83 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, March 27 The German Government is carrying on with the Polish Govern- ment conversations aiming at the return of Danzig to the Reich. These conversations seem unlikely to succeed ...... 109 84 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, March 27 This news is confirmed by the Commissioner for Poland ..... 109 85 M. DE MONTBAS-Berlin, March 28 In Berlin it is declared that it is intended to pursue the settlement of the Danzig question exclusively by friendly means in the spirit of the 1934 agreement ................. 109 86 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, March 30 Polish circles in Berlin regard the situation as very serious. Between Berlin and Warsaw there do not appear to have been any negotiations in the full sense of the word; to the enquiries made by Herr von Ribbentrop, bearing, in particular, on the return of Danzig to the Reich and on the establishment of a motor road and a railway of an extra-territorial character in the Corridor, the Polish Government is understood to have replied in the negative. The possibility of a Putsch at Dan- zig cannot be ruled out ................................... 110 87 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, March 30 Herr von Ribbentrop has expressed to the Polish Ambassador in Berlin a desire that Poland should bring her policy in relation to the U.S.S.R. in line with that of Germany...... 112 88 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, March 31 The French Government gives its approval to a statement which the British Government proposes to make and under the terms of which both would assist the Polish Government if Poland, before the conclusion of the consultations now in progress, should be the object on the part of the Reich of an attack threatening her independence .............................. 112 89 STATEMENT BY MR. CHAMBERLAIN-London, March 31 A statement to this effect is made by Mr. Chamberlain in the House of Commons .......................................... 113 90 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 1 The German menace arouses the patriotism of the Polish nation .................................................... 114 91 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, April 5 Hitler's followers in Danzig had prepared a Putsch for March 29. It will be difficult to restrain their activities hence- forth. The recent crisis in German-Polish relations, more- over, has only increased the state of confusion which has pre- vailed in the Free City for several months past ........... 114 92 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 5 In Berlin it is considered certain that the Führer will in any case demand the return of Danzig to the Reich ......... 117 93 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 6 At the same time that he has resolved to settle the Danzig problem "one way or another," Herr Hitler is probably about to launch an offensive against the morale of France and Britain and will seek to stir up dissension between the two Powers .................................................... 118 94 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 7 The German Press accuses Poland of making herself the satel- lite of Great Britain in a policy of aggression against Ger- many ...................................................... 120 95 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 8 To Herr von Weizsäcker, who is reported to have asked him for explanations about the Polish military measures, M. Lipski, Polish Ambassador in Berlin, is reported to have replied that they were justified by the recent movements of German troops ............................................. 120 96 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 10 No decisive conclusion is reported to have been reached in Berlin, where the success of a maneuver of intimidation is still counted upon ........................................ 121 97 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 11 The wavering of German policy in the Danzig affair reveals the fact that the Reich hesitates to commit itself to a con- flict in which it would have to reckon, in the East as well as in the West, with formidable adversaries ............... 121 98 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 12 Colonel Beck has presented the Anglo-Polish agreement to the German Government as a re-insurance contract in no way aimed at the encirclement of Germany ...................... 123 99 EXTRACT FROM A STATEMENT BY M. DALADIER-Paris, April 13 M. Daladier, in a statement, recalls and confirms the gua- rantee given by France to Poland .......................... 124 100 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 13 In Berlin it is claimed by some that an amicable settlement may be expected, by others that a break with Warsaw and with London is imminent ........................................ 124 101 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 15 Herr von Moltke, German Ambassador in Poland, who should have returned to Warsaw on April 13, has not yet come back to his post ...................................................... 125 102 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 17 The German tactics consist in trying to shatter the nerves of the Poles by the multiplicity and persistency of false reports concerning the slightest incident ................. 125 103 M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR-Berlin, April 24 While M. Lipski resumed the direction of his Embassy in Ber- lin more than a week ago, Herr von Moltke has not yet rece- ived orders to return to Warsaw ........................... 126 104 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, April 25 It is said in Danzig that the Reich will now give up the idea of the territorial annexation of the Free City, but will demand a customs union ............................... 126 105 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, April 28 Herr Hitler informs the Reichstag of the proposals which he has made to Poland concerning the settlement of the Danzig question, and denounces the German-Polish pact of 1934 .... 127 106 M. LÉON NOËL, Warsaw, April 29 Chancellor Hitler's speech denouncing the German-Polish agreement of 1934 has caused no surprise in Poland, where the Minister for Foreign Affairs is studying the German memorandum handed to him by the German ambassador ......... 128 107 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 29 The incidents to which Herr von Weizsäcker drew the atten- tion of Sir Nevile Henderson appear to be of minor impor- tance and seem moreover to have been engineered by the Germans. The Polish population is calm and the Polish Govern- ment prudent .............................................. 129 108 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, April 29 Herr Hitler's harangue appears as a speech for the defence rather than for the prosecution. It must none the less be borne in mind that the Führer refuses to participate in any pacific organization of Europe, and in consequence we should continue our armament policy and aim at the closest collaboration with our allies ............................. 129 109 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 29 The German memorandum to Poland is merely a translation in diplomatic style of Herr Hitler's speech; it urges the Govern- ment of Warsaw to enter into conversations but contains a menace. The margin of possible concessions is narrow ...... 131 110 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 29 The German-Polish pact was founded on an ambiguity; it as- sured for the Poles the stability of their frontiers and the maintenance of the status quo at Danzig for ten years; but it did not for the Germans exclude the possibility of revi- sion. The Poles now know where they stand with Herr Hitler . 131 111 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 29 Contrary to the statements of Herr Hitler, it appears that the German Government never proposed to Poland the prolonga- tion of the 1934 pact nor the guarantee of Slovakia's inde- pendence .................................................. 132 112 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 29 In putting the question of Danzig in the foreground, Herr Hitler expects that France and Great Britain will consider it too small a matter to justify Polish resistance. But the problem is in fact infinitely more important; it is a ques- tion of knowing what will be Poland's attitude in the event of a general conflict ..................................... 132 113 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, April 30 The reactions of the French Press to Herr Hitler's speech have frustrated the calculations of the German Government which hoped to create division among us. And in fact the Germans are not wrong when they claim that Danzig is in itself only a secondary question; the enslavement or inde- pendence of Europe is at stake in the issue now joined .... 133 114 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, April 30 On three separate occasions the German Government is report- ed to have proposed co-operation with Warsaw against the U.S.S.R. .................................................. 135 115 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, May 2 The Polish Ambassador in Berlin has been struck by the milder tone of Herr Hitler's speech, which he attributes to Franco-British firmness. On the other hand he considers that the reply of his Government ought to be very cautious in order to frustrate the obvious maneuver of making use of it to excite German opinion ................................. 135 116 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, May 2 Germany has not changed. Despite the agreement of 1934 the Third Reich has remained as hostile to Poland as the Germany of Bismarck and of the Hohenzollerns ...................... 136 117 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, May 3 Summary of the development of the question of national minorities in Germany and Poland; difficulties arising from their contiguity have been to some extent the dominant factor in German-Polish relations ................................ 139 118 M. CORBIN-London, May 3 Aggravated symptoms of ill humour in the National-Socialist Government. Herr von Ribbentrop, receiving Sir Nevile Hender- son, gives way to a display of anger against Poland ....... 142 119 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, May 4 Herr von Ribbentrop now appears convinced that Great Britain and France will come to the help of Central or Eastern Europe; at the same time he does not believe they will move for Danzig ................................................ 142 120 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, May 5 Replying to Herr Hitler, M. Beck makes a statement in the Diet in which he declares the firmness of Poland's policy .. 143 121 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, May 6 The Polish memorandum has been transmitted to Berlin. This document recalls that the Reich has not replied to the counter-proposals of March 26, 1939, and appears to imply that it rests with the German Government to take the initi- ative in resuming conversations ............................ 144 122 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, May 6 The Polish memorandum alludes particularly to the speech delivered by Herr Hitler on February 20, 1938, in which he expressed his satisfaction with the then existing state of German-Polish relations ................................... 144 123 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, May 7 Herr Hitler remains determined to recover Danzig, but will probably mark time in order not to have to fight France and Great Britain. He may draw nearer to Russia ............... 145 124 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, May 9 The German-Polish conflict seems temporarily at a standstill. The method of direct pressure having failed, the National- Socialist leaders will perhaps have recourse to indirect pressure. Whatever means they have to employ, they are deter- mined to establish German hegemony in Europe. It is therefore not a matter of knowing whether one should, or should not, fight for Danzig; what does matter is for France and Britain to be resolved to prevent a new Nazi coup and to apply a brake to National-Socialist expansion while there is still time ...................................................... 150 125 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, May 9 The general impression is that Europe will continue to enjoy a respite of comparative calm, during which the Axis Powers will strive through the medium of propaganda and diplomacy to defeat the determination of London and Paris to oppose any further attempts at aggression ........................ 155
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, March 27, 1939.
I HAVE learned from an authoritative German source that the retrocession of Danzig to the Reich by friendly arrangement is at the present moment the subject of negotiations between Berlin and Warsaw, but the negotiations do not seem likely to come to a successful conclusion. The further information was given that, although Germany does not at present contemplate an attack, she could not wait until the expiration of the Treaty of 1934 for the settlement of this question.
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, March 27, 1939.
I HAVE just received confirmation from the Polish Commissioner's Office of the existence of proposals relating to Danzig's return to the Reich, presented by the German Government to the Polish Government.
The Polish Government has categorically rejected these proposals and simultaneously taken strong measures for the security of Pomerelia.
M. DE MONTBAS, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 28, 1939.
I HAVE received from various authoritative sources confirmation of
the information conveyed yesterday, March 27, by M. de la Tournelle concerning the present state of the Danzig question.
Conversations between Berlin and Warsaw have, in fact, been going on in the greatest secrecy for some days, with a view to the retrocession of the Free City to the Reich in return for an undertaking by the latter to forego an immediate military occupation, the problem of the Corridor being for the moment excluded from the discussions. A pessimistic view as to the result of these negotiations is held by Polish circles in Berlin, which, after giving the impression that a solution on these lines would not raise any difficulties, seem now to be taking up a more rigid attitude, to anticipate the worst and to be making preparations accordingly.
On the German side, where great dissatisfaction is shown with regard to the alleged treatment of the German minority in Silesia, it is most emphatically declared that Danzig is not to be the object of an attack. They affirm that they are well aware of what would be the consequences of this in the present excited state of international opinion and that they intend to pursue the settlement of the question solely through peaceful channels in the spirit of the 1934 Agreement. One thing is clear: the German Press preserves a complete silence with regard to this, and so far there has been no indication in any newspaper of an early revival of "dynamism" in any particular direction.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 30, 1939.
POLISH circles in Berlin do not conceal the fact that they consider the situation arising from the Danzig question as very serious and that the tension between the Reich and Poland may, any day, become extremely grave. Most of the Embassy officials and members of the Polish Colony have already sent their wives and children away. The Polish students in the German capital have returned to their own country, and, according to information given us by certain of our agents, the Consuls are said to have received orders to burn the secret papers in their archives.
