175 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, August 1 The Danzig Senate, having left unanswered the protests of the Polish Government concerning the Customs inspectors, Poland takes reprisals of an economic character ................. 237 176 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 1 Echoing the Danzig newspapers the German Press attacks the Polish Customs inspectors. The leaders of the Reich seem to be continually wavering, and at the same time open to temp- tation, and general opinion in Berlin agrees in considering that the second fortnight of August will very critical ... 239 177 M. DE SEGUIN-Warsaw, August 2 The Polish Government's measures of retaliating with regard to Danzig show that Warsaw, being confronted with Nazi activities in the Free City has decided not to remain passive indefinitely .............................................. 242 178 M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, August 3 The attitude adopted by Poland in response to the difficul- ties experienced by the Customs inspectors in carrying out their duties is arousing great feeling in Danzig .......... 243 179 M. DE SEGUIN-Warsaw, August 3 In order to stop the contraband traffic in arms the Polish Government three years ago created a special body of frontier guards in addition to the original Customs inspectors; it would not refuse to merge these two corps on condition that the Customs control should in the future be effective ..... 243 180 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 3 In Berlin, the period of hesitation is over. Everything concurs to persuade the German people that they are menaced and at the same time that they are invincible. War psychosis reappears; military preparations are accelerated. More than ever the tone of the Press calls for vigilance ............ 244 181 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 6 A new incident concerning the Polish Customs inspectors oc- curred on August 4 in Danzig territory. With it a new element makes its appearance: in fact though the Polish Government took no action following the remilitarisation of the Free City, confronted with the menace of an attack on its rights in Customs matters, its attitude is finally fixed. Germany now knows how far it can go in its "nibbling" enterprise .. 245 182 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 7 Definition of the legal conditions under which Poland could be entrusted with the defence of Danzig ................... 247 183 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 7 The Danzig Senate informs the Polish Commissioner that it is ready to discuss the questions at issue in the Customs dispute. In this attitude M. Beck sees a retreat of the Nazi elements in Danzig and an encouragement to persist in the policy of firmness .................................................. 249 184 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 7 The German claims go far beyond Danzig and bear equally upon the Corridor and on other territories. This is openly avowed in the German propaganda pamphlet entitled: "Danzig-What is at stake?" ................................................ 250 185 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 8 The dispute over the Polish Customs inspectors reveals that Poland, by her firmness, has scored a point. Berlin has been so put out of countenance that the German Press has stopped saying anything about it. Marshal Rydz-Smigly's powerful speech at Cracow, opposing force with force, has, however, raised a storm of threats ................................. 252 186 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 8 Two days later the German Press has seized upon the events of Danzig to raise the cry of Polish provocation .......... 254 187 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 8 Poland had hitherto submitted to everything in Danzig and the Nazis have made the most of it. This time, faced with determination to resist, -they have become conciliatory. But the margin of concessions which Poland is still prepared to make is now so narrow that from now on any incautious act might well have the most serious consequences ............. 255 188 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 10 According to Herr Forster, Herr Hitler is incensed by cer- tain articles in the Polish Press ......................... 255 189 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 10 The campaign against Poland has been resumed in Berlin with increased violence. Herr Forster, following his interview with Herr Hitler, is to make a speech at Danzig, which ac- cording to German circles will be vehement ................ 256 190 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 12 German opinion is increasingly nervous. The date always in- dicated by the French Embassy in Berlin as that at which the German army would be ready has now arrived. It seems that capitulation by the Democracies without war is expected. The adjournment of the Nuremberg Congress if announced, would indicate the possibility of immediate action .............. 259 191 M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN-Berlin, August 12 German propaganda makes use of the alleged exactions inflic- ted upon the Germans by the Poles in an attempt to create "atmosphere," which recalls the campaigns it conducted at the time of the Sudeten affair. The French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin outlines the arguments which the wire less could broadcast in reply to this campaign ....................... 260 192 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 12 An article by Dr. Goebbels gives further proof of Germany's lust for conquest ......................................... 261 193 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 15 Text of the letters exchanged on August 4 and 7 between the Polish Commissioner and the Danzig Senate concerning the Polish Customs inspectors ................................. 262 194 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 15 Herr von Weizsäcker expresses a pessimistic view of the development of the situation, M. Coulondre declares unequiv- ocally that if one of the Allies, France, Britain, or Poland, were to be attacked, the two others would automatically be found at its side. From this interview, he concludes that unwavering firmness is essential, that our military forces must be maintained on a level with Germany's, and that the conclusion of the agreement with the U.S.S.R. should be hastened .................................................. 264 195 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 15 German military preparations are being speeded up; a vast mobilisation scheme faces the civilian population; the concentration of troops is not yet completed, but this could be done in a few days. The campaign against Danzig has been resumed and Poland is now put on trial as was Czechoslovakia in 1938 ................................................... 269 196 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 16 None the less M. Beck adopts a conciliatory attitude in the Danzig dispute ........................................ 274 197 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 17 The German Press opens a new chapter in its anti-Polish cam- paign; it alleges that a pogrom has been started against the Germans in Poland. The object of this maneuver is to excite passions at home, and give rise to a belief abroad in intol- erable Polish provocation ................................. 274 198 M. ROGER CAMBON-London, August 18 The French Chargé d'Affaires in London reports that the British Ambassador in Berlin has had an interview with the State Secretary at the Wilhelmstrasse in the course of which the latter showed himself particularly aggressive and even brutal towards Poland ..................................... 276 199 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 18 The situation becoming increasingly tense, it is above all important to keep abreast of Germany in military prepara- tions; it is necessary at the same time to bring the Russian affair to a satisfactory conclusion at the earliest possible moment .................................................... 277 200200 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 18 The French Ambassador in Berlin is more and more struck by the similarity between the German campaign against Poland and that conducted in September 1938 against Czechoslovakia; the military preparations, however, are far more advanced . 278 201 M. ROGER CAMBON-London, August 19 The conversations which Herr von Weizsäcker has had with M. Coulondre and Sir Nevile Henderson give the impression of a "friendly warning," concerning the imminence of a German- Polish conflict ........................................... 280 202 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 19 Polish communiqué draws attention to the persecutions suf- fered by the Poles in Germany, that are reported to reach considerable proportions .................................. 280
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, August 1, 1939.
THE Senate having adopted a policy of silence in regard to the renewed protests made by the Polish Government on the subject of
Customs inspectors, that Government has just taken measures of economic reprisals which may have grave consequences.
The Polish Commissioner General has indeed notified the authorities of the Free City that the inspection by Polish officials of the transformation of fats by the firm "Amada Unida" will cease as from August 1, and that the right given to Danzig to export them to Poland free of duty will no longer be recognized. At the same time a similar treatment is to be applied to the herrings caught by the Danzig fishing fleet. In both instances considerable interests are involved, and the parties concerned appear to be aggrieved.
Certainly herrings figure prominently in the Polish diet; Dutch boats, sailing under the Danzig flag, used to supply 6 million zlotys' worth. On the other hand, Amada, an English firm run on Dutch capital, supplied margarine to inland Poland to the value of some 15 million zlotys, this being, according to its managing director, some 95 per cent of the country's import of the commodity; while, conversely, the firm handled 50 per cent of the country's export of colza.
These unexpected reprisals caused surprise that found expression in the local Press of July 31. The two daily newspapers protested loudly against this linking of an economic question with one which they held to be political, namely that of the inspectors. They considered the whole matter a violation of the exchange agreement valid up to July 31, 1940, and on several occasions they described this attitude as being "direct action," a procedure which seemed to arouse in them great indignation.
The official reaction was no less strong. On August 1 the Senate gave orders to its Customs officials to disregard for the future the Polish inspectors, who, they said, belonged to the corps of frontier guards and not to the Customs service. No rule was established for distinguishing between these two categories, and it will presumably be difficult to establish one, in view of the stream of abuse with which the whole body has been flooded for three months by the official propaganda.
