149 NOTE BY THE MINISTER-Paris, July 1 The Minister for Foreign Affairs receives a visit from Count von Welczeck German Ambassador in Paris. He has recently seen Herr von Ribbentrop who considers that at any moment an incident could lead to war between Germany and Poland. He expresses regret that it should not have been understood that Germany must have a zone of influence in the East. M. Georges Bonnet in reply recalls, in particular, that in the course of his conversation with Herr von Ribbentrop, he made express reservations with regard to the relations of France with Poland and with the U.S.S.R. He assures him that if Germany sincerely desires peace, the danger of war does not exist. Mentioning the definite obligations undertaken by France with regard to Poland, he is anxious to leave the German Government in no doubt whatever as to the attitude of the French Government in the event of a conflict ....... 193 150 NOTE BY THE MINISTER-Paris, July 1 In the course of an interview, the Minister for Foreign Af- fairs hands Count von Welczeck a note explaining the French attitude and emphasizing the country's unshakable resolution to fulfill its obligations ................................ 197 151 M. GAUQUIÉ-Warsaw, July 3 Youths belonging to the "Hitler Jugend" crossed the Polish frontier and were arrested; after representations from the German Embassy in Warsaw, the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs has ordered their release ......................... 198 152 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, July 3 The Polish Government has decided to observe great caution and not for the time being to oppose the military measures in progress at Danzig ..................................... 198 153 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, July 4 Herr von Weizsäcker seeks to reassure the French Ambassador in Berlin. However, as the military preparations at Danzig continue, M. Coulondre believes that the State Secretary at the Wilhelmstrasse is in the first place making every effort to lull the watchfulness of the Western Powers ............ 199 154 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, July 4 The Polish Ambassador in Berlin remains convinced that the German Government is testing the Allies' power of resistance, but that it will not embark on a general war over Danzig .. 200 155 M. GARREAU-Hamburg, July 4 Economic circles in Hamburg believe that if the Anglo-Franco- Russian negotiations are not rapidly concluded, a German- Russian pact will be, which would increase the risk of aggression by the Reich against Poland, and, in consequence, of a general conflagration ................................ 201 156 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, July 6 The Military Attaché to the French Embassy in Warsaw is under the impression that Poland will go to the extreme limit of patience with regard to the militarisation of Danzig ...... 202 157 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, July 6 M. Beck informs the French Ambassador in Warsaw that Poland will not intervene so long as her vital interests are not affected. He adds that unless the progress of events is too rapid to allow the necessary time, the Polish Government will submit any proposed action to preliminary consultation with the British and French Governments ................... 202 158 M. LÉON NOËL' Warsaw, July 6 M. Beck hopes the Press of the Western Powers will not give overmuch space to the news about Danzig, so as not to play into the hands of the German Propaganda Ministry .......... 203 159 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, July 9 A pamphlet circulated by the Danzig Senate proves that the German claim to the Free City is by no means the limit of the German claims ......................................... 203 160 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, July 10 The militarisation of the Free City is being methodically carried out; differences between Polish nationals and Danzig authorities occur incessantly, the great majority of the population desires the maintenance of the status quo and appears to be terrorised. The situation recalls that which existed in Austria before the Anschluss ................... 204 161 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, July 11 According to a responsible person in the confidence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich, Herr Hitler is displeased with Herr von Ribbentrop for having involved him in the Danzig affair. The German Press campaign is in fact displaying more discretion. The firmness of the Franco-British attitude is understood to have caused surprise and embarrass- ment in Berlin. The attempt at intimidation having failed, the leading circles of the Reich would seem to be ready to try persuasion by declaring that Danzig would be Germany's last claim. This is a maneuver against which French and British public opinion should be put on its guard ......... 208 162 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, July 13 In a conversation with the French Ambassador in Berlin, Herr von Weizsäcker expresses his displeasure with regard to the communication from the French Minister for Foreign Affairs to Herr von Ribbentrop; he complains further of the attitude adopted publicly by Mr. Chamberlain in the Danzig affair. His language tends to prove that the German Government is impressed by the firmness displayed by the Western Powers. The positions taken up by Paris and London are now clearly understood in Berlin, and M. Coulondre considers that, in so far as it depends on the French Government it would be an advantage to keep silent about Danzig .................. 211 163 HERR VON RIBBENTROP-Fuschl, July 13 Herr von Ribbentrop replies by a personal letter to the note handed by M. Georges Bonnet to Count von Welczeck on July 1. After disputing the point that the reservations made by the French Foreign Minister on December 6 concerning the rela- tions between France and third powers, could apply to French relations with Poland, he makes the following observations: (1) Germany denies France the right to interfere in her spheres of vital interest; (2) Any violation of Danzig terri- tory by Poland, or any Polish provocation incompatible with the prestige of the Reich, will be answered forthwith by the advance of German forces, and the annihilation of the entire Polish army; (3) The threat contained in the French note and its reference to French assistance to Poland can in no way impress the Führer. If things are such that the French Govern- ment desires war, it will find Germany ready for it at any moment .................................................... 213 164 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, July 13 The French Ambassador in Berlin reports abnormal military activity in German territory. The measures which have been taken will allow of rapid concentration. Everything is hap- pening as though the German army were to be ready for any emergency after the beginning of August ................... 215 165 DE SEGUIN-Warsaw, July 19 Polish Government circles are reacting strongly to a report that Herr Hitler contemplates settling the Danzig question by having himself proclaimed President of the Senate of the Free City ................................................. 219 166 DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, July 20 According to Herr Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig, Herr Hitler, though not renouncing his claims, does not intend to have recourse to war to realize them ........................... 220 167 DE SEGUIN-Warsaw, July 20 The conversations between General Ironside and Marshal Rydz- Smigly and M. Beck reveal that in the event of German inter- vention in Danzig (Anschluss, military occupation, etc.), the Polish attitude will be systematically cautious in the extreme ................................................... 220 168 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, July 21 The Minister for Foreign Affairs replies by a personal let- ter to the one he received from Herr von Ribbentrop. The German Government could never have presumed that France would renounce her interests in Eastern Europe. In their conversation on December 6 the Minister had reminded Herr von Ribbentrop of France's treaties with the U.S.S.R. and Poland. The Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs had even replied that the Franco- Polish treaty could not in any way interfere with German- Polish relations, which were excellent. The fact that one of the requests made to Herr von Ribbentrop on December 6 dealt with the common guarantee to be given to Czechoslovakia was alone proof that France did have interests in Eastern Europe. On January 30 Herr Hitler was still congratulating himself on the state of German-Polish relations; if these have deter- iorated since, France is in no way responsible. The French Government would like to see Poland and Germany reach an understanding, but it has contracted definite obligations towards Poland which it will fulfill. The Minister for Foreign Affairs cannot allow it to be said that France would be responsible for a war on account of having honoured her signature ................................................. 221 169 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, July 21 Herr Hitler would finally appear to be convinced that France and Britain are resolved to stand by their word to Poland, and that he would risk provoking a general war if he pressed his Danzig claims too far ................................. 224 170 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, July 22 A desire to gain time is discernible in Nazi circles. Nevertheless, the plan to recover Danzig remains intact, and the German army is continuing its preparations with a view to attaining a fairly advanced degree of mobilisation by the middle of August .................................. 225 171 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, July 25 If certain more reassuring signs are to be seen in the pol- itical field, indications of a military order are still disturbing. France and Great Britain must therefore avoid giving Herr Hitler any impression of weakening in their resolution ................................................ 227 172 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, July 25 According to Herr Forster, Herr Hitler will wait until as long as may be necessary in order to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Danzig question ......................... 234 173 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, July 27 The détente thought to be observed in Berlin is doubtless more apparent than real. The problems of the Corridor and Upper Silesia are brought up in current conversations ..... 235 174 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, July 30 The Press in its turn discusses the problem of the Corridor and even discusses the problem of the structure of Poland . 237
I HAVE just received a visit from the German Ambassador, whom I had asked to see me this morning.
It was all the more desirable to see him in that M. Coulondre had informed me that a rumour was current in Berlin to the effect that in the course of his recent stay in Berlin, Herr von Ribbentrop had instructed the Ambassador to inform me that Germany had decided to seize Danzig.
I therefore began by listening attentively to Count von Welczeck, who spoke to me to the following effect:
"It is only three days since I returned to Paris. In the course of my recent stay in Germany, I saw Herr von Ribbentrop in his country house, for he is unwell. We had a talk together about Polish intentions. Herr von Ribbentrop made serious complaints about the ill-treatment to which Germans are subjected in Poland. He considers that there are two parties in Poland. One, the more reasonable, realises that a war between Poland and Germany would very rapidly end in the defeat of Poland. To be sure, the Poles may entertain the hope that a subsequent victory of France and Great Britain, after the latter have come to their aid, would re-establish them in their rights; but meanwhile they would have suffered the devastation of war and they would have had enemy soldiers quartered among them for months or years, which is never very pleasant. Side by side with this reasonable party, however, there is the party of hot-heads, who are often in the pay of foreign agents. Above everything else they want, for ideological reasons, to overthrow the National-Socialist regime. They are ready for any rash action, they ill-treat the Germans, and they have war always in view."
The Ambassador does not think, however, that things will take a
tragic turn. He proposes to stay in Paris for the next three months, and then go deer-stalking in Hungary. Nevertheless, Herr von Ribbentrop considers that incidents may lead to war between Poland and Germany at any momerit. Such a war would be extremely popular in Germany."We in Germany," he said, "have an unrequited love for France. On the other hand, the German people have no love for the Poles, and, in a war against Poland, the Führer would have the whole of his people behind him."
Count von Welczeck added, on his own account, that it was regrettable that the question of Danzig had not been submitted to France and Great Britain before the Czechoslovak question; for, he said, this is really the last claim of the Reich, though nobody can believe it.
Finally, the German Ambassador expressed regret over the refusal to understand that Germany was entitled to a zone of inlfluence in the East, which was perfectly legitimate owing to Germany's geographical situation.
After listening to Count von Welczeck, I replied:
"On the morrow of the Munich Agreement, while France contemplated large-scale economic collaboration with Germany, she also accepted the idea that certain countries of Central Europe, by reason of their geographical situation, might have more extensive economic relations with Germany than with France. But at no time could France have dreamed for a moment of giving Germany authority to violate the frontiers of all her neighbours and establish herself in Bucharest, Budapest or Warsaw."