Possibly these precautionary measures are partly intended to impress the Nazi leaders. M. Lipski and his staff are indeed persuaded that up
to the present the Führer has attempted to use force only when he was convinced that he would meet with no resistance worthy of the name. Therefore they seize every opportunity of declaring that Poland will strenuously oppose by force of arms any violent action taken by the Reich against the constitution of the Free City.
With regard to the German-Polish contacts on this matter, I have been able to obtain the following information about the question as it stands at present.
There have been, apparently, no negotiations properly so called between Berlin and Warsaw. There has been a question and a reply. Herr von Ribbentrop is said to have asked the Polish Government if they were ready to enter into negotiation on the following points:
The modification of the Danzig statute and the return of the City to the Reich;
The concession to Germany of an extra-territorial railway and a motor road across the Corridor;
A rectification of the frontier in the Oderberg region, this important railway centre to belong to the Reich;
An elucidation of Poland's attitude towards the Axis.
To this question, Warsaw is said to have replied with an emphatic "No." In taking note of this refusal, Herr von Ribbentrop apparently confined himself to warning the responsible Polish leaders that they had better think things over. Polish Embassy circles in Berlin are of opinion that the Reich Foreign Minister has not yet acquainted the Chancellor with the failure of his démarche, probably because he still hopes for a change of attitude in Warsaw.
The German Press as a whole has for some time observed a complete silence on the questions which divide the Reich and Poland. This reserve is in itself disquieting. It will, doubtless, be maintained during the interval for reconsideration which Herr von Ribbentrop has tacitly allowed his interlocutors. The National Zeitung, however, in its edition of the day before yesterday (March 28), issued a warning the implication of which it is impossible to misunderstand. This warning was taken up the next day by the Diplomatische Correspondenz.
However that may be, it seems clear that the National-Socialist leaders had not expected resistance of this kind from Poland. Certain well authenticated reports lead one to believe that the occupation of Danzig by the German forces had been originally intended to take place next Saturday, April 1. This was, in fact, the date fixed for the actual linking-up of the S A. in the Free City with the Wehrmacht.
Today, confronted with Warsaw's firm attitude, Berlin seems to hesitate. Perhaps the German arrangements are only postponed.
A member of my staff has learnt from a usually reliable source that, as a result of the unexpected difficulties that have arisen, the Reich has had to face the possibility of a military operation, which would necessitate at least a fortnight's preparation. His informant is of opinion that, in these circumstances, nothing will happen before the day of the monster parade in which four divisions are to take part and which has been arranged in Berlin for April 20 to celebrate the Führer's fiftieth birthday.
Nevertheless, one cannot altogether exclude the possibility of a premature Putsch taking place in Danzig even before Colonel Beck's departure for London.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, March 30, 1939.
I HAVE been able to obtain fresh information as to the way in which the Danzig question seems to have been introduced last week by Germany, in the course of a conversation between Herr von Ribbentrop and the Polish Ambassador.
I learn, from an absolutely reliable source, that, during this conversation, the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs also spoke to M. Lipski about Poland's relations with the U.S.R.R. He gave emphatic expression to the wish that "even if Poland thought she could not become a party to the Anti-Comintern Pact, she should at least endeavour to bring her general policy as close as possible to the line followed by Germany."
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw. Paris, March 31, 1939.
THE British Ambassador informed me on March 30 that a question would be put to the British Government next day in the House of Commons, suggesting that a German attack on Poland was imminent
and asking what measures the Government would take in such an eventuality.
With the intention of giving the German Government a necessary warning in the least provocative form, the British Government proposed, with the approval of the French Government, to answer that, although it considered such a rumour to be without foundation, it has given the Polish Government an assurance that if, previous to the conclusion of consultations going on with the other Governments, any action were undertaken which clearly threatened the independence of the Polish Government, and which the latter should find itself obliged to resist with armed force, the British and French Governments would immediately lend it all the assistance in their power.
I replied to the communication from Sir Eric Phipps that the French Government would give its whole-hearted approval to the declaration which the British Government proposed to make.
As I said this morning, His Majesty's Government have no official confirmation of the rumours of any projected attack on Poland, and they must not, therefore, be taken as accepting them as true.
I am glad to take this opportunity of stating again the general policy of His Majesty's Government. They have constantly advocated the adjustment, by way of free negotiation between the parties concerned, of any differences that may arise between them. They consider that this is the natural and proper course where differences exist. In their opinion there should be no question incapable of solution by peaceful means, and they would see no justification for the substitution of force or threats of force for the method of negotiation.
As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other Governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Government in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period, in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government
all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.
I may add that the French Government have authorized me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 1, 1939.
THE behavior of the Polish Nation during the last few days has created a very deep impression on all foreigners resident here.
The patriotic feeling of the Poles in the face of the German threat, which the country has suddenly realized, is intensified in all parties and all classes; workers and peasants show that they are aware of the danger and ready for the greatest sacrifices. The women, as always in Poland when things are serious, play a vital part in this movement of public opinion. An extraordinary enthusiasm, shared by Jews and Catholics alike, rich as well as poor, is manifested for the air defence loan, although the subscription has not yet been opened. Military measures and requisitions are accepted in the best spirit.
The executive committees of all parties (except the Communist Party, which has no legal status) have accepted the invitation to be represented on the Loan Committee, a thing which would have seemed impossible a few weeks ago. This gesture is enough to show how deeply a consciousness of danger has rapidly reached every section of the nation.
The calmness shown by the population also creates a very good impression. However, in the Warsaw cinemas, the appearance of German uniforms in the news films is beginning to call forth marked hostile reactions.
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, April 5, 1939.
ON two occasions, during the second fortnight in the month of March, the constitution of the Free City appeared to be in danger, in
the first instance owing to the action of the Reich, and then to the activity of the Danzig National-Socialists, and it seemed that the carrying out of this threat might have the most serious reactions on German-Polish relations.
The development of the crisis, as seen from Danzig, was as follows:
The High Commissioner of the League of Nations, on his way from Geneva, broke his journey in Berlin on the 12th and 13th of March. He was not received by Herr von Ribbentrop, as he had hoped to be, but personal friends in the Wilhelmstrasse advised him "to remain only a very short time in the Free City to avoid exposing himself to most serious inconvenience." So M. Burckhardt, returning on March 14, left again on the 17th for Switzerland to give a verbal report at once to the Committee of Three.
I myself learned that arms had been transported daily since the end of February from Elbing to the barracks of the Schutzpolizei, that on the 13th and 14th of March about 500 officers and non-commissioned officers from East Prussia had reconnoitered first the road from Elbing to Danzig, then possible battlefields, and finally that in the schools elocution lessons were given to the very young on the words, "We thank our Führer." The population was instructed on March 16 not to discontinue the street decoration ordered for March 15 to celebrate the setting up the Protectorate in Bohemia and Moravia.
The local Polish authorities seemed to me to be surprised and bewildered by the imminence and the gravity of the danger threatening their interests. I also had the impression that they had been waiting in vain for some days for instructions from their Government, although there could no longer be any doubt as to the action that Germany was preparing here. However, from March 17 onwards, it was observed that Polish troops were being rushed to the frontiers of the Territory; war material, coming from Tczew and bound for Gdynia, passed through Danzig station every night, and about March 25 batteries of field-artillery took up their position at Orlowo, between Zoppot and Gdynia.
Whether the Reich had delayed action too long, or whether it had desired to act only with the assent of Warsaw, it was henceforth impossible for the Wehrmacht to enter Danzig without fighting.
It was then that the local militiamen, exasperated by this futile waiting, decided to organize a Putsch. It was to be carried out on March 29 at midday. A rehearsal was held the night before at the same hour, groups of S.A. and S.S. making a show of occupying the
public buildings. They hoped to present the Reich and Poland with a fait accompli and to proclaim, without any incident, the reunion with Germany. But convinced, with reason no doubt, that the Polish troops would immediately enter the City, the President of the Senate, accompanied by the President of the Bank of Danzig and the head of the Department for Foreign Affairs, flew to Berlin on March 28 and persuaded the Party Headquarters that strict orders should be issued at once to the Danzig units forbidding any kind of agitation. Herr Greiser's intervention was facilitated by the absence of the Gauleiter, who was in hospital for an operation. If Herr Forster had been present, events would doubtless have taken a different course.
The present line of argument of the local National-Socialist authorities is as follows: Germany and Poland maintain their friendly relations, which the former has never dreamed of disturbing. In the spirit of the Treaty of 1934 and in order to strengthen still further these relations, Germany has merely formulated several demands which the Warsaw Government refused to consider, a refusal strictly within their rights. If some anxiety seems to have been felt in Poland, who has, without any reason, believed her interests to be threatened, this is due to the action of agitators belonging to the military and Francophile party and not to the responsible and serious-minded politicians, who remained perfectly calm. In Germany the Führer was obliged to take steps which, at times, seemed brutal in order to put the army in its proper place in the nation, and to prevent any usurpation of power; it is to be hoped that the Warsaw Government will derive inspiration from this method, the application of which in Poland, to say the least, is equally necessary.
It seems that, for political as well as for economic reasons, it will be impossible to maintain the status quo here. It is felt that most of the high officials and the majority of the population do not desire the return to the Reich, the former because they wish to remain the most important persons in this State, Lilliputian though it be, and the latter because they have no illusions about the hardships and restrictions that will be laid upon it as soon as the frontiers, which still offer some protection, are removed. But it will be difficult in the future to control the exasperation of the more ardent Nazis, who are hoping for a new and speedy victory for Germanism, a victory which, this time, is to be their own direct achievement. Many of them have recently stayed up night after night, expecting from hour to hour the arrival of the German troops.
Then again, the uncertainty of the situation is having disastrous effects on the traffic of the port. The Polish authorities had ordered the removal of rolling stock and small craft, the merchants have sent their stocks of goods to Poland, the Polish credits have been withdrawn, grain and flour are no longer sent from Poland except on presentation of a letter of credit in that country.
At the same time, the population, fearing that they would be compelled to accept marks at an arbitrary rate when the local coinage was withdrawn from circulation, exchanged this in considerable quantities for zlotys or contraband marks at 1 mark to 70 Danzig pfennigs, although the official rate stands at 1 mark to 2 gulden 20. In order to protect its currency and to obtain exchange, the Bank of Danzig compelled every person residing in the Free City, whether nationals or not, to declare the money and the foreign securities in their possession and to deposit them in approved establishments under the Bank's own account, where they must remain untouched. In this field also an early clearing up of the situation seems indispensable. The recent crisis in German-Polish relations has only increased the state of confusion that has now prevailed in the Free City for several months.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 5, 1939.
I HAVE obtained from various reliable sources the following particulars concerning the present attitude of the leaders of the Reich concerning the Polish question:
In official circles the prospect of an Anglo-French intervention in favour of Poland gives rise to the most serious fears. It exasperates the Führer who has been, of late, in a constant state of anger. The opinion is said to prevail still in Government circles that Danzig is outside the scope of the guarantee given by England to Poland, and also the view is obstinately held that Poland would not take up arms to defend the constitution of the Free City.
But it is firmly maintained that the Führer is determined, whatever the circumstances, to secure the return of Danzig to the Reich, and it is thought possible, considering his state of irritation, that any day he may decide to settle the question without further delay.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 6, 1939.
