the Vietnam War is raging, with the dead piling up and the escalating violence poisoning international affairs and American politics. Early that morning, the Pentagon informs President Lyndon B. Johnson at his Texas ranch that 6,250 U.S. military personnel had been killed in Vietnam (and Laos) since January 1961, when his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, took office[a] —but few imagine that 52,000 Americans are still to die, along with millions of Vietnamese on both sides of the 17th Parallel. Outwardly, the bloodshed shows no sign of subsiding.

Yet, far from Southeast Asia's jungles and rice paddies, in this grey, frigid Central European city, a secret breakthrough for peace seems imminent. The United States and North Vietnam lack diplomatic relations and, relying on combat to resolve their clashing visions, appear stuck in a Catch-22 that precludes direct negotiations: Hanoi insists it will not talk until Washington stops the bombing it began in early 1965, and Washington maintains just as stubbornly that it will not halt the raids until assured that Hanoi will pay a reasonable price, such as curbing its support for the Communist insurgency fighting to topple the US-backed regime in Saigon.

But on that cloudy Tuesday, after months of furtive machinations by Polish and Italian intermediaries (with the Soviets lurking in the shadows), Washington and Hanoi have agreed that their ambassadors to Poland will meet to confirm a ten-point outline of a settlement, or at least a basis for direct talks. John A. Gronouski and Do Phat Quang are but a short stroll apart on the western banks of the Vistula River, the American huddling with Poland's foreign minister at his office, the North Vietnamese waiting at his embassy with a special emissary who has flown all the way from Hanoi to deliver guidance for the unprecedented encounter-a document so sensitive that his wife sewed it into his vest, and a senior North Vietnamese official ordered him to destroy it before dying should his plane crash.

But the rendezvous between enemy diplomats doesn't occur that day.or the next.or the next, until, a week later, the whole business collapsed in a welter of mutual recriminations, hidden at first, but soon to explode into a scandal that would attract global headlines and widen President Johnson's "credibility gap"-and then vanish into history, unresolved, concealed by the thick fogs of war, diplomacy, and Cold War secrecy. To LBJ, it was all shadows and mirrors, a "dry creek," because the "simple truth" was that Hanoi was not ready to talk; his surrogates, from Dean Rusk to Walt Rostow to William Bundy to Averell Harriman to Robert McNamara to Henry Cabot Lodge, loyally parroted the party line (despite private doubts in some cases) that it was all a phony, a Polish "scam" or "sham" or "fraud" or "shell-game" or even a KGB disinformation plot.

But to the junior Polish diplomat behind the "ten points," Janusz Lewandowski-the lone communist ambassador in anti-communist Saigon-it was a squandered chance to stop the carnage, save uncounted lives, and dramatically alter history. At the time, the man at the center of what became known as the "Lewandowski Affair" remained shrouded in mystery, rebuffing reporters. For this book, four decades later, he tells his story for the first time. Sitting in a smoke-filled café in Warsaw, he recalled being pleased when Washington and Hanoi met in Paris and concluded the 1973 accords ending the war (or at least direct U.S. military involvement), "but I thought, my God, we could have done it better and seven years ago, you know, better because the solution also would also be better for United States than this havoc which happened..."

Do you really believe the war could have been ended six or seven years earlier? I asked.

"Yes," he replied. "That was my feeling. And it still is."

Was Lewandowski right? Could America have escaped its disastrous involvement in Vietnam years earlier, and at far less cost, than actually occurred? Was a real chance for peace tragically squandered? Or was LBJ right, that the "simple truth" was that no opportunity was missed? Was its failure predestined; accidental; or "death by murder," as a key participant (an American ally, no less) privately fumed, blaming Washington for its ill-timed bombing of Hanoi? What really happened? What went wrong??

[a] Table of Comparative Military Casualties Vietnam, 6 December 1966, in White House Situation Room (McCafferty) to LBJ, CAP661186, rec'd LBJ Ranch Commcen 7:10 a.m. Tuesday 6 December 1966, box 38, NSF:CO:VN, LBJL. The tally of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers killed since 1961 was put, with absurd precision, at 158,346-a small fraction of the eventual figure, not including civilian casualties.

From the introduction to Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam.

Washington, D.C., January 15, 2012 – Casting new light on one of the most controversial and enduring mysteries of the Vietnam War, a new book using evidence from long-hidden communist sources suggests that the U.S. Government missed a major chance to open peace talks with North Vietnam in late 1966, more than eighteen months before the opening of the Paris peace talks and more than six years before the accords that finally ended US direct involvement in the fighting. The revelations contained in Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam by James G. Hershberg imply that the United States might have escaped its Vietnam predicament with a far lower toll: the secret Polish-Italian peace attempt code-named "Marigold" by U.S. officials culminated at a time when roughly 6,250 Americans had perished, compared to the more than 58,000 who ultimately died in the war.[1]

At one point the clandestine diplomacy verged on a breakthrough, with the apparent mutual agreement to hold an unprecedented meeting between US and North Vietnamese ambassadors in Warsaw to confirm Washington's adherence to a ten-point formula for a settlement.  "I thought I had done something worthwhile in my life," recalled the American ambassador in Saigon at the time, Henry Cabot Lodge, of that moment of seeming success with his diplomatic partners from Poland and Italy. "We had a drink on it."[2]  A date was even tentatively set for the enemy ambassadors to meet: December 6, 1966.  But before the encounter could take place, the covert effort was first suspended—due, the Poles said, to the U.S. bombing of Hanoi, the first such strikes around the North Vietnamese capital in more than five months—and then collapsed, for reasons which were disputed in acrimonious private US-Polish exchanges at the time. Before long, those arguments seeped into the press, sparking an international scandal and leaving behind a convoluted historical mystery—until now.

The inside story of these murky diplomatic machinations, as well as other revelations concerning the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Sino-Soviet split, and American politics and journalism in the 1960s, can now be found in Hershberg's book, published this week by the Stanford University Press and the Woodrow Wilson Center Press. Challenging the conventional wisdom that both Washington and Hanoi were so dug in at the time that no real chance for peace (or even serious peace talks) then existed, the study utilizes more than a decade of archival research in more than a dozen countries, both communist (and former communist) and Western, as well as interviews with veterans of the events in Poland, Vietnam, Italy, and the United States—including roughly 50 hours of interviews in Warsaw with the key figure in the affair, former Polish diplomat Janusz Lewandowski, who comes in from the cold war to offer his perspective openly and in depth for the first time.


First—some context. Between early 1965, when the United States sharply escalated its military involvement in Vietnam, and the spring of 1968, when Washington and Hanoi finally agreed to talk in Paris, hundreds of attempts were made to bring the warring sides to the bargaining table.  Some were public, some secret; some by third countries, some by individuals, some by institutions or organizations; some involved letters, some appeals, some "plans" or "points" or "formulas," some citations of past accords or international laws or conventions; some were purported "peace feelers" or "signals" so subtle—a wink-and-nod or linguistic wrinkle in an otherwise mundane statement, or a barely discernable decrease in certain military activities—that no one really knew whether they even existed or (if sent) were noticed by their intended target; some were derided by Lyndon Johnson and his secretary of state, Dean Rusk, as pipe-dreams spun by eccentric egotists or idealistic schemers who had contracted "Nobel Peace Prize fever"; others were sophisticated, painstakingly-planned diplomatic ventures designed and conducted at the highest levels of statesmanship.

But they all had one thing in common: they all failed.  And over those three years, as U.S. forces in Vietnam mushroomed from 25,000 to more than half a million and the war crippled the Johnson Presidency and poisoned American politics, the death and destruction ground on ceaselessly, with thousands of Vietnamese and Americans lives lost every month and countless more ruined.  Most of the ill-fated negotiating initiatives undertaken during the 1965-1968 period of escalating conflict never had a real chance: the opposing sides simply weren't seriously prepared to consider peace, or even peace talks, on terms acceptable to the other.  (Some were even designed to fail, to impress public opinion and justify subsequent, already planned military escalation.[3])  Rather than risk defeat or humiliation at the bargaining table, powerful factions on both sides preferred to seek military victory—another Dien Bien Phu, the North Vietnamese imagined, recalling the triumph over the French; or, the Americans calculated, pounding the enemy until it swallowed the status quo ante, the division between north and south, as in Korea.

But, there was one exception to this pattern of inevitable, over-determined deadlock: Using new evidence that has emerged only since the end of the Cold War, Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam contends that in late 1966 the United States likely missed a genuine opportunity to begin winding down its disastrous military involvement in Vietnam, on politically-palatable terms; that, at a minimum, the Johnson Administration botched a chance to enter into direct talks with Hanoi at that time, that it misconstrued the most crucial aspects of the secret diplomatic initiative that nearly achieved that goal, and then—at the time and later, in press leaks and memoirs and covert international contacts—covered up its own errors.  Moreover, it shows that the initiative's collapse, as misunderstood by both sides (each of which thought the other had acted in bad faith), not only signified their shared failure to open a political track that might have led to genuine negotiations, but made it more difficult later on to overcome mutual distrust and enmity and enter into direct discussions—in effect, dealing a double blow to peace hopes, laying the groundwork for further escalation (including Hanoi's decision to launch the January 1968 Tet Offensive), and probably delaying the ultimate beginning of negotiations and, perhaps, the end of the war.  (Marigold's failure, once it seeped into public consciousness through press leaks, also roiled American politics, spurring charges from antiwar critics that President Johnson was insincere and/or incompetent in seeking peace in Vietnam, and widening the "credibility gap" that increasingly undermined his public standing.)

Uncovering the Marigold story has long challenged investigators, who were stymied by lack of access to key sources. Of the myriad secret efforts undertaken to promote the opening of U.S.-North Vietnamese peace talks between early 1965 and April 1968, the distinguished Vietnam War historian George C. Herring judged Marigold to be "one of the most controversial" and "in many ways the most intriguing," a "possibly promising" diplomatic initiative whose "origins and denouement remain shrouded in mystery."[4]

In their 1968 book The Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam, David Kraslow and Stuart H. Loory quoted an unidentified "close associate" of President Johnson as saying that they would "never get the inside story" of Marigold.

Why not?

"Because it makes our government look so bad."[5]

Finally presenting the "inside story"—or as much as the declassified record finally reveals—Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace corroborates the sentiment of this unnamed source (which the book identifies as Bill Moyers, LBJ's protégé and former press secretary, who had recently left the White House[6]), but also concludes that blame for Marigold's failure was shared, the consequence of misjudgments and errors by all three key participants: the U.S., Polish, and North Vietnamese governments.