The Ambassador smiled and informed me that such a project had never been in the minds of the rulers of the Reich.
I added that, in the course of the conversation which I had had with Herr von Ribbentrop, in Count von Welczeck's presence, I had made formal reservations respecting our relations with Poland and with the U.S.S.R., just as he himself had made reservations respecting his relations with Italy. I had even pointed out to him that we had an alliance with Poland, and Herr von Ribbentrop had said to me in reply that he was aware of the fact, and that it was a matter of indifference to him, since relations between Germany and Poland were excellent.
Count von Welczeck recognised that this was accurate, and added that Germany's relations with Poland were, in fact, excellent at that time. The Poles had repeatedly come and asked the Germans to give them Teschen, Oderberg, part of Slovakia, and a common frontier
with Hungary. They had been granted all this. Count von Welczeck was convinced that if, at that time, the Government of the Reich had said to Colonel Beck: "Very well, we will give you all this, but we must come to terms over Danzig and the Corridor," the matter would have been instantly settled with the Poles.
I then touched on the question of German-Polish relations, and insisted to Count von Welczeck that there was by no means any danger of war, provided that Germany was firmly resolved to maintain peace. The keys of peace or war were not in the hands of Poland, but in those of Germany. Count von Welczeck was wrong in believing that counsels of violence might be given to the Poles by the British Government. I could assure him that it was not so. But I was justifiably anxious about the situation which had been created in Danzig. What was the meaning of the arms which had been smuggled in there?-and of the S.S. men ? These did not suggest very peaceful intentions.
Count von Welczeck replied that the Danzigers were entitled to consider their own defence, in view of the fact that they could see before their eyes a large number of mobilised Polish troops; but he repeated that there was no aggressive intention on Germany's part.
I then told Count von Welczeck that he should entertain no illusions about what the French attitude would be in such an eventuality. France had definite commitments to Poland; these commitments had been still further increased as a result of recent events, and in consequence France would stand side by side with Poland immediately, I from the very moment Poland itself took up arms.
I then read to Count von Welczeck the note which had been drafted by the Political Department, and which covered every case which might arise, including even the case, which had been considered as possible, of a kind of internal Putsch in Danzig.
After reading this note, I told Count von Welczeck that I was I handing it to him, and that I requested him to reproduce it in extenso in the telegram which he would be dispatching to Herr von Ribbentrop. It was precisely because I had met Herr von Ribbentrop in Paris and because I had signed the Franco-German declaration that I did not want to leave room for the slightest misunderstanding between the French Government and the German Government with regard to France's attitude. If war should one day break out, I did not want the Government of the Reich to be in a position to say: "We were not warned. The explanations of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or of the
French Government were not clear. We did not know exactly what would be the reaction of the French Government." As it was, there could be no doubt. It was for this reason that I had made a point, as an exceptional measure, of putting my views into writing.
In reply, Count von Welczeck told me that, in all his reports, he had not failed to inform his Government of the precise nature of the French attitude, and that he had repeatedly warned the Führer that France would stand side by side with Poland in the event of war. "But," he continued, "I find it difficult to convince him, for we cannot manage to understand how Great Britain and France should commit the mad act of embarking upon war over Danzig, when leading French statesmen, for the past fifteen years and even on the morrow of the Treaty of Versailles, have recognised that the statute of the Free City of Danzig could not last." A war, moreover, would be a world catastrophe, the Ambassador concluded, for the French could not break through the Siegfried Line any more than the Germans could break through the Maginot Line. Cities would be destroyed from the air, but the war would not be ended in that way. Nevertheless, we should be mistaken in believing that Germany could not stand a long war, for she has supplies which would enable her to do so.
When the Ambassador once more repeated that the Danzig question was the last in which Germany was interested, I told him in reply that the Government of the Reich already had behind it the Anschluss, the Munich Agreement, and the declaration of a protectorate over Bohemia on March 15, and that therefore nobody could believe that this was really a final claim, for we should not fail to be presented with others.
Finally, I told the Ambassador that he could observe the unanimity with which the French nation had rallied to the support of the Government. Elections would be suspended; public meetings would be stopped; attempts at foreign propaganda of whatever kind would be suppressed; and the Communists would be brought to book. The discipline and the spirit of sacrifice of the French people could not be called in question by anybody.
Count von Welczeck informed me that, on this point, all his reports made mention of the present admirable attitude of the French people. He promised me that he would most faithfully repeat to his Government the conversation we had had together, the importance of which he fully realised.
I RECEIVED Herr von Ribbentrop in Paris a few months ago, and I signed with him the Franco-German declaration of December 6, 1938.
The personal relations which I formed with him on that occasion make it a duty for me at the present moment to point out to him very definitely the position of the French Government, and to leave no doubt in his mind about the determination of France.
In December last, I clearly specified to Herr von Ribbentrop that the Franco-German declaration-in conformity, for that matter, with the stipulation contained in Article 3-could not be considered as affecting the special relations of France with the countries of Eastern Europe.
In so far as Poland, more particularly, is concerned, events since then have produced a strengthening of the French alliance. M. Daladier definitely indicated in his declaration of April 13 last the scope of the engagements by which the two countries are now linked.
Today I make a point of recalling these commitments to Herr von Ribbentrop's very special attention, and stressing the unshakeable determination of France to fulfil them by exerting all her strength in support of her pledged word. At a moment when measures of all kinds are being taken in Danzig, whose scope and object it is difficult to appreciate, it is particularly essential to avoid any risk of misunderstanding about the extent of the obligations and about the attitude of the French Government: a misunderstanding whose consequences might be incalculable. I therefore regard it as my duty to state definitely that any action, whatever its form, which would tend to modify the status quo in Danzig, and so provoke armed resistance by Poland, would bring the Franco-Polish agreement into play and oblige France to give immediate assistance to Poland.
M. GAUQUIÉ, French Chargé d'Affaires in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 3, 1939.
LAST Friday a group of youths belonging to the "Hitler Jugend" crossed the frontier in Pomerania. They were at once arrested by Polish frontier guards and imprisoned. On being informed of this, the German Embassy intervened with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who immediately gave orders for the young Germans to be set at liberty.
The German Press has not breathed a word about this incident, nor, for that matter, has the Polish Press.
It was M. Beck who reported the incident to my British colleague as a "significant fact."
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, July 3, 1939.
THE Polish Commissioner-General, who returned from Warsaw this morning, told me that, according to his information, the Polish Government has no intention at present of opposing the German military measures in progress in Danzig. The Government, in fact, feels that great prudence is enjoined on it by the responsibilities which it has assumed towards Paris and London, that the preparations in question are up to the present only defensive in character, and that it is to its advantage to gain time. "Our tolerance has limits," M. Chodacki said to me, "but they have not yet been reached, and our conduct should have great elasticity."
I asked him whether he would inform the Senate as to these limits, and he replied in the negative.
Finally, according to him, the German Government was still conforming to diplomatic usage in its official relations with the Polish Government on the subject of Danzig. Thus, for instance, Berlin had just notified Warsaw of the call which the cruiser Königsberg is to make here on August 28.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 4, 1939.
As I have reported to Your Excellency, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs asked me to call upon him last Friday, June 30. Since it may be supposed that he did not summon me solely in order to convey to me Herr von Ribbentrop's regrets that he was unable to receive me owing to his state of health, I wondered what might be the real reason which had led him to arrange this interview.
In substance, Herr von Weizsäcker declared to me:
(1) That, in his opinion, there was no ground for anticipating a coup in Danzig from the German side.
(2) That he believed in our determination to support Poland, but was less convinced of the firmness of the British attitude.
(3) That certain slight indications led him to think that M. Beck desired to seek a basis for a friendly solution.
What is happening in Danzig which is arming in preparation for a siege, scarcely permits one to accept the reassuring statements made by the State Secretary at their face value. The Free City would have no more reason today than it had yesterday to put itself on a war footing to resist a Polish attack, if it were not preparing itself, on the orders of Berlin, for action likely to provoke intervention by Warsaw.
The most favourable explanation of the remarks referred to under heading (1) above appears to me, therefore, to be that, while pursuing preparations for action in Danzig from within, Herr Hitler has not yet made up his mind, and is consequently assuming towards the Powers concerned a position which would enable him to procrastinate and possibly even to cover at least a provisional retreat. The fact that he decided not to make a speech at the launching of the cruiser Lützow seems to lend support to this hypothesis. On his side, my British colleague, who is leaving today for London for a few weeks, tells me that the impression which he has formed from his conversations in Government circles is that the Führer has not yet made up his mind. The conversations I have had myself with various responsible persons in the Chancellor's entourage leave me with the impression that they do not know whether he would go so far as to risk a general war in order to settle the Polish affair. This may mean either that he has not
yet reached his decision, or that these persons are unaware what decision he has made.
The reassurances which, according to all appearances, Herr von Weizsäcker was instructed to convey to me, may also have another object; to lull the vigilance of the Western Powers, in the hope that, when suddenly confronted with the fait accompli, they will confine themselves to verbal protests. The precedent of Bohemia is unfortunately quite recent. Sir Nevile Henderson received from Herr von Weizsäcker, on the eve of the occupation of Prague, an assurance that the Reich "would behave in a proper way."
As for the indications referred to in paragraphs (2) and (3) above, one may wonder whether they are not both alike intended to sap French resistance. I must at the same time remark that the opinion that Great Britain will not hold to her position is unfortunately still very general in German Government circles, and that moreover the indication that M. Beck was seeking the basis of a solution was reported in the same terms to one of my colleagues by the Italian Ambassador, which would seem to show that it is not without foundation.
Furthermore, whatever may be the precise significance of Herr von Weizsäcker's declarations, they seem to me, in any case, to throw into relief the importance which the German Government attaches to the attitude of the Powers concerned in the determination of its line of conduct in the Danzig affair. In this respect, the communication made by Your Excellency to Count von Welczeck on July 1 should enable the Chancellor to measure the risks of a fresh adventure.