IN the course of the negotiations which took place yesterday in Berlin between the Government of the Reich and the Slovak delegation headed by Mgr. Tiso, Herr von Ribbentrop, referring to the relations between Poland and Germany, made the following declaration to the head of the Bratislava Government, reported almost word for word as follows:
"The Führer does not want war. He will resort to it only with reluctance. But the decision in favour of war or peace does not rest with him. It rests with Poland. On certain questions of vital interest to the Reich, Poland must give way and accede to demands which we cannot renounce. If Poland refuses, it is upon her that the responsibility for a conflict will fall and not upon Germany."
These words, which I must insist were quoted to me in a strictly confidential manner, seem to me to sum up fairly well the present state of the German-Polish tension.
Although, bearing in mind the Chancellor's unfathomable pride, his state of irritation and his boundless faith in his star, one cannot rule out a priori the possibility of an angry gesture and an imminent and brutal seizure of Danzig, I consider that, in the present state of things, this is not the most likely contingency. I am more inclined to believe that before resorting to extreme measures, the Government of the Reich will attempt once more the method of negotiating with Poland as understood by Hitlerian Germany, that is to say, by pressure and blackmail, accompanied by the threat of force.
As I have already stated, Berlin has not yet lost all hope that Poland will give way on the question of the return of the City of Danzig to the Reich and the construction of an extra-territorial motor road across the Corridor. This hope is all the stronger since, in spite of the very clear way in which the English guarantee was drawn up. they persist in thinking in Berlin that the British promise of assistance does not include the Danzig problem.
On the other hand, as far as I can see, it seems that on the Polish side it is thought that after the return of Colonel Beck there will be a resumption of the diplomatic conversations begun last week with Germany, which have so far failed. It goes without saying that Ger-
many will use the time during which these conversations may continue for military preparations directed against Poland.
There is no doubt in my mind about one thing: the Chancellor is resolutely determined to settle the Danzig question "one way or another." On this subject Herr von Ribbentrop's remarks reported above are typical and are confirmed by other reliable sources.
But, however exasperated the Führer may be by the Anglo-Polish negotiations and the threat of encirclement, however great his haste to proclaim the return of Danzig to the Reich and to restore direct communications between East Prussia and Pomerania, he cannot but know that if this result is not obtained in an amicable way, it would not be merely a matter of a military parade for the German army marching across Polish territory. This time he would have to face a conflict necessitating very extensive preparations.
According to convergent and reliable reports, it would seem that in the Chancellor's opinion the amicable solution suggested last week to Poland was to constitute only a stage. If this is passed in consequence of a refusal on the part of Poland, the Reich will try to obtain a solution of the whole problem of German-Polish relations, a problem which has been artificially relegated to the background since 1934. Poland will have to face the question: "To be or not to be?"
From another source it is pointed out that in the meantime the leaders of the Reich have not lost all hope of weakening the resolution of England and France by trying to divide opinion in both countries on the question of eventual military aid for Poland. We must expect the Reich to display activity in this direction, and in particular to try to obtain the publication in certain newspapers of articles intended to spread confusion. As far as France is concerned, the journey of Herr Abetz to Paris is doubtless not foreign to this purpose. The fact that until now the German Press has affected to discriminate between England and France, directing all its fury against the former and merely attacking the latter in a perfunctory manner, is in itself significant. German propaganda will doubtless try to convince certain sections of French opinion that by fighting England's battles on the Continent, their country is playing a dupe's part. Nazi agents will not fail to maintain that the Third Reich has the best intentions towards us. Already, when Austria was invaded, Field-Marshal Goering repeatedly gave his word of honour to M. Mastny that Germany was animated by the very best intentions towards Czechoslovakia. We know today what such assurances are worth.
We must therefore, during the coming weeks, expect a violent offensive against the moral structure of France and of England.
The German-Polish dispute has, in fact, degenerated into a tension between the Reich and the Western Democracies.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 7, 1939.
I POINT out as very typical the abrupt change in the tone of the German agencies and Press with regard to Poland.
After Mr. Chamberlain's first declaration, and at the beginning of Colonel Beck's stay in London, the inspired German newspapers displayed a cautious and moderate attitude towards Poland, as if they feared to alarm her and drive her over to the Western Powers.
Since yesterday evening, and particularly in the Deutscher Dienst and the Volkischer Beobachter, these tactics have given place to intimidation and threats. Poland finds herself accused of becoming the satellite of England in a policy of aggression against Germany; she has been warned that she runs the risk of becoming like other "small nations," the first victim of British intrigues.
It may be that Germany is trying by these methods of intimidation, to persuade Poland to consent without further delay to substantial concessions with regard to Danzig and the "territorial link" between East Prussia and the rest of the Reich, but it may equally well be wondered whether Chancellor Hitler, feeling that time is now working against him, will not refrain from precipitating events by a decision to address an unacceptable final summons to Poland.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 8, 1939.
COLONEL BECK passed through Berlin today, on his return journey from London to Warsaw. One of the secretaries in the Protocol Service met him at the station but he did not, as far as we know, have any conversation with any Minister of the Reich.
I hear from a well-informed quarter that M. Lipski had previously paid a visit to Herr von Weizsäcker. In the course of this interview, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is said to have asked the Polish Ambassador for further information as to the attitude of the Warsaw Government, and particularly with regard to Polish military measures. M. Lipski, without any loss of composure, is said to have replied that the measures in question were justified by the recent troop movements and the annexations which the Reich, without notifying the Polish Government, had just carried out, and that the units mobilized in Poland did not in any case exceed two army corps.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 10, 1939.
FROM a well-informed quarter it is pointed out that German official circles continue to hope that Poland will be persuaded to accept the German claims in respect of the passage across the Corridor and Danzig. Herr von Ribbentrop is said to have had a personal letter delivered to Colonel Beck, when the latter passed through Berlin, requesting the Polish Government to withdraw its troops from the German frontier.
A report from another quarter informs me that leading Nazi circles are said to be speculating still on the wavering attitude attributed to France.
My personal impression is that up to the present the Germans have made no final decision, and that they are still counting on the success of an intimidating maneuver. I persist in thinking that the best chance of avoiding a conflict depends on the spirit of resolution which the Western Powers will display.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 11, 1939.
REGARDING the state of German-Polish relations after Colonel Beck's
journey to London and his return to Warsaw, certain facts seem worthy of attention.
Up to the present, there has been no evidence of large-scale military measures which would justify the conclusion that an operation against Poland is imminent. The verifications undertaken during the Easter holiday showed that up to yesterday, April 10, there was as yet no concentration of troops in Silesia, nor opposite Posen, nor in Pomerania.
No newspaper campaign has yet been launched against Poland by the Reich. Even at the time of Colonel Beck's visit to London, the German Press maintained a certain sense of proportion in its language with regard to Poland. After trying, especially on the eve of Colonel Beck's journey, to intimidate the Warsaw Government, it resumed, during and after the Anglo-Polish conversation, a moderate tone towards Warsaw. It was principally against England that it vented its resentment and annoyance.
In so far as the Danzig question in particular is concerned, the German Press has till now refrained from directly attacking it. The problem has not been put before the public. The Führer's prestige, so far as his own people are concerned, is therefore not yet involved. His liberty of action remains complete.
On the German side, hope of coming to an amicable settlement with Poland has not yet been given up, a resumption of contacts and exchanges of views appears to be under consideration. Likewise, on the Polish side, a new approach by the Reich is expected, and there is no aversion whatever to a renewal of contacts. Even the hope of effecting an arrangement is still entertained. Up to the present, it is true, it is hard to see what fundamental conditions would make this arrangement feasible. Germany's two main demands are: The return of Danzig and the establishment of an extra-territorial passage across the Corridor. Poland has categorically refused to admit these demands. She has made it clear that she would not hesitate, if the occasion arose, to resort to force to oppose the German requirements on these points. She hopes to be able to settle the dispute by granting most generous privileges to the Germans in Danzig and considerable traffic facilities across the Corridor. According to certain reports, the Warsaw Government would even agree to the breaking of all juridical ties between the Free State and the League of Nations, to Danzig's becoming in some sort independent, and to Germany's obtaining important economic privileges.
Be that as it may, one thing appears incontestable. Before having re-
course to measures which might provoke an armed conflict with Poland, the Third Reich will neglect no means of settling its disputes with Poland by the method which the Chancellor has until now found so successful, that is to say "without firing a shot."
The German hesitations must without any doubt be attributed in the first place to the firm attitude adopted by Poland. For the first time the Third Reich has come up against a categorical No; for the first time a country has clearly expressed its determination to oppose force by force, and to reply to any unilateral movement with rifles and guns. This is the kind of language that is understood in Germany. But they have not been used to hearing it there for a long time. It has also been very difficult for them to believe their ears, and they still do not despair of wearing down Polish resistance in the long run. Meanwhile, no decision regarding Danzig seems to have been reached as yet, although its restoration to the Reich had been anticipated for April 1.
The vacillation of German policy in the Danzig affair brings out a point which seems to me of capital importance for the appreciation of the general political situation, viz.: the German aversion to rush into a conflict in which the Reich would be engaged on two fronts and in which it would have to reckon, in the East as in the West, with powerful adversaries.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 12, 1939.
I QUESTIONED Colonel Beck about the widespread rumours regarding a recent conversation between M. Lipski and Herr von Ribbentrop.
The Minister assured me that his Ambassador had not seen Herr von Ribbentrop for several days, that no approach had been made during the last few days by the German Government to the Polish Government, and that a high official of the Wilhelmstrasse, in the course of a non-political conversation, had confined himself to asking M. Lipski the reason for the military measures taken by Poland. The Ambassador had replied that his Government, as a result of recent initiatives on the part of Germany, had been moved to do, though to a lesser extent, what had been done by a certain number of other countries. Colonel Beck told me also that he had summoned M. Lipski to Warsaw, and
that he would let Herr von Moltke know the following morning what had been determined upon in London. He had, up to the present, confined himself to informing the German Government that the Anglo-Polish Agreement was a reassurance operation necessitated by the existing circumstances, and that it was not in any way aimed at the encirclement of Germany.
THE French Government, moreover, derives great satisfaction from the conclusion of the reciprocal undertakings between Great Britain and Poland, who have decided to give each other mutual support in defence of their independence in the event of either being threatened directly or indirectly.
The Franco-Polish alliance is, moreover, confirmed in the same spirit by the French Government and the Polish Government. France and Poland guarantee each other immediate and direct aid against any threat direct or indirect, which might aim a blow at their vital interests.
Today this declaration is being communicated by our Ambassadors to all Governments interested, and in particular to Turkey.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 13, 1939.
IN official circles in Berlin today, there were two points of view regarding German-Polish relations.
At the Ministry of Propaganda, correspondents of the German and foreign Press were still informed that negotiations between Berlin and Warsaw were being continued and that an amicable settlement was not an impossibility.
On the other hand, a high official of the Wilhelmstrasse stated, in confidence, to one of our fellow countrymen that there would be no further conversations with the Warsaw Government on the matter of Danzig and the Corridor. The same person added that Herr von Rib-
bentrop was extremely annoyed with Colonel Beck; he considered that Poland had taken up a definitely hostile attitude and that he was contemplating breaking off diplomatic negotiations with Warsaw and London in the near future.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 15, 1939.