A Cold War Anomaly:A Communist Ambassador in Saigon

At the heart of the affair was a cold war anomaly.  Not a single communist government recognized the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), instead locating their embassies in Hanoi, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), and maintaining fraternal interparty relations with the ruling Vietnamese Workers' Party, or Lao Dong.  Yet, there was a communist diplomat of ambassadorial rank based in Saigon throughout the war due to the presence of the International Control Commission (ICC) established by the 1954 Geneva Accords that ended the post-World War II conflict between colonial France and the communist/nationalist Viet Minh forces led by Ho Chi Minh.[7]  The East-West pact reached at Geneva split Vietnam at the 17th parallel, supposedly temporarily, pending elections to unify the country within two years, but the voting never took place and the division congealed into two rival regimes, the communist DRV in the north and the anti-communist RVN in the south, now backed by the Americans, who had replaced the French.  Yet, even though the Geneva Accords were essentially dead by the end of the 1950s, no one wanted to pull the plug on the group set up to monitor both sides' compliance with them: the ICC (formally known as the International Committee for Control and Supervision).

As a cold war compromise, the ICC's membership was delicately balanced between East and West, consisting of Poland, Canada, and neutral India as chair; as a result, the group unsurprisingly soon found itself stalemated, paralyzed, and ineffectual, but it continued to meet regularly even as the war escalated—and for logistical reasons was headquartered in Saigon, resulting in the incongruous presence of senior Polish diplomats and hundreds of Polish soldiers stationed in a capital of a country run by a strongly anticommunist regime which Poland, like all communist countries, virulently denounced as an American puppet and whose overthrow it militantly supported.  Representing Warsaw during the Marigold affair was a young diplomat (then 35 years old) named Janusz Lewandowski, who was based in Saigon, where he would routinely meet US and even South Vietnamese officials, but periodically shuttled (via neutral Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Vientiane in Laos) to Hanoi, where he became "comrade" Lewandowski and saw North Vietnamese leaders like Premier Pham Van Dong, Defense Minister Vo Nguyen Giap, and revolutionary icon Ho Chi Minh.

Lewandowski, who arrived in Saigon as Poland's ICC commissioner in April 1966, was thus ideally poised to serve as a secret intermediary between Washington and Hanoi—which of course lacked normal relations or (except for a few rare, mostly formalistic instances) direct diplomatic contacts—and that is the role he assumed during Marigold.  (Interviewed in Warsaw, Lewandowski recalled that shortly before he left Warsaw for Saigon, Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki gave him a secret charter to pursue peace possibilities outside his normal work with the ICC.[8]) His enthusiastic collaborator and co-conspirator was Italy's ambassador to South Vietnam, Giovanni D'Orlandi, who, in line with the desires of his foreign minister, Amintore Fanfani, and his own passionate interest in the Vietnamese, ardently desired to promote peace.

The Marigold channel first sprang to life in late June 1966, when after a recent trip to Hanoi Lewandowski spoke with D'Orlandi and, the Italian excitedly told Henry Cabot Lodge, delivered a "very specific peace offer" from the North Vietnamese. Hopes in Washington that the channel might yield a breakthrough briefly surged in Washington—LBJ told an associate during a tape-recorded telephone conversation that "yesterday I had the most realistic, the most convincing, the most persuasive peace feeler I've had since I've been President"[9]—but the contacts fizzled as abruptly, and mysteriously, as they had begun.  The one positive result of this initial flurry of diplomacy involving the three Saigon diplomats was that the North Vietnamese, despite harshly condemning the latest U.S. military actions, did not reveal the Marigold channel, preserving it for potential future use.  After several months of desultory conversation amid further military escalation in the autumn of 1966, the Marigold channel revived for a second act in November and December.

Was Marigold for Real?

The most bitterly contested aspect of the Marigold story has been whether the Poles were actually authorized by Hanoi to set up the direct meeting between U.S. and North Vietnamese ambassadors in Warsaw to confirm Washington's adherence to the positions which Lodge had relayed to Lewandowski in mid-November in Saigon, and which Lewandowski, in turn, had conveyed to DRV authorities during his subsequent trip to Hanoi.  Of course, the Poles insisted that they were acting with the full authorization of the North Vietnamese government, but once the initiative collapsed, top U.S. officials did their best to seed doubt on this score.  They hinted or even explicitly claimed that the Poles (or even Lewandowski personally) had acted independently, or perhaps at Soviet instigation, hoping to lure the Americans into a bombing halt or other military concessions, and/or to show their negotiating cards and bottom line for a settlement—all to benefit their North Vietnamese comrades' quest for victory on the battlefield, rather than to promote peace.  After all, the Americans noted correctly, they had had no direct communications from the North Vietnamese, only with the Poles.

Feeling on the defensive after the Washington Post first disclosed the clandestine contacts in early February 1967 with an implication that—in the words of a prominently-quoted, unidentified pro-American diplomat at the United Nations (actually the Danish ambassador)—Washington had "bungled" a genuine chance for peace, U.S. officials used increasingly harsh language to question Warsaw's motives and sincerity.  In conversations both with foreign diplomats and with reporters, and later in oral history interviews and memoirs, they used words like "fraud" or "sham" or "phony" to describe the Polish initiative.  In May 1967, the New York Times ran on its front page an expose of the affair, written by an Associated Press correspondent and informed by background leaks from Dean Rusk and other senior officials, broadly suggesting that Warsaw had never received Hanoi's okay to set up a direct US-DRV meeting—an article that caused satisfaction in the State Department and outrage among Polish foreign ministry leaders, who felt that their integrity had been questioned.[10]

These Johnson Administration efforts to plant doubts about Poland's role had considerable success—in public opinion, in foreign chancelleries, and in the historical record.  The affair's "real enigma," believed British foreign office aides, who undertook a secret post-mortem of the affair, was Hanoi's role: Did Poland have a "clear mandate" from the North Vietnamese or had it not fully "'sold'" them on a bargain Warsaw was trying to hammer out with the Americans?[11]  After hearing both the U.S. and Polish versions of the affair, London ended up concluding "that the Poles probably never had a sufficiently clear mandate from the North Vietnamese to the point of arranging a [direct U.S.-North Vietnamese] meeting" and were instead "trying an initiative on their own; they may have made a certain amount of progress with it because they had good contacts with the North Vietnamese; but they were never in the position of being able to 'deliver' their friends."[12]

In his 1971 memoir The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969, Lyndon B. Johnson wearily consigned the entire affair to the realm of academic investigators, asserting that it comprised far more shadow than substance:  Unlike Rusk, Johnson was too polite to call the Poles "crooks"—as the secretary of state described their actions in Marigold to Averell Harriman[13]—but his disdain shone through just the same. Brushing aside charges that he had squandered chances for peace, he stressed that Washington "never received through the Marigold exchanges anything that could be considered an authoritative statement direct from the North Vietnamese."  He termed the channel a "dry creek" that was exposed as fraudulent when the DRV ambassador failed to show up for the 6 December 1966 meeting in Warsaw. "The simple truth, I was convinced, was that the North Vietnamese were not ready to talk to us.  The Poles had not only put the cart before the horse, when the time of reckoning came, they had no horse."[14]  Johnson's national security adviser, Walt Rostow, declared that the Poles "never had Hanoi sewed up"[15] and his National Security Council staff aides scoffed that Warsaw "just had absolutely no charter from Hanoi to represent them"[16] or was even acting out a disinformation script manufactured in Moscow by the KGB.[17]

Nearly two decades later, Dean Rusk still fumed at what he believed had been a Polish scam to snooker him and the United States into falsely believing that Warsaw had acted with a firm mandate from Hanoi.  Declaring that he had "doubted the authenticity of Marigold" all along, the former secretary of state called Lewandowski's position "specious," since he "simply didn't reflect Hanoi's views," and-citing an assertion by a Hungarian defector-called the ICC commissioner "a Polish intelligence agent acting on his own" (a canard the new book conclusively refutes) and the entire Marigold initiative a "sham."  Brushing off arguments that the bombings near Hanoi had ruined a promising approach, Rusk insisted that "there was nothing to collapse" in the first place.[18]

By contrast, several journalistic, scholarly, and internal government inquiries suggested that Marigold may have been for real. The most detailed classified post-mortem of Marigold during the Johnson Administration was undertaken as part of the Pentagon Papers inquest into Vietnam decision-making commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and extensively using State and Pentagon (but not White House) files.  Although acknowledging that Hanoi's role in the affair remained "veiled in mystery" since the Poles handled all communist transactions, the study concluded that North Vietnam most likely "did in fact agree to a meeting in Warsaw," and it was "highly improbable" the Poles would have "gone far out on a limb" in its dealings with Americans, Italians, "and, apparently, the Russians," without Hanoi's commitment, given the consequences that would ensue from "the revelation that the whole venture was built on air."[19]

The only prior English-language book on the affair[20], written by two Los Angeles Times reporters in 1968 who relied primarily on background interviews with dozens of officials from various governments but lacked access to classified documents or any informed North Vietnamese perspectives, judged that Marigold may have constituted a genuine opportunity to open peace talks. The Johnson Administration, wrote David Kraslow and Stuart H. Loory in their prize-winning The Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam, which used Marigold as the centerpiece of their investigation, "missed opportunities over the years to secure, if not peace, at least negotiations; if not negotiations, at least talks; and if not talks, at least a propaganda advantage over the enemy that would have improved the nation's standing in the world community and the President's credibility at home."[21]

Perhaps the most thorough scholarly analysis of all the secret diplomatic probing efforts during this period to open Vietnam peace talks, written after the declassification of a substantial portion of the U.S. record, concluded in 1980 that, "With the benefit of hindsight, it appears that the MARIGOLD contact offered the best opportunity for the Johnson Administration to negotiate a settlement of the conflict."[22]  Taking a somewhat more skeptical stand, George Herring three years later noted the lack of evidence for this argument, observing that it was "equally possible that the North Vietnamese were merely using the Poles to see what they might be able to get out of the United States or were offering vague responses simply to appear not to stand in the way of peace."[23]

Was Warsaw in fact authorized by Hanoi to arrange the U.S-North Vietnamese meeting to confirm that the "ten points" represented Washington's policy?  That was the heart of the Marigold mystery, and it can now be resolved.  The documents below describe the process of secret communist consultation in November 1966, hidden to U.S. officials at the time, that produced an authoritative North Vietnamese consent to the direct contact with an American representative in Warsaw and a politically significant promise to adopt a positive attitude towards talks with Washington should it genuinely confirm the stands that Lewandowski reported Lodge as having stated in Saigon.