M. COUL0NDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 4, 1939.
MY Polish colleague, whom I questioned this morning about what he thinks of the situation, and about the way in which his Government proposes to meet it, was somewhat evasive. He regards as an undoubted fact the military activity proceeding in Danzig: the arrival of militiamen disguised as tourists, the importation of arms, the building of army huts, the increase in numbers of the police. He also feels that a time will come when the Polish Government will be bound to intervene; but he does not know, he told me, either when or how.
M. Lipski still remains convinced that the German Government is putting the strength of the Allies' resistance to the test, but that it will not embark upon a general war for the sake of Danzig. He seems not disinclined to think that the rumours which have recently been in circulation on the subject of an immediate Putsch in Danzig may well be of German origin and have been put about with a view to ascertaining the reactions of the Western Powers.
I reported to him the indications which the State Secretary had given me regarding M. Beck's alleged desire to seek the basis of an amicable solution. In reply, he told me that he had no cognizance of any alteration in M. Beck's attitude.
My Polish colleague showed himself somewhat anxious about the situation in Slovakia. Certain signs, notably the presence in Berlin of two members of the Bratislava Government, one of them being M. Tuka, lead him to fear that the German Government may be about to suppress what remains of the independence of that country.
M. GARREAU, French Consul-General in Hamburg, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Hamburg, July 4, 1939.
THE German Press gives no information about the German-Soviet commercial negotiations at present in progress. Commercial circles in Hamburg, however, which are usually very well informed, are under the impression that, if some agreement is not shortly concluded between London, Paris and Moscow, the Soviet Government will be prepared to sign a pact of non-aggression with the Reich for a period of five years.
For some time past there has been anxiety in those circles about the rapid evolution of the National-Socialist system in the direction of autarchy and collectivisation. People do not disguise their fear of seeing this tendency still further strengthened by political cooperation between Berlin and Moscow. It is felt moreover that such cooperation would aggravate the risks of an early aggression by the Reich against Poland and thus precipitate a general conflagration.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 6, 1939.
FROM a series of conversations which he has just had in military circles, General Musse has derived the impression that, in order to avoid figuring as an aggressor, Poland would proceed to great lengths in restraining its impatience in face of the progressive militarisation of Danzig.
Our Military Attache thinks that the Polish Government will limit itself to platonic protests, unless a time comes when its essential interests are directly threatened in Danzig. It will react strongly only if its use of the harbour, the Vistula, or the railway is impeded.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 6, 1939.
M. BECK made his apologies for waiting until this morning to receive me. He wanted, he said, to inform me about the decisions that were reached yesterday evening in the course of a conference lasting four hours, under the chairmanship of M. Moscicki, at which the Marshal, the Prime Minister and himself were present
In the course of this meeting the following decisions were reached:
The Polish Government remains resolved that its conduct in Danzig shall correspond to whatever action may be taken by the Hitler Government. For the time being, progressive militarisation of the Free City does not appear to it to constitute, or as yet to be on the point of constituting, a reason sufficient to justify a counter-stroke which would run the risk of giving intervention by Poland the appearance of aggression. "Danzig," M. Beck said to me, "is under our guns. Accordingly, the presence in that city of the equivalent of a whole division and a few guns cannot, in itself, seriously disturb us." This attitude would change only if and when Poland's essential interests (the use of the railway, the Vistula, or the harbour) were directly affected.
In this eventuality, moreover, the Polish Government would in the first place have recourse to measures of an economic nature in order
to defend its rights, reserving other forms of action to meet the most serious contingencies.
I brought M. Beck to the point of specifying that, in any case, unless the march of events did not leave it the necessary time, the Polish Government would subordinate any action to previous consultation with the British and French Governments.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 6, 1939.
IN the course of our conversation, M. Beck said to me that it seemed to him preferable that the French and British newspapers, without abstaining from informing their readers about the Nazi intrigues in Danzig, should nevertheless avoid giving them too much importance or devoting too much space to them. The Polish Press has received general directions to this effect and is observing them scrupulously.
M. Beck indeed feels, as I myself have already stated to Your Excellency, that, if it did not take care to present the affairs of Danzig as one of the elements in a problem which would continue to exist, even though there were no longer any Danzig question, the Press would be playing into the hands of German propaganda. This propaganda is, in fact, seeking to concentrate attention upon Danzig in order to throw the other aspects of the situation into the background and confuse public opinion in the Western countries.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 9, 1939.
TEN days ago, at the very moment when the rumour spread through Europe that the problem of Danzig was on the point of receiving a "German solution"; while Dr. Goebbels's staff seemed to be endeavouring to concentrate the attention of world opinion upon the Free City, as if to convince it that this problem constituted-incidentally, through the fault of Poland-the last obstacle to peace;
and while Count von Welczeck did not shrink from assuring Your Excellency that this was the Reich's last claim-at this very moment the Press service of the Danzig Senate was itself circulating a booklet entitled Danzig: What is at stake? which contained this passage:
"We now return to the solution of the fundamental dispute between Poland and Germany, which has been put on one side since 1933. It is apposite to recall in this connection that, in so far as concerns Danzig the Corridor and the other territories arbitrarily detached from the Reich, it is a question of German soil, for whose possession Poland can put forward no claim, either moral, historical, civilising or cultural."
It is, in fact, beyond any doubt no less than this that is in question at this moment in the eyes of the Germans as regards Poland. The language used by those Germans who live in Poland, or who come here on a visit, and even that which one may hear from the lips of certain close friends of Herr von Moltke, clearly confirm it; and while, of course, my German colleague personally shows himself much more prudent, nobody has ever heard him say that the annexation of Danzig was the last of the Nazi claims.
The Poles are very well aware of the way in which the question of their relations with the Germans now presents itself, and they know the extent of the Teutonic appetite in their respect. It is this that explains why almost all of them regard war with the Reich as inevitable.
Whether they share the latter view or not, the rulers of the country remain no less resolved-and the moderation which they display in their appreciation of the situation in Danzig definitely proves this-to do everything they can in order that a conflict, if it cannot be avoided, should at least be retarded as long as possible.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 10, 1939.
IN the course of a short stay in Danzig, the First Secretary of this Embassy, from information given him by our Consul and also from conversations with the High Commissioner for the League of Nations, the Polish Commissioner-General and certain Danzig authorities, has
gathered some interesting impressions, which may be summarised as follows:
(1) The wave of unrest which has been apparent for some days in the Free City is appreciably on the ebb. But, in order to estimate the significance and the extent, which is entirely relative, of this regression, it is apposite to emphasize the fact that the effervescence which had been observed in the Free City was considerably exaggerated by interested propaganda and never presented the character of organised preparations for violent action.
(2) In so far as can be ascertained, this appeasement has in no way slowed down the militarisation of the Free City, which is being methodically carried out.
The strength of the police force has been raised to 3,000 men. The formation of the Free Corps is being continued. Its nucleus was created out of 300 S.S. men from East Prussia, who wear on the sleeves of their uniforms the words "Reichswehr Danzig." The barracks contain several thousands of young men who have come from the Reich, but are said to be of Danzig origin. Smuggling of arms (rifles, machine-guns, anti-aircraft batteries, light tanks, aircraft, etc.) continues. Entrance to the Schichau dockyard, where this material is disembarked, is strictly forbidden. All the tailors and even all the dressmakers of the Free City without exception have been requisitioned for making uniforms.
It would be incorrect to say that these measures of rearmament are ostentatious, but they are known to the authorities. On the other hand, their rate, or even their importance, should not be exaggerated. In any case, this rearmament does not present the feverish character of such measures as would be taken with a view to an early coup de force. It is a question rather of a progressive preparation for the militarisation of the Free City, with a view to guarding against possibilities which perhaps do not as yet present themselves in a very definite way even to the National-Socialists themselves.
The Danzig authorities declare that the Free City wants to be in such a state "as not to allow itself to be invaded without resistance" (like Prague!). They also say that Danzig must defend itself against possible aggression by the Poles. This argument, for that matter, is not pure propaganda. It corresponds to a real anxiety on the part of the population. Recently, while in Western Europe the possibility of an approaching Putsch in Danzig was kept in view, the Danzigers, for
their part, seem to have sincerely feared some such step on the part of Poland.
(3) In considering the four elements-the Poles, the Danzig population, the Party and the Senate-which constitute the local elements of the problem, the following observations can be made:
(a) Between the Poles and the Danzig authorities difficulties are endless. The Polish Commissioner-General, M. Chodacki, admits that every day he sees twenty or thirty fresh troubles arise. But both sides, for the time being, avoid turning them into incidents. The attitude assumed by the Polish Customs inspectors is significant in this respect. They shut their offices at night and appear not to notice the smuggling.
In the course of his conversation with my colleague, M. Chodacki made a point of repeating that Poland remained ready to negotiate. He has, he said, "a plan for negotiation fully prepared" which M. Beck has approved. But for the time being it is impossible to think of making use of it. "We fall," he added, "between the rigid 'It is my will' of Herr Hitler, and the much more elastic Polish 'non possumus.'" It is impossible to see for the moment in what way the distance which separates them can be reduced.
Meanwhile, the Poles continue to invest considerable sums in improvements in Danzig. They also point out that, during the first five months of the year, the traffic of the port (sailings of ships, tonnage) shows an increase of 33 per cent over 1938.
(b) As far as the Danzig population is concerned, while, before the present crisis, the proportion of those who wanted the maintenance of the existing status could be estimated at 60 per cent, it is said at present to have risen to at least 80 per cent. Opposition is said to be especially strong among the Catholics, many of whom are of Polish origin but have lost consciousness of the fact, and form 40 per cent of the population.
Everybody however is agreed in recognising that the feelings of the Danzig population are of no importance. It appears to be terrorized and is lavish with cries of "Heil Hitler!"
(c) It is the Party, and, within the Party, the Gestapo, to whom all power belongs. But the Party simply means Berlin, and in practice, Gauleiter Forster, who is depicted as a kind of "butcher's assistant, and a jovial fellow," who has belonged to the Party since his early youth and has, apparently, the right of audience with Herr Hitler, who likes him; but he is, of course, merely the Chancellor's instrument.
(d) Between the two is the Senate, which is flattered at figuring
as a Government and at bottom more or less shares the feelings of the population, but is, of course, obliged to speak and act as the Party decides.
But the Senate is only a façade.