ALTHOUGH Colonel Beck let Herr von Moltke know that he wished to see him as soon as he returned, the latter, who was expected back in Warsaw two days ago, after having received instructions from his Government, has not yet rejoined his post.
The Foreign Minister concludes from this that the German Government is hesitating over the policy it should pursue with regard to Poland, and that the conclusion of the Anglo-Polish agreement has disconcerted it.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 17, 1939.
THE German tactics with regard to the Poles seem quite clear; the propaganda of the Reich is busy disquieting them, fraying their nerves and wearying them by the multiplicity and persistence of false reports, criticisms and more or less veiled threats, by which it either counts on bringing about a change of opinion among the Polish people, or seeks to weaken the moral resistance of an eventual adversary.
The newspaper correspondents of the Reich in Poland have orders to report anything which can be presented to German public opinion as an incident, as a maltreatment of the minority, and also to be as unpleasant as possible to Poland in their reports.
Then again, German agents are spreading among the minorities, especially at Katowice, the rumour that it will not be long before the German troops appear. It is even reported that April 24 is to be the date of "deliverance."
Up to the present, the Polish authorities and population have reacted
with restraint to these manoeuvres, and they continue, in spite of the increase of anti-German feeling, to show signs of praiseworthy calm.
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 24, 1939.
ALTHOUGH M. Lipski returned to Berlin more than a week ago, Herr von Moltke is still awaiting orders to return to his post.
This delay is probably due to the feeling of intense irritation which the Führer, so I am told, continues to feel towards Colonel Beck and Polish Government. No doubt the Nazi leaders are also trying in this way to intimidate Warsaw and weaken its resistance.
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, April 25, 1939.
THE failure of the attempt last month by the Reich to blackmail Poland has in the diplomatic and military spheres still further increased the confusion in the Free City; one might almost speak of a crisis in the regime itself, since the National-Socialist Party, with its Gauleiter, the Government represented by the Senate, and lastly the Gestapo, are severally at loggerheads with one another.
Himmler was obliged to come here in secret, at the beginning of the month; he endeavoured to settle the dispute, very bitter since Herr Greiser's journey to Berlin, in order to frustrate the Putsch prepared by Herr Forster's associates. He is said to have been very dissatisfied with the lack of discipline prevailing in the Danzig district and, on his return to Berlin, to have advised the recall of the Gauleiter. It remains to be seen whether the Führer, who is a personal friend of the latter, will consent to this.
The leaders of the storm troops do not admit defeat; they repeatedly prophesy the return of the Free City to Germany at an early date, which they are compelled continually to postpone; and they condemn in the strongest terms the present state of deferred hopes.
The responsible officials maintain quite a different attitude. The
Head of the Department for Foreign Affairs of the Senate readily declares, in conversation with foreigners, that the Danzig question can only be settled by German-Polish negotiations; that such negotiations, in view of their complexity, will necessarily be long and difficult; but that time does not matter, since the Free City, having already waited twenty years for its future to be decided, can be patient a little longer. Finally, according to Herr Böttcher, the Danzig people are said to be taking offense at being looked upon almost as a box of chocolates that one might give away as a birthday present.
This attitude of caution may have been due to a warning that the High Commissioner of Poland is said to have given to the Senate at the beginning of the month; at the slightest attempt to modify the constitution by violence, whether coming from inside or outside the Territory, Polish troops would immediately enter Danzig and endeavour to maintain themselves there, whatever damage the City might suffer.
That is apparently the sort of language best understood here.
I have learned from an authoritative German source that the Reich in order to disarm Polish prejudices, would, in the negotiations it hopes to open with the Warsaw Government, drop its claim to the territorial annexation of Danzig; it would recognize and confirm the sovereignty of the Free City; freed from the control of the League of Nations, but it would demand its transfer from Polish customs territory to that of Germany.
This would mean that in return for a formal concession, the neighbouring Republic would have to give up the advantages it now holds. But, according to the local Polish authorities, it is not likely that Warsaw will allow itself to be thus duped, so that this maneuver has little chance of success.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 28, 1939.
THE speech just made by the Führer to the Reichstag, in answer to President Roosevelt's message, lasted for two hours and a half. There were two parts to it. In the first, which was in the nature of a speech for the defence, the Chancellor recalled the main principles of his
policy and endeavoured to show that the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia was not incompatible with these principles, Germany having merely acted in obedience to vital political and economic necessities.
The second part was the actual reply to President Roosevelt, whose message the Chancellor dissected into twenty or so questions to which he replied in turn.
Concerning relations with Poland, Herr Hitler declared that the Danzig problem remaining an open question that must be settled, he had made the following proposals to the Polish Government:
"1. Danzig to return within the framework of the Reich, Germany to obtain an extra-territorial railway and road across the Corridor.
"2. In return, all Polish rights in Danzig to be recognized. Poland to retain for ever the right to a free port in Danzig.
"3. Poland and Germany to guarantee the frontiers of Slovakia.
"4. Germany to recognize the German-Polish frontier as final."
"This proposal," he added, "was rejected in the same way as happened in the case of Czechoslovakia. Poland thought it to her interest to yield to the pressure of the Democratic Powers, which promised her their support; and to decline this unparalleled proposal which will never be made again.
"I hope to be able to settle this question by compromise, as no one can imagine that Danzig could ever become a Polish city.
"Since the international Press has imputed aggressive intentions to the Reich, Poland has felt obliged to mobilize and to accept a pact of assistance. Now, the treaty between Germany and Poland never envisaged the conclusion of such a pact. It applied solely to the alliance with France. The German-Polish non-Aggression Pact has therefore no further meaning. It has been violated, and it no longer exists.
"However, that does not involve any change in my attitude to the problems themselves. If the Polish Government should once more wish to enter into negotiations on this subject I am quite willing to do so, provided that this time the question is clearly settled."
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 29, 1939.
POLISH public opinion has received Herr Hitler's speech with the
greatest calm. His decision to end the 1934 Agreement, which the German Press had, for that matter, foreshadowed, has occasioned no surprise here.
Since the events of last March and their repercussions on the relations between Poland and Germany, it was felt in Warsaw that the policy inaugurated in 1934 had, for the time being at least, and owing to Germany's action, ceased to be a reality.
The memorandum to which the Chancellor alluded was handed over this morning at the Bruhl Palace by the German Chargé d'Affaires. The Foreign Office staff immediately began to study the document, and it is said that the Polish Government intends to reply to it in the same form.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 29, 1939.
THE Polish people, contrary to German allegations, has so far given evidence of great calm, and the authorities use their influence to promote great moderation. This fact is noted by all foreign observers. Furthermore, the Government and the Army Chiefs are too anxious to gain time for strengthening their preparations for defence, to tolerate any acts of imprudence.
The most serious of the incidents noted recently by the Press of the Reich are due, moreover, to German provocation. The only grave case to which attention has been drawn lately concerns a German who, after being turned out of a Polish patriotic meeting, at which he had made a protest, fired on the crowd which demonstrated outside his house, wounding six Poles, one of whom has since died.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 29, 1939.
AFTER a careful reading of Herr Hitler's speech, the following impressions can be clearly drawn: Delivered in a tone relatively calm,
moderate in substance and in form, it is a speech for the defence rather than an indictment. It is directed more towards the past than to the future. It would, however, be dangerous to allow oneself to be impressed to any extent by this appearance.
It is possible that, as he himself rises with the Reich which he has built, Herr Hitler may view things with a more lofty serenity; there is no reason to hope that he will give up his designs, his ambitions and his covetous appetites; indeed, it is quite the reverse.
If the Führer has decided to allow his troops a pause it is because he thinks it necessary to prepare the next operation by means of negotiations; the fact that he is shifting his maneuver from the military to the diplomatic plane, permits the Western Powers to appreciate the efficacy of their action. But Herr Hitler's activity will not be less dangerous because he plays the hermit for a while, and the Allies could not with safety relax either their vigilance or their military and diplomatic efforts.
Having noted that, in the face of the resolute attitude of the three allied Powers, the Reich has drawn in its claws, we must see the Führer's speech in the light of so many others conceived in the same spirit, and I think it desirable that from today the French Press should put an end to its comments.
By this time we know too well what the German Führer's word is worth, to allow ourselves once again to be taken in by it. Herr Hitler has, moreover, just broken it once more by denouncing, five years before its expiration, the German-Polish Agreement which was to last, without any possibility of denunciation, until 1944.
What must be remembered in his speech is that he sets his face against any pacific organization of the European community, and that each new conquest, which will strengthen the Reich's position as the heir to the Holy Roman Empire or to the Hapsburgs, is regarded by him as legitimate.
Armed force is the only thing that counts with him. We must therefore proceed with our re-armament and the strengthening of our alliances. I may be allowed to recall the words that Herr Hitler addressed to me at our first meeting:
"Do not think that Alsace-Lorraine means nothing to me; it is because the retaking of Strasbourg would necessitate the shedding of too much German blood that I have decided to end the Franco-German quarrel."
More than ever I am convinced that the Führer's whole temperament is revealed in these words.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs Warsaw, April 29, 1939.
THE Warsaw Press publishes this morning the German memorandum to Poland.
This document merely amplifies in diplomatic style the declarations made yesterday by the Führer on German-Polish relations.
It does not shut the door on negotiations, it even formally "invites" the Polish Government to a discussion, so that the inspired newspapers are able to announce today that the "Reich's memorandum, with its proposals for a new agreement, will be examined by the Polish Government."
Herr Hitler's tentative proposal contains, however, an implicit but very distinct threat should Poland persist in associating herself with the defence front now in formation. The Polish Government is preparing to reply to this in the same form. The discussion, thus made public, offers only slender chances of an agreement. Definite positions have been taken up by both sides and, between the plans of Herr Hitler and the determination of a proud nation, the margin for possible concessions appears very narrow.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 29, 1939.
A FUNDAMENTAL ambiguity has always subsisted in the German-Polish Agreement of 1934. For the Poles, this Agreement was intended to assure the stability of their frontiers for ten years and make Danzig secure against annexation by the Reich.
For Herr Hitler, this Agreement was not intended in any way to prevent the annexation of Danzig or a revision of frontiers; his habitual methods of pressure and intimidation allowing him to realize both without war at the first opportunity. On the other hand, the agreement
implied, in his eyes, an obligation on Poland's part not to strengthen her ties with France and not to make new ties with the friends or allies of France.
After the events of March, Poland notified Germany that she would not agree either to the annexation of Danzig or to the construction of a motor road across the Corridor; and Poland accepted the offer of alliance from England. The Chancellor is disappointed and angry; he has the impression that he has been deceived, almost betrayed, and he must be strongly tempted to give free rein in future to the feelings of hatred that the German has never ceased to feel for the Pole.
The Poles, on the other hand, have lost any illusions they may have had about Herr Hitler, and know that sooner or later they will have to defend their independence against the great adversary, which Germany has once more become for them.
IT is stated at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs that the German Government, contrary to the Chancellor's declarations, did not propose to Poland either a prolongation of the Non-Aggression Pact or a guarantee by Germany, Poland and Hungary of Slovak independence.