Documents Nos. 1-3:  A Lunch at the Villa Madama, Rome, November 2, 1966: The U.S and Italian Versions

Marigold's second, and climactic, act began in early November 1966 in the scenic setting of a Renaissance villa overlooking the Tiber River in Rome and belonging to the Italian foreign ministry.  The occasion was a lunch for Ambassador-at-Large W. Averell Harriman, who was circling the globe to explain U.S. policy on Vietnam following a summit meeting in Manila of LBJ and Southeast Asian allies in late October.  The presidential emissary was accompanied by his chief aide on the war, Chester L. Cooper.  Unbeknownst to the Americans, the lunch at the Villa Madama was a set-up: Italy's ambassador to Saigon, Giovanni D'Orlandi, was home for a brief visit, and he and Italy's foreign minister, Amintore Fanfani, used the meal to strongly urge Cooper and, through him, Harriman, to take some action to reactivate the Marigold channel, which had been in limbo since the summer.  The Italians strongly believed that Lewandowski constituted an authentic and valuable channel to the North Vietnamese leadership which Washington should not waste-especially with the war continuing to escalate and U.S. forces in the conflict nearing 400,000-and urged the visiting Americans to exploit the Polish ICC commissioner's upcoming trip to Hanoi to send some new propositions. In this conversation-documented here by Cooper's memorandum of conversation and D'Orlandi's and Fanfani's diary entries-the Americans became convinced that they should indeed try to take advantage of the channel.

Document 1: U.S. Memorandum of Conversation (Download Document)

Document 2: Diary of Italian Ambassador to South Vietnam Giovanni D'Orlandi, November 2, 1966

Diary of Italian Ambassador to South Vietnam Giovanni D'Orlandi, November 2, 1966

Translation by Isella O'Rourke.

November 2, 1966

Lunch at Villa Madama.  Americans present: Governor Harriman, Ambassador Reinhardt, Secretary Meloy and Chester Cooper (Harriman's assistant) and a press spokesperson.  Italians present: Prime Minister Fanfani, Ambassadors Ortona, Gaja and Vicini, the head of protocol and myself.  At the table, I am seated next to Cooper on one side and Meloy on the other.  Cooper and I immediately took a liking to, and trusted, each other.  I understood that he is the one who handles our negotiation attempt on behalf of Harriman.  I also understood that he does so by supporting us a great deal, and from the questions that he poses, I am aware that he wishes to have arguments to rebut the observations advanced by others in the presidential entourage regarding our tri-partite attempt.  He asks me for details about Lewandowsky and I say all the good things possible emphasizing his very loyal conduct with respect to us negotiators.  I also relate what Lewandowsky did during Monsignor Pignedoli's visit.  Even before we get to the dessert, Cooper addresses the problem with me of how to get the attempt underway again.  Evidently, in addition to being very astute Cooper has also examined the problem thoroughly and immediately mentions a possible restarting of the attempt with a negotiating twist that appears to me right away to be brilliant.  At the end of the meal, Prime Minister Fanfani and Governor Harriman call me and we immediately go straight to the heart of the matter.

Prime Minister Fanfani is replaced by Cooper, and shortly thereafter without beating around the bush, Fanfani indicates to the other guests that it would be opportune to leave the three of us alone.  A long and fruitful conversation follows.  I truly believe that all the elements are present to restart the tri-partite discussions and I tell Harriman as much.  The start could be marked immediately by my return to Saigon, except that Harriman's circumnavigation will not be finished before the 9th in Washington, due to previously scheduled commitments.  And then he will have to let me know something in Saigon.  I too, will not be able to know anything before November 12th (at the earliest).  I will take advantage of this delay to break up the endless journey between Rome and Saigon in Cairo, where I will stop for four days - and I will be able to make a quick trip to Alexandria which I have never been able to forget.

[Source: Giovanni D'Orlandi, Diario Vietnamita, 1962-1968, with an introduction by Giulio Andreotti and preface by Roberto Rotondo (Rome: 30Giorni, 2006), p. 697 (2 November 1966 entry); translation by Isella O'Rourke.]

Document 3: Diary of Italian Foreign Minister Amintore Fanfani, November 2, 1966

Diary of Italian Foreign Minister Amintore Fanfani, November 2, 1966

Translation by Isella O'Rourke.

November 2nd

Harriman pays a visit.  I see him from 9:00 to 10:40 and then at lunch.  He conveys Johnson's thanks for my effort in '65 in Vietnam.  I respond that as he will learn from Ambassador D'Orlandi after lunch, we are continuing with it.  I construe what occurred in Manila in such a way so that Harriman says "it seems as though in Manila there were Italian microphones under the tables in the rooms where the most secret conversations were held."

I then propose a method for the negotiations in Vietnam, which Harriman says could earn me the assignment of presiding over the negotiation itself.  In the end, the Americans told [several Italian officials] that it was the most interesting conversation of the six that they had after Manila.

Harriman asked D'Orlandi to delay Lewandowsky's departure from Saigon for Hanoi after the 9th of this month in order to be able to make the U.S. proposals known [to the North Vietnamese leadership]..

[Source: Amintore Fanfani diaries, Archivio Storico del Senato della Repubblica, Rome, translation by Isella O'Rourke.]

Documents 4-5: The Three-Way Meetings in Saigon, November 14-15, 1966, the Polish Version

After Harriman returned to Washington, he and Cooper convinced other State Department officials to give the Polish channel a try. On Sunday, November 13, Rusk flashed Lodge a blinking yellow light to proceed. In a cable to Saigon, the secretary of state authorized the ambassador to meet Lewandowski (with D'Orlandi present) to see if this might produce a "useful mission in Hanoi by securing better understanding there of our position and bringing back to us some clarification, although past exchanges with Lewandowski, received through D'Orlandi filter, have not yet persuaded us Pole is in a position to provide effective line of communication." Before sending any concrete new policy formulations, Rusk sent Lodge a series of queries to "get a better picture" of Lewandowski's motives and capabilities.  Should Lodge's report justify further action, Rusk vowed to respond before Lewandowski left for Hanoi.  The three diplomats accordingly met together on November 14 at D'Orlandi's, where Lewandowski responded to Washington's queries and responded with some of his own. With rare speed, the State Department flashed Lodge a telegram Tuesday morning (Saigon time), November 15, replying to, if not fully answering, Lewandowski's four questions, and offering a new formulation of the U.S. position on the war for the Pole to deliver to Hanoi.  The revised stand contained several elements designed to appeal to Hanoi, including a vow that Washington would not object to South Vietnam's neutrality (as opposed to insisting on it for the entire country) and reaffirming a pledge to withdraw all US military facilities and troops from South Vietnam within six months of peace. Lodge also relayed the so-called "Phase A/Phase B" concept, in which the U.S. would halt its bombing of North Vietnam-a  longstanding Hanoi precondition for talks-with the understanding that, "after some adequate period," some "de-escalatory actions" mutually agreed upon beforehand would occur.[24]

The American records of the three-way meetings in Saigon on November 14-15, 1966 have been available for some time-the U.S. version can be followed through cable traffic reproduced in the Marigold chronology of the Pentagon Papers diplomatic volumes and in the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States series.[25]  However, we can now see how the Poles responded to this new U.S. stand, beginning with Lewandowski's own ciphered cables relating the two talks with Lodge.  The discussions were held amid tight secrecy-both Lodge and Lewandowski went to great lengths to hide their rendezvous, though in fact the Saigon police were spying on them-and in a positive atmosphere.  The Pole's reports were broadly consistent with Lodge's (and D'Orlandi's, as recorded in his telegrams to Rome and in his diary), and he concluded cautiously that the Americans were confronted with "a new and important political and military decision regarding the war in Vietnam."  As a handwritten notation on the ciphered cable indicates, Lewandowski's foreign ministry supervisors in Warsaw authorized him to relay the new U.S. position to North Vietnam's prime minister, Pham Van Dong, when he visited Hanoi a few days later.

Document 4: Cable from Polish ICC Mission, Saigon (Lewandowski) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Michalowski), ciphergram no. 14596, 14 November 1966

Download Original Untranslated Document

Polish ICC Mission, Saigon (Lewandowski) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Michalowski), ciphergram no. 14596, 14 November 1966


Cyphergram No. 14596

From Saigon, cabled 14.XI.66, 11 hrs.
Received at the cyphergram section 15.XI.66, 13:20 hrs.

Secret with special significance [Handwritten]


1) Several days ago [D']Orlandi returned from Rome.  He informed me about the essence of the talks on the subject of Vietnam between Fanfani and Har[r]iman.  They had the impression that the Americans see the situation in Vietnam more realistically than before.  H[arriman] confirmed an intention to look for a way to end the conflict.  He let it be understood, however, that they would be interested in maintaining for a certain time their military bases in the South placed far from principal concentrations of population.

2) [D']Orlandi maintains that the Pope [Paul VI] is weighing the eventuality of pronouncing an appeal to the sides fighting in Vietnam about a cessation of activities during the Christmas holiday.

3) [D']O[rlandi] talked with Lodge, who expressed a desire to meet with me.  I agreed, stipulating that I agreed to a normal conversation and not negotiations.  We met with L[odge] today at the Italian's, who was present at the talk.  L. was informed about my position: he declared that he is strictly concerned with an exchange of views.  He spoke extensively about the desire to end the war.  He asked that the [24-25 October 1966] conference in Manila be appraised not only from the point of view of what was said there, but also what was not said there.  He underlined several times that the Americans have a completely free hand in searching for peaceful resolutions.  Concretely, he brought up the following matters:

a/    Washington is convinced that it is not possible to begin negotiations by means of partial de-escalat­ion -- it is necessary to work out a package-deal [package-deal originally in English]. Presently they are working on such proposals, which would take into account equally the mechanics of ending military operations as well as "all remaining" matters, including the withdrawal of its military.  At any moment, providing a guarantee to maintain secrecy, they would be ready to examine concrete proposals of a similar character from Hanoi or the [National Liberation] Front or together.  In any case he would like to know if they can count on assistance from our side to deliver to Hanoi their proposals when they are worked out.

b/   They are aware that before talks it is necessary to stop the bombing of the North and that it cannot be conditional.  They would be ready to stop "at any moment" if they could be sure that it would bring about some kind of steps in the direction of negotiations.  They understand that Hanoi will not agree to the presentation of the cessation in the bombings as an American success in the form of compelling the Vietnamese to negotiate.  That is why they would also be ready to cease the bombing without conditions and to begin talks after a certain time.  He elaborated that it is a matter of two phases:

  1. Halting the bombing of the North, after a certain time.
  2. All the following matters.
    In this manner according to L. the conceivable agreed-upon moves from the North and Front sides would be de facto exchanges undertaken for similarly agreed-upon American steps already in the second phase.

c/  They understand that in the Front and in Hanoi there exists a deeply rooted distrust towards the United States.  That is why they would also be ready to examine and possibly take some kind of practical steps to convince the Vietnamese that they really want to end the conflict.  They would gladly listen to every possible suggestion on this subject independent of who they came from.

I told L., stipulating that they are solely my views, that the best gesture would be to cease unconditionally the bombing of the North.  Moreover, the Americans have many opportunities to demonstrate practically their intentions, such as also halting the destruction of South Vietnam and withdrawing at least a part of its military.  In the meantime new American units are continually arriving and the USA military has assumed practically all military operations in the South.  I also said that every possible proposal must, in my opinion, take into account the vital interests and rights of the people of Vietnam - complete withdrawal of foreign forces and the liquidation of bases, the right of the people of the South to their own representation, which is the NLF, the right of the Vietnamese to unite their homeland.