In observing the state of things at present prevailing in Danzig, one cannot help making a comparison with the internal situation in Austria during the months which preceded the Anschluss; a population without enthusiasm, sometimes secretly hostile, but passive; a Government which certainly would like to maintain the status quo, but is without real power; finally, the Party, an active minority, in fact the only active element.
(4) The comparison which one is led to make between Danzig and Austria is justified not only by the internal situation in the Free City, but also by the methods which German policy seems for the moment disposed to employ there.
In order to attain her ends, Germany has hitherto had recourse to two systems: sometimes surprise, a sudden attack; sometimes slow preparation, patient waiting for favourable circumstances. The Reich tried the first method in Austria at the time of the assassination of Dollfuss; but it had to give way before Italy. It then sent Herr von Papen to Vienna and waited until the Western Powers' common front had dissolved. The success which attended the first method in Czechoslovakia undoubtedly for a time led the rulers in Berlin to desire to act in a similar way in Danzig. But resistance inside the City, and the resolute attitude of France and Great Britain, seem to have convinced them that, once again, they must have recourse to the second.
There are many indications that they are already anxious to allay our watchfulness. The démarche undertaken by Gauleiter Forster's principal colleague, Herr Zarske, Parliamentary Press Chief and editor of the Vorposten, as well as the proposals to the same effect put to High Commissioner Burckhardt by the Gauleiter of East Prussia, Herr Koch, although he is Herr Forster's sworn enemy, seem significant in this respect. Herr Zarske insistently repeats that "Danzig is really not worth a war." At the same time, Herr Zarske is anxious to a degree that is quite remarkable, to brush aside the memory of the Czechoslovak precedent. He has admitted that "this expedition was a mistake," and even added that "in Berlin they do not know how to get out of it and would be very glad to find a solution...."
No doubt, the progressive movement in this direction, which everybody agrees is clearly taking place in Danzig, is as yet only in its
initial stage. Obviously many considerations or fortuitous incidents may change its course, particularly if Herr Hitler, who for the moment seems to want to trade on his credit in order to make the Danzigers wait for the fulfilment of his promises, should be led to think that this might be regarded as a sign of retreat.
In any case, there is one fact about which foreign observers in Danzig are unanimous. It is that it is proper not to attach too much importance to the daily vicissitudes in the little provincial world of the Free City. They may indeed, these observers recognize, possess their value as pointers and serve as a barometer; but the final issue lies, and will continue to lie, between Berlin and Warsaw, and between Berlin, London and Paris.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 11, 1939.
A PERSON of high standing in National-Socialist circles has made the following declarations to one of my colleagues:
"Herr von Ribbentrop no longer enjoys the Führer's absolute confidence. The Führer has given expression to a certain number of grievances against his Minister. In particular, he reproaches Herr von Ribbentrop with having wilfully concealed from him several items of information proving the high war-potential of Great Britain. Moreover, he accuses his Minister of having committed him, in connection with Danzig, to a difficult undertaking which runs the risk of compromising Germany's prestige if a satisfactory solution is not soon found.
"It must be borne in mind that the raising of the Danzig question is Herr von Ribbentrop's personal doing. However, when he undertook the campaign for restoring this territory to the Reich, he did not realise that he would meet with firm resistance on the part of the Western Powers.
"It seems that the Poles might still make proposals which our Government would agree to consider. Of course, Warsaw would have to make substantial concessions to us, but it is not yet too late to contemplate an agreement satisfactory to the two parties.
"Moreover, the Poles would have everything to gain by deciding
to negotiate. For a conflict, whatever its issue might be, would in any case be fatal to them.
"In fact either Poland would be defeated, and she would then fall entirely under our domination; or else (a highly improbable eventuality, for that matter), with the help of Russia, she would emerge victorious from the war. In this case, the Russians would never reconcile themselves to leaving the country, and that would be the end of Poland.
"Have you not been struck recently by the somewhat changed tone of our Press towards Poland? You no longer find accounts of Polish-German incidents. Nevertheless, according to our information, the people of Poland continue, on the most trivial grounds, to molest our nationals living in the country. Our Minister wants to hold out a hand to the Warsaw Government for one last time.
"The Government, and especially those in control at the Wilhelmstrasse, view the future with some anxiety. They realise that the feeling of hatred for Germany grows daily. Only yesterday, this hatred, this indignation, were peculiar to the rulers of certain States. Today, it looks as if the masses had been won over to these feelings. This development is especially noticeable in the case of Great Britain."
The foregoing information must, of course, be accepted with reservations. It is, however, noteworthy, because of the standing of my informant, who certainly seems to be in the confidence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Moreover, it does as a whole tally closely enough with the impression which emerges from a study of the German newspapers, and also with information which I have gathered elsewhere.
The Press campaign against Poland, which in any case never attained the violence of the attacks directed last year against Czechoslovakia, has recently become more circumspect. Aggressive headlines and polemical articles are reserved for Great Britain. Incidents between Germany and Poland are related without comment and are not given prominence. Several papers have declared that Danzig is not a casus belli, and the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung even seems to invite negotiation, when it writes that a reasonable solution is entirely within the bounds of possibility. A similar note is to be heard in Government circles, where it is given to be understood that there would be no refusal to negotiate if Poland were to put forward proposals.
In fact, Berlin has been surprised by the firmness of Franco-Polish
resistance in the matter of Danzig, and some embarrassment is felt about it.
While noting this result, one should at the same time guard against concluding from it that the Third Reich is ready to renounce Danzig. Not only is there no retreat on this point, but there is not even, properly speaking, any "marking time," since the militarisation of the Free City is being carried on, while in Germany reservists continue to be called to the colours in numbers which, by the end of the month of August, in the opinion of our Military Attache, will reach one million men.
On the contrary, Germany pretends that all that is claimed is Danzig, which represents the Reich's very last demand. In order to know what to think about the sincerity of this assertion, one need only question Germans other than those whose business it is to present the official point of view. There is not one of them who does not smile at such a question. What Germany wants in Poland, obviously, is the restoration of the frontiers of 1914. But Danzig is the point of least resistance, and at this point Germany is trying to repeat the manauvre of infiltration which proved so successful with Sudetenland. It hopes, by taking Danzig, to secure possession of the key which will open for it the gate to Poland.
It is for this reason, since intimidation no longer seems likely to work, that an attempt is made to add persuasion to it in order to shake the attitude of the Western Powers. With Danzig, Germany puts a full-stop to her demands; Europe can at last breathe. I should not be surprised if, in using the words reported above, Herr von Ribbentrop's associate had not been more or less wittingly a party to this manoeuvre.
Accordingly, it seems to me essential that the Allied Governments, who see the trap, should strive to do everything in their power to open the eyes of public opinion in their respective countries. In order to avoid playing the German game, it is important not to deal with the problem of Danzig separately, but to keep in mind the Czechoslovak precedent and the Reich's real ambitions. Why give up Danzig, when we know that Germany wants infinitely more? And, even if there were a chance that the Reich would be satisfied with it, why run the risk of weakening Poland's morale, since it is quite obvious that, if the Reich does not want more, it will not undertake a universal war for so restricted an objective?
Althongh well aware of the facts, French and British public opinion must realise that any pressure upon Warsaw in order to
bring it to yield to the German demands could only lead to the worst catastrophes, and that it rests with Poland, of its own free will, and confident of Franco-British support, to determine how far it can go to reach an agreed settlement without jeopardising its vital interests. Whether Germany proceeds by trickery or by threat, the means which it employs should not make us forget the fact that we are involved in a test of strength the issue of which may decide the fate of Europe; in this respect, the wavering attitude of the Reich as it takes the measure of our reaction can only cause us to persevere in a policy of firmness.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 13, 1939.
BEING due to leave Berlin to-morrow evening, I went this morning to see the State Secretary, to whom I introduced M. de Saint-Hardouin.
Herr von Weizsäcker once again told me that, without wishing to look too far into the future, he personally retained the belief that nothing would happen in Danzig which could cause serious complications. According to him, the danger of a conflict with Poland was still only to be found in the state of excitement of the population and of the Polish local authorities, which might give rise to fears that a serious incident might occur any day.
At the same time I found the State Secretary less easy in manner than during our recent interviews. He mentioned with obvious displeasure the communication which Your Excellency had made to Count von Welczeck. "The German Government," he informed me, "is preparing a reply to it, and I may tell you that it will not lend itself to any ambiguity."
I pointed out that the German Government could not have misinterpreted the spirit in which this step had been taken, since Your Excellency had been careful to show, with reference to the declaration of December 6, that you considered it an obligation of honesty to specify clearly the French Government's position in regard to the problem of Danzig. But Herr von Weizsäcker evaded discussion, declaring that he did not want to anticipate the reply which would
be made to us, and went on to talk about Mr. Chamberlain's latest statement in the House of Commons. "While it may be useful to define one's attitude clearly," he said, "there can be no justification for the endless repetition of public declarations indulged in by the British Government."
I remarked that the Prime Minister's speech was very cool and very objective, and that to my knowledge this was the first time that he had defined the British Government's attitude concerning Danzig.
But Herr von Weizsäcker did not agree with this. Such a speech, according to him, could only have the effect of diminishing the possibilities of a friendly understanding still further by hardening the present attitude of both parties. What hope was there that the Poles, thus encouraged, would be conciliatory? Moreover, the Reich could not be affected by any intimidation.
After pointing out that the same applied to the Western Powers and that, moreover, I had found no wish to intimidate in Mr. Chamberlain's statements, I asked the State Secretary whether at the moment he saw any possibility of conversations with Warsaw.
"If I may refer to the information about Warsaw's position to be found in the Polish Press," he replied, "I see none, for we are really worlds apart. I believe that for the time being there is nothing better to do than to wait and keep as quiet as possible."
The State Secretary's tone unmistakably shows the impression produced upon the German Government by the clear and resolute attitude of the Western Powers in regard to Danzig.
Mr. Chamberlain's declaration, in particular, unpleasantly surprised those who, like Herr von Ribbentrop, wished to cast doubts upon the possibility of armed intervention by Great Britain in the event of a German-Polish conflict.
Now that our attitude is so clearly defined, and that it is known, moreover, to the German Government, I believe that it would be better to keep silent about Danzig, in so far as that depends on us. Anything which tends to foster polemics on this question could only make a waiting attitude or an eventual retreat more difficult for the Reich.