Neither M. Beck nor his collaborators have ever made in my hearing, or in conversations reported to me, the slightest allusion to any proposals of this nature.
The German Press alone had indicated that the German Government, in return for concessions it expected from Poland, would be ready to prolong the Pact of 1934.
There has never been any question, to my knowledge, of a proposal relating to Slovakia.
IN putting the Danzig question in the forefront, Herr Hitler clearly
reveals his tactics; he reckons that in France and Britain this question will appear of too slight importance to justify Polish resistance.
One could not help wondering why Polish public opinion took such an uncompromising attitude concerning the Danzig Statute and refused to consider any substantial concession on this point.
The fact is that, since the events of last March, the Poles feel that the vital question is one between themselves and the Reich.
The point is whether, by consenting to concessions, which, moreover, would lead to others, Poland is to agree to stand aside in an eventual conflict between Germany and the Western Powers and thus resign itself to becoming an auxiliary and vassal of the Reich; or whether, on the contrary, it will use the political independence which it will have striven to safeguard, in order to join, should occasion arise, the common defence front against German imperialism.
It may be deplored that the problem seems to centre, at the moment, round Danzig. It is important that opinion in France should realize that it goes far beyond this Danzig question, and that it is neither the cause nor the essential factor.
The Polish leaders hope, like ourselves, that the issue will not be precipitated; but, in any case, if we want to find Poland at our side when the hour of danger comes, it is important that nothing should be done which might make her doubtful of our support.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 30, 1939.
OFFICIAL circles in the Reich have clearly been disappointed by the attitude of the French Press following the Chancellor's speech; they had counted on its making a profound impression and creating controversies which would divide French public opinion. This hope has been clearly disappointed. The propaganda of the Reich has not, however, on that account, given up exploiting the Führer's declarations on the hope of breaking up the defensive front that is forming round Paris and London.
This morning the efforts of this propaganda seem to be directed chiefly against Britain. The diplomatic correspondent of the Börsenzeitung, the semi-official mouthpiece of the Wilhelmstrasse, today
outlines in a significant article a maneuver certainly marked out for future development. He endeavours to persuade the British public that the German demands with regard to Danzig and the Corridor are trifling and that the stake certainly does not justify Great Britain in giving a guarantee to Poland and imposing the burden of conscription on her people.
I am still convinced that it is important that the French Press should not carry on any long discussions on the subject of the Führer's speech. Should the German maneuver indicated above become clearly defined and developed, I feel I ought to draw attention to the following points concerning, in particular, the question of Danzig and the Corridor:
1. The position adopted by the Führer with regard to Danzig is in direct opposition to that which he took up in his speech on February 20, 1938.
The Führer then declared in so many words that Danzig had entirely lost its menacing significance; that the Polish State respected the national character of the Free City, just as Germany, on its side, respected the rights of Poland; that the relations between the two countries had been finally cleared up and transformed into a loyal and friendly collaboration.
At that date, then, the Führer had declared that the Danzig question had been settled in a final manner to the satisfaction of both the Reich and Poland.
2. In order to denounce the German-Polish agreement of 1934, the Führer later on invoked the promises of mutual assistance recently agreed upon between London and Warsaw. He appears thus to imply that Germany, by virtue of the Agreement of 1934, held a mortgage on Polish foreign policy, while itself retaining complete liberty of action allowing the conclusion of political agreements with other countries. In these circumstances, the new settlement proposed by Germany, which would link the questions of Danzig and of the passage across the Corridor with counterbalancing questions of a political nature, would only serve to aggravate this mortgage and practically subordinate Poland to the Axis and the Anti-Comintern Bloc. Warsaw refused this in order to retain its independence.
3. If Poland, after thus weakening its political and strategic position by yielding to the German demands, had subsequently tried to find in London a counterweight to Nazi pressure, can it be doubted that the Reich would then have declared not only that the Agreement
of 1934 was null and void, but also the new arrangement from which the Reich would, however, have received all the benefit?
4. The same process, in two stages, which has ended in the disappearance of Czechoslovakia would have then been applied against Poland.
5. Polish acceptance of Germany's demands would have rendered the application of any braking machinery in the East impossible.
The Germans are not wrong then, when they claim that Danzig is in itself only a secondary question. It is not only the fate of the Free City, it is the enslavement or liberty of Europe which is at stake in the issue now joined.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, April 30, 1939.
ONE of my colleagues has learned from one of the most intimate collaborators of M. Beck that in September, January and March last, the German Government proposed to Warsaw collaboration against the U.S.S.R.
To a question by my colleague, M. Beck's collaborator, without wishing to define these proposals, replied that they went far beyond an adhesion of Poland to the Anti-Comintern Pact.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, May 2, 1939.
MY Polish colleague, whom I saw before his departure for Warsaw, told me that he had formed a similar impression to my own of Herr Hitler's speech in the Reichstag. He attributes its moderate tone to the firmness of the Anglo-French attitude, to the adoption of conscription in Great Britain and to Poland's determination to meet force with force. He is convinced that by persevering on these lines, the Allied Powers will keep Germany in check.
The sting of the Führer's speech seemed to him to be plainly directed against Poland. The German-Polish dispute was presented
very cleverly and with the manifest intention of exciting German public opinion against Warsaw. Also, my colleague was of the opinion that in order to defeat the German maneuver, his Government's answer should be carefully prepared and very cautious. He had indeed been summoned by M. Beck in order to discuss this matter with him.
M. Lipski also confirmed reports that during the last few days there had been movements of German troops in Slovakia, beyond the Vaag and all along the Polish frontier. He wonders whether this is not a means of pressure being used by Berlin to show Warsaw that the offer made by the Reich of a tripartite German-Polish-Hungarian guarantee of the integrity of Slovakia, might easily become null and void in the near future.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, May 2, 1939.
BY the will of Chancellor Hitler, the German-Polish pact, concluded for ten years in Berlin on January 26, 1934, by M. Lipski and Herr von Neurath, has lapsed after being in force only five years.
The circumstances in which this pact was signed will be remembered, and its premature denunciation will not prevent it from standing out in the diplomatic history of our time.
The Poland of Pilsudski refused to forget that the Locarno system had established a discrimination, at its expense, between Germany's Western and Eastern frontiers; it had never resigned itself to a discrimination so injurious to its security. To the ill-will towards France and England which this created among the Poles, who reproached those countries with having abandoned them in advance to the covetousness of a Germany which neglected nothing in order to build up her strength again in secret, had been recently added the dissatisfaction and anxiety occasioned in Warsaw by the proposed Four Power Pact. This attempt to establish in Europe a "Directorate of the Great Powers," intolerable in itself in the eyes of the Polish nation, which was now becoming conscious of its new strength and drew the line at nothing in its ambition, had appeared all the more threatening to Marshal Pilsudski since the first draft drawn up by Signor Mussolini clearly opened the way to a revision of the Eastern frontiers of Ger-
many. It had been interpreted in Warsaw as a device for directing German covetousness towards Poland in order to turn them away from the West, and still more, from the South and from Austria. At the same time, incidents were taking place on the Polish-German frontiers, and the Third Reich, born yesterday and uncertain of its future, suspected Poland of planning a preventive war.
Marshal Pilsudski thought that he would do wisely by utilizing the fears of a regime not yet sure of itself; he instructed M. Wysocki, then Ambassador in Berlin, to make overtures to Herr Hitler with a view to the establishment of relations of "good neighbourliness" between Poland and Germany. The Führer unhesitatingly agreed. An official communiqué, which followed this conversation, and was dated May 3, 1933, marked the first stage of the new policy. In the course of the following months, negotiations were continued without any great haste between M. Wysocki's successor, M. Lipski, and the German Government. Finally, Marshal Pilsudski decided to hasten their conclusion: on January 26, 1934, Poland and the Reich declared themselves agreed to open "a new era in Polish-German relations" and to adjust "by the method of direct agreement" the difficulties which might bring them into conflict, in order to establish "good neighbourly relations," and, in accordance with the principles of the Pact of Paris of April 27, 1928, to avoid in all cases any "recourse to force."
Thus Poland had given satisfaction to her concern for prestige by showing Europe that she was capable of conducting an "independent" policy, and diplomatically she was self-sufficient, while declaring her determination to maintain the alliance with France, the preservation of which had been permitted by the Berlin pact, owing to a formula drawn up in general terms.
From a more practical point of view Pilsudski had seen in this agreement a method for "gaining time." He was convinced that sooner or later, a war would become inevitable between Poland and Germany, but he realized the considerable effort which had to be exacted from his country and the time which it would require in order really to become a great power; for the present he no doubt feared the U.S.S.R. more than Germany; in any case he thought it advisable to safeguard himself for some time against any surprise from the West.
For his part the new master of Germany had eagerly responded to the advances which had been made to him by Marshal Pilsudski; for him, the hour had not yet struck for adventures or conquests; he was aware of his weakness and of that of his country; judging his neigh-
bours by himself he already suspected them of encircling the Third Reich and of preparing a preventive war in order to destroy his newborn work without giving him time to put into operation the programme set out in Mein Kampf. Pilsudski, by offering him an agreement, provided him so to speak with the "credentials" which he needed in relation to Europe in order to have time to make his position secure.
Immediately on publication of the Polish-German pact, it had for that matter been evident to thoughtful minds that Germany both needed it more and derived more benefit from it than Poland.
The system was in any case based from the outset on ambiguity on both sides. When signing it, the Reich had not for a moment considered that it implied the slightest renunciation by the Reich of its hopes of laying hands on Danzig, of wiping the Corridor off the map and of recovering its old frontiers. Herr Hitler had only considered it as a convenient method of appeasing the hostility of the Poles at a difficult time. Like all his compatriots he retained all his prejudices and his hostility towards them, together with his secret hopes for a day of reckoning.
Pilsudski on his part appears to have been under no illusion whatever as to the nature or the value of the engagement which Germany had agreed to conclude with his country. This is clearly proved by observations made by him during the last months of his life to some of his familiars and to the Chiefs of the Army. If he made any mistake in this respect it was, it seems, only as regards the time which the new Germany would require in order to rebuild its military forces and once more become a formidable danger to the whole of Europe.
Events, however, took a much more speedy course. Though the Anschluss entailed great difficulties for the Reich these did not divert Herr Hitler for a single day from his extensive plans. The rate of progress of his undertakings and his successes became more and more rapid. The collapse of Czechoslovakia enabled the armies of the Reich to place themselves at the foot of the Carpathians, along the Polish frontier, and all that Poland was able to record as a compensation for this formidable increase of strength of the Reich was the annexation of the territory of Teschen. The annexation of Memel accentuated the encirclement of Poland. It was then that Herr Hitler thought that the time had come to turn towards the latter, and no doubt he thought it perfectly natural to instruct Herr von Ribbentrop to notify M. Lipski on March 21 that the Reich intended to annex Danzig and to obtain the right to build an extra-territorial motor-road across the Corridor.