On the matter brought up in point 3a, I declared that I will inform Headquarters.  The talk lasted over an hour.  L. asked, of course, that strict secrecy be maintained.

Tomorrow I fly to Hanoi.  Should I inform Ludwik [Col. Ha Van Lau, North Vietnam's liaison to the ICC] and Mikolaj [Soviet ambassador in  Hanoi Ilya Shcherbakov] about the essence of the talk?

(-) Lewandowski

Deciphered 15.11.66, 15:40 hrs.

 [Handwritten Note at the bottom of the document dated November 15:]

Attention: An instruction has been sent:  to relay to Pham Van Dong underscore[26] the entirety of Lodge's arguments.  Underscore Repeat Lewandowski's reservation as to the nature of the conversation!

Do not ask for suggestions.  Wait Report Relay the course of the conversation to us.  Wait in Hanoi for further instructions.


[Source: Szyfrogramy from Saigon 1966, 6/77 w-173, t-558, Archiwum Ministerwstwa Spraw Zagranicznich [AMSZ; Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs], Warsaw, Poland; obtained by L.W. Gluchowski and translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.]

Document 5: Cable from Polish ICC Mission, Saigon (Lewandowski) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Michałowski), ciphergram no. 14673, 16 November 1966

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Polish ICC Mission, Saigon (Lewandowski) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Michałowski), ciphergram no. 14673, 16 November 1966

Must be returned to the Decoding
Department within 48 hours


Making copies is prohibited

Set No.

Ciphergram No. 14673

From...Saigon......dispatched on 16.XI.66 at 16:20 hours......received on 17.XI.66 at 08:00 hours......
Came in to the Decoding Department...17.XI.66 at 10:30 hours....................................



Our 636.

I met again with Lodge at the Italian's [D'Orlandi's] at his request.  L.[odge] said that after having given it some thought, he came to the conclusion that he should have commented [on] my remarks during [our] previous conversation.  He got the impression that, while practically having repeated the 4 points of the DRV, I was convinced of the entire futility of all efforts.  He therefore desires to add a few new elements.

  1. With regard to the stopping of the bombings of the DRV: they are ready to stop them only if this brings further results.  They do not want any declarations about the withdrawal of the DRV troops from the South or even the admission that they were there in the past. 
  2. They publicly announced, in Manila, the intention to withdraw the troops and the elimination of the bases.  The deadline of the withdrawal - 6 months - was included in the declaration precisely because an "East-central European source" informed them that this could facilitate the negotiations.  The mechanism of the withdrawal would in itself be a topic for discussions.
  3. They are in favor of the emergence of the government in the South by the democratic way of open elections for everyone.  They do not have any intentions to intervene in the course of such elections and they are accepting their results.  However, peace is needed [in order to achieve] this.
  4. The issue of the unification of Vietnam must be decided by the Vietnamese themselves.  The return of peace and the creation of a mechanism which would enable them [the Vietnamese] to express their will are needed for this.  A neutral mechanism of supervision and control is necessary.  The entire course of events since 1954 points to its usefulness.
  5. They want to withdraw the troops and get rid of the bases [and] to negotiate a peaceful solution, but they will not withdraw so the DRV troops would march into South Vietnam.  They are fully and totally prepared to accept the neutrality of South Vietnam.

They are currently of the opinion that the neutrality of South Vietnam is not contrary to the interests of the United States.  There is no such matter, which was brought up during both of our conversations, as well as others which were not brought up, about which we could not talk about.  The problem is that they do not have any interlocutors.  Many persons from various countries gave the impression that they would be able to present clearly the views of the DRV or the [National Liberation] Front, and that they could be heard out through those means.

They became convinced, however, that this did not bring any practical results.  They are prepared to thoroughly consider all official and unofficial practical propositions.  One should not expect [however] that they would declare their submission to the 4 points.

I listened and thanked [him].  I mentioned that many bellicose remarks are being made in the US.

L.[odge] assured that everything that he said was in accordance both with his views and the views of the decision making centers [entities] in the US. 

My remarks:

  1. The US is confronted with the necessity of making a new and important political and military decision regarding the war in Vietnam.  The results of the hitherto used means, however, do not promise a swift end to the conflict.  If the escalation [were to take place] then [it would have to be] very serious, at least [they would have to] double the number of troops, mainly the infantry.  However, even this would not guarantee success and it would threaten with expanding the conflict.
  2. Despite that, L.[odge] assumed the convention of a "private exchange of views," it is after all clear that he expected that this would be reported to the Vietnamese.  This would mean, however, that they don't have any other channels, or that they would like to check whether the information which they are relaying to me and receiving [from me] are liked [correspond with] by their authors.

I take notes in the course of the talks.


/-/ Lewandowski

Deciphered on 11.17.66 at 17:05 hours
Deciphered by Kawka-Hołodak, checked by Strzelecki

[Source:: Szyfrogramy from Saigon 1966, 6/77 w-173, t-558, AMSZ, Warsaw; obtained by L.W. Gluchowski and  translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.]

Documents 6-9: Secret Communist Consultations in Sofia, November 18-19, 1966

In the account of Marigold based exclusively on U.S. documents, the chronology of events essentially goes blank after the two three-way meetings in mid-November until Lewandowski returned to Saigon and, on December 1, reported on the results of his trip to Hanoi over the past two weeks.[27]  Communist sources can now fill in this blank.  In fact, Lewandowski's report of the U.S. stands presented by Lodge aroused serious interest, even excitement, in Warsaw, and triggered a series of extraordinary secret inter-communist exchanges.  To undertake urgent consultations with ranking figures both from the Soviet Union and North Vietnam, Polish foreign minister Adam Rapacki, accompanied by his top aide on the war, ministry director-general Jerzy Michałowski, hastily arranged an unscheduled trip to a congress of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) which happened to be taking place in Sofia.  There, on November 18-19, they held two secret discussions on the American proposals with Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, bracketing a talk with North Vietnam's foreign minister, Nguyen Duy Trinh. The consultations with the Soviet party boss confirmed Moscow's support for Poland's handling of the venture, as well as Brezhnev's belief that the Americans' propositions, as relayed by Lodge, were "the maximum" they could be expected to offer.  Moreover, the Soviet added, the circumstances for luring Hanoi into talks seemed propitious, since the Chinese-who strongly opposed negotiations, favoring an armed struggle until victory-were distracted by the Cultural Revolution, which had entered a more tumultuous phase a few months earlier.  Meanwhile, the hard-line North Vietnamese foreign minister, the Poles reported, could not conceal his "surprise" at the new U.S. stand reported by Lodge, and did not spout "as usual a whole bunch of clichés." To Rapacki and Michałowski, the conversations reinforced their belief that the American proposals offered a serious prospect of progress, and justified Polish mediation.

Document 6: Excerpt from Polish cable from Sofia, Bulgaria, reporting on conversation between Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki and Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, November 18, 1966

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Polish Embassy, Sofia (Rapacki) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Nazkowski), ciphergram no. 14764, 18 November 1966

Must be returned to the Decoding
Department within 48 hours

Making copies is prohibited
Set No.

Ciphergram No. 14764

From...Sofia......dispatched on 11.18.66 at 15:00 hours...received on 11.18.66 at 23:30 hours...
Came in to the Decoding Department...11.18.66 at 23:30 hours..............................

(Directly to Naszkowski)



  1. He shares our assessment of Lodge's propositions and our entire attitude towards the problem.
  2. Thanks to our letter, he spoke to the tomorrow's interlocutor of mine [i.e., North Vietnam Foreign Minister Nguyen Duy Trinh].  He received the confirmation of Siedlecki's message.  The leadership of the DRV discussed the totality of the situation.  The negotiations were stopped without having undertaken any decisions.  Le Duan was sent to Beijing.  He also found out that on the 25 of this month, the tomorrow's interlocutor of mine is to meet in Moscow with another member of the BP [Politburo], who was especially sent from Hanoi, in order to jointly conduct consultations.
  3. Judging from this point of view, our arrival is just in time.
  4. We agreed that you would inform Gromyko about the "L. - L." [i.e., Lodge-Lewandowski] conversation while pointing out that I presented the issue here to Brezhnev. 

We are to meet once more after tomorrow's conversation. 

[remainder of the document on unrelated matters]


/-/ Rapacki


Remark: I relayed the information
for Cde. Gromyko to Moscow
/-/ Naszkowski

Deciphered on 11.19.66 at 08:30 hours
Deciphered by Sobiesiak, checked by Strzelecki

[Source: Szyfrogramy from Saigon 1966, 6/77 w-173, t-558, AMSZ, Warsaw; translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.]

Document 7: Polish cable from Sofia, Bulgaria, reporting on conversation between Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki and North Vietnamese foreign minister Nguyen Duy Trinh, November 19, 1966

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Polish Embassy, Sofia (Rapacki) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Malczyk), ciphergram no. 14796, 19 November 1966

Must be returned to the Decoding
Department within 48 hours

Making copies is prohibited
Set No.

Ciphergram No. 14796

From...Sofia.........dispatched on 11.19.66 at 13:00 hours.........received....-------.........
Came in to the Decoding Department.11.19.66 at 16:00 hours....................


Cde. Malczyk

Relay this to Lewandowski, Siedlecki, and show this to Naszkowski - all directly to their hands.

  1. A conversation took place between Minister Rapacki, Nguyen Duy Trinh and I under the conditions of confidentiality in Sofia.  Rapacki relayed in detail the content of the conversation with L. [Lodge] and, at the request [of the Vietnamese], he handed the extensive, but a succinct, written extract [report] in our French translation while omitting the entire point c) from your [cable] 636, as well as not specifying the source of the suggestion about a 6 month deadline for withdrawal from your cable about the second conversation.[28]
  2. R.[apacki] gave a short commentary as to the consistency of the conversation, the new elements, the presumable motives of the US action and their choice of the timing (after the elections to Congress, [those] strengthening the Right, before the presidential elections which Johnson wants to approach with either military or peace successes).
  3. NDT [Nguyen Duy Trinh] understood that we paid appropriate heed to this matter.  He was not able to conceal his surprise of the content of the propositions; he asked whether we were sure about the accuracy of your report, he asked for the above mentioned note.
  4. NDT will not be in Budapest, but instead he is going to Moscow where he is to meet with another member of the PB who was sent from Hanoi.  The message regarding Le Duan's trip to Beijing is confirmed.
  5. The content of your conversation was transmitted to Mikołaj.


/-/ Michałowski

Deciphered on 11.19.66 at 16:25 hours
Deciphered by Kawka, Szopa, Synal, Hołodak, checked by Młynarski

[Source: AMSZ, Warsaw; translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.]