Lastly, while it is impossible to foresee the decision which Herr Hitler may take, at least it is essential not to throw into the scales considerations of prestige, which weigh heavily in totalitarian States.
Fuschl, near Salzburg, July 13, 1939.
MY DEAR M. BONNET,
ON July 1 you handed to Count von Welczeck a note personally intended for me, which obliges me now to make known to you, clearly and in a manner free from any misunderstanding, the attitude of the German Government with regard to Franco-German relations in general, and the question of Danzig in particular.
On December 6, 1938, the French and German Governments signed a declaration in accordance with which they solemnly recognised the existing frontiers between France and Germany as finally fixed, and according to which also they desired to use all their efforts for the establishment of peaceful and good neighbourly relations between the two countries.
On the side of the Government of the Reich, this declaration was the logical sequel to the policy of understanding with France continually followed ever since that Government came into power; a policy which, in principle, it would still wish to maintain.
As to your remark about the reservation recorded in Article 3 of the Franco-German declaration concerning the special relations France and of Germany with regard to third Powers, it is unquestionably not correct to say that this reservation implies a recognition of France's special relations with Poland. In the conversations which took place in Berlin and Paris at the time of the preliminary negotiations on the subject of the declaration, and on the occasion of the signature, it was on the contrary perfectly clear that the reservation referred to the special relations of friendship of France towards Great Britain and of Germany towards Italy. We were in agreement, in particular, at the time of our conversations in Paris on December 6, 1938, in considering that respect for vital reciprocal interests must be the prior condition and the principle of the future development of good Franco-German relations.
On that occasion, I expressly pointed out that Eastern Europe constituted a sphere of German interests, and, contrary to what is stated in your note, you then stressed on your part, that, in France's
attitude with regard to the problems of Eastern Europe, a radical change had taken place since the Munich conference.
In direct contradiction to this attitude established by us at the beginning of December stands the fact that France has taken advantage of the Führer's generous proposal to Poland for the settlement of the question of Danzig and of Poland's somewhat peculiar reaction, in order to contract with that country fresh commitments, strengthened and aimed at Germany. At the end of your note, these commitments are defined in such a way that any military intervention by Poland, on the occasion of any departure from the status quo in Danzig, would lead France to give immediate military assistance to Poland.
With regard to this policy of the French Government, I have the following comments to make:
(1) Germany, just as it has never interfered in France's vital interests, must reject, once for all and categorically, any interference by France in its spheres of vital interest. Germany's relations with its Eastern neighbours, whatever form they assume, in no way affect French interests; they are a matter which only concerns German policy. Accordingly the Government of the Reich does not find itself in a position to discuss with the French Government questions concerning German-Polish relations, or to recognise its right to exercise any influence upon questions dealing with the future settlement of the destiny of the German city of Danzig.
(2) For your personal guidance, I beg to make the following statement about the German point of view in the Polish question:
The Polish government has replied to the Führer's historic and unique offer, aiming at the settlement of the question of Danzig and at a definitive consolidation of German-Polish relations, by threats of war which can only be described as strange. At the present moment it is impossible to say whether the Polish Government will depart from this peculiar position and return to reason. But, as long as it maintains the unreasonable attitude which it has taken up one can only say that any violation of Danzig soil by Poland, or any Polish provocation incompatible with the prestige of the German Reich, would meet in reply with an immediate march by the Germans and the total destruction of the Polish army.
(3) The statement already mentioned, which is contained in the final sentence of your note, would, if taken literally, mean that France recognises Poland's right to oppose by arms any departure in any respect from the status quo in Danzig, and that, if Germany declines
to tolerate that violence should thus be done to German interests, France will attack Germany. If such was in fact the purpose of French policy, I would beg you to consider that such threats could only further strengthen the Führer in his resolve to ensure the safeguarding of German interests by all the means at his disposal. The Führer has always desired Franco-German understanding and described as madness a fresh war between the two countries, which are no longer separated by any conflict of vital interests. But, if we have reached a point where the French Government wants war, it will find Germany ready at any moment. It would then be the French Government alone which would have to bear before its people and before the world the responsibility for such a war.
Because of the pleasant personal relations which I was able to form with Your Excellency on the occasion of the signature of the declaration of December 6, 1938, I regret that your note constrains me to make this reply. I should not like to abandon the hope that in the end, reason will prevail and that the French people will recognise where its real interests are to be found. Since I have devoted myself for more than twenty years to Franco-German understanding, this would also represent to me personally the fulfilment of a deeply felt wish.
Yours very sincerely, JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 13, 1939.
THIS Embassy has recently reported to the Ministry numerous signs of abnormal activity in the German army and of Germany's obvious preparations for the possibility of an impending war.
The time seems to have come, by coordinating these reports, to attempt to take bearings in order to determine what measures remain to be taken by Germany to make it ready to go to war; what delay the execution of these measures may demand; and, especially, how and how long before an act of aggression we can ascertain that the executiOn of last minute measures has begun. In other words, in the present state of affairs, do we run the risk of finding ourselves sur-
prised by a war suddenly begun before we have been able to learn of the German Government's decision to take such a risk?
The most significant information obtained by us so far bears upon the following points:
(1) Units of the German Army are changing their stations constantly. Given the direction of these changes, apparently somewhat haphazard, it seems to be a question of manoeuvres rather than of a concentration leading to an imminent conflict. In any case, the military activity, the intensity of the instruction and training of units, and their bringing up to strength with reservists, are perfecting the instrument which may some day be used. On the other hand, the ceaseless coming and going of these units, the secrecy maintained about their movements, and the increasingly frequent summons to reservists, are of such a nature as to facilitate operations of concentration, which at the outset would not arouse attention because they would not present symptoms very different from those actually in existence today.
It may, therefore, be asked whether this military activity and the precautions taken, as much to conceal the operations effected (the numbers of the regiments on the move have in most cases been taken off their uniforms) as to let it be known that such operations are in progress (some reservists are called up long in advance, and the Press keeps on referring to fortification works being effected in the East), are at least not partly intended to render it more difficult to recognise the transition from this state of semi-mobilisation to a state of war.
(2) The departure of troops on manoeuvres leaves in the garrison towns the impression that it will be a long while before the regiments return to their quarters. In fact, it is reported that some units have set off after making arrangements like those taken before leaving for the front. For instance, identity discs have been issued to the men and they have been instructed to make a note of the addresses of their families in the individual bundles in which their personal effects are assembled.
(3) The calling-up of the classes of reservists who would normally have been summoned in October has been advanced. The reservists who should have been discharged have been kept with the colours. One may anticipate that by the month of August the German Army, in addition to its normal effectives, will muster nearly a million mobilised reservists.
(4) The gathering of the harvest has been accelerated. With this object in view, the Minister for Education has decided this year to fix
July 14, instead of August 1, as the end of the term in places of higher education and technical schools. The students who benefit by this earlier release must, until August 1, devote to harvest work the fortnight thus deducted from their studies.
In addition, one may note the haste with which supplies are being accumulated.
(5) This anxiety to be rapidly provided with every essential for war, often leads to the preference for what is quickly obtainable over something better. For instance, the aircraft factories are said to have received orders to carry on the building of planes, despite the fact that they will soon be out of date, rather than lose the time necessary; to adapt their workshops to the construction of the latest models.
(6) With the accomplishment of the partial occupation of the Western fortifications, which, thanks incidentally to these ceaseless changes of garrison, could be progressively occupied without appreciably modifying the plan of the manccuvres now in progress, the construction of fortifications in the East is being pressed forward, especially in Silesia. Both military and civilian labour is employed upon it, and this task takes precedence of all other public works, which are being slowed down.
These various facts allow one to conclude that all the measures preparatory to war are now being taken. The German General Staff is acting as though it had to be ready by a date which has been set out for it, and this date, according to all appearance, will fall in the course of the month of August, at which period the harvest will be gathered, the fortifications will be ready, and the reservists will be assembled in large numbers in the camps.
But even were all the measures now in process of being carried out fully executed would it then be possible to launch an offensive, overnight? It seems, in the opinion of the officials of this Embassy, that there will remain certain measures preparatory to immediate action which can only be taken at the last moment. From the military point of view these measures will mainly consist in bringing into position the covering and shock units; from the naval point of view in the recall of ships now on the high seas; from the point of view of the air force in the putting into effect of the arrangements for air defence.
In respect of operations on land, the rapidity of the final preparations and the greater or lesser facility with which we may become aware of them will depend first of all on the extent of the operations contemplated. It is certain that the existing camouflaging and the
fact that the population is accustomed to the sight of manoeuvres of which in any case they no longer dare to speak, since they know that any indiscretion will be severely punished, will make it possible to pass without very much difficulty, if the extent of the operations in view is limited, from the stage of manoeuvres to that of concentration. This, however, can only be the case if we assume that Germany will decide on a defensive war in the West and that any attack which might be launched at some other point will require only a small number of effectives.
In respect of naval operations, the necessity of giving instructions to German ships to change their route sufficiently in advance will undoubtedly compel the competent authorities to acquaint the commanders of these units of the risk of war several days beforehand. By following carefully the movements of the German war and merchant ships, we may be able to obtain the most definite and probably the earliest possible indications of any final decision of the Chancellor.
In respect of the air force plans, it seems certain that, particularly in view of the dread of air raids which exists here, the German Government will not risk entering on war without having protected its towns against retaliatory raids. The placing and making effective of the anti-aircraft defences and the instructions given to the civilian population for protective measures cannot pass unnoticed. Last September and last March it was possible to foresee several days in advance, through the preparations for anti-aircraft gunnery, that some action was imminent. The experience gained by the German authorities in that respect will undoubtedly enable them to devote less time to such preparations on the next occasion. In any case, however, it seems impossible that they should be postponed until the very last day.
From these different considerations it follows that, though Germany is able to put her army on a war footing very rapidly, the circumstances are nevertheless not such as to expose us to a surprise attack, as far as operations of any real importance are concerned.
Everything that has been done up to the present moment seems to have a twofold object:
(1) To be prepared for any eventuality from August onwards.
(2) Most likely also to impress international opinion by behaving as though the possibility of war were accepted.