This step was heralded in the Press by a long article in which were set out all the delinquencies of which the agents of the neighbouring republic were said to have been guilty, consisting in equal proportions of cases of espionage and of gross indecency. It was recalled that the Treaty of Paris provided in Section 14 for an independent Customs service in the Free City with merely a general right of control by Poland. Poland had step by step transformed this privilege into a highly specialized system of inquisition, using such specious argu-
meets as the development of commercial activity or the growth and complication of the Customs service. The Danziger Neueste Nachrichten countered with the following figures:
1929 1938 Number of Polish Inspectors 27 100 Tonnage through the Port... 8.5 million tons, of 7.1 million tons, of a value of 1.5 mil- a value of 500 mil- liards of zlotys lion zlotys
So far as numbers are concerned, in almost all the posts on the frontier of East Prussia the inspectors largely exceeded the Danzig officials of the same rank, for example at Kalthof by twelve to one.
In general this inspired article did not maintain the same presence of dispassionate consideration. Its conclusion under the headline, "Poland wrecks the Customs Union," is most provocative. It insists that the Warsaw Government must give up its new claims, otherwise "the economic policy of Danzig must be directed not only to new outlets, but also to new sources of supply." The meaning of this threat is obvious; the reference is to rumours of an opening of the frontier with the Reich.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 1, 1939.
A FORTNIGHT ago various reliable reports reached the Embassy which seemed to show that about the middle of July an important change had taken place in the attitude of the Führer. He had become convinced that France and Great Britain were firmly resolved to honour their obligations to Poland, and that, this being so, the Reich ran the risk, if it pushed the matter of Danzig to extremes, of provoking general conflict. The impression had moreover been given that the leaders of the Reich were anxious to provide themselves with means of drawing back or of letting the matter rest for a time without relinquishing their aims or excluding the possibility of pursuing them actively, if and when more favourable circumstances presented themselves. The first phase of the Danzig affair, therefore, appear to have led to a set-back for Herr von Ribbentrop, whom his opponents, and
especially Field-Marshal Goering, accused, it was said, of having irresponsibly involved Germany in a most dangerous policy. At that moment, it might have been deduced that the cause of peace had scored an important point.
Subsequently, certain signs led to the speculation whether a revulsion of feeling had not occurred in the mind of the all-powerful Lord of the Third Reich in the opposite direction. The German newspapers (as also the Nazi organ at Danzig), which towards August 22 stressed the desire of Germany to obtain satisfaction by peaceful methods, have in the last few days devoted themselves to showing that Germany has nothing to fear even from a general conflict, which, they declare, would find her in a much more favourable position than in 1914. This is particularly the theme of the majority of the articles devoted to the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the entry of Germany into the Great War.
At the same time it became clear that the Press was enlarging the scope of the German-Polish quarrel. It was no longer a question solely of Danzig, but also of the Corridor and even of Poznania and Upper Silesia. This was a somewhat remarkable alteration of the tactics hitherto followed to minimize the quarrel between Berlin and Warsaw and to convey the impression that the German claims only affected a city which was indisputably German in character.
Finally, the Nazi propaganda this very morning resumed the campaign against the Polish Customs officials, which it had abandoned from June onwards. Although for the last few weeks the inspectors of Polish Customs in order to avoid any clash, have allowed considerable supplies of arms and munitions to enter the territory of the Free City, they are declared by the German newspapers to have exceeded their rights and to have behaved as "regular bandits." This is a fresh application of the methods to which Germany resorted in the Sudeten affair.
In the new attitude assumed by Germany in the last few days there is undoubtedly a considerable element of bluff. But it would, nevertheless, be unwise to remain satisfied with that explanation.
Other factors have probably come into play.
We may be faced with the resumption of an offensive attitude on the part of people like Herr von Ribbentrop, who have not given up hope of persuading the Führer that Great Britain will not in the end maintain her firm attitude and that, in order to avoid war, it would again agree to a solution similar to that of Munich.
The surprise visit of the Führer to Berlin on July 28, his interview at the Wilhelmstrasse with Herr von Ribbentrop, the fact that he proposes to conduct together with him a new inspection of the Western fortifications, clearly indicate that the Chancellor wishes to show that he has not in any way withdrawn his confidence from his Foreign Minister. Now it is known that, in respect of Danzig, Herr von Ribbentrop is one of the strongest supporters of a radical solution.
It may also be asked whether, in view of the slow progress of the Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations, the Nazi leaders do not feel tempted to return to the plan of lightning action, which would in a few weeks "liquidate" the Polish army and face the Western Powers with an accomplished fact. It is a plan which the German military authorities do not consider free from danger; on the other hand it may be assumed that they do not consider its execution impossible, provided that Russian neutrality is assured. The risk of seeing Germany rally to the support of such a solution cannot be entirely excluded, so long as the Russian riddle remains unanswered.
However that may be, there certainly exist at this moment two opposite currents of opinion in Germany.
The supporters of the one are yielding to the war psychosis and consider a catastrophe as inevitable. This point of view is very widespread, especially in the provinces, where it is supported by the calling up of reservists, the departure of soldiers for unspecified destinations, the antiaircraft preparations, the requisitions, the restrictions on food and on other commodities which are becoming more and more noticeable-the continual movements of troops and the calling-up of the last reserves of workers.
The others-whose faith in the Führer remains unshaken are-convinced that the Chancellor will once more work a miracle and will succeed-without war-in restoring Danzig to the Reich. Some maintain that he has a scheme, the execution of which will astound the world.
In circles that are usually well-informed they declare that they have no knowledge. The Führer himself, they say, does not know which policy he will adopt. It will depend entirely on the circumstances.
In the same circles it is recognized that the only war that Germany can possibly risk is a very short one and that the chances of seeing the end of a war within a few months are extremely slender. The same people hold that the leaders of the Reich will have to come to their decision between now and the beginning of September, the date at which
the Nuremberg congress is to begin. The critical period would be the second half of August.
The leaders of the Third Reich seem, then, to be still equally subject to doubts and to temptations. In so far as they become convinced that from now on Poland can count on the effective help of France and England and that a short war is a mere chimera, we may hope that logic will outweigh their leaning towards solutions based on trickery and boldness.
M. DE SEGUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 2, 1939.
THIS morning I questioned M. Arciszewski concerning the retaliatory measures taken by the Polish Government against the Free City. He replied that the position was rather serious, that the Polish Government had had the matter under consideration yesterday evening and that, without knowing the result of its deliberations, he thought he could assure me that everything depended on the attitude taken by the Senate in regard to the difficulties encountered by the Polish Customs control.
M. Arciszewski gave me to understand that, in accordance with its declared principles, the Polish Government would not refuse to replace by others those Customs inspectors whose relations with the local authorities had become strained as a result of certain incidents.
When I asked him what might be the intentions of the Senate in regard to the opening of the Customs frontier with East Prussia, M. Arciszewski replied that the Polish Government had no special reason to fear such a possibility, but that it was bearing in mind all contingencies which might occur during the coming weeks. The view of the Polish Government was that as long as the Government of the Reich remained uncertain, what course of action Poland would adopt in the various contingencies which might arise, it would continue to feel its way.
M. Arciszewski was naturally not very explicit concerning the tactics which his Government might adopt; but it is in all probability in order to keep the Germans in their present state of uncertainty that
the Polish Government has chosen not to remain consistently passive in face of the Nazi actions in the Free City.
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, August 3, 1939.
IT is with great surprise and considerable anxiety that we have learned in Danzig of the measures of economic reprisal taken by the Polish Government in reply to the difficulties experienced by the Customs inspectors in the performance of their duties.
The smuggling of arms having been carried on for months without penalties and the Free City having been placed on a military footing without protest from Warsaw, so drastic a decision was no longer anticipated. Since August 1 the margarine of the Amada Company, an English company with Dutch capital, and the herrings caught by Dutch fishing boats flying the Danzig flag cannot be imported free of duty into Poland. The annual sales of these products amount to 15,000,000 and 5,000,000 zlotys respectively. The Amada Company imports 8,000 tons into Poland, which amounts to 95 per cent of the total quantity consumed in that country, and buys there 20,000 tons of colza, which amounts to 50 per cent of the total output.
By way of reprisal the Senate has ordered its Customs officials only to work with the Polish inspectors if they are what they purport to be and not frontier guards in disguise; at the same time no means of ascertaining this difference has been indicated to them.