Document 8: Polish memorandum of conversation between Polish foreign minister Adam Rapacki and North Vietnamese foreign minister Nguyen Duy Trinh leader, Sofia, Bulgaria, November 19, 1966

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Adam Rapacki, Urgent Note, Conversation with Nguyen Duy Trinh, Sofia, 19 November 1966

21 November 1966

Urgent Note


Exclusively Eyes Only

My conversation with Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Member of the Politburo of the VWP - Nguyen Duy Trinh in Sofia on 19 November 1966.

On the Polish side, the following were present - Michałowski, and on the Vietnamese side, the interpreter, who was surely a secretary.

  1. I explained the aim of my arrival.  I wanted to take this opportunity of his presence in Europe in order to discuss the situation.  We think that we belong to a group of friends of Vietnam, who understands it the best.  It is also important for us to completely understand each other especially given our role in the [International Control and Supervisory] Commission.  I put forth particularly two issues on which we would like to, and should have, clarity:

    • Concrete and viable Vietnamese aims at the current phase of the war.
    • The conditions to move to the next phase of the war by combining the diplomatic with military struggle.

    I was thinking of inviting him to Warsaw for this purpose, but I was afraid that it could be inconvenient for him to combine his trips to Budapest and Warsaw.

    An interesting, and useful, occasion came about, as a background for [discussing] wider topics.

  2. The information about two talks Cabot-Lodge - Lewandowski took place.

  3. I added my comments:

    1. According to all of the information, Cabot-Lodge did not act on his own: he stated this officially in the second conversation, Rusk implied that he was in the process of conducting the talks with Lewandowski, and both conversations were taking place in the presence of the third party.

    2. I do not think that the direct aim of the talks is propaganda goals.  At least not for now.

    3. The interlocutor could note new elements of the American propositions.  One could perhaps say that the Americans became more flexible than in the past and that this could be as far as they can go according to their opinion.

    4. This is still something we can check, but one gets the impression that the Americans decided for some time to take the risk of carrying out a struggle only in the South with the NLF which is being backed up more effectively by the North that is now free of the bombings.  The risk for the Americans is all the more great, since once the unconditional ceasing of the bombings expires, then renewing of the bombings will be costly politically for the United States.

    5. Now the question arises:  why did the Americans decide to take such a step?  We thought about it and there are a series of variants:

      • Thanks to the heroic struggle of the NLF and the slogans of the DRV, they [Americans] became convinced that they are not able to achieve their success by employing the present means and the present scale of operation, or they cannot achieve success quickly.

      • In the face of upcoming presidential elections, Johnson cannot afford to prolong the current situation.  Or he must achieve military or peaceful success.

      • There is the possibility of intensifying the war.  From all of the conversations in New York, however, it seems that the Americans are aware of the international consequences of this type of an action.

        There is also a fresh element here, namely the mid-term elections.  It may be true that the foreign affairs, and especially the Vietnam issue, did not play a big role in these elections, but the fact remains that the peaceful forces [in the US government] became weaker.  One cannot exclude the possibility that Johnson takes into consideration that once the new Congress convenes in January, then he will find himself under pressure of extreme elements and he may lose control in the future over these events.  Perhaps this is why they picked this moment to [carry out] this new initiative. 

        Perhaps the Americans want to sound out what they can achieve via peaceful negotiations in order to weigh the losses and gains of both possibilities, that is, further escalation and negotiations.

  4. The interlocutor [Nguyen Duy Trinh] listened very carefully.  He asked on several occasions to repeat [what we were saying].  At one point, he could not refrain from asking the question of whether perhaps Lewandowski [may not have] precisely relayed Lodge's propositions.  I ruled out any lack of accuracy, but I declared readiness to request from Lewandowski to state one more time the points which may cause our interlocutor's [Nguyen Duy Trinh's] doubts.  He [Trinh] did not take this opportunity...

    He asked us to get the information to him in writing as an aide memoire.  I refused to present the aide memoire.  However, I agreed in order to avoid any misunderstandings, to repeat in writing, in the form of an auxiliary note,[29] of all of what I relayed to him. (Accordingly, after our conversation, Michałowski dictated the content of Lewandowski's information to the Vietnamese interpreter in such a way as I presented it to the Foreign Minister of the DRV and which was drafted in French; the Vietnamese interpreter then was to hand this note, which was in his own handwriting, to his Minister).

    The interlocutor [Trinh] promised to relay this information, as well as my additional comments, as those demanded a careful studying, to Hanoi.  He also asked to relay this information through our embassy.

    As to my assessment of the American intentions, he showed his understanding and he also added some corroborative remarks. 

    In the course of our exchange of opinions, I applauded their way of giving the response to the Americans as far as the previous sounding out via the intermediary of Lewandowski and on his behalf, but at the same time I stipulated, however, that this time Lewandowski cannot state that he did not talk with Hanoi.

    He [Trinh] also implied that it was important for him to maintain complete secrecy regarding the issue. I told him that the Bulgarians knew only that I came here in order to talk with him about some of the issues related to the work of the ICC, and that I tentatively informed and will inform in details the Soviet comrades, but nobody else.

  5. At the end, I added the following:  "So, the question is whether the conditions are now ripe to move to the phase of combining the diplomatic struggle with the military one."

    He did not react as usual by giving me a whole bunch of clichés.  He refrained from the discussion [on this topic] by stating that "they have already been conducting the diplomatic struggle" by referring to the talks with the Canadians.

    The conversation took on a different turn and focused on the issues related to the Commission [ICC].  Nothing interesting.

    While bidding farewell, the interlocutor communicated to me that "decision has been changed" and he will not be going to Budapest [for the Hungarian party congress].  Instead, he will be going to Moscow.



Circulated to:

[Source:  GM sygn. 1/77 w 16, teczki 39, AMSZ, provided by Henryk Szlajfer, translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.]

Document 9: Polish memorandum of conversation between Polish foreign minister Adam Rapacki and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Sofia, Bulgaria, November 19, 1966

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Adam Rapacki, Urgent Note, Conversation with Brezhnev, Sofia, 19 November 1966

Not. 447/Rap./66



Secret of Special Significance

Exclusively Eyes Only


Second conversation with Brezhnev in Sofia on 19.XI.66, in the evening. 

1.  I informed [Brezhnev about the following]:

a/ the content of the second conversation [between] Cabot Lodge and Lewandowski,

b/ my conversation with the Foreign Minister of the DRV Nguyen Duy Trinh

2. The main points of Brezhnev's statement:

a/ This is "the maximum" as far as [what the Americans can do].  While not exaggerating the results, he thinks that the situation is favorable: the United States is at a crossroads, Vietnam is at a crossroads, and the PRC is busy with the "Cultural Revolution."

b/ The fact, however, remains that as long as we talk with the Vietnamese, with each one separately, then we gain their understanding.  The collective decisions turn out to be contradictory to those of individual people.

c/ Besides the Chinese problem, there is a very serious problem, one that is little known to us, [and that is] the problem of DRV-NLF relations.  The DRV must take into account the moods [of the people] in the South, which are fighting on the frontlines thanks to the initiative, the encouragement and the assurances of the North.

d/ He thinks my trip was needed.  He thinks that I told [the Vietnamese] the right amount.  They should not be pressed more.  The Vietnamese know our arguments by heart.  "To tell the truth, they should not be pressed more anyway," even though he [Brezhnev] once more reiterated the Soviet views to the Vietnamese.  / As far as I [Brezhnev] know, other delegations "pressed" the Vietnamese, even quite bluntly, - p.m. [??]./  The fact of my arrival was the most telling.  He reiterated a formula well-known to us from Moscow about "drops of water," which would gradually erode a path for the Vietnamese to come to a proper [correct] understanding of the situation and conclusions that arise from that. 

3.  He passed on his greetings.  "They [Soviets] will look for a free time when they can come for a hunting [trip] to Poland with the members of the [Polish] Politburo." 

/-/   A. RAPACKI

[Source:  GM sygn. 1/77 w 16, teczki 39, AMSZ, provided by Henryk Szlajfer, translated by Malgorzata Gnoinska.]

Document 10: The Polish Analysis

Besides authorizing Lewandowski to relay the U.S. proposals to Pham Van Dong in Hanoi, Rapacki and Michalowski also sent their own analysis for him to convey.  (The foreign ministry leaders also coordinated their policy guidance with Polish communist leader Władysław Gomułka and the Polish United Workers' Party Politburo.) In this summary, quoted in an unpublished secret post-mortem of the affair later prepared by Michałowski, we can see that Warsaw, despite consistent and strident public criticism of Washington's policies and actions in Vietnam-in synch with the rest of the communist world-now credited the American position as being "interesting and worth serious consideration," and strongly advised Hanoi to respond positively.

From Warsaw we sent to Hanoi our estimation of Lodge's proposals, instructing Lewandow­ski to present them to the DRV leadership together with the text.  We acknowledged that the proposals are interesting and worth serious consideration.  In our opinion they contained new elements in relation to proposals advanced in the past, namely:

  1. Cessation in the bombing is unconditional.  Frankly realizing the whole proposal requires some signal from the DRV side.  This cessation in the bombing does not require any concrete political or military action from the DRV side.
  2. Breaking off at the time of a cessation in the bombing from establishing contact disconnects the substance of ultimatum and pressure.
  3. The proposal contains a clear recognition of the fact that the DRV and NLF are the actual contracting parties with the USA.
  4. By declaring a "free hand" the USA let it be understood that it is not dependent on the position of the Saigon government.
  5. The proposal moves away from the concept of de-escalation in which the DRV side would have to withdrawn its military from the South and to cease infiltrations.  According to the present concept, after a cessation in the bombings, after a period of time there will be an investigation and eventually a coordinated set of mutual moves in the South leading to a peaceful political settlement of the conflict.  This creates for the North a strong negotiating position and a wide field for maneuver.
  6. A clear acceptance of South [original emphasis] Vietnamese neutrality.  To date there was talk about all of Vietnam.
  7. The complementary clarifications by Lodge at the second meeting [on November 15] de facto contain an acceptance of the main foundations of Pham Van Dong's Four Points and the NLF's Five Points.
  8. The beginning of negotiations will not only not weaken the position of the DRV.  On the contrary it allows for a continuation of the battles in the South under better conditions until securing profitable conditions in the package-deal.

In analyzing the sources of the much more flexible position of the USA we considered that it should be sought in the following main motives:

  1. A sober assessment of the course of the war and resistance by the DRV and NLF indicates to the USA government that victory can be achieved solely by a very marked increase in the military and financial effort.  This will require a lot of time.  Political costs will grow.
  2. Such a perspective does not promote Johnson's position in the 1968 presidential elections.  His hope cannot rest until the time of the election on a tide of victory.  He must therefore look for success in peace.  He is ready to pay for as much of it as the electorate can take.
  3. Fear of the possibility that the conflict will widen.
  4. The results of by-elections indicate a consolidation of extreme elements and concern that "hawkish" pressure will push the President towards a decision which will tie his hands and make it impossible to end of the conflict before 1968.
  5. Counting on greater freedom for DRV decisions in the face of PRC engagement in the internal problems of the Cultural Revolution.
  6. It is possible that the USA government wants to profit from a foreseen pause in the bombings during the holiday period to execute at the same time a deep probe of the possibilities for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

In delivering to Hanoi the above considerations we also took internally under consideration the following aspects of the situation:

  1. Corroborated information about discussions between the DRV and NLF regarding the military situation and the prospects for talks.
  2. Le Duan's departure to Beijing on these same matters.
  3. Nguyen Duy Trinh's journey to Europe and his withdrawal from participation in the congress of the Hungarian party.
  4. Assorted information received about the DRV's and NLF's difficult situation as well as about internal divergences among the DRV leadership regarding further tactics.