On that day all eyes in Warsaw were opened and the divergence of interpretation which underlay the pact of 1934 became clear to all. So Germany had not changed! The Third Reich was as hostile to Poland as the Germany of Bismarck and the Hohenzollerns! The respite on which they had counted in order to complete the organization of the country and equip it had come to an end. They had to be ready to fight perhaps the very next day, or to go under. For the Poles would not allow themselves to be caught in the mesh of conversations, they would not enter upon the path which leads to vassalage! The Poles had very quickly regained their presence of mind on the sudden appearance of danger. If they had to fight with those who after all had never ceased to be their hereditary enemies, they would fight, and would win, just as at Grunwald in the past.
From that moment the pact of 1934 had lost all its value. Though it remained intact legally, it no longer corresponded to political realities.
Furthermore for Germany it was no longer justified and could not survive some of the causes which had induced Germany to accept it. Since the Chancellor had achieved his first objects, had annexed Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Memel, it appeared to him quite natural to settle the question of Danzig. He is known to be indignant with Poland and Colonel Beck. He is no doubt sincere in his strange psychology, and no doubt he fails to understand the resistance and the obstinacy of these Poles, who do not immediately recognize the goodwill which he has shown in not claiming from them all the lands situated in the "Lebensraum of the German people": the Corridor, Torun, Poznan, Upper Silesia, Bohumin . . . and by contenting himself for the moment with an extra-territorial motor-road.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, May 3, 1939.
AT the moment when, in consequence of the denunciation by Germany of the pact of January 26, 1934, the Polish Government is preparing to send a notification that it no longer considers itself bound by the Polish-German declaration on minorities of November 5, 1937, it is not inappropriate to recall the history of the sixteen months of existence of this declaration.
Directly after its publication, the Polish Government Press claimed to view it as the most important fact which had occurred in the relations of the two countries since 1934. Such comments were justified by the wish to show the German Government the importance which Poland attached to the declaration. The pact had indeed been intended to put an end to an exchange of recriminations, sometimes very bitter, which had been dragging on for nearly six months. Furthermore, in the course of the negotiations, Germany had constantly acted the part of the requesting party. It had insistently pressed for the signature of a definite convention and the institution of a mixed commission, before which the complaints of the minorities could have been brought. The Polish Government had only agreed to a simple declaration, leaving each party alone responsible for the fulfillment of its engagements "within the framework of its sovereignty." Therefore it had no reason for appearing to minimize the scope of the agreement towards the other party.
In spite of the Press comments, the political scope of the declaration was not exaggerated in Warsaw. I have already pointed this out, adding that neither the intricate intermingling of the nationalities, nor the differences between the political systems, could lead one to expect a lasting peace in the frontier relations of the two countries. I concluded, nevertheless, that no doubt a sort of armistice would result, and that the local authorities would for some time avoid giving ground for complaint to the minorities.
This is how things actually happened. During the winter of 1937-1938, calm appeared to prevail; no incidents were reported. From the end of April the Embassy correspondence has to recommence the record of reports of bad Polish-German frontier relations. The German minority Press complains of the "Polish chicanery." It deplores the discharge of numerous German workmen in Upper Silesia (one thousand one hundred in a few months) and their replacement by Poles. It is irritated when it observes, as it believes, that the application of the agrarian reform in the Western Provinces is being systematically directed against the German landowners. It is indignant at the closure of several schools.
For their part, the Poles complain no less of the bad treatment undergone by their compatriots in the Reich, as well as of the activity of the German minority in Poland, which, at the instigation of Berlin, endeavours to amalgamate its forces. The Government Press main
tains a reserved attitude, but the independent Press, above all the provincial newspapers, issues lavishly news and articles concerning this subject. By the month of June, it was realized here that the fiction created by the declaration of November 5 had been dissipated.
At the moment when things began to be embittered, a lull occurred, as had already happened several times in the history of Polish-German relations. Obviously the two Governments, considering that matters were beginning to go too far, intervened to moderate the zeal of the local authorities and that of the minorities themselves. All that there is to record from July onwards is a question raised by the Abbé Downar in the Diet on Nazi intrigues in Poland. The German minority Press calmed down. Other events were going to absorb public attention. The Czechoslovak crisis was about to open.
During the whole time of the preparation and then the carrying out of the dismembering of Czechoslovakia, everything remained quiet. The German minority displayed the most exemplary loyalty. One would have said that the minority question no longer existed.
As soon as the Czechoslovak affair had been settled, the difficulties reappeared. The Chief of the "Jungdeutschepartei" claimed for the German minority in Poland the benefit of the "Volksgruppenrecht."
On January 26 last, Herr von Ribbentrop came to Warsaw to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the pact of 1934. During his brief stay, he obtained from the Polish Government the appointment of a mixed commission responsible for ensuring the proper operation of the declaration of November 5, 1937.
Meanwhile, the minority agitation took its course. The Germans continued their campaign in favour of the "Volksgruppenrecht," while Polish opinion became more and more impatient at the growing boldness of the Germans. The anti-German manifestations in Warsaw at the end of February brought these feelings to the full light of day. When in the middle of March the international crisis occurred which was to relegate the minority question into the background, it found in Poland an aggressive German minority and a Polish opinion determined to defend the principle that the Poles are masters in their own house.
From the foregoing, the conclusion emerges that difficulties on matters affecting them as neighbours have been more or less the rule in German-Polish relations. The periods of calm form the exception. Furthermore it is to be observed that this calm only occurs after periods
of tension, when the anxious Governments intervene in order to restore peace.
M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. London, May 3, 1939.
THE conversation of the British Ambassador with the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs has not, according to what Sir Alexander Cadogan has told me, been satisfactory from any point of view. Herr von Ribbentrop spoke in a peevish tone when referring to England and expressed himself violently in regard to Poland. In the view of the Foreign Office he is one of the principal instigators of the policy followed towards this country by Herr Hitler.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, May 4, 1939.
THIS afternoon I saw my British colleague, who had been received the day before yesterday by the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Sir Nevile Henderson showed himself rather disappointed by that conversation. Herr von Ribbentrop, who appeared to be tired, addressed to him, as usual, a long paraphrase of Herr Hitler's speech, and declared that Great Britain and France were pursuing a policy of encirclement of Germany in order to attack her one day, but that they should know that they would break their teeth and that the Reich would hold out for "six months and even for twenty years if necessary " Sir Nevile corrected his assertions, but he felt that Herr von Ribbentrop was not even listening to him.
Nevertheless he gathered from this conversation the impression that a rather far-reaching change had taken place in the mind of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. "A year ago," he said to me, "von Ribbentrop was convinced that neither England nor France would come to the help of Central or Eastern Europe. He admits the contrary today. Nevertheless, he does not believe it as regards Danzig."
On the latter point this impression is corroborated by the con-
fidential information recently given by Herr Dietrich, Minister for the Press, to another of my colleagues, according to which, in the course of a Council held by the Führer following his speech of April 28, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, supported by Herr Himmler, declared his conviction that neither Great Britain nor France would stir for Danzig.
It results, however, from information obtained by Sir Nevile Henderson, and confirmed to me from other quarters that Herr Hitler has decided to proceed slowly in the Polish affair. He is said to think that time would work for him, that Danzig was a good subject for discussion, on which he would succeed in dividing opinion in France and in England, and that Poland would herself one day come and ask for mercy.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, May 5, 1939.
THE declaration of M. Beck, which I have just heard, was made in a firm tone. The Minister recounted in moderate terms the manner in which Herr Hitler had made the entente between Great Britain and Poland a pretext for denouncing unilaterally the agreement which he had himself concluded with Poland in 1934. The Diet greeted the Minister very warmly, and the end of his statement he was cheered for a long time by all the deputies, standing.
The passage concerning the Anglo-Polish agreement and also that dealing with the Franco-Polish agreement, were warmly applauded, but the Diet above all emphasized, by acclamation, the more categorical and the more ironical passages concerning the attitude of Germany, as well as those which announced the firmness of Polish policy.
The Assembly particularly appreciated those declarations which stressed the point that Poland had no reason to lament the disappearance of the pact of 1934; that the German Government appeared to interpret this fact as intended to hinder the collaboration of Poland with the Western Powers and so isolate it from them, that Poland would not allow itself to be thrust back from the Baltic; that it was not Poland's habit (apropos of Slovakia) to make the interests of others a subject of bargaining; that the Reich represents the proposal
to recognise the Polish frontier as final as a concession on its part; finally that the Polish Government is always prepared to discuss with Germany, provided that the Reich gives evidence of peaceful intentions.
The last words of the statement, dismissing the idea of peace at any price, and exalting the idea of honour, brought forth the utmost enthusiasm.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, May 6, 1939.
THE Polish memorandum, drawn up in firm, but courteous and conciliatory terms, emphasizes the fact that Poland, despite the denunciation by Germany of the pact of 1934, remains ready to negotiate in order to arrive at a fresh settlement of Polish-German relations "on the basis of good neighbourliness"; and is thus at the same time ready to settle the question of transit through the Corridor and the problem of Danzig. The Polish Government recalls the fact that the Reich has not replied to the Polish counterproposals of March 26. It seems thus to let it be understood that it is waiting for the German Government to take the initiative in resuming the pourparlers.
Herr von Moltke has just returned to Warsaw, and this evening there was speculation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether he would endeavour to resume contact with M. Beck or not.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, May 6, 1939.
THE following passages from the Polish memorandum should be particularly noted.
"The Polish Government had foreseen for several years, that the difficulties encountered by the League of Nations in carrying out its functions at Danzig would create a confused situation which it was in Poland's and Germany's interest to clear up. For several years the Polish Government had given the German Government to understand that frank conversations should be held on this subject. The German
Government, however, avoided these, and confined themselves to sating that German-Polish relations should not be exposed to difficulties by questions relating to Danzig. Moreover, the German Government more than once gave assurances to the Polish Government regarding the Free City of Danzig. It is sufficient here to quote the declaration made by the Chancellor of the Reich on February 20, 1938:
"'The Polish State respects the national conditions in this State of the Free City, and Germany respects Polish rights. It has thus been possible to clear the way for an understanding which, while arising the efforts of out of the question of Danzig, has today in spite of certain disturbers of the peace succeeded in effectively purifying relations between Germany and Poland and has transformed them into sincere and friendly collaboration.'"
The denunciation of the agreement of 1934 was made after Germany had refused to accept the explanations of Poland concerning the divergence between the Polish-British guarantee and the agreement of 1934.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, May 7, 1939.
I TAKE the liberty of drawing the especial attention of Your Excellency to the information contained in the enclosed report, our informant being in a particularly good position to know the intentions of the Führer and of his principal lieutenants.
His new declarations may be summed up as follows:
(1) M. Beck's speech will in no way alter the situation. The Führer is determined to secure the return of Danzig to Germany, as well as the reunion of East Prussia to the Reich.
(2) The Führer is patient and cautious, and will not tackle the question in a direct way, for he knows that in future France and Britain would not give way, and that the coalition which he would have to confront would be too strong. He will go on manoeuvring until his time comes.
(3) The Führer will come to an understanding to this effect with Russia. The day will come when he attains his aims by these means, without the Allies "having any reason, or even any intention, to
intervene." It may be that we shall witness a fourth partition of Poland. In any case, "we shall soon see that something is brewing in the East."
(4) The equivocal attitude of Japan has contributed to Herr Hitler's orientation towards the U.S.S.R.
(5) When the Polish question has once been settled, and Germany's military supremacy definitely assured, Germany will be in a position to come to a conference.