In official circles there are hints of the possibility, if Poland persists in her "direct action," of the opening of the Customs frontier between the Reich and Danzig. But there is no concealing the fact that very serious consequences might result from such a step.
M. DE SEGUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 3, 1939.
THE Minister for Foreign Affairs has given the British Ambassador the following explanations on the subject of the recent decision of the
Danzig Senate: About three years ago the Polish Government added to the Polish Customs inspectors serving in the territory of the Free City some Customs officials, who were given the special duty of checking the smuggling which was then beginning to grow, and it was to free themselves from this unwelcome hindrance that the Senate wished to be able to distinguish the inspectors from the ordinary Customs officials.
M. Beck added that the Polish Government would not object to a fusion of these two classes of officials and to giving them the same uniforms, provided that the Customs service could in future perform its duties in conditions that permitted of reasonable efficiency.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin,
to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Berlin, August 3, 1939.
IN the course of the last week a very definite change in the political atmosphere has been observed in Berlin. Whereas after the middle of July there appeared to be a certain détente, towards the end of the month there were signs of a fresh stiffening of attitude. The period of embarrassment, hesitation, inclination to temporization or even to appeasement which had been observable among the Nazi leaders, has been succeeded by a new phase: today the actions of the leaders of the Third Reich and the language of their Press reveal two dominating purposes:
To convince the German people that it is threatened, as in 1914, and that its very existence is imperiled.
To convince public opinion at home and abroad that the Third Reich is invincible and that neither threats nor any human power can arrest it in the pursuit of its vital interests.
Nothing is neglected which may give the German people such confidence in its own might as to allow it to await the future with calmness, to resist attacks of all kinds and to break through any obstacles which may impede its path.
I will try to show elsewhere how this propaganda is conducted. It is not without interest to ask oneself what motives have inspired it. It is probable that the rulers of the Reich are endeavouring to allay the
fears which spread through the population when military preparations are, as at the present moment, greatly intensified.
On every side I am informed of what amounts to a recrudescence of the war psychosis which had manifested itself last September. The anxiety to allay the general alarm is particularly shown by the persistence of the efforts to convince the people that there is no danger of air-raids.
On the other hand, at a time when the German military preparations are being intensified and accelerated, when clashes between the Poles and the members of the German minority seem to multiply, when polemics regarding Danzig are being resumed, the Nazi leaders are doubtless anxious to impress foreign opinion with the conviction that Germany is now once again prepared to go to any lengths, if necessary, in order to obtain satisfaction and show that the Reich would not give way, even if faced by the coalition the crowning-piece of which would be a Franco-Anglo-Russian agreement.
At the same time the possibility must not be ignored that the leaders of the Third Reich may have wished to stimulate the somewhat failing enthusiasm of their people and to convince them that, their existence being threatened, they must defend themselves and that it is not so much a question of the Germans "dying for Danzig" as of their fighting for the life of the German people itself.
The military activity displayed by the Third Reich since June has all the time called for the greatest vigilance on our part. The tone now adopted by its Press must make us more vigilant still and as resolute as ever.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 6, 1939.
THE clash which occurred on August 4 between the authorities of the Free City and the Polish Customs inspectors has been reported by M. de Seguin. But I consider it essential that I should touch on these Occurrences again in order to make clear certain details which remained obscure, and to deduce from them certain indications in view of the coming difficulties.
On the afternoon of the 4th the Ministry of Foreign Affairs learnt
that at four of the Danzig Customs posts on the East Prussian frontier, the Polish Customs inspectors had been given notice by the heads of the Danzig posts that they could not continue to perform their duties after Sunday the 6th. The Polish Government took the step of addressing a note to the Senate, requesting it to give by the following evening a written assurance that the Customs officials would be allowed to continue to perform their duties, otherwise the Polish Government reserved to itself the right to take necessary steps to safeguard its rights. Toward 8 p.m. the French and British representatives were informed of the wish of M. Beck to communicate matters of importance to them in the evening. At about 10 p.m. the Private Secretary of the Minister for Foreign Affairs summoned a secretary of the British Embassy and M. de Seguin, and informed them of the events of the afternoon and of the Polish Government's intentions. Count Lubienski added that M. Beck expected to be in a position to inform the French and British Governments next morning of the steps the Polish Government might be led to take in the event of the Senate of the Free City not giving a favourable reply.
The Polish note was delivered during the night to the President of the Senate in person.
At 830 a.m. the Polish Commissioner informed the League High Commissioner of the Polish démarche. Shortly afterwards, M. Greiser telephoned to M. Chodacki that the Senate of the Free City would not put any difficulties in the way of the Polish officials performing the duties assumed by them, but that it would not "for technical reasons" reply in writing to the Polish note before Monday.
The Polish Government decided to be satisfied for the time being by this reply, and at the end of the morning informed the two Embassies of the relaxation in the crisis.
Such was the course of events. One point has not yet been cleared up: what exactly took place between German and Polish officials at the four frontier posts? In his conversation on Saturday morning with Sir Howard Kennard, M. Beck made it clear that the German notification was addressed only to Customs officials in the strict sense of the term (the Department is aware of the distinction which the Senate seeks to establish between Customs inspectors and the ordinary Customs officials whom it calls "Grenzer"). According to further information from official Polish circles, there had been no notification to the Polish officials, but a threat to remove them by force, if they did not give up their posts. Finally, according to the version reported by M. de la
Tournelle, M. Chodacki had taken his action because the President of the Diet had issued orders for the arrest of the "Grenzer" before 3 p.m. of that day.
In itself the episode of August 4 seems to have been closed by Herr Greiser's answer to the Polish note, always supposing that the Senate's promised note arrives to confirm its terms. But this answer does not end the controversy on the subject of the distinction the Senate claims to draw between Customs inspectors and Customs officials. It neither provides, nor does it point towards, a final solution of the problem of the working of the system of Customs supervision. However, a new factor has appeared. Although Poland has taken no action against the remilitarization of the Free City, she has taken a stand against the threat of an attack aimed openly and publicly against her rights in the sphere of the Customs. Before August 4 the Reich might speculate as to how far it could go with its policy of "nibbling." This is now determined, and henceforth the Reich, before it frames its future policy, will have to take into its calculations the Polish will to resist.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 7, 1939.
IN a recent conversation, M. Beck informed the British Ambassador that military measures might have been taken, had the Senate rejected the Polish note. It is, therefore, of interest to refer to treaty articles applying either to the case of an attack on Danzig from outside, or to that of an attempt to alter by force the present status of the city.
The Treaty of Versailles contains no provision in regard to these, nor does the Convention of 1920 specify either the circumstances or methods of possible action for the defence of the Free City.
"In its sitting of November 17, 1920, the Council of the League of Nations adopted a report declaring that the Polish Government seemed particularly fitted to receive from the League of Nations in case of necessity the mandate to undertake the defence of the Free City, but adding that this mandate could at no time be given in a general form, but only after consideration by the Council of the circumstances peculiar to each case."
The Consultative Military Commission of the League of Nations, declared at this same date:
"(1) The League of Nations can undertake the defence of Danzig only by mandate.
"(2) A contingent mandate is of no military value; only a permanent mandate can be taken into account.
"(3) The defence of the Free City cannot be separated from that of the province of Pomerania.
"(4) Poland is the only Power in a position to organize the defence of the Free City.
"(5) Poland must be allowed to build fortifications in the territory of the Free City and to garrison them with Polish troops.
"(6) These fortifications would be built facing the sea and towards East Prussia. On the Pomeranian side Poland's western frontier constitutes Danzig's line of defence.
"Following this statement, the Council of the League of Nations decided to consult General Sir Richard Haking, at that time High Commissioner in Danzig. On January 25, 1921, he declared that Danzig had no need of defences as the Free City could not be defended against a German attack, which was the only possible contingency."
In June 1921, the Council adopted the following resolution:
(1) The Polish Government is specially fitted to ensure, if circumstances require it, and in the following conditions, the defence of Danzig by land, as well as the maintenance of order on the territory of the Free City, in the event of the local police forces proving insufficient.
With this object in view, the High Commissioner will, if occasion arises, request instructions from the Council of the League of Nations and will, if he thinks fit, submit proposals.