[Source: Jerzy Michalowski, Polskie tajne inicjatywy pokojowe w Wietnamie [Polish Secret Peace Initiatives in Vietnam], courtesy of Stefan Michalowski; translation by L. W. Gluchowski.]

Documents 11 and 12: North Vietnam's Answer:  Pham Van Dong's Meetings with Lewandowski, November 25 and 28, 1966

On Sunday, November 20, Lewandowski, after a perilous trip to Hanoi, delivered Lodge's proposals to mid-level North Vietnamese foreign ministry officials, who promised to pass them to the DRV leadership for consideration.  He then spent a suspenseful week, uncertain whether Hanoi would respond positively-or perhaps not only reject the U.S. offer but also regard him with suspicion for delivering it.  If the Politburo decided no, for any reason, he expected an "icy" reception from Dong and a "lesson" about "the nature of American imperialism and how to fight it" and the obligations of any honorable communist. A rejection, he thought, would also end his usefulness as a peace-seeker in Vietnam or a Polish interlocutor with Hanoi. In that event, he planned to request an immediate recall: "I would only be an obstacle, I would be treated as a crypto-supporter of the US imperialists.."[30] 

Finally, on Friday, November 25-after what the Pole suspected were stormy Politburo debates-he was summoned to meet with Pham Van Dong. After considerable fencing, the DRV premier finally delivered an authoritative, positive answer-if the Americans really held the views that Lewandowski quoted Lodge as expressing, they could confirm so directly, and officially, to Hanoi's ambassador in Warsaw (Internal Vietnamese sources independently confirm Pham Van Dong's statement, corroborating the declassified Polish records.[31]).  Crucially, this consent was not conditioned on a prior American halt to bombing North Vietnam, despite endless public demands to that effect. However, Pham Van Dong cautioned the Pole that he would have to inform the Americans of the willingness to meet in Warsaw on his own behalf-without naming his source-and that any leak would destroy the process, provoking a North Vietnamese disavowal of any agreement to meet.  The two met again three days later, on Monday, November 28, and the atmosphere was at times emotional.  Pham Van dong not only reiterated Hanoi's assent to the direct contact in Warsaw, but pledged to take a positive approach to forthcoming discussions with the Americans if they in fact adhered to the positions Lewandowski had described.  At the end of the meeting the North Vietnamese leader embraced and kissed his Polish visitor. "It was very, very unusual," Lewandowski recalled decades later. "He had almost tears in his eyes. He was deeply, deeply touched. Frankly speaking, I was a little bit surprised, you know, because, he was always polite.making jokes, you know, but he never demonstrated such emotions.there was a very strong feeling of warmth, of something very good." Lewandowski felt, in fact, that Pham Van Dong had joined his peace conspiracy, and reported to Warsaw that a definite chance for progress toward peace had arisen.

Document 11: Ciphered telegram from Lewandowski in Hanoi reporting on Conversation with North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong, November 25, 1966

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Translation by L.W. Gluchowski.

Polish Embassy, Hanoi (Lewandowski) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Michalowski), ciphergram no. 15023, 25 November 1966


Cyphergram No. 15023

From Hanoi, cabled 25.11, 17:00 hrs.
Received at the cyphergram section 25.11, 14:00 hrs.

Secret with spec[ial] significance
[Deliver] In person

M i c h a l o w s k i

Talk with Pham Van Dong at 10 o'clock

1. Extremely sincere reception.  Very warm and sincere words about Poland.  Underlined complete uniformity of thought with the Polish comrades.  Request for delivering to Comrade Rapacki thanks for Poland's posture towards the DRV and the posture of the Polish delegation in the [ICC] Commission.

2. Appraisals of the situation in the USA and their position in Vietnam executed by the Polish comrades are covered by Vietnamese appraisals.  The USA finds itself before a choice: seriously expand activities or search for peaceful resolutions.  Pham Van Dong asked a lot of detailed questions about the situation in South Vietnam.

He also demanded evaluations:

  1. What kind of tendency continues to prevail currently - to the benefit of peaceful resolutions or military?
  2. Do I judge that the talks with L[odge] are expressions of his own views or also [those of] the USA leadership[?]
  3. What kind of problems do I consider as the most difficult to negotiate with the USA if it came to talks and what will the USA attempt to keep in its own hands[?]  I tried to avoid an evaluation.  The Premier insisted, asking for a personal observation.  I replied:
    1. Chances are pretty even.  Much will depend on DRV efforts and the entire socialist camp to the benefit of tendencies channeled in the direction of peaceful resolutions.
    2. I consider that the views of L. expressed in talks with me are reflections of the views of the USA leadership.

      No ambassador would undertake independent action in such an important matter.

      I also pointed to the final fragments of the second talk [with Lodge].

    3. I consider that the most difficult problem is the matter of unification.  It is connected equally with USA interests and the matter of their prestige as a great power.

Pham Van Dong's observations.  He agrees that the USA stands before important military and political decisions.  It is necessary to give them a chance to direct their attention towards the search for peaceful resolutions.

Views by L. expressed in the talks are undoubtedly the result of instructions from [President] Johnson.  The Vietnamese comrades also estimate that the matter of unification is the most difficult.  They are patient.  If the USA departs from South Vietnam there is no reason to hurry.

They are ready to wait.  Next, the Premier asked for me to meet with L. in Saigon and to deliver to him, without making reference to himself, the following declaration:  "If the USA is ready to confirm the views expressed in the talks between Ambassador Lodge and Ambassador Lewandowski then it can do it directly through talks with the DRV ambassador in Warsaw."

Pham Van Dong also asked that Lodge should be told that if any kind of communiq­ue or information emerges about talks then they will publish a denial.

The cessation of bombings is a self-evident matter, the minimum, before any kind of talks.  Pham Van Dong asked that this information be delivered to Minister Rapacki and for the preparation all possible questions that I might have in connection with today's talk.

I foresee my departure on Tuesday [November 29].  The Premier will receive me once more before my departure to Saigon.

At the end, he said that the Vietnamese do not desire to humiliate the USA.

Their views are convergent with Polish ones.  There is no need to dread the discussion with L.  A better understanding of American views can only help at present and in the future.

The talk lasted 2.5 hours.

I urgently ask for further instructions.

(-) Lewandowski

Deciphered 25.11.66


Com[rade] Gomulka
Com. Cyrankiewicz
Com. Kliszko
Com. Ochab
Com. Rapacki
Com. Czesak
Com. Naszkowski
Com. Winiewicz
Com. Wierna
Com. Michalowsk

[Source: AMSZ, Warsaw; obtained and translated by L.W.Gluchowski.]

Document 12: Ciphered telegram from Lewandowski in Hanoi reporting on Conversation with North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong, November 28, 1966

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Translation by L.W. Gluchowski.

Polish Embassy, Hanoi (Lewandowski), to Polish Foreign Ministry (Rapacki), ciphergram no. 15133, 28 November 1966


Cyphergram No. 15133

From Hanoi, cabled 28.11, 12:20 hrs.; received 28.11, 15.55 hrs.
Received at the cyphergram section 28.11, 16:00 hrs.

[Deliver] In person


This morning Pham Van Dong again received me.  I delivered according to Your instructions.  The substance of Pham Van Dong's reply:

  1. Sincere thanks for the greeting.  Asks to deliver to Comrade Gomulka and the entire leadership assurances of the sincerest brotherly sentiments uniting the DRV and Poland.  These sentiments find expression in a manner most unfailingly, the road of great assistance which Poland shares with the needs of the DRV in the material, political and diplomatic spheres.  Pham Van Dong said:

    "Not everyone from the socialist countries understands us as well as the Polish comrades.  In no way do we want to yield assent-we will always make our way to broader discussions.  However, it depends on a proper understanding of the situation and our position.  The Polish comrades know well the situation and understand us.  That is why we find discussions with You so good and we always gladly desire discussions with You.  What a pity that not all of the socialist states display the same propriety as the Polish comrades."
  2. The bombing matter.  Independent of everything the USA should cease the bombing.  It is not a necessary condition before a meeting in Warsaw.  It is not known if the USA will realize a meeting.  It is not know if they will confirm Lodge's expressions or if they will come out with something else.  It is a plain matter that if they ceased the bombings it would constitute a step forward.

  3. Pham Van Dong asks to deliver to Gomulka assurances that if the United States takes a promising [nadzieje] position then the DRV government will take a positive attitude.  They are not apprehensive of talks if there is a basis for them.  They will prepare their positive position and they will certainly consult with our [Polish] leadership.  However, they do not want to construct an ice-castle.  It cannot be ruled out that in the USA the pro-war wing will prevail.  A lot depends on whether the Americans come to the meeting in Warsaw and what they say there.

  4. He thanks for the offer of assistance in technically organizing the meeting.   The manner in which it would be necessary to organize it will depend on this, who the USA - if it decides to come to the meeting - delegates.  The Vietnamese comrades will return to this matter when it is already apparent if and who appears on behalf of the USA.  Should their intention be serious then surely they will not delegate a minor official.

  5. Pham Van Dong asked that I, presenting it in my own name, try to secure from L[odge] information about the USA position on talks with the NLF.  He asked that, in this convention, I deliver to L. that if they are thinking about peaceful resolutions in the South then they should think about contacts with the NLF.  He asked for the immediate transmission of L's reaction.

    He also asked to put pressure in the talks on the matter of bombings, indicating that demanding their cessation is a common postulate of all peace proposals put forward around the entire world.  Also asked that in the talks with L. I try to obtain information on the general intentions of the USA, especially towards the South.

  6. He underlined once more the necessity of maintaining absolute secrecy.  Pham Van Dong bid his farewell to me very sincerely, embraced and kissed.  Present at both meetings was Colonel Ha Van Lau.

    My observations:

    - The decision to undertake contact in Warsaw is a collective decision of the leadership taken, surely, not without discussion.  This is indicated by my talk with the deputy minister of foreign affairs [Nguyen Co Thach], which I will relate separately.

    - The Vietnamese comrades are awaiting something more than the normal confirmation of our information from the meeting in Warsaw.  If this is confirmed only then will they put forward the condition to cease the bombing.  They are aware that ceasing the bombing right now would not allow the fact of the contact to be kept secret and would engender massive pressure of public opinion on both sides.