M. DE SEGUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 19, 1939.
THE information, which appeared yesterday in the News Chronicle as coming from German circles representing moderate opinion to the effect that the Führer proposed to settle the Danzig question by having himself nominated as President of the Senate of the Free City, has caused a violent reaction in Polish Government circles.
A communique from the Pat Agency was issued in the afternoon denying:
(1) That political conversations between the two Governments had taken place on the settlement of the various points at issue between the two countries;
(2) that the Polish Government could ever agree to a settlement of the question of Danzig which involved the abandonment of the four basic points in the attitude of Poland towards this problem;
(3) that the Polish Government could accept without reacting in an appropriate manner any new action in respect of the Danzig situation of such character as to threaten their vital interests.
The communique adds that the fact that the sources of the information are Rome and Berlin makes it possible to assess its true value.
Putting together the report in the English newspaper and the rumours current yesterday in the western capitals, which provoked a strong reaction in the French Press, I asked the Director of the Western Section this morning whether in his opinion we were not faced with a new German manoeuvre, differing from previous manoeuvres in its field of action, but directed to the same end as thataimed at by the Hitler Government at the end of June. Count Potocki had not yet been able to form a general conclusion for lack of precise information concerning these rumours. He did not, however, dismiss the possibility of a new German feeler.
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, July 20, 1939.
THE Gauleiter, who returned on Monday from Berchtesgaden, received a visit from the High Commissioner yesterday.
According to Herr Forster, Herr Hitler was still determined to obtain authorisation for the construction of an extra-territorial motor road across the Corridor accompanied by the return of Danzig to the Reich, but he would not have recourse to war to secure these concessions; if Poland refrains from all provocation, measures of demobilisation will be taken some weeks hence in the Free City. A violent anti-Polish article by the Gauleiter would mark the end of the present campaign.
M. DE SEGUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, July 20, 1939.
MY British colleague has just informed me of the interview which he and General Ironside had yesterday with Marshal Rydz-Smigly and M. Beck.
General Ironside started by giving the Marshal an assurance that Poland could rely absolutely on Great Britain. He then availed himself of this assurance to put to these gentlemen certain definite questions on the action contemplated by the Polish Government in the different eventualities which might occur at Danzig. The questions put and the answers given, sometimes by the Marshal and sometimes by M. Beck, when the Marshal referred the questions to him, were as follows:
(1) What will Poland do if the Anschluss is purely and simply proclaimed without any such military demonstration as the entry of German troops, etc.?
Reply: Poland considers that a protest should be lodged in Berlin by the three Powers.
(2) What will Poland do if units of the Reichswehr openly occupy the territory of the Free City?
Reply: The Polish General Staff will send officers to the commandant of such units to demand an explanation of such an action.
Such are the replies given from the Polish side to the questions put by the British General. They do little more than define the procedure which would be adopted in the circumstances suggested, without giving any indication of the Polish reaction if the Germans refused to take cognizance of protests against an accomplished fact.
When General Ironside spoke of the possible consequences of an "incident," the Marshal replied that the Germans were indeed capable of adopting such means of provoking hostilities, but that, if they did so, they were bound to disclose their intentions in advance through the preliminary measures they must take before proceeding to action. General Ironside asked what the actual situation was from this point of view. The Marshal replied that the German military activities seemed to be directed towards attempts at intimidation, but that for the time being they did not seem to indicate arrangements for a possible conflict in the near future.
Personal Letter from M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Herr von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister Personal Paris, July 21, 1939.
DEAR HERR VON RIBBENTROP,
I am in receipt of the letter you wrote to me, marked "Personal," in reply to the communication I myself sent on July 1 to Count von Welczeck.
There is one point which I am anxious to make absolutely clear. At no moment either before or after the declaration of December 6, has it been possible for the German Government to think that France had decided to disinterest herself in the East of Europe.
At the time of the conversations of December 6, I reminded you that since 1921 we had had a treaty of alliance with Poland and since 1935 a pact with the U.S.S.R., both of which we are determined to maintain. I then gave definite assurances on this point to the Ambassadors of Poland and of the U.S.S.R. by communications, which were given the widest publicity in the Press. I remember, moreover, that
at the time when I reminded you of the treaties which bound us to Poland, you were good enough to reply that these treaties could not do any harm to Franco-German relations, since your own relations with Poland were at that time excellent.
I was the less surprised at the assurance you gave me since, three months earlier, Herr Hitler had, in his speech at the Sports Palace in Berlin on September 26, referred to the German-Polish agreement as a model of its type:
"Within barely one year we succeeded," he said, "in arriving at an understanding with him (Marshal Pilsudski) which by its very nature has removed the possibility of conflict, at all events for ten years. We are all of us convinced that this understanding will lead to a lasting peace. We appreciate that we have here two peoples who have to live side by side. A country with a population of thirtythree millions will always seek access to the sea; it was therefore necessary to find the way to an agreement. This has been found and is steadily being developed. The decisive factor should be a firm determination on the part of the two Governments, and all reasonable and level-headed men among the two peoples and in the two countries, to work for a constant improvement of their mutual relations."
In addition to this, in the course of our conversation on December 6, one of the most pressing requests which I had to make to Your Excellency was in respect of our common guarantee to Czechoslovakia in fulfilment of the Munich Agreement. Such a request I could not have addressed to you, if France had no longer been interested in what was happening in Eastern Europe.
Since I was unable to obtain a satisfactory reply on this matter, I sent you a note on February 8, 1939, recalling the agreement signed at Munich on September 29, in order once more to impress upon you the necessity of completing without delay the arrangements for our common guarantee to Czechoslovakia. To this note you replied on March 2, asking me to await the clearing up of internal developments in Czechoslovakia and the improvement of relations between that country and the neighbouring States, before considering a general arrangement between the Munich signatory Powers.
Further, the actual statement which I made from the Tribune of the French Chamber on January 26, 1939, confirmed my attitude in a manner which admitted of no equivocation. This statement, which you may find in our "Journal Officiel" (p. 234), was reproduced in the Press throughout the world.
"France has also maintained her traditional friendly relations with Poland. At the time of the Franco-German declaration of December 6, I had, in conformity with the spirit of our agreement, advised the Polish Ambassador of our intentions. In thanking me for keeping them informed, the Polish Government expressed their appreciation of an action, the aim, the significance and the implication of which they fully realized.
"Thus, Gentlemen, can we dispose of the legend that our policy had led to the cancellation of our obligations in the East of Europe with the U.S.S.R. or with Poland.
"These obligations are still binding and must be honoured in the spirit in which they were entered into."
Thus there is no equivocation whatsoever. You knew the treaty which united France and Poland. You never dreamed of asking me to denounce it on the occasion of the Franco-German declaration of December 6. At the time when we signed that declaration your relations with Poland were excellent, and there was nothing in the FrancoPolish understandings which were likely to arouse suceptibilities on your part.
In the speech he made in the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, Hitler once again expressed his satisfaction at the understanding between Germany and Poland. "At this moment," he declared, "it would be difficult to discover any divergence of opinion amongst the true friends of peace as to the value of this agreement" (the German;, Polish pact of non-aggression). These words were the more significant from our point of view because they were uttered some weeks after an important conversation at at Berchtesgaden between Herr Hitler and the Polish Foreign Minister, Monsieur Beck.
In the month of March relations between Germany and Poland became strained, and that fact brought about a new situation.
France bears no responsibility for the development of these relations between Berlin and Warsaw. She has in fact always refrained-and will continue to refrain-from any interference in matters bearing upon the special relationships of the two neighbouring countries, and not affecting in any way the general international situation and the maintenance of peace.
In conformity with the statements which I had the honour to make to Count von Welczeck, we earnestly hope that a bilateral arrangement between Germany and Poland may prove feasible. But there is one point that I am bound to bring to your notice, particularly in
view of the conversations which I had with you on December 6 and 7 in Paris, namely, that France is bound to Poland by a treaty of alliance, and will remain true to her bond, and scrupulously carry out all her promises.
You are good enough, in reminding me of all the efforts which you yourself have made to bring about a rapprochement between France and Germany, to call my attention to the fact that Herr Hitler has always desired a Franco-German understanding and has stigmatized as "madness a new war between our two countries."
Such an assurance is in accordance with our sincere wishes. I desire, as you do, the continued maintenance of friendly relations between France and Germany. It is for that reason that, in my communication of July 1, whose validity is maintained with all its implications, I made a point of reminding you, with the frankness called for by the circumstances, of the position of the French Government in respect of Poland, particularly in relation to the situation at Danzig.
France is eagerly desirous of peace. No one can doubt that fact. Moreover, no one can doubt the determination of the French Government to fulfil its obligations. But I cannot permit it to be said that our country would be in any way responsible for war because it remained true to its pledged word.
I beg you, my dear Herr von Ribbentrop, to accept the expression of my sincerest regards.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 21, 1939.
IT is said on very good authority that during the last week some change has taken place in the Chancellor's mind. It is reported that the Führer is now convinced that, contrary to what he has hitherto been assured by some of his advisers, France and England are resolved to fulfil their pledges to Poland and that consequently he will run the risk of starting a war if he goes too far in the matter of Danzig.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 22, 1939.
WITH regard to the statements made yesterday on the Danzig question by an official of the Ministry of Propaganda, a member of my staff gathered this morning from a very good source certain information which I think I ought to bring to your attention without delay. It was on the instruction of State-Secretary Dietrich, who had just come back from Berchtesgaden, where the Führer is staying at present, that Dr. Bömer, the Head of the Press Section at the Ministry of Propaganda, made to the correspondents of the foreign news agencies statements which the English Press reproduced in a sensational form and an accurate summary of which has been given by the Havas Agency.
In essentials these statements may be summarized as follows:
1. The German Government still refuses to contemplate any other solution of the Danzig question than the return of the Free City to the Reich. 2. They wish to arrive at this solution by pacific methods and have no intention of provoking an armed conflict on this account. 3. This solution cannot be indefinitely postponed; at the same time, it is not a matter of immediate urgency; it might not take place till some months hence. 4. German political circles remain convinced that Poland cannot in the long run maintain her uncompromising attitude and that some intervention-presumably from the British side-will in time curb the obduracy of Warsaw.