(2) It will nevertheless be within the competence of the High Commissioner to anticipate the authorization of the Council and to address a direct invitation to the Polish Government to ensure the defence of Danzig, or "the maintenance of order," in the following cases:
(a) In the event of the territory of the Free City being the object of aggression, threat or danger of aggression from a neighbouring country other than Poland, after the High Commissioner has assured himself of the urgency of the danger;
(b) In the event of Poland being, for any reason whatever,
suddenly and effectively prevented from exercising the rights possessed by her under Article 28 of the Treaty of November 9th, 1920.
In these two cases the High Commissioner should report to the Council the reasons for the action which he has taken.
(3) As soon as the object in view has been achieved to the satisfaction of the High Commissioner, the Polish troops will be withdrawn.
(4) In all cases where Poland has to ensure the defence of the Free City, the Council of the League of Nations may provide for the collaboration of one or more States Members of the League.
(5) The High Commissioner, after consultation with the Polish Government, will present to the League of Nations a general report on the measures for which it may be necessary to provide in the above-mentioned cases.
Theoretically, therefore, Poland could be called upon to provide for the defence of Danzig either if the League of Nations appealed to it directly, or in certain circumstances at the behest of the High Commissioner appointed by the League of Nations. But Poland does not hold a permanent mandate nor has she herself the right to intervene in the matter, but is required by the resolution of the Council in 1921 to take no action until asked to do so by the High Commissioner.
At the end of last May, the Counselor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of questions affecting Danzig reminded M. Burckhardt when the latter was passing through Warsaw of his rights in this respect, the High Commissioner replied that if a contingency occurred that would justify his intervention, he would straightway have recourse to the Committee of Three.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 7, 1939.
I HAVE received from M. Beck the following particulars with regard to the note that has today been handed to the Polish Commissioner by the Danzig Senate.
The thesis already formulated verbally by Herr Greiser to M. Chodacki is repeated in this note: that the Polish Government, whose protest was based on mistaken information, had no cause to take
umbrage. Moreover, the Senate declares that it is ready to discuss the various points at issue in the matter of the Danzig Customs with the Commissioner.
Although one may take it that the Senate's note is hardly diplomatic in expression, M. Beck is sufficiently pleased with it: he would seem to be right in interpreting this reply as a refusal on the part of the Nazi elements in Danzig.
The latter, either at Berlin's instigation or possibly on their own initiative, provoked this incident to see how the land lay.
The Polish Government considered that, after everything that has happened recently in Danzig from the military point of view, the time had come to call an immediate halt. "Although openly conducted," said M. Beck to me, "the smuggling of arms and men was not recognized by the Senate. This time, however, we had to make a stand, as here was an action being taken officially against our interests."
The Foreign Minister added that the Polish Customs officers in the Free City had been ordered from the beginning of this incident to carry out their duties in uniform and armed, in case there should be an attempt made to arrest them.
During the negotiations that are about to take place with the Senate, Poland will be very conciliatory as far as the details of the Customs control are concerned; with respect to the principle itself of that control it will, on the other hand, be very firm.
In M. Beck's view the general situation is still serious; he tells me, however, that he considers the attitude which the Danzig Senate has just adopted, after consulting with Berlin, as a favourable sign which should encourage us all to persevere in our joint policy of firmness.
Only by strict adherence to this policy could we overcome, without a war arising, a further crisis which Colonel Beck also expects at the end of August or early in September.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 7, 1939.
WHEN stressing the vital importance that Danzig has for Poland, the Polish Press does not fail to emphasize the fact that for Germany the fate of the Free City is not of any great significance but really
only a part of a very much wider problem which the Reich avoids mentioning at present for obvious tactical reasons.
M. Smogorzewski, writing in the Gazeta Polska, observes with relation to this that many Germans, even in front of foreign journalists, have not troubled of late to conceal that a settlement of the Danzig question cannot be considered without a settlement of the problem of the Corridor, and that the access of eighty million Germans to East Prussia was more important than the access of twenty million Poles to the sea.
The officials of the Wilhelmstrasse and of the German Propaganda Ministry are said to have received orders a few days ago not to make such remarks; but M. Smogorzewski quotes several examples to show that this is actually the theory held by the German leaders: Dr. Goebbels' speech at Cologne on May 19 last, in which the Corridor question was plainly stated; a special number published by the review Der Deutsche im Osten on the occasion of Dr. Goebbels' visit to Danzig, which stated that a final adjustment of German-Polish relations would involve the return to the Reich of Danzig, the Corridor and "other territories"; and an article appearing in the Schwarze Korps for July 20 which spoke of Poland's access to the sea as an absurd anomaly, etc.
The Polish Press has hitherto done no more than briefly report Herr Forster's statements to the representatives of Paris Soir and the Daily Express. There is reason to believe, however, that it has taken careful note of them; Danzig's Bavarian Gauleiter incautiously provided it with a number of arguments when he declared that what the Germans want is "the restoration of Germany's pre-War frontiers and the certainty of not having hostile neighbours on her eastern border," adding: "Our claims seek only to redress the wrongs perpetrated by the Treaty of Versailles."
In this connection I would point out to your Department that the pamphlet Danzig-de quoi s'agit-il? which is being circulated in France by the German Propaganda department, is in fact the translation of a booklet in German, copies of which were distributed some time ago by the Press service of the Danzig Senate.
It too contains passages (pp. 16-17 of the French text) declaring in so many words that Germany demands the return not only of Danzig (her "last claim," according to Count Welczeck) but also "the Corridor and other territories arbitrarily torn from the Reich."
In my opinion such an avowal deserves to be noted and commented upon by our Press.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 8, 1939.
LAST week-end seems to have opened a new chapter in the development of the Danzig question: that of Polish resistance to the encroachments of the Senate and the Nazis of the Free City. This will to resist has assumed two forms: the ultimatum addressed to the Senate on August 5 on the subject of the Polish Customs officers, and Marshal Rydz-Smigly's speech at Cracow (August 6). The result has been a revival of anti-Polish agitation in the German and Danzig newspapers, but at any rate for the present this further outburst of ill-feeling seems chiefly designed to hide the setback suffered last Saturday in Danzig.
The Nazi plan, as it appeared since the beginning of June, evidently consisted in the gradual eviction of Poland from Danzig by an unremitting series of infringements of the statute; when the remilitarization of the Free City had been completed, the next objective of the attack was the Customs barrier separating Danzig from East Prussia.
Here too the Danzig Nazis proceeded by stages, and all things considered, with a great deal of caution. They differentiated among the Polish officials between Customs officers and frontier guards. The latter were singled out for a start, although of course there was every intention, if successful, to turn their attention towards breaking down entirely the Polish Customs control.
The conflict arose over the Amada margarine factory. By way of a protest against the captiousness to which their agents were subjected, the Polish authorities on August 2 prohibited the importation of this firm's products into Polish territory. The Senate retorted by ordering the Danzig Customs officials to collaborate only with Polish Customs officers, and not with frontier guards disguised as Customs men.
Next day, on August 4, Herr Forster demanded that reprisals should cease and threatened to do away with the Customs control. That same day, a high official of the Danzig Customs House ordered the arrest of Polish inspectors looked upon as "Grenzer" (frontier guards). On being informed of this order, the Warsaw Government
issued on the morning of the 5th an ultimatum expiring at six p.m., whereupon the Danzig Senate, startled by the reaction of the Poles, finished by giving way, after alleging that it knew nothing of the measure which had provoked the Polish ultimatum.
Poland, which had for months tolerated countless infringements of the Danzig statute in order to avoid incidents, had scored the first point.
Next day, August 6, in the speech which he delivered at Cracow before 150,000 legionaires, Marshal Rydz-Smigly announced that Poland was determined to meet "force with force" and to oppose any direct or indirect attempt to tamper with her interests and rights. He added that Danzig, bound to Poland for many centuries, formed the lung of her economic organization and that in this matter the Government of Warsaw had made its position completely and unequivocally clear.
Thus the attempt at intimidation has been unsuccessful. From now on the nibbling process will meet with Polish resistance. That is what the past week-end has meant for Germany.