    - It appears that the information has aroused serious interest and a certain chance has arisen for the initiation of progress.

(-) Lewandowski

No. 479 [sic-should be 679]
Deciphered 28.11, 17:45 hrs


Com[rade] Gomulka
Com. Cyrankiewicz
Com. Kliszko
Com. Ochab
Com. Rapacki
Com. Czesak
Com. Naszkowski
Com. Winiewicz
Com. Wierna
Com. Michalowski

[Source: AMSZ, Warsaw; obtained and translated by L.W. Gluchowski.]

Documents 13-16: Lewandowski delivers the Ten Points, Saigon, December 1, 1966

Meanwhile, back in Saigon, Lewandowski's diplomatic co-conspirators had been waiting with increasing impatience for him to return from North Vietnam.  "What the devil can be happening to them in Hanoi?" D'Orlandi wondered to his diary on November 27.[32]  Finally, the Italian welcomed his young Polish friend to his apartment on Thursday morning, December 1.  "I have good news," Lewandowski said, beaming. "How good?" D'Orlandi asked. "Very good."[33]  That evening, Lodge joined them and heard Lewandowski's report.  He first recapitulated his understanding of the American stand, in ten points, and asked Lodge if this correctly reflected Washington's positions. Lodge, according to his own account, responded "that obviously on a matter of such importance, I would have to refer to my government for a definitive reply, but I could say off hand that much of what he cited was in keeping with the spirit of our policy." Lewandowski then declared that if Washington in fact agreed to these positions, it could confirm this directly to North Vietnam's ambassador in Warsaw. In a dramatic moment, after Lodge questioned the source for this assertion, Lewandowski violated his instructions and revealed that Pham Van Dong, speaking for the Lao Dong politburo, had authorized the statement. For the moment the three diplomats were nearly euphoric; Lewandowski reported that his partners were "pleasantly surprise," and D'Orlandi broke out a bottle of wine to toast the effort's success. In a matter of days, they believed, if nothing went wrong, direct discussions between the combatants could begin.  But something did go wrong.

Lodge's cable of the December 1 three-way meeting at D'Orlandi's apartment in Saigon, containing the ten points, has long been available.[34]  The documents below provide the Italian and Polish perspectives: D'Orlandi's diary entry and ciphered cables to Rome; Lewandowski's ciphered telegrams to Warsaw reporting the gathering; and the Pole's personal, handwritten copies of the ten points.

Document 13: D'Orlandi diary, December 1, 1966

DECEMBER 1, 1966 (Thursday)

Lewandowsky came by early this morning, he was beaming.  We immediately locked ourselves in my study and I notified Cabot Lodge that the meeting would take place here at 5:00 this afternoon.  Lewandowsky immediately told me that his visit to the North was extremely fruitful.  He faced great difficulties from all directions.  To begin with, he had to overcome the Polish Government's lack of confidence and was barely able to get their agreement to bet all their cards on the tri-partite attempt.  Then, a session of the North Vietnamese Presidium was necessary, which after a long and spirited debate, agreed to give him a very secret mandate to continue the tri-partite negotiations.  This is a real triumph; it will no longer be possible to object to me that it involves a personal initiative born of the unbridled imagination of a Polish diplomat.  Nor will it be possible to object that Lewandowsky represents only the thoughts of the Prime Minister from Hanoi or of the Foreign Minister there.  The decision to continue the negotiations is a joint and responsible one.  We now have the opportunity to know Hanoi's thoughts and above all, receive binding answers from them.  Lewandowsky illustrated the tri-partite attempt in minute detail to those leaders and tells me that not only were there no objections raised to my participation, but rather that it was welcomed.

The only condition imposed by Hanoi is the utmost secrecy over the entire negotiation.  In the event of any indiscretion of any nature, whether it is accidental or deliberate, the Hanoi Government would categorically deny everything and the Polish Government would do likewise.  In order for everything not to be torpedoed and fail at such a good point, it is necessary to reexamine from the beginning all the secrecy measures taken thus far and that we cover up the tri-partite meetings to an even better extent.  The first element obviously will be the speed with which we will be able to conduct the operation.  Cabot Lodge has already shown himself to be able to receive responses from Washington to even his most difficult questions.  Lewandowsky finds himself in a less favorable situation regarding the speed of his communications with Warsaw and is very much handicapped with respect to those with Hanoi, where he must travel in person each time.  But today Lewandowsky is the bearer of wide-ranging proposals, therefore the ball is in Cabot Lodge's court.  On the 9th, Rusk will pass through Saigon for 3 days and will already be apprised of both Lewandowsky's proposals and Washington's reactions.  Then by the 14th, Rusk will meet with Fanfani whom I am sure will sweep away any final uncertainties.  Before leaving, Lewandowsky tells me that if we are able, either tonight or in the next tri-partite meetings, to lay the foundation for a negotiation then Hanoi will wish to continue the negotiations directly with the United States.  This troubles me somewhat and I immediately inform Lewandowsky as much, explaining to him that in my opinion, much more must be dealt with by the three of us before running the risk of a direct confrontation between the American and North Vietnamese negotiators.  Lewandowsky agrees, but says that at the moment this is Hanoi's desire, and it may change in the next few days since Hanoi's determination is not categorical or definitive.  I immediately telegraph Minister Fanfani announcing in advance a crucial telegram for this evening after the tri-partite meeting, informing him that Lewandowsky has become a valid contact in the eyes of the Americans as well, and telling him all the good things I think of the Polish diplomat, who has shown himself to have insight, intelligence, sensibility, loyalty and something one can always use. . .luck.

There are rumors in Saigon of peace initiatives by the Vatican; the three ceasefires arranged for Christmas from the 24th to 26th of December, for New Year's, from the 31st of December to the 2nd of January, and for Tet, from the 8th to the 12th of February, lead this people, who are truly hungry for peace, to dream and speak of a long holiday that would go from the 24th of December to the 12th of February 1967.  This makes the American command very nervous, aware of the virtual impossibility of restarting the bombing of North Vietnam should this ceasefire take place.  Who knows why the Americans are so stubborn about wanting to continue the bombing so obstinately, since far from decreasing, the North Vietnamese infiltrations have in reality quadrupled!  [...].

[After Lewandowsky had discussed the ten points of the agreement with Cabot Lodge].

Ambassador Lewandowsky adds that Moscow was informed in minute detail (at a very high level) and that it is waiting to learn of developments in the negotiation.  Confidentially he added, to me alone (after the meeting), that Gomulka and Rapacki maintain that it is necessary to make haste and, while maintaining that a direct Washington - Hanoi dialogue is possible, they think that the tri-partite meetings will still be very useful.  Lewandowsky concluded his response to Lodge by saying that in our next meeting he will ask for some clarifications.  Cabot Lodge was very thankful and said that the U.S. Government attached the utmost importance to our meetings, that he would have obtained the response requested in the shortest possible time and that when he comes to see me Friday (tomorrow) he will be able to arrange the tri-partite meeting for Saturday.  Cabot Lodge pronounced himself in agreement with respect to strengthening the secrecy measures.  We agreed upon several precautions and, for my part, I said that my communications reached Minister Fanfani directly, deciphered by my colleague chosen personally by him, as Chief of the Cipher Service.

So, by the day after tomorrow we will have the hoped-for solution!  May God help us!

[Source: D'Orlandi diary, December 1, 1966, in "Bombs on Hanoi to Block Dialogue," in 30 Days in the Church and in the world, no. 6 (June), 2005.]

Document 14: D'Orlandi's ciphered messages to Rome on December 1, 1966 meeting

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D'Orlandi's cables to Italian Foreign Minister Fanfani in Rome, Office Memos 12-18, December 1-2, 1966

Translations by Isella O'Rourke.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Secret. Priority. Office Memo No. 12. For Honorable Minister. 

At the three-way meeting this evening, Ambassador Lewandowsky described his trip to Hanoi characterizing it as very important because of the results obtained and not at all easy because of the difficulties encountered. Then he says:

  1. We are at a crucial point in our attempt to open negotiations.  I therefore had to present to Hanoi a report specifying the agreements reached during our three-way meetings. They are the following points: the U.S. is sincerely eager for a peaceful solution to be reached by means of political negotiations.

  2. Said negotiations are not to be interpreted as "surrender" of North Vietnam; political negotiation must find an acceptable solution for all the problems, keeping in mind that the current status quo in South Vietnam will be changed to take into account the interests of countries opposed to the U.S. (in South Vietnam). Such solutions may be reached in an honorable and dignified manner safeguarding the pride and national prestige of the contracting parties.

  3. From the point of view of their own interests, the U.S. has no intention of extending beyond measure or making permanent their presence in South Vietnam providing that a peaceful solution to the conflict underway is found; for this reason the offer made at the Manila conference to withdraw the troops and to remove the military bases is worthy of the utmost attention.

This telegram is made up of seven Office Memos. Memos 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 follow this one.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Office Memo No. 13

Secret. Priority. For Honorable Minister. 

  1. The U.S. is ready, if the other contracting parties show constructive interest in a negotiated solution, to seek and discuss with them proposals directed at favoring an agreement which involves solutions to all the significant problems, from the cease-fire to the final agreement and to the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

  2. In the framework of the general agreement, the United States will not (repeat not) oppose the formation of a South Vietnamese Government based on the true choice of the South Vietnamese people, with the participation of everyone in free and democratic elections. The United States will accept the necessary controls to ensure free and democratic elections and will respect the electoral results.

  3. The United States maintains that the reunification of Vietnam depends on the free choice of the Vietnamese themselves and therefore is necessarily conditioned on the return of peace and the institution of qualified bodies representative of the people of South Vietnam.

  4. The United States is ready to accept and respect the true and complete neutrality of South Vietnam.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Office Memo No. 14

Secret. Priority. For Honorable Minister.

  1. The U.S. is ready to halt bombing of North Vietnamese territory if this cessation facilitates attainment peace agreement. In the event of cessation of bombing, the U.S. will avoid giving impression that North Vietnam was forced by the bombings to negotiate or that it is negotiating in order to make them stop. The cessation of bombings would not imply recognition or confirmation on the part of North Vietnam that its armed forces had ever infiltrated into South Vietnam.  (Note for President Fanfani: Lewandowsky refers to the combined A and B proposal as set forth in Office Memo No.    which had been put forward by his guests at Villa Madama on November 2nd).

  2. The U.S. which does not exclude the possibility of reunification of Vietnam, will never accept that this occur under military pressure (from the North).

  3. While it is clear that the U.S. seek a peaceful solution to the conflict, it is likewise evident that the U.S. will neither now nor ever declare acceptance of the proposals by North Vietnam known as "four points" or "five points".

    Having dictated the ten points to us, Ambassador Lewandowsky says that in his opinion, they objectively represent what was agreed between us.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Office Memo No. 15

Secret. Priority. For Honorable Minister.