Learning of these statements after the event and of the use made of them by the British Press, Herr von Ribbentrop, who was still at Fuschl, near Salzburg, was extremely angry. He at once ordered the Press Service of the Wilhelmstrasse to elucidate and comment on the pronouncements of Dr. Bömer before the representatives of the foreign Press. Herr Braun von Stumm, entrusted with this task, was instructed to call attention to the fact that Dr. Bömer's pronouncements did not introduce any new element and to stress with particular emphasis the point that, though the Reich insisted on regarding the return of Danzig
to Germany as the only possible solution, it had never on the other hand, regarded the Free City as a problem to be settled by war.
These explanations were further confirmed in some obviously inspired comments which appeared in this morning's papers.
According to the reports collected by this member of my staff, this incident, like so many others, affords evidence of the rivalry between the Wihelmstrasse and the Ministry of Propaganda, or, more precisely, between Herr von Ribbentrop and Dr. Goebbels. Although both Ministers claim to be equally anxious for the most radical solutions, the eagerness of each of them to be regarded by the Führer as the foremost champion of this view has caused a dispute as to competence. Dr. Goebbels has never in fact given up the idea of indirectly influencing foreign policy by means of the Press. But on this occasion Herr von Ribbentrop's discontent is said to be due to the turn taken by the Danzig question, to the fact that recent events have shown his calculations to be wrong, and to the delicate situation in which he consequently finds himself with the Führer. In the face of the unexpected opposition met with in London and Paris, as well as in Warsaw, Herr von Ribbentrop thinks that for the time being his personal interest would be that as little as possible should be said about Danzig, and that the matter should be left in abeyance pending more favourable circumstances. He therefore regards the statements made yesterday by Dr. Bömer as most inopportune.
As I see it, these indications, which I have every reason to believe genuine and accurate, make the following points clear:
1. From Dr. Bömer's statements, as also from their elucidation by Herr Braun von Stumm, there emerges a common element: the desire not to see the issue forced at this moment. This is undoubtedly a retreat, cloaked by the assurance of the pacific feelings which Germany is supposed never to have ceased to entertain. 2. In this respect the evidence set out above serves to confirm various indications gathered from other sources in the course of the last few days, namely, the change which is assumed to have taken place last week in the mind of the Führer following on direct information received from France and England and consequent on recent evidences of Britain's strength in the air; and, secondly, news received from Danzig to the effect that measures of demobilisation were about to be adopted by the Free City. 3. By insisting that the Danzig question is not of an urgent
nature and by hinting at the possibility of a British mediation, Dr. Bömer, whether he merely carried out or went beyond the orders given him at Berchtesgaden, has in any case disclosed the difficulty which seems to be embarrassing the Nazi leaders at the moment, as they are beginning to understand that the era of unilateral action and of victories without risk has come to an end.
The tendency to retreat-or at least the wish to temporise-which can be inferred from the various items of evidence just enumerated (in particular from the declarations of the Minister of Propaganda and of the Wilhelmstrasse on the subject of Danzig) do not, however, detract in any way from the German Government's intention to recover the Free City. Although we can note them with satisfaction, it is essential that we should not attach too much importance to them. They are obviously a matter of tactics, and must necessarily prove ephemeral in nature. It is possible that their one object is to lead us to relax our vigilance, or to weaken our will to resist by holding out the false hope of possible negotiations.
In any case, it must be kept in mind that in the meantime the German Army, so far as it is concerned, is carrying on with its preparations in order to reach an advanced state of mobilisation during the month of August. It is certain that if the Nazi leaders come to think that France and Britain are relaxing their military and diplomatic efforts-to which alone the present hesitations of the Reich are attributable-then the few faint signs now discernible of a détente would quickly vanish.
Furthermore, now that there appears to be some slight trace of at least a temporary withdrawal on the part of the rulers of the Third Reich, it is essential, as M. Coulondre has stressed, that our Press should refrain from premature jubilation over victory; they should take their cue from the organs of the Reich, whether these put the German-Polish struggle in the background, or ignore it altogether.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 25, 1939.
THE impression prevails that August 1939 is bound to bring about a recrudescence of international tension, and, more especially, of
dangerous German initiatives in the Danzig question. The statement is repeatedly made that the end of the harvest-namely, the period August 15-20-will coincide with the beginning of a crisis so grave that European peace may not be able to survive it. It is estimated that this critical period will end towards the early days of October, when the autumn rains begin to make it difficult to handle large bodies of mechanised troops on the Polish plains.
It is true that during the last few days it has been possible to notice among observers of the international situation a tendency to regard the future in a less gloomy light. There have even been a few who, prematurely and altogether ill-advisedly, have thought themselves justified in talking of a "German retreat."
The truth is that arguments for both optimism and pessimism can be drawn from an examination of the situation as it exists in Germany today. Symptoms of two kinds may be observed: some of them appear to indicate that Germany is making her preparations with a view to war; others permit the belief that the Reich will not push the German-Polish struggle to the length of armed conflict.
The purpose of the present report is to set down and compare the evidence that can be collected in either sense, in order to deduce from it, not conclusions that it is in present circumstances impossible to form, but at least a few indications of a practical kind.
Broadly speaking, symptoms of a military character are disturbing whereas certain evidence of a more reassuring nature can be found in happenings in the political sphere.
Since the end of June we have witnessed in Germany preparations that, to a certain extent, recall those of last autumn.
It should be noted that the beginning of this period of military activity was marked by an inspection tour by the Führer in the western fortified zone from May 14-20, 1939.
Since that time Germany's military effort has taken the following forms:
(1) Strengthening of the western fortification system, deemed to be inadequate or faulty; creation of a third line of defence, with the equipping of works calculated to make the anti-aircraft defences more efficient.
(2) Hasty construction of a series of defensive works on the German-Polish frontiers.
(3) Progressive occupation, dating from June 20, of the western fortifed zone.
(4) Masked mobilisation achieved in stages by means of:
(a) The retention with the colours of men who have served their time.
(b) The calling up of reservists.
These reservists have been drafted from every military class (covering men between the ages of 22 and 55) and from every category coming under military law. They have been called up for periods, varying in length from a fortnight to three months-periods that are often extended on the date of expiry. It is, therefore, extremely hard to estimate, even approximately, the number of reservists at present with the colours. Judging by such outward signs as the appearance of the streets, stations, barracks, and the various calling-up notices, several hundred thousand reservists have now been ordered back to their units. The estimate, already reported, of our Military Attaché (600,000 men up to date and a million by about August 15) appears to be a most probable one. On about August 15, then, Germany would have altogether about two million men under arms.
(5) Numerous movements of men and materials in various and, so to speak, opposite directions. Because these movements are cleverly camouflaged-in particular, such precautions are taken as the removal of regimental numbers from shoulder-straps and of number-plates from cars-it is exceedingly difficult to follow them. It is equally hard to infer from them any general plan. The definite information so far collected makes it possible to assert, however, that troop movements of varying importance are taking place in the following directions:
(a) Towards the western fortified zone, the occupation, or ganisation and equipment of which are all in progress.
(b) Towards the southern frontier of Poland. According to information received from Prague on July 18, 25,000 men went through that city by rail and were reported to have been concentrated between Morawska-Ostrawa and the Tatra Mountains. On July 12 many troop trains (250 wagons in all) are said to have passed through Lundenburg station (Austria) going eastwards; at the same time the movement of large forces in the direction of Beuthen was observed in Silesia.
(c) Towards the boundary between the Corridor and Pomerania, whither, it was reported, that three infantry regiments of the
20th mechanised division, normally stationed at Hamburg, had been sent.
(d) Towards East Prussia (embarking of reservists was observed at Stettin).
As opposed to this, no abnormal military activity had been observed, up to July 22, at any point upon the Hungarian and Jugoslav frontiers.
(6) Militarisation of Danzig, by the organisation of a Volunteer Corps (of 20,000 men, recruited between the end of June and the beginning of July), the secret arrival of soldiers and men of Nazi militia organizations from the Reich, the smuggling in of large quantities of munitions and other war material, the reconditioning of existing and the construction of new defence works.
(7) Speeding up of production in every branch of industry concerned with national defence. Combined with mobilisation, this intensified production (which in the case of Ruhr coal has reached record figures) has increased the shortage of German labour. On July 11 Field-Marshal Goering was forced to put severe restrictions upon the right to requisition labour for works of public utility. Various instances have been reported in which the army has been compelled to release young miners who had been mobilised.
(8) Arrangements made to use female labour in order to replace in war-time factory operatives who might be mobilised.
(9) Reguisitioning of motor vehicles (private cars and lorries), horses and motor fuels. In many districts the owners of motor vehicles or of horses have been invited to keep them at the disposal of the military authorities, in some instances from the first week in August, and, in others, on dates between August 15 and August 20. Highclass fuels like "aral" (benzine, benzol and motor spirit), which in times of crisis are always reserved for the army, have been requisitioned in Bohemia and Moravia.
(10) Measures taken to organise the medical services for war-time needs. In Berlin premises have been requisitioned for the establishment of a hospital containing 600 beds. In the Dresden area doctors have received orders to place themselves at the disposal of the military authorities as from August 3 or August 5.
(11) Restrictions placed upon the granting of leave and on travellers' facilities. It has been reported that in many military units leave had been cancelled as from July 15 or August 1. Again, in various factories holidays are reported to have been cancelled if they fell
due in the second week of August and onwards. At Dresden the police have stamped passports, valid for long periods, "valid until August 20."
(12) Order given to aircraft factories to discontinue the adaptation of plant to the needs of the newest types of aircraft and to proceed with the production, at war-time speed, of aircraft of types already in use.
(13) Placing at the disposal of the naval authorities of North Sea fishing-boats capable of being transformed into mine-layers.
At Hamburg the majority of trawlers have already been equipped with mine-laying apparatus; and stocks of mines have been accumulated in the docks. This step had already been taken in September 1938.
(14) Organisation in many areas of the Reich of civilian defence drill-an arrangement which had already been planned during last autumn, when the German-Czech crisis was entering upon its most acute phase.
We can therefore consider that everything is proceeding as though the Reich were aiming at reaching an advanced state of mobilisation by the middle of August.
Though, in many respects, the military activities at the moment being pursued in the Reich are similar to those which took place in Germany last summer, there are certain material differences:
Last summer the preparations were made openly with the obvious design of making a display.
This year the desire for concealment has outweighed the wish to make an impressive show of military measures.