In Berlin as in Danzig, it appears that the Nazis have been somewhat disconcerted by the firmness of the Warsaw Government. On Sunday morning the newspapers were silent about the events which had taken place in Danzig on Saturday. Not until Monday afternoon did a tendentious version find its way into the whole Press which strove to make things out as if the Senate had purely and simply rejected the "barefaced" demand which the Poles had made and "accompanied by threats." The Government in Warsaw was accused of having taken action as a result of false rumours and its attitude was announced as "a particularly dangerous provocation." Furthermore, the papers in Danzig and the Reich asserted that the Senate would seek to settle the question of the Danzig Customs officials' authority by negotiation and that it upheld the fundamental distinction between Customs inspectors and frontier guards.
This was a thinly veiled retreat.
The comments of the Czas on Marshal Rydz-Smigly's speech conveniently provided the Nazis with an opportunity to cover this retreat with a clamour of threats and imprecations. The Polish Conservative organ wrote that if the Danzig Nazis tried to create a fait accompli, "Polish guns would speak." "We are being threatened!" cried the entire German Press. "Poland has overstepped all limits in her insolence and irresponsibility. Poland, beware! It should be understood
in Warsaw, as well as in Paris and in London, that if Polish guns convert the German city of Danzig into a heap of ruins, German guns will not remain silent."
After accepting the Polish ultimatum last Saturday, the Nazis had in their turn started to utter threats. Thus the balance tended to be established.
From the fact that after a long series of concessions, the Poles last Saturday scored a point, one cannot draw any conclusions as to the ultimate outcome of the Danzig affair. Berlin and Warsaw still stand in complete opposition.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 8, 1939.
IT is only after a lapse of two days that the German Press has seized on the happenings in Danzig to let fly at Poland, which it accuses of war-like provocation. Similarly the Czas article, which has supplied the campaign that was initiated yesterday with abundant material, was not immediately made use of by the German Press. Thus the Essener National Zeitung, although regarded as semi-official, abstained from commenting on the article in tonight's edition.
One may therefore wonder whether these violent diatribes which are not spontaneous but seem in some respects to recall the process applied in September 1938 to Czechoslovakia, are intended as the time when the German army will be ready draws near, to pave the way for the test of strength which is generally expected at the end of this month, or whether it is not simply a question of the German leaders covering by this means the retreat which the Danzig Senate has been forced to make and preventing the Poles from glorying in their success or attempting to follow it up.
Although there is a great deal of war talk among the people, because the papers encourage it, and military preparations are becoming more noticeable, still it should be stated that nothing abnormal has happened since Saturday, the day of the Polish ultimatum to the Danzig Senate.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 8, 1939.
THE latest Polish-Danzig incident and the manner in which it was settled are very typical of the attitudes of the contending parties.
The Nazis continue to "nibble" in every possible way at what remains of the statute of the Free City and the relics of Poland's rights and interests in Danzig, no doubt hoping to enable Herr Hitler to declare some day that "by the will of the people of Danzig" nothing remains but the documents of the regime instituted by the Treaty of Versailles, and that it would be absurd to unleash a war for the sake of a scrap of paper.
But at the same time Germany has been careful, hitherto at least, not to push things to extremes. The Poles, in their wish to gain time, had lately tolerated all that happened in Danzig, and the Nazis had taken the fullest possible advantage of the patience they displayed. This time, in face of a determination to resist, they have become conciliatory; according to information received by my English colleague, the Senate have officially communicated their draft memorandum to the High Commissioner of the League of Nations, who is not accustomed to such courtesies, and they have drawn back with the evident intention of renewing their advance at the first opportunity.
The margin of concessions which Poland is still prepared to make in her wish to temporize has become so narrow, however, that any incautious act might well have the most serious consequences. It would be well if Berlin were to understand this.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 10, 1939.
HERR FORSTER, in a conversation which he had at the end of the morning with the High Commissioner of the League, and the tenor of which the latter has communicated to the Polish Commissioner-General, said that the situation was regarded as extremely serious in Berlin and that certain articles in the Polish Press had incensed the
Chancellor; especially an article published three days ago by the Czas, which has led the Government of Warsaw once again to renew its counsels of moderation to the Press.
"In order not to make things more complicated," Herr Hitler had enjoined him, Herr Forster continued, to avoid any new incident in Danzig. M. Beck, comparing this indication with the fact that the speech made by General von Brauchitsch this afternoon in Danzig was comparatively moderate, considers that to appreciate fully the real significance of the German move one should take this into account.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin,
to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Berlin, August 10, 1939.
THE respite in the anti-Polish campaign which had followed the verbal acceptance by President Greiser last Saturday (August 5) of the Polish ultimatum in the affair of the Customs inspectors turned out to be only of short duration. The Nazis, both in Danzig and in the Reich, at first a little taken aback by the Polish resistance, did not take long to recover themselves. At the moment, the agitation against Poland is more violent than ever.
The Germans in Danzig, as well as in the Reich, completely overlooking the origins of the present crisis, declare that they are threatened, so as to be able themselves to adopt a threatening attitude with a semblance of justification. Behind the question of the Free City, the deep-seated animosity between Germans and Poles, which was artificially masked by the 1934 agreement, is becoming more and more apparent with its full implications and with ever-increasing acuteness.
(1) On August 5, in the course of the day, Herr Greiser, President of the Senate, taken aback by the Warsaw Government's sudden determination to resist had hastily parried this with verbal assurances which he had promised to confirm in writing by Monday, (August 7). It had seemed for a moment as though the Danzig authorities were going to seek a peaceful solution to the quarrel raised by the Free City in respect of the Polish Customs inspectors.
The German Press itself, despite the biased character of its version of the discussion last Saturday between the Free City authorities and M. Chodacki, hinted that negotiations were about to begin between
Danzig and the Poles. The D.N.B. Agency's communiqué referred to them.
In the note handed to M. Chodacki by the Senate on the 7th, there is, however, no longer any question of negotiation, according to our Consul in Danzig. In any case since August 9, no more mention of it has been made in the German Press, which merely proclaimed the need for a swift and thorough settlement of the dispute. That same day it was announced that at a mass meeting of Danzigers to be held on the evening of August 10, Herr Forster would speak "in protest against the Polish threats."
It is difficult not to see in this decision the result of the interview which the Danzig Gauleiter had with Herr Hitler at Berchtesgaden on the 8th. The Czas article perhaps helped to suggest to the Chancellor the idea of a strong and solemn protest by the Free City against "Polish threats." Actually the moment had come for the Nazis to change their tactics. Their system had now come up against the Warsaw Government's determination to resist "nibbling." It was therefore necessary to come back to the method of intimidation, but this time making out that they were the victims of intolerable bullying and would be obliged to defend themselves by every means.
That will doubtless be the tenor of the speech which Herr Forster is to deliver this evening in Danzig, a speech composed on Herr Hitler's instructions and which official German circles have already announced will be vehement in tone.
In striving thus to create an unbearable tension between Danzig and Warsaw, and apparently seeking in this way to wreck all chances of a friendly agreement between the two States, the rulers of the Reich would seem, if we are to believe what we hear from well-informed quarters, to be pursuing a well-defined aim: to get the Senate to declare that it can no longer continue the talks with Poland on its own and must ask the Reich to safeguard the interests of the Free City within the scope of diplomatic action. The idea seems to be to prepare the diplomatic abdication of Danzig in favour of the Reich. In this way the differences between Danzig and Warsaw would be transformed into a direct conflict between Warsaw and Berlin. This would be a procedure similar to that followed in the Sudeten dispute, in which, at the decisive moment, the Reich took Herr Henlein's place. Meanwhile the campaign of incitement against Poland in the German Press has gone far beyond the legal quarrel raised over Danzig.
By making great play with certain articles in the Polish Press, such as that which appeared in Czas the day before yesterday, and then one in the Kurjer Polski today, the German papers have blazoned with sensational headlines the charge that Poland not only wishes to "conquer" Danzig and East Prussia and to reach the line of the Oder, but that she seeks the complete destruction of the Reich and the extermination of the German people, as formerly Rome desired the ruin of Carthage. Normally such threats-if in fact they are being uttered in Poland-should not in the least affect a nation as proud of its size and of its strength as the Greater German Reich. They should provoke nothing but ridicule. They are, however, being exploited to the full to fan the hatred against Poland and seem to reveal the intention to aggravate systematically the present crisis.