For the above reasons I believe that, taken as a whole, and under the reservations made at the conclusion of this letter, the enclosed indications may be considered to reflect fairly exactly Herr Hitler's designs and to reveal the maneuvers which we must be prepared to counter. As is his habit, my informant became very animated in the course of the conversation, and it is very likely that he finally said much more than he was authorized to tell us. Especially as regards Russia, one cannot help being struck by the coincidence between the intentions attributed to the Führer and the resignation of M. Litvinov.
In my opinion, two facts of primary importance can be inferred from this conversation.
The first is that Herr Hitler does not want to go to war with Poland under the prevailing conditions: this confirms the information which I have already sent to Your Excellency; it stresses the full significance of the recovery effected in Europe by France and Great Britain.
The second is an entirely new one: the new orientation of Germany towards Russia.
If the intention of the Führer really is to attempt a rapprochement with the U.S.S.R., it remains to be seen how he intends to exploit this new policy. In my opinion, he may hope to draw advantage from it in three different ways:
(1) By arriving at a more or less tacit agreement with the U.S.S.R. which would assure him of the benevolent neutrality of that country in the event of a conflict, perhaps even of her complicity in a partition of Poland.
(2) By bringing, through the mere threat of a better understanding with the U.S.S.R., pressure simultaneously to bear on Japan and on Poland, in order to induce the former to sign a military alliance, and the latter to agree to the concessions he is asking for.
(3) By bringing the Western Powers, under the threat of collusion between Germany and Russia, to accept certain Soviet demands to
which Poland and Rumania would be opposed, and thus to sow discord among the Allies.
On the other hand, it is not yet certain that Herr Hitler has already decided upon his line of conduct, and already made his choice between a real understanding with the U.S.S.R., or a simple diplomatic maneuver intended to reverse the situation in his favour. One would be rather inclined to adopt the latter conjecture. For Herr Hitler finds it difficult to reconcile his own views and those of his Party, and actual collusion with the Soviets, and to ignore completely the fact that not only the home but even the foreign policy of National-Socialism has been founded on an anti-Bolshevist ideology.
I need not stress the fact that the person concerned, who is in no respect an informer, intends, in his relations with us, to serve the cause of Germany. There is every reason to believe that apart from genuine indications, given deliberately or in the heat of the discussion, certain developments were deliberately designed to exercise pressure upon or to impress us. I should be inclined to place in this category the part of the conversation when he insisted on the state of exhaustion to which a prolonged semi-mobilization would reduce both ourselves and Poland. This may be the expression of a desire to see our military measures relaxed and to create a propitious moment for a new coup. The opinion held by the person concerned on the forces which from now onwards oppose the Reich and make the game a much too dangerous one for it, cannot fail to stimulate us to persevere in our military and diplomatic efforts and to remain permanently on the alert.
THE POLISH QUESTION: THE RUSSIAN FACTOR
"M. Beck's speech," X declared, "may appear very ingenious and well-founded, from the legal point of view.
"As to ourselves, we cannot, nevertheless, admit his contentions. In 1934, Poland signed a treaty of non-aggression with us. Now the reciprocal guarantee that Poland has just concluded with Great Britain places the former under the obligation of attacking us in the event of the latter being in conflict with us. Does that not already contain a flagrant contradiction?
"Moreover, M. Beck in his speech has shown his bad faith. He was perfectly aware of Germany's attitude, which was dearly set forth to him by the Führer himself. What is more, M. Beck had declared that the requests of the German Government did not appear to him likely to raise any difficulties, and that he had undertaken to secure their acceptance by the Polish Government.
"Furthermore," continued X, "the Führer, as a man of action, scorns legal discussions; he remains on the plane of realities and necessities. He is firmly resolved, at all events, to settle the question of Danzig and of the reunion of East Prussia to the Reich, the solutions foreshadowed in the suggestions made by us at the beginning of the year representing a minimum."
"But then," C objected, "judging by the tone of your Press, this means war within a short time?"
"Not at all," replied X. "In this contest, as arranged by Great Britain, we are not the strongest. We realise perfectly that at present Great Britain and France are determined not to give way, especially France, for we are aware of M. Daladier's energy.
"Do you think that Hitler would be prepared to fight without holding all the trump cards? That would be contrary to his habit, which has brought him all his former successes without striking a single blow.
"Were you not struck, in his last speech, by the fact that he made no reference whatever to Russia? Have you not noticed the understanding manner in which this morning's newspapers-which, incidentally, had received precise instructions on the subject-speak of M. Molotov and of Russia? You must certainly have heard of certain negotiations that are going on, and of the journey of the Ambassador and the Military Attaché of the U.S.S.R. to Moscow; they had been received on the eve of their departure, the former by Herr von Ribbentrop, the latter by the Oberkommando of the Wehrmacht, and had been fully informed of the point of view of the Government of the Reich. I can really tell you no more, but you will learn some day that something is being prepared in the East. (Dass etwas im Osten im Gange ist.)"
"How can you reconcile this new policy with the declaration made by the Führer in one of his speeches that there is only one country with which he could never reach an agreement-Soviet Russia?"
X, stressing his answer with an evasive gesture, replied that it was not a question of haggling over words.
"When it is a case of carrying out a plan, there are no legal or ideological considerations that hold good. You are in a good position to know that a most Catholic King did not hesitate, in times gone by, to enter into an alliance with the Turks. Besides, are the two regimes actually different? Are they not very nearly identical in the realm of economics, although we, on our side, have in a certain measure maintained private enterprise? Briefly," concluded X, "the situation may be summed up as follows: the Poles fancy that they can be insolent to us, as they feel strong in the support of France and Britain, and believe that they can count upon the material assistance of Russia. They are mistaken in their calculations: just as Hitler did not consider himself in a position to settle the question of Austria and of Czechoslovakia without Italy's consent, he now would not dream of settling the German-Polish difference without Russia."
Then X, who was getting more and more excited, declared: "There have already been three partitions of Poland; well, believe me, you will witness a fourth!
"In any case, we will arrange this matter in such a way that you will have neither reason nor even intention (weder Grund noch sogar Absicht) to intervene. It will not be in a month, nor even in two months' time. Time is needed for adequate preparation. Hitler is not, as some of your journalists maintain, the man to take a sudden decision when he has a fit of temper.
"In home affairs, he knew how to wait until 1933 for the favourable opportunity to seize power. In foreign policy, all his successes are the result of careful reflection, of combinations studied down to their smallest details, and of the exploitation of all the mistakes and weaknesses of his opponents. In the matter of Poland, he will know how to bide his time.
"I may add finally that, however unpopular a war on account of the question might have been, a war against Poland would find favour with the masses, by reason of the inherent hatred of the German, and of the Prussian in particular, for the Pole."
According to X, Hitler is very dissatisfied with the attitude recently adopted by Japan, whose aims he cannot clearly discern. The uncertainty of her policy has indisposed Hitler towards her and has partly accounted for his resolutions concerning the U.S.S.R.
X insisted on the definite and final (endgültig) renunciation of the Führer's claims on Alsace-Lorraine, and on the fact that no difference of opinion separates the Reich from France. He is surprised at all the military preparations that have recently been made in France, and especially at the reinforcement of the Maginot Line, about which, said he, the German Secret Service is fully informed. "If this were not the case, I beg you to believe that Admiral Canaris and his staff might as well pack their bags (sonst könnte der Admiral Canaris mit seinem ganzen Laden aufpacken). All these measures are the result of an active war-psychosis which is fraying the people's nerves: they cannot fail in the long run to exhaust France, without any benefit to her. The semi-mobilization of France, as well as that of Poland, have not been, on our side, countered by any similar measure."
POTENTIAL MILITARY STRENGTH OF GERMANY
"All Germany's military efforts," continued X "are exclusively directed towards an industrial mobilization and an intensification of armaments. The Führer has even declared that he would not hesitate to order the cessation of the great public works in course of completion (Berlin, Nuremberg ...) in order to devote the country's entire manpower and all its materials to national defence.
"Nevertheless, in the Führer's intentions," said X in conclusion, "once the Polish matter has been settled, the calling of a general conference will be a possibility. To that conference Germany would come backed by the full weight of all her military strength."
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, May 7, 1939.
THE German-Polish conflict appears to have come to a standstill for the moment.
On May 5, Colonel Beck replied in the Diet to the speech that Herr Hitler had made before the Reichstag on April 28. On the same day, the Polish Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin handed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs his Government's memorandum in reply to the German memorandum. Each of the conflicting parties maintains its attitude. The National-Socialist leaders announce through their Press that
they expect a gesture from Warsaw.  On their side, the Poles put forward the history of the German-Polish negotiations and the unilateral repudiation by the Reich of the treaty of 1934 in order to maintain, and rightly so, that it is not for them to take the first step, or to take the initiative in proposing that conversations should take place. In placing the text of the Polish memorandum in Baron von Weizsäcker's hands, Prince Lubomirski did not attempt to bring about a renewed exchange of views. The interview, so he told me, lasted only as long as was necessary for the actual handing over of the document.
It should be noted, on the other hand, that since Saturday afternoon, that is to say, since May 6, the German Press has restrained its tone towards Poland. The newspapers are noticeably more moderate in their attacks against M. Beck and his Government. This lull coincides with the Italian-German conversations in Milan. Is this mere chance? Or might it be, as it is rumored in Berlin, that Italy only signed the military alliance with the Reich on condition that the latter would, for the present, not undertake anything against Poland?
Anyhow, the articles about Poland, which in the German newspapers tend to take the same place as articles about Czechoslovakia last summer, have not been multiplied by new incidents. Obviously, formal instructions towards moderation have been given on both sides. As to Poland, Prince Lubomirski has assured me that nothing has been neglected in order to allay the excitement of the people there. As a proof of this, he instanced the fact that his Government, while it was lodging a protest in Berlin through diplomatic channels, had not wished to give any publicity to the numerous violations of the frontier committed by German planes: according to what he told me, in the last fortnight 64 German machines were reported to have flown over Polish territory in an illegal manner. The Germans, on the other hand, during the last three months had only been able to make nine similar charges against Polish aviation.
I did not fail to remind the Polish Chargé d'Affaires of the importance attached in Paris and London to the fact that Warsaw should maintain this attitude of wise moderation and should avoid furnishing the slightest excuse for the anti-Polish campaign to Dr. Goebbels.
On military questions, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I have
 See Börsenzeitang, May 6: "M. Beck mentioned, at the end of his speech, the possibility of fresh negotiations. He cannot expect us, after all that has happened, to go to him. If fresh negotiations should really take place, Germany expects Poland to make a gesture which is in conformity with the Führer's straightforward attitude."
received no information of special interest. True, movements of troops are being observed in different parts of German territory, but nowhere have there been any disquieting concentrations in the vicinity of the Polish frontier.
It appears, then, that this must be taken as a short lull, the duration of which, admittedly, remains uncertain. Convinced as it is today of the determination of Poland and of her Western allies to offer armed resistance to any new attack on the part of Germany, the Reich appears to abandon for a time purely strategical considerations and to take up anew the diplomatic game. One may assume that the exact study of the moral and material forces confronting one another counted for something in this prudent decision.