So far, the preparations and the movements of troops which have taken place give no evidence of a general plan, so much so that it has proved impossible to determine whether the German menace would be aimed at the east or the south-east.
The German-Polish quarrel over Danzig and the Corridor broke out immediately after the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by German troops. In the development of this quarrel the following stages can be distinguished:
On March 26 the Warsaw Government rejected the proposals made to it by Germany, and informed the Berlin Government that Poland would acquiesce neither in the return of Danzig to the Reich nor in the establishment of an extra-territorial passage across the Corridor.
Since then the Polish Government has not changed its attitude.
In his speech on April 28 the Führer disclosed the proposal which had been made to the Warsaw Government, and laid stress on this offer as being "of unparalleled generosity" and never to be repeated. However, he declared himself ready to negotiate "provided that the matter was settled in an unequivocal manner"; he added that no one could possibly think that Danzig would ever be a Polish city, but he did not actually demand the return of Danzig to the Reich. Since then the Führer has never broached the question again.
Some of his lieutenants, in particular Dr. Goebbels in his speech on June 17, appeared to have gone further than the Chancellor. Their tone was, in fact, more truculent. But fundamentally they did not go beyond the Führer's own declarations. "Danzig wants to be German," Dr. Goebbels reiterated. "Its population must be aware that the Reich is very amicably disposed towards them." But the Minister of Propaganda did not actually demand the return of Danzig to the Reich.
On several occasions the Nazis in the Reich and in the Free City seem to have contemplated establishing a fait accompli in Danzig. But they refrained from doing so in the face of the resolute attitude of Poland and of its French and British allies, and also probably because they hoped for a weakening in the attitude of either Poland or the Western Powers.
Similar information obtained from various sources during the last week seems to make it clear that the Führer himself, about the middle of this month, had arrived at the conclusion that on this occasion Germany was faced with extremely serious resistance, and that, if he attempted to ignore it, the Reich was running the risk of precipitating a general conflict. This reversal of opinion seems to be due to the reports which the Chancellor has received direct from agents sent to Britain and France.
According to certain reports the recent visit to London early in July of Lieutenant-Colonel Gerhardt Schwerin, Chief of the British Section of the German General Staff, and the reports of the officers who were present in Paris at the review of July 14 have not been without influence in affecting such a change in the Chancellor's mind. But he seems to have been struck above all by the revival of the French Air Force, which in 1938 had completely disappeared as a factor in European politics, by the way in which the air power of Great Britain asserted itself, and by the active military cooperation between Britain, France and their allies. Thenceforward, being con-
vinced that the Western Powers were determined to honour their obligations to Poland, the Führer is said to have become uncertain as to the course to be pursued.
The statements made by Dr. Bömer on July 21 to the correspondents of the foreign Press, the commentary on these statements given on the same day by a spokesman of the Wilhelmstrasse, the article published in the Danziger Vorposten of July 23, and the pronouncements which Herr Forster, the Gauleiter of Danzig, has caused to appear in the German Press of today-all these seem to be inspired by the one motive: ways of retreat must be kept clear for the Reich Government, should they decide in the present circumstances not to press the matter of Danzig further.
The spokesmen of the Minister of Propaganda and of the Wilhelmstrasse asserted that at no time had Germany contemplated war as a solution of the Danzig problem, and that it clung to the hope of reaching it by peaceful means. "To regain Danzig by peaceful methods is the political fact from which Germany will not depart," the Danziger Vorposten printed for its part. As to Herr Forster, he took up a defensive attitude: he protested that he had at no time planned a Putsch; he claimed that the military preparations made by the Free City were merely precautions taken against the possibilities of an attack by the Poles.
In adopting this attitude the Danzig Government has made it possible for itself to demobilise without having to admit a retreat. Like Dr. Bömer, Herr Forster had moreover allowed it to be understood that there was no urgency about the problem of Danzig.
Nevertheless, one fact cannot be overlooked: it remains the avowed aim of the Nazi parties both in Danzig and in Germany to secure the return of the Free City to the Reich. Upon this essential point there has been no question of the slightest compromise. The conflicting position between Warsaw and Berlin remains therefore unaltered. This fact, taken in conjunction with the military preparations now being made in Germany, demands the most vigilant attention. This is true, whatever reason for confidence may be derived from the developments which have taken place in France and Britain during the past months, and from the impression they have made upon the leaders of the Third Reich.
From information received during the past few days from various high-placed Germans, it follows that the leaders of the Reich are at
present in a state of extreme embarrassment, that once again pressure in opposite directions is being brought to bear on the Führer by his advisers, and that he inclines first to one group and then to another. Moreover, he is said to be the more perplexed since, behind the Danzig question, there looms the more general problem of the relations between the Reich and the other European Powers, as the present state of tension cannot go on indefinitely.
In no case, then, can we consider that the master of the Third Reich has given up for good the idea of a solution by force. Undoubtedly, the best means to deflect him from this is for the democracies to continue to show themselves resolute, strong and hardworking. In existing circumstances, any sign that Germany might interpret as an offer to begin conversations-premature so long as the Reich continues to ignore the Polish point of view-runs the risk of being regarded as a sign of physical weariness or of moral weakening.
It would seem that it is by silently demonstrating their renewed forces and their energies that the Western Powers will most effectively contribute to prevent Nazi Germany from seeking a solution of her dispute with Poland by methods that might prove fatal to peace.
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, July 25, 1939.
IN the course of another conversation which he had with the Gauleiter yesterday, the latter confirmed to Herr Burckhardt that Herr Hitler was prepared to wait as long as might be necessary in order to bring about a solution of the Danzig question by peaceful means.
Furthermore, deferring to the protest made to the Commissioner by the Gauleiter, the Warsaw Government will henceforth notify the Senate of any movements by rail of Polish troops upon the Free City's territories.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 27, 1939.
IN Berlin today everyone is more or less in agreement with th view that there is an apparent lull in the international situation, an that this pause in the development of the crisis is due to the impressio of strength and resolution given by France and Britain to Germany Nevertheless, among the members of the Diplomatic Corps as well as in German circles, opinions vary as to the importance to be attached to this lull, and as to the possible sequels to the deliberations now going on in the minds of the rulers of the Reich.
The Germans had hoped to annex Danzig without having to face the possibility of a general war. It is now evident that the affair has been badly started and that, if there is a desire to carry it through to the end, the risk of war must be reckoned with. In a recent dispatch I noted the signs that lead one to believe that they do not recoil in the face of this contingency, and other and more hopeful signs that are averse to the idea of a war.
It is likely, no doubt, that the Germans do not want to go war for the sake of Danzig; but is it, then, merely a question of Danzig? If this problem has been more clamorously advertised and was pressed in preference to any other, it is because its solution has been considered the easier, and that it involved less risk of war than I any other question in which Germany was equally concerned. Events have proved this estimate to be inaccurate and there are signs-or there thought to be signs-of hesitation at Berchtesgaden and Berlin. To what question do these hesitations relate? Is it wise to infer from them that the Chancellor, having ventured somewhat rashly in the matter, will show himself more reasonable?
The facts seem to be that since Munich, and more especially since March 15, two currents of influence have attempted to sway the Chancellor's mind. On the one hand he has been told, and that is Herr von Ribbentrop's view, that Germany can still realise many of ambitions without risking an armed conflict, or at any rate without provoking a general war. On the other hand he was told-and this was Field-Marshal Goering's view-that in the present circumstances nothing more could be done without going to war.
The fact that Herr von Ribbentrop's information regarding Danzig proved to be inaccurate need not be regarded by the Chancellor as a proof that no other German requirement can be met without war. It may have been that Danzig was a bad choice. In the past the Memel question, although it had been very definitely raised, was kept in suspended activity, because circumstances seemed suddenly to favour a transfer of attention to other problems. On the other hand, the recognition that there was truth in what might be called the "Goering line of thought" does not mean that-on the assumption that there can be no conquests without war-war will not be preferred to the surrender of a dynamic policy.
It does not appear that the Führer has made a decision. The keyboard is open before him: he can strike what note he will. Since all the military arrangements have been made he can, either in the case of Danzig or of any other question, decide to wait until the first propitious opportunity offers (and in the opinion of most Germans rifts will in time appear in the democratic fronts, of which it will be possible to take advantage). Alternatively, accepting the risk, he can concentrate upon the particular question of Danzig or upon the more general problem of German claims.
While there is rather less talk of Danzig, a campaign against Poland as a maritime state is already taking shape. In this connection an article in this morning's Völkischer Beobachter is significant. Voicing much the same view, the Lokal Anzeiger writes: "The Polish attempts to make of Poland a maritime state at all costs do not conform either with serious economic facts or with essential political or military interests."
Thus the question of the Corridor, already mentioned in private conversation, now creeps into the Press together with that of Upper Silesia. A German manufacturer said to a Frenchman within the last few days: "When we possess Upper Silesia, we shall have in our hands the last industrial area of Central and Eastern Europe which was still outside our range. Then our economic power need have no more fear of competition in the markets of the Near East."
It is necessary, therefore, to remain on the watch. What the members of the Diplomatic Corps in Berlin describe as an easing of the strain is probably no more than a period of reflection, upon which the reactions of France and Great Britain will certainly exercise some influence.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 30, 1939.
FROM articles in the Press, as well as from conversations, it is becoming clear that the particular problem of Danzig is giving place to the problem of the Corridor and even to that of the structure of Poland itself.
One wonders why the German Government, at a moment when it is giving unexpected prominence to the memory of the events of 1914, and when the twenty-fifth anniversary of Germany's entry into the war is about to be commemorated in the barracks as a national holiday, should be openly raising, on a larger scale and under a guise much more "vital" to Germany, the problem of the claims of the Reich.
Again, in certain circles not unconnected with Herr von Ribbentrop's entourage, the conviction is being expressed that Poland, deprived of credits which it had hoped to secure from Great Britain, would not long be able to maintain the national effort it is making today.
"We know that its economic situation is catastrophic; we are receiving evidence of the discontent to be found among the State officials. Poland will be unable to resist for long, and will be forced to negotiate. It follows that the Polish problem can be settled without war; for you are pledged to intervene only if Poland calls for your help."
These are echoes of remarks made by Germans to foreigners during the past few days.