The public pronouncements made in the last few days by eminent personalities of the Third Reich, more especially, Field-Marshal Goering and General von Brauchitsch, are also not of a kind to simplify a solution of this crisis.
On the 25th anniversary of Germany's entry into the War, the Embassy pointed out the two main objects which the leaders of the Reich have in view: to persuade their people that Germany is threatened and that if the Reich made war it would be in self-defence; to convince public opinion that the war could have no end but a victory for the German arms, as the Reich was invulnerable and invincible.
It is this two-fold intention that was revealed in the speech delivered by Field-Marshal Goering before the "Rheinmetall" workmen on Sunday, the interview which he gave to the Nachtausgabe (August 9), and the words spoken this very day by General von Brauchitsch to workmen of the armament factories.
In the present circumstances these speeches might well seem to be the exhortation of a captain to his men before leading them to the attack against the Polish enemy and against the "encircling Powers."
It is not certain, however, that such is the true meaning and the real aim of the anti-Polish campaign whose revival at the present time we have just noted.
General von Brauchitsch stated that if the Führer demanded the last and supreme sacrifice from the German soldier, each would answer to his call; but he also asserted that the Chancellor would not lightly risk the life of one single German and that he would not decide to do so unless there were no alternative.
As for Field-Marshal Goering, his chief concern was to cover up the
weak points in Germany's armour. He was at pains to make it clear that Germany did not want war, that the Reich was awaiting the peace it desired with calm and with confidence in the Führer, but that it would defend itself if it were refused this peace or if someone were to commit the folly of plunging Europe into war.
Neither Field-Marshal Goering nor General von Brauchitsch touched on the problem of Danzig. It is a fact worth noting.
The campaign of agitation now taking place in Germany may have several objects in view:
Either to prepare the people's minds for a war, the prospect of which is very far from filling the great majority of Germans with enthusiasm;
Or to prepare a way out for the German Government. Only recently a claimant, the Reich has abruptly become a defendant. To read the German newspapers, it would seem to be less a matter of annexing Danzig than of preventing Poland from taking it, an intention which the Warsaw Government has never held;
Or, finally, to intimidate the Poles and bluff the Western Powers in the hope either of forcing Poland to come to terms or of isolating her.
One cannot a priori reject any of these possibilities.
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 12, 1939.
IN view of the tone of the Press, of the continual calling-up of reserves, of the intense military activity which is all the time increasing, and of new food restrictions (there are queues outside the butchers' shops this morning), the nervousness of the public has grown suddenly sharper.
The semi-official Press is busy creating the impression that important decisions are about to be taken today or to-morrow. According to current rumours the Reichstag will meet on Tuesday.
September 2 is, in fact, the opening date of the Nuremberg Congress, which is to be the Congress of Peace (the medal symbolizing this celebration has just been struck) and the preparations for which
are being pushed forward with all speed. Between now and then, it is hinted, Germany will in fact have made "her Peace secure."
That is the date which this Embassy always indicated as the one fixed for the Germany Army to be ready. Herr Hitler has begun his consultations. He would seem to be on the point of making a decision.
It seems very difficult to believe, separated as we are by only three weeks from that Congress of Peace and with the troops not yet concentrated, that, despite the illusions which are held here about a "Blitzkrieg" which would not give France and England time to intervene, anyone could hope to obtain this peace, in so short a time, after having imposed the German solution by warlike means. What they are therefore counting on, is capitulation without war by the Western Democracies, alarmed by the Reich's display of military strength and by the self-confidence which it is going to show in the course of the next few days.
Nevertheless, it is quite certain that the Reich in building up this bluff is becoming more deeply involved both in the political and in the military spheres, and that it runs the risk of reaching a point from which it would be difficult to draw back. In that case, however, it seems probable to judge from the information so far in our hands, that the Reich leaders will wait for the result of the spectacular gatherings at Tannenberg and Nuremberg, as the Danzig meeting did not produce the expected results. But if the Congress of Peace were postponed or if preparations for it were interrupted, the possibility of immediate action being taken should, to my mind, be at least more seriously considered.
M. DE SAINT-HARDouIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 12, 1939.
GERMAN propaganda is now discoursing on the harsh treatment of Germans by the Poles in order to create an "atmosphere" which recalls the similar agitation made at the time of the Sudeten affair, hoping in this way to convince world-opinion and also to attempt for the last time to persuade France and Great Britain to abandon Poland to her fate.
In order to avoid that, in the game now being played, Germany
should reach a point from which she could no longer draw back, one may wonder whether it would not be advisable to make it clear in some form or another that we are not deceived and to try, on our side, to prevent this "atmosphere" from being created. Undoubtedly it would be necessary to act with care so as not to exasperate the leaders of the Reich by reminding them of what they are supposed to know or by arguing with them. But in my view it would be useful to show that our attitude to the Danzig question remains unchanged and to explain objectively why we cannot allow our hearts to be softened by the fate of the German population in Poland (as the German Press invites us to do).
I therefore advise that our wireless stations should broadcast, in an unprovocative manner, the following themes (they are not new, but their very repetition would not fail to have its effect):
(1) To justify her claims on Danzig Germany puts forward the racial argument; why, then, is it occupying Prague?
(2) From an historical point of view Germany maintains that Danzig is "Urdeutsch," that is to say within the homeland of the German people; even if we admitted this, it is still inconceivable that the Reich has finally renounced its claims on a land that was German at a far earlier date and accepts the expulsion of the indigenous population of the Upper Adige.
(3) For its own purposes, the German Press makes daily mention of the incidents of which the German minority in Poland is supposed to be a victim; but it would be worth recalling those incidents of which the Polish minority in Germany has been victim; that minority is as large as Germany's minority in Poland (between 700,000 and a million souls); it is deprived of its essential liberties; recently several Polish schools have been closed. While the treatment undergone by Germans abroad distresses deeply the German Reich, it remains entirely silent about the regime which it imposes in the "Protectorate" of Bohemia and Moravia, whence it expels journalists and where it will allow no eye-witnesses.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 12, 1939.
ATTENTION is drawn by Polish newspapers to the article published
in the Angriff by Dr. Goebbels on the occasion of Herr von Ribbentrop's conversations with Count Ciano. They point out that Germany makes no secret of her desire for a general revision of her eastern frontiers.
Dr. Goebbels's remarks provide further proof of Germany's intentions of conquest, says the communiqué at the semi-official A.T.E. Agency, appearing in the Gazeta Polska. Danzig is only a pretext; Germany wants to establish her hegemony and seeks to use Danzig as a spring-board for action on a larger scale in Eastern Europe.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 15, 1939.
I HAvE the honour to send herewith to your Department a translation of the notes exchanged between the Commissioner-General of the Polish Republic in Danzig and the President of the Senate of the Free City, on August 4 and 7.
Your department will also find enclosed the text of a communication addressed by the President of Customs Administration of the Free City to the Head Office of the Polish Customs on August 4.
The CoMMIssIoNER-GENERAL of the Polish Republic, to the PRESIDENT of the Senate of the Free City of Danzig.
I HAVE learned that the local authorities of the Danzig Customs on duty at the posts situated on the frontier which separates the Free City from East Prussia have addressed to the Polish Customs inspectors a communication which is without precedent in the history of Polish-Danzig relations. This document states that the Danzig authorities intend, from 7 a.m. on August 6 to prevent a certain number of Polish Customs inspectors from carrying out their duties of control which form part of the recognized rights of the Polish Government on the Customs frontier. I am convinced that this infringement of the existing agreements, which has been committed by the local authorities, is the result of a misunderstanding or of a false interpretation of instructions given by the Senate of the Free City.
You are, I am sure, aware that the Polish Government could not
permit the fundamental rights of Poland to be violated in this way.
I expect to receive from you before 6 p.m. on August 5, 1939, a reply assuring me that you have countermanded the steps taken by your subordinates.