Ambassador Lewandowsky affirms that he is authorized by the North Vietnamese Government and the Polish Government to inform the U.S. Government that if it agrees with the ten points and intends to continue the negotiations it would be appropriate to give direct confirmation to the North Vietnamese Ambassador to Warsaw.  This communication will indicate to Hanoi the wish to continue and would avoid all core misunderstandings. According to Lewandowsky, in the event of a leak, Hanoi and Warsaw would immediately publish a denial and the negotiation would collapse.  It is necessary therefore to make haste thereby reducing the risks of a leak.

At this point and on a lesser note Lewandowsky adds that apart from all other considerations about the negotiation underway, the U.S. should halt the bombings of the North. He concludes by saying that both Hanoi and Warsaw want the three-way talks to continue and that the two Governments make Lewandowsky available to the U.S. for any questions or clarifications.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Office Memo No. 16

Secret. Priority. For Honorable Minister.

Having finished his account, I gave Lewandowsky credit for the accurate and able presentation he summarized in 10 points.  It is consistent with what we said to each other and agreed upon; only Point 8 could appear inexact because of the understandable difficulty of mentioning the North Vietnamese infiltrations, but the very nature of the American proposal shows through with sufficient obviousness.

On a personal note, Cabot Lodge describes himself as satisfied with the ten points with a slight reservation regarding Points 2 and 8. With respect to Point 2, Cabot Lodge does not believe he accepted that the Status Quo in South Vietnam must be changed.  I clarify that it has never been a case of an obligation, but that all three of us have believed that a change in the status quo (meaning the General Ky Government) would be very probable in the event of negotiations. All three of us find ourselves in agreement. With respect to point 8, Cabot Lodge puts forward my observation as well, but we all agree on my conclusion. Cabot Lodge tells us that he will immediately telegraph Washington requesting approval 10 points which he believes may be accepted with some requests for clarifications.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Office Memo No. 17

Secret. Priority. For Honorable Minister.

Cabot Lodge asks Lewandowsky in friendship, if he can tell us something about the contacts he had in Hanoi. Lewandowsky responds (with great frankness) that his first and principal contact was Prime Minister Pham Van Dong who had pointed to him out the need for Lewandowsky's proposals to be supported by the Polish Government. It was therefore necessary (and very difficult) to obtain the approval of Gomulka. After which Pham Van Dong told him that it was necessary to have the approval of the North Vietnamese Presidium. This approval was obtained after several stormy sessions while poor Lewandowsky, believing himself to be repudiated by the North Vietnamese, prepared to forward to Warsaw his request for recall. Lewandowsky informed his contacts at Hanoi of the three-way meetings and was encouraged to continue. Therefore he makes a warm request of Cabot Lodge to avoid that the U.S. Government tries other channels or accepts other attempts which could cause misunderstandings.  I preferred not to mention his hint of a possible Vatican effort.

Embassy of Italy

(N.S.)        Foreign Office Rome                    S                December 2, 1966      12 Noon

Office Memo No. 18

Secret. Priority. For Honorable Minister.

Ambassador Lewandowsky adds that Moscow was informed in minute detail (at the highest level) and that it awaits to learn negotiation developments. Confidentially he added to me alone (after the meeting) that Gomulka and Rapacki maintain that it is necessary to make haste and while maintaining a direct Washington - Hanoi dialogue is possible, they think that the three-way meetings will still be very useful.  Lewandowsky concluded his response to Lodge by saying that in our next meeting he will ask for some clarifications.  Cabot Lodge was very thankful and said that the U.S. Government attached utmost importance to our meetings; that he would have obtained in the shortest time period possible a response to our request and that coming to see me Friday (tomorrow) evening could have arranged three-way meeting for Saturday.  Cabot Lodge pronounced himself in agreement to strengthen secrecy measures. We agreed upon several mechanisms and for my part I said that my communications reached Your Excellency (Minister Fanfani) directly, deciphered by my colleague chosen personally by him, namely Chief of Cipher Service.

[Source:  Archivio Storico Diplomatico, Ministero degli Affari Esteri [Diplomatic History Archives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs], Rome, translations by Isella O'Rourke.]

Document 15: Telegram from Lewandowski in Saigon to Polish foreign ministry (Rapacki) re 1 December 1966 meeting

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Translation by L.W. Gluchowski.

Polish ICC Delegation, Saigon (Lewandowski) to Polish Foreign Ministry (Rapacki), ciphergram no. 15313, 2 December 1966


Ciphergram No. 15313

From Saigon, cabled 02.12, 09:00 hrs.
Received at the ciphergram section 02.12, 12:20 hrs.

[Deliver] In person


At the time of my return to Saigon Lodge was in Danang.  However, he asked Orlando [D'Orlandi] to inform him immediately about my return.

[D']O[rlandi]. contacted me on 30.XI [November].  Today [sic-actually December 1] I met with L[odge] at O's.

  1. Talk strictly according to Your instructions, only that to begin with I recapitulated L's position from the talks of 14 and 15 November, demanding confirmation. Next, I presented the formulation as per Your 12158.  I underlined the necessity of maintaining secrecy.  It appears that L. and O. were equally pleasantly surprised by the results.

  2. L. declared that his reply, if it concerns the two matters, is positive (recapitulation of the position and meeting in Warsaw), however, he will contact the President immediately.

    He completely shares the view and necessity of maintaining secrecy.  Cables on this matter are read only by Johnson and Rusk.  Assurances about maintaining secrecy about the talks was also made by O., adding that if any information should appear then the Italian government will probably also deny it and in any case not confirm it.

  3. The formulation in Your 12158, "independent of everything the USA should cease bombing the DRV," was not questioned by L. and neither did he demand clarification.  That is why I did not also clarify it further.  L. forecast the next meeting immediately after receiving instructions from J[ohnson].

    Thank you for the greeting.

(-) Lewandowski

No. 660
Deciphered 02.12


Com[rade] Gomulka
Com. Cyrankiewicz
Com. Kliszko
Com. Ochab
Com. Rapacki
Com. Naszkowski
Com. Winiewicz
Com. Wierna
Com. Michalowski

[Source: Szyfrogramy from Saigon-1966, 6/77. w-173, t-858, AMSZ, Warsaw, obtained and translated by L.W. Gluchowski.]

Document 16: Lewandowski's Ten Points (personal copy) read to Henry Cabot Lodge in Saigon on December 1, 1966

Polish Version [insert]

English Version [insert]


[1] James G. Hershberg, Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam (Washington, DC: Stanford University Press/Wilson Center Press, 2012).

[2] Notes of interview with Henry Cabot Lodge, 12 October 1967, Interviews folder, box 15, Stuart H. Loory papers, American Heritage Center, Laramie, Wyoming.

[3] In this regard, see the account of Lyndon Johnson's 37-day bombing pause, from Christmas Eve 1965 through the end of January 1966, in Hershberg, Marigold, prologue.

[4] George C. Herring, ed., The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War: The Negotiating Volumes of the Pentagon Papers (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1983), pp. xxiv, 211-2; Herring, LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1994), pp. 104-6.

[5] Kraslow and Loory, The Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam, p. 54.

[6] Hershberg, Marigold, p. 627, citing notes "from bill moyers source M," "about July or August" 1967, Interviews folder, box 15, Loory papers.

[7] On this conflict, see especially the forthcoming book by Fredrik Logevall, Twilight War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam (New York: Random House, 2012).

[8] Janusz Lewandowski interviews, Warsaw, June 2003.

[9] Tape-recorded Johnson telephone conversation with Federal Reserve Board chair William Martin, 9 a.m., 30 June 1966, in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Vol. IV: Vietnam, 1966 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1998), p. 473.

[10] See Hershberg, Marigold chap. 13.

[11] Paul Gore-Booth to Thomas Brimelow, 20 Mar 1967, FCO 15/646, The [British] National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office), Kew Gardens, England.

[12] D.F. Murray, "Vietnam: The Lewandowski Affair," 14 April 1967, in ibid.

[13] Rusk quoted in Harriman memorandum of conversation with Anatoly Dobrynin, 27 December 1967, box FCL-8, W. Averell Harriman papers, Library of Congress.

[14] Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969 (citations from paperback edition, New York: Popular Library, 1971), pp. 251-2.

[15] Walt W. Rostow oral history interview-I, 21 March 1969, pp. 49-50, Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library (LBJL), Austin, Texas.

[16] William Jorden oral history interview-I, 22 March 1969, p. 30, LBJL.

[17] John P. Roche oral history interview, 16 Jul 1970, pp. 69-70, LBJL.

[18] Dean Rusk, As I Saw It, edited by Daniel S. Papp (New York: W.W. Norton, 1990), pp. 467-8.

[19] See Herring, ed., The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 217, 220.

[20] Mario Sica, an Italian diplomat who worked with D'Orlandi in Saigon published an Italian-language study of Marigold in 1991, based largely on declassified U.S. sources because he was not permitted to use still-classified Italian cables (many of which he had encoded or decoded himself) and because Polish and other communist sources were not yet available.  See Mario Sica, Marigold non fiorì: Il contributo italiano alla pace in Vietnam (Florence: Ponte alle Grazie, 1991).

[21] David Kraslow and Stuart H. Loory, The Secret Search for Peace in Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1968), p. 240.

[22] Wallace J. Thies, When Governments Collide: Coercion and Diplomacy in the Vietnam Conflict, 1964-1968 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980), p. 341.

[23] Herring in The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, p. 213.

[24] Deptels 83786 to Saigon, 13 November 1966, and 84238 to Saigon, 14 November 1966, in FRUS, 1964-68, 4:838-9, 843-5.

[25] See Herring, ed., The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War, pp. 263-70; and Saigon telegram 10856, 14 November 1966, in FRUS, 1964-68, 4: 839-41.

[26] Translator's note:  the text in red has been crossed out in the original.

[27] The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War: The Secret Diplomacy of the Pentagon Papers, pp. 270-271.

[28] The references are to Lewandowski's cables describing the November 14-15 conversations with Lodge, reproduced above.

[29] Most likely a less official form than an aide memoire-trans.

[30] Lewandowski interview, Warsaw, June 2003.

[31] See Luu Van Loi and Nguyen Anh Vu, Tiep xuc bi mat Viet Nam-Hoa Ky truoc Hoi nghi Pa-ri [Secret Interactions between Vietnam-US Before Paris Negotiations] (Ha Noi: Vien Quan He Quoc Te [Institute of International Relations], 1990), pp. 166-7; in the 2002 edition, the authors cite (p. 160) the notes of Nguyen Tu Huyen, chief of the foreign ministry's translation office (translations courtesy of Lien-Hang T. Nguyen and Merle L. Pribbenow II)..

[32] D'Orlandi, Diario Vietnamita, 1962-1968, p. 710 (27 November 1966 entry); translation by Isella O'Rourke.

[33] JL interview, June 2003.

[34] See Saigon embtel 12247, 1 December 1966, FRUS, 1964-68, 4:890-4.

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