As to the diplomatic contest which is now being initiated, the conditions are comparatively easy for Germany. Her purpose is to subdue Polish resistance, either by direct or indirect pressure, and thus to destroy beyond repair the bulwark which the Western Powers are endeavouring to erect in the East against National-Socialist expansion. The first stage, that of direct pressure, ended in a reverse. Shall we now witness the development of the second stage, that of intimidation by indirect means? In order to reply to that question, it is not unprofitable to call to mind briefly the history of the German proposals to Poland.
In his speech of April 28, Herr Hitler summed up as follows the essential points of those proposals:
(1) Danzig returns as a Free State into the framework of the German Reich.
(2) Germany receives a road through the Corridor and a railway line at her disposal possessing the same extra-territorial status as the Corridor itself has for Poland.
In return, Germany is prepared:
(1) To recognize all Polish economic rights in Danzig.
(2) To ensure for Poland a free harbour in Danzig of any size desired with completely free access to the sea.
(3) To accept at the same time the present boundaries between Germany and Poland and to regard them as final.
(4) To conclude a twenty-five-year non-aggression treaty with Poland.
(5) To guarantee the independence of the Slovak State by Germany, Poland and Hungary jointly-which means in practice the renunciation of any unilateral German hegemony in this territory.
According to Herr Hitler, the Polish Government declined this offer and declared itself merely disposed:
(1) To negotiate concerning the question of a substitute for the High Commissioner of the League of Nations.
(2) To consider facilities for the transit traffic through the Corridor.
Now M. Beck, before the Polish Diet on May 5, gave the correct version:
(1) On the first and second points, i.e., the question of the future of Danzig and communications across Polish Pomerania, he said it was still a matter of unilateral concessions which the Government of the Reich appear to be demanding from Poland.
The proof of this, according to him, was that the Polish counterproposals of March 26, aiming at a "joint guarantee of the existence and the rights of the Free City," remained unanswered, and that the Government of Warsaw had learnt only through the speech of April 28 that these counter-proposals had been taken as a refusal in Berlin.
(2) As regards the triple condominium in Slovakia, the Minister stated that he had heard this proposal for the first time in the Chancellor's speech of April 28. In certain previous conversations allusions were merely made to the effect that in the event of a general agreement the question of Slovakia could be discussed.
According to M. Beck, the Polish Government did not attempt to pursue such conversations any further.
(3) Similarly, the proposal for a prolongation of the pact of non-aggression for twenty-five years was also not advanced in any concrete form in any of the recent conversations. Here also unofficial hints were made, emanating, it is true, from prominent representatives of the Reich Government.
Through the pen of an officially inspired editor, Dr. Kriegk, in the Nachtausgabe (May 6), political circles in Berlin have in their turn refuted M. Beck's assertions. The German version gives the following account:
(1) M. Beck had an opportunity in October 1938, and in January and March 1939, to learn all the details of the German proposals, either through his personal interviews with Chancellor Hitler and with Herr von Ribbentrop, or through the conversations of his Ambassador in Berlin with leading members of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
(2) Concerning especially the conclusion of a pact of non-aggression for twenty-five years, the Führer had expressly spoken of it to M. Beck
in the course of their interview at the Obersalzberg on January 5, 1939
(3) As to the Polish counter-proposals of March 26, it had been definitely indicated to the Polish Ambassador, when he presented them in Berlin, that the German Government saw them in the light of a refusal of the German proposals. Either M. Lipski did not inform his chief, or the latter is not speaking the truth.
Yet in this controversy, keenly contested as it is, there is one point which on the German side was modestly left in the dark. It is the one to which the Polish Foreign Minister referred when he specified that, in the German-Polish conversations, the representatives of the Reich Government had also given "other hints extending much further than the subject under discussion," and that their Government reserved the right to return to this matter if necessary.
Germany's silence is understandable, if it is realized that this is actually where the crux of the whole problem lies.
I have gathered, from a very reliable source, information which allows me to assert that, by way of compensation and in order to draw Poland into their game, the National-Socialist leaders have hinted in their conversations with the Poles at the possibility of sharing in a partition of the Russian Ukraine.
In the same connection the Polish Military Attaché, when he received one of my collaborators yesterday, gave some significant indications on the great plans which even recently the leaders of the Third Reich had been hammering out, and in the realization of which they had hoped, until March 26, to enlist Polish complicity.
It is said that when Chancellor Hitler received M. Beck in Berchtesgaden, he had spread out before him a map of Europe corrected in his own hand. On this map Danzig and the Corridor were again attached to the Reich; as to Poland, she was to annex Lithuania and receive the port of Memel. (The interview of Berchtesgaden took place on January 5.) M. Beck is reported to have been astounded at this sight.
When restored to its proper place in Adolf Hitler's general plans, the problem of Danzig thus represents merely a detail, but a detail which today assumes the importance of a strategical point. It is actually on this point that German policy has been testing, and will continue to test, the resistance of its adversaries. With good reason, the question of Danzig has been compared to the question of the Sudetenland. Doubtless, a certain degree of compromise is possible between Germany and Poland on the subject of the Free City, but the fact remains that if Danzig should one day become a German base, Poland will as
surely be under the sway of the Reich as Czechoslovakia has been since the occupation of the Sudetenland.
One must never lose sight of the fact that the true aim of German ambitions is, and remains, the colonization of the centre and of the East of Europe; in a word, the domination of the Continent. If Poland had accepted Hitler's proposals she would have really placed herself in the position of a vassal of the Reich, she would have given her allegiance to the policy of the Axis, whose vanguard she would have been in aggression against Russia.
I believe that I can say, without fear of error, that what interested Herr Hitler above all in the offers he made to Poland was less the return of Danzig than the point which he never mentioned, viz., the alliance against Moscow and the bonds of complicity and absolute dependence which it entailed for Warsaw in respect of Berlin. The great merit of the Polish Government is to have realized that, through this insidious policy, the very independence of its country has been at stake from the very beginning.
Now that the method of direct pressure has failed, will the National-Socialist leaders have recourse to indirect pressure? After attempting to play Poland against Russia, will they reverse their method in order to try to intimidate the Poles and play Moscow against Warsaw? Certain declarations, and the interpretation given by political circles in Berlin to the fact that M. Litvinov has fallen into disfavor might lead to this conclusion. But it is possible that they may be taking their wishes for facts in the matter.
We must not fail to "see the wood for the trees." The question is not whether we should fight, or not, for the sake of Danzig. It is up to Poland, when the time comes, to decide this question. The only concern of France and Great Britain is to be determined to prevent another coup by Hitler, and to check Nazi expansion while there is still time.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, May 9, 1939.
A FEW days after M. Beck's speech, the atmosphere prevailing in the capital of the Reich is on the whole calmer. The general impression is that a comparative lull will continue in Europe, during which the
struggle of the Axis Powers against the policy of restraint adopted by London and Paris will continue in the realm of propaganda and diplomacy.
In this struggle, the events of the last days constitute some new episodes.
1. The speech delivered at the Sejm on May 5 by M. Beck, and the Polish memorandum presented on the 6th to the Government in Berlin, have not noticeably altered the tension of German-Polish relations, such as it has existed since March 26, the day on which Warsaw rejected the German demands and presented counter-proposals. Replying to the speech of the Führer, April 28, the declarations of M. Beck have however made public the disagreement between Berlin and Warsaw and have transferred the German-Polish dispute from the decent obscurity of the chancelleries to the forum of international politics.
M. Beck's expose has been interpreted here as representing a further rejection of the Führer's offers. It is very firm in substance, but moderate in manner; it offered no real opening for violent controversy. Actually, the German comments betrayed some embarrassment. After absorbing 7 million Czechs, the Reich is in a rather difficult position to appeal to the principle of nationalities. As to the doctrine of Lebensraum, in this particular case this could obviously only be applied in favour of Poland.
Consequently, the German reaction has been expressed in the shape of personal grievances against M. Beck, whilst certain of the arguments invoked have very significantly revealed the real objects pursued by the policy of the Reich in presenting at Warsaw proposals of a "generosity unparalleled in history."
Fundamentally, what Poland is being reproached with is for preferring the guarantee and friendship of Great Britain to the place she was being offered in the German-Italian camp.
If she had accepted the German proposals, Poland, weakened politically and in the military sphere, moreover reduced to a tributary State of the Reich economically, would have been definitely riveted to the Axis. The establishment in the East of a rampart against the German drive would have become impossible.
As far as the actual substance of the dispute is concerned, the two parties remain in their respective positions. Each maintains that it is up to the other to make a gesture. Actually, on the German side, they anticipate that Poland will soon grow tired of her "heroic" attitude, will exhaust herself financially and morally, and that she will be given
to understand from London and Paris that nobody is anxious to fight for the sake of Danzig. "Danzig is not worth a European war"-this seems to be the catch phrase of German propaganda. Here great hopes are based on this phrase and on the echo which it might awaken abroad. That is the reason why it is maintained that there will be no war on account of Danzig, though it is at the same time claimed that the question will have to be settled sooner or later, in a manner in conformity with the wishes of the Reich.
In the meantime, the German Press continues its campaign against Poland, without, however, forsaking a certain restraint, as though its leaders were anxious to prevent the atmosphere from getting overheated too quickly. Clearly, in Berlin, they are anxious not to be obliged to act before the propitious moment has arrived.
2. The slow and uneven course of the Anglo-Russian negotiations continues to maintain, in official circles in Berlin, certain hopes that had been encouraged by the sudden resignation of M. Litvinov (May 4)
It appears that, for some time past, Berlin believed in a possible change in Soviet policy. Very rapidly, however, the Press at least has returned to a more cautious attitude.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, amongst the National-Socialist leaders, "determined to break through the encirclement at any price," M. Litvinov's retirement has awakened in certain minds the idea of an intrigue designed to upset the negotiations which are already most difficult between Moscow and the Western Powers and to wreck them in one way or another. Did this idea grow and take definite shape before M. Litvinov's retirement, or was it inspired by this event? This is difficult to ascertain.
In any case, for the last twenty-four hours, the rumour has spread through the whole of Berlin that Germany has made or is going to make proposals concerning a partition of Poland.
This rumour is so persistent that the Soviet Chargé d'Affaires himself was much struck by it, and when I met him this evening, asked me in an excited manner: "Have you learnt that the Soviet Government has decided to change its policy?" As I remarked that it was rather for me to put the question to him, he stated that he had received no indication whatever from Moscow which would justify him in thinking that the rumours circulated were founded on any facts. He added that in the last conversation which his Ambassador had had with
Herr von Weizsäcker on April 17, they had dealt with no political questions.
This evening, moreover, the German Press is showing a certain agitation because of the resumption of the Anglo-Russian negotiations. It appears to be somewhat perturbed by the news according to which M. Potemkin, on his return from Bucharest, was to stop in Warsaw in order to pay a visit to M. Beck. As though to reassure itself, it declares that the Soviets are not inclined to serve as England's henchmen in Eastern Europe.
This attitude stresses the primary importance which is attached in the leading circles of the Reich to the final attitude which will be adopted by the Soviets towards the British proposals, and on which will depend, to a great extent, according to their views, the strength and the efficiency of the anti-aggression front set up in the East.