Since the aforesaid incidents have occurred at several frontier posts, I am obliged to inform you that all Polish Customs inspectors have been ordered to carry out their duties, as from August 6, in uniform and armed, and this in all the frontier posts where they may consider it helpful to their duties. Any attempt to interfere with the execution of their duty, any attack or intervention by the police, will be considered an act of violence directed against Polish State officials in the discharge of their official functions. Should such abuses occur, the Polish Government would immediately initiate reprisals (retaliatory measures) against the Free City and the responsibility for these would fall entirely on the Senate.
I hope to receive a satisfactory reply at the time stated.
His EXCELLENCY the Diplomatic Representative of the Polish Republic, M. M. CHODACKI, Minister Plenipotentiary in Danzig.
IN answer to your two notes of August 4, one of which was not delivered to me until the 5th, I must express my astonishment that you should take advantage of a completely baseless rumour to send to the Danzig Government on behalf of the Polish Government an ultimatum demanding a reply at short notice, and that acting in this way without reason you should court, at a time of great political unrest, dangers which might lead to incalculable disasters. The order which the Polish Government has abruptly given to all Polish Customs inspectors to carry out their duties in uniform and armed is contrary to all the stipulations of the Treaties in force and cannot be considered other than as a provocation likely to cause incidents and acts of violence of the most serious nature.
In accordance with what I have since stated-and as I informed you immediately by telephone on the afternoon of Saturday, August 5-no official body, and in particular no section of the Customs Administration of the Free City of Danzig has ordered its officials from August 6, at 7 a.m., to prevent a certain number of Polish Customs inspectors from carrying out their duties. I refer you, moreover, to my note of June 3, 1939, in which I dealt at sufficient length with the
question of the relationship between the Polish and Danzig Customs officers on the frontier.
The Danzig Government protests with the utmost energy against the reprisals with which it is threatened by the Polish Government. It considers this procedure entirely inadmissible and holds the Polish Government as entirely responsible for any consequences which might occur.
I am, etc., GREISER.
The PRESIDENT of the Customs Administration of the Free City of Danzig, to the Head Office of the Polish Customs.
THE Senate of the Free City of Danzig has informed the Polish Diplomatic representative in Danzig, in its letter of July 29 of this year, that it has advised the Danzig Customs Administration that the "so-called" frontier guards shall no longer be treated as Polish Customs inspectors.
I beg to refer you to this communication from the Senate.
By Order, Dr. KUNST, Director of the Danzig Customs Administration, BEYLE.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 15, 1939.
I HAD this morning a conversation lasting one hour with the State Secretary with whom I thought it advisable to resume contact on my return to Berlin.
Herr von Weizsäcker asked me what impression I brought back from Paris regarding the international situation.
I gave him as exact a picture as possible of France at work, calm and peaceably inclined, but resolved to make all the sacrifices necessary for the defence of her honour and her position in the world. I made it clear that during my stay in Paris, I had been able to satisfy myself that the Government's foreign policy, which was supported almost unanimously by the country, had been and remained, exactly the same as the French Prime Minister and Your Excellency had clearly defined
it, particularly with reference to Poland and Danzig. It would be nothing short of dangerous to close our eyes to obvious facts. Our positions were taken up quite definitely. Between France, England, and Poland, undertakings for assistance had been entered into, which would operate automatically in case of aggression against any one of them. But the French Government was also still inspired by the most sincere wish to see an easing of the tension and an agreement reached between Germany and Poland, and I was able, in all sincerity and with a full knowledge of the facts, to state that my Government would always use its good offices to promote any settlement to which Poland, as a free and sovereign state, might think it possible to subscribe.
I added that, on the other hand, I thought I had found in Berlin an atmosphere slightly different from that prevailing when I had left it in July. The Gauleiter of Danzig between two visits to Berchtesgaden, had made two violent speeches, one in the Free City, and one at Fürth; in the Press, space devoted to Polish incidents was on some days assuming greater proportions, and the newspapers went so far as to speak of German honour in connection with these incidents. I was, therefore, very anxious to learn from the State Secretary exactly how matters stood.
Herr von Weizsäcker replied that in actual fact he regretted that he could not tell me that the situation was still the same as when he had described it to me before my departure. In May, and June, he had expressed the opinion that time would do a great deal to improve matters, that the Poles would gradually come round to wiser and more conciliatory views. But the Poles were a changeable and excitable people, and the English and French guarantee, that "automatic" guarantee about which I had spoken, an offspring of the policy of encirclement, had inclined them to follow a course contrary to that which had been anticipated in Berlin; time had therefore worked in an adverse direction and they had now reached the point where an ultimatum from Warsaw to the Danzig Senate had been followed by an exchange of notes in which Poland went so far as to say that she would consider any fresh German intervention that was harmful to Polish rights and interests in Danzig as an act of aggression.
The State Secretary then asked for these notes to be brought to him so that he could show them to me. I pointed out to him that I was not in a position to discuss the matter and would have to reserve my opinion.
He did not insist, only mentioning that he had wished to give me
a striking example in support of his allegations, and he afterwards showed me a file of typewritten sheets: "There," he said, "is this morning's list of acts of persecution suffered by the German minority in Poland. I have as many every morning.
"Fortunately it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. This Polish policy must have the advantage of ultimately loosening the bonds between you and Warsaw; I refuse to believe that France intends always to screen these Polish pranks."
In view of this direct hint and the insight which it afforded into what the Germans had at the back of their minds, it seemed to me necessary that I should be still more explicit in my reply than I had been at the beginning of the conversation.
I first of all reminded Herr von Weizsäcker that if we had strengthened our bonds with Poland and if England had similarly bound herself, he was well aware that it was because of the events of last March, for which Germany was alone responsible. Without renouncing either our role in Europe, or our alliances, or our friendships, we had been willing, after December 6, to consider Germany's special position in central Europe. But the absorption of Bohemia and Moravia had brought about a positive reversal of French opinion. All, from the man in the street upwards, had realized that a danger, the most formidable of dangers to them, the loss of their liberty and of their independence, threatened them; and they have been practically unanimous in considering the restoration of a balance of power in Europe as indispensable for the preservation of these blessings; hence our policy, that was wholly devoid of any idea of encirclement. I indicated that this detailed explanation would no doubt enable the State Secretary to understand why there could be no question of our loosening our ties with Poland, and why the automatic operation of our guarantees about which I had spoken was "real."
Herr von Weizsäcker then interrupted me in order to ask me whether this automatic action would come into play even if it were not a question of an "unprovoked" aggression. I advised him not to lose himself in subtleties; the fact was that if any of the three Allies, France, England, and Poland, were attacked, the other two would automatically be at her side.
After all, everything I had seen while in Paris had convinced me of the moderation and even of the caution of the Polish Central Government. I had been able to observe that it turned a blind eye to the
importation of arms into Danzig, although the re-militarization of the City is prohibited by its Statute.
"No doubt," retorted the State Secretary, "but the Statute could not foresee that the City would have to defend itself against its guardian! . . ."
I quote this phrase because it is very typical of the state of mind of the Wilhelmstrasse. I added that if minor incidents occurred in regions with German minorities, the same was the case in Germany in regions with Polish minorities.
Finally in order to leave no shadow of doubt in the mind of Herr von Weizsäcker, I added that even as he could rest assured that France was employing the language of wisdom in Warsaw (a language which was moreover perfectly well understood) and that she sincerely desired a German-Polish understanding, so the German Government must likewise take it as definite that France would not exert upon Poland, an integral part of our defensive front, a pressure capable of impairing the moral strength of that Power. In that respect we had had one experience which would not be repeated.
Returning then to the attitude of the Reich, I asked the State Secretary whether he could give me an explicit statement of official intentions. We had to consider the claims of the Reich, and the Polish attitude. If I had understood rightly what had been said to me in June and July, the claims of the Reich could wait if the Polish attitude permitted. Had the situation changed?
"It has changed," replied the State Secretary showing a certain embarrassment; "I can tell you no more for the moment; I only wish to add that I am pleased to see you back here at this time."
I assured the State Secretary that I should devote the whole of my strength to the service of peace, which was particularly precious to my country.
To those who know the covert way in which the State Secretary expresses himself, the language which he used to me is distinctly pessimistic. Ten days ago he still gave my English colleague a less gloomy view. There are, he told him, four possible risks of an armed conflict: (1) An English preventive war; (2) German refusal to believe that England would fight for Danzig; (3) Things might go so far that a retreat would no longer be possible; (4) A serious Polish incident.
He eliminated Nos. 1 and 2 automatically. As regards No. 3 Herr Hitler, he said, would know how to stop in time. He only retained No. 4, the serious Polish incident, and this was what he had told me.
Today, Herr von Weizsäcker is no longer willing even to limit the risk of war to No. 4, and two or three times, I had the feeling that he wanted to give me to understand that events might move rapidly.
Is his attitude a maneuver intended to impress the French Government? This is possible, and I hope in that case that my reactions showed him that it was labour lost. In any case, while I was making my statement he took numerous notes, which is contrary to his habit.
Does his attitude on the contrary mean that, without having detailed information of what is his master's secret, he knows that important decisions have been made or discussed? That is also possible.
Perhaps also he combined tactics and truthfulness. In life things are seldom entirely black or white. It is not unlikely that the same may also be true of Herr Hitler. The latter, in all probability, does not want a general war because he knows that he would have many chances of losing everything by it, and because he is convinced that he can hold out longer than the democracies in the present bloodless war. It may therefore be anticipated that he will strive to the last to achieve his plan without a general conflict. For none of my colleagues here doubts any more than I do, that he has a plan, and that as regards Poland, it comprises, in addition to Danzig, the reincorporation of the Corridor and Polish Silesia at the very least, that is to say the return to the old frontiers, and the German Press, moreover, does not hesitate to formulate such claims from time to time.
But it is equally likely that the Führer, while he is anxious to avoid a general war, may become irritated and his anger gradually increasing against this neighbour who dares to defy him, in his desire to bring matters to a conclusion with Poland, he may be led to wage war against the latter, minimizing, more or less consciously, the risk of an extension of the conflict.
To guard as far as possible against this danger which appears to me formidable and imminent I consider it essential:
(1) To maintain absolute firmness, an entire and unbroken unity of front, as any weakening, or even any semblance of yielding will open the way to war; and to insist every time the opportunity occurs on the automatic operation of military assistance.
(2) To maintain the military forces of the Allies, and in particular our own, on an equality with those of Germany, which are being continuously increased. It is essential that we should at the very least retain the previously existing ratio between our forces and those of the
Reich, that we should not give the erroneous impression that we are "giving ground."
(3) To expedite to the very utmost the conclusion of the agreement with the Soviets. I can never repeat too often how important a psychological factor this is for the Reich.
(4) To advise Warsaw to be more careful than ever and to intensify the measures taken to avoid local incidents, for example, by sending emissaries direct from the central authority to the danger zones.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 15, 1939.
ON the morrow of the discussions between Count Ciano, Herr von Ribbentrop, and the Führer (August 11, 12, and 13) the situation, as seen from Berlin, is far from clear. It is not possible to discern with any degree of certainty either the immediate intentions of the leaders of the Reich, nor the manner in which they intend, at a given moment, to escape from the present deadlock nor to what extent they are really prepared to run the risk of a general conflict.
There are, however, certain facts which control the situation:
(1) The military preparations of the Reich are being speeded up and intensified, and it may be accepted that Germany has today reached an advanced stage of mobilization. These factors have increased the war psychosis which is becoming more and more prevalent among the German population;
(2) In the Danzig problem, the Reich has become still more entangled, and over and above the question of the Free City, those of the German-Polish frontiers, and, in a more general way of the east of Europe, have been clearly put before German public opinion;
(3) In spite of the categorical statements of the Reich Press, it is still impossible to gauge the degree of understanding and effective solidarity already achieved between Rome and Berlin;
(4) In addition to symptoms which call for the utmost vigilance, others would seem to indicate that Berlin has not yet decided to precipitate matters, and that they have not given up all idea of temporizing.
(1) For several weeks past it has been evident that the Reich was taking all necessary measures to have considerable forces under arms from the middle of August (August 15 to 20), and by that date to have the country's military preparedness in all directions at an advanced stage. The measures observed at the present time can therefore hardly occasion surprise. On the other hand, they can no longer be explained only by the necessity-as officially pleaded-of training the troops (regulars or reserves). If compared with the military measures of last autumn, they are more and more clearly distinguished from the latter by the following features:
Extreme care is taken to maintain secrecy, and secrecy is effectively maintained to a large extent thanks to methods of concealment developed almost to a fine art;
Mobilization is effected on a much more extensive scale; the civilian population-in so far as it is not called up-is subject to requisitioning in much greater measure. This fact is particularly appreciable in the case of female labour; levies and requisitioning of all kinds (vehicles, petrol, livestock, sundry commodities) have attained a volume so great that the economic activity of the country is seriously disorganized, while stocks and their replenishment are hampered;
The anxiety to put Germany in the best possible condition to sustain a war is such that, however great the part played by bluff, it is impossible to avoid the impression that more serious contingencies are not set aside. Such, moreover, is the feeling of the German population, among whom the fear of a war is universal;
Up to the present, if we except the assembling of troops in many places in Upper Silesia and in East Prussia, no important concentrations constituting an immediate threat to Poland have yet been observed. Technical experts, however, are of opinion that in the present state of German mobilization such concentrations could be effected in a few days.
(2) If, at the time of the Polish ultimatum of August 5, some surprise and some wavering was noticeable in the attitude of the Nazis in Danzig and in the Reich, Germany was, nevertheless, not slow in regaining her self possession.
After the Senate climbed down in the matter of the Polish Customs officers, the leaders of the Reich, tried, as we had for several days been given to understand from the German side they would, to take over the diplomatic representation of the interests of Danzig. This was the meaning of the verbal note handed by the German Government
to Warsaw on August 9. The Polish reply of the 11th in which the Warsaw Government declared that it would consider any fresh German intervention in the differences between Danzig and Poland as an act of aggression, cut short this attempt. This reply appears to have profoundly irritated the Nazi leaders and the Führer himself.
Meanwhile, the campaign in favour of the return of Danzig to the Reich was becoming more violent. On the evening of August 10, Gauleiter Forster, back from Berchtesgaden, made a speech in Danzig at a demonstration organized in order to testify to the will of the Danzig population to be reincorporated in the Reich. In this speech, drafted in accordance with instructions received in Obersalzberg, he expressed the conviction that the Führer would know how to realise the unanimous will of the people of Danzig to return to their German Fatherland. Two days later, back in Germany once more, he delivered, in his native town of Fürth, a second speech in which some thought they recognized the Führer's style, and in the course of which he exclaimed: "Whatever happens, Danzig will certainly, in the long run, return one day to the Reich."
The speeches of Herr Forster, and likewise the articles published at the same time in the Reich Press marked moreover a new phase in the anti-Polish campaign. Herr Forster not only explicitly stated the German claims with regard to Danzig; he called the Polish State itself to account just as the Czechoslovak State was called to account last year. He denied Poland the right of existence as an independent state. This argument was abundantly developed in semi-official newspapers such as the National Zeitung of Essen, which, in its issue of August 13, proclaimed that the existence of Poland was not in the least necessary to the European balance of power. The period of German claims to Pomerelia, Poznan, and Upper Silesia, was thus at once outstripped.
The arguments now put forward are, moreover, strangely similar to those which were produced before against the Republic of M. Benes: total incapacity of the Government; heterogeneous character of a population of which one third is made up of minorities; and strategic weaknesses. Finally, accompanying the threats and ill-treatment alleged to be directed against the City of Danzig and the members of the German minority in Poland appeared the further argument, which had also been advanced at the time of the German-Czech crisis, namely that of German honour.
Certain newspapers even went so far as to declare openly that the
Polish problem was in itself only one particular case, and that it was now time to settle the "Eastern problems."
It must, nevertheless, be observed that, up to the present, no member of the Reich Government has taken up a position over the Danzig problem so definite as to make a final breach inevitable. The Führer has not referred to the subject since April 28. From what is known of his discussions with M. Burckhardt, at the time of the latter's visit to Berchtesgaden on August 12, it would seem that he has not altered his attitude since. Nor have any of his Lieutenants made any definite pronouncements. The newspapers themselves, while proclaiming their faith in the inevitable return of the Free City to the Reich, have not yet mentioned any date, nor declared that this return would have to be secured "in one way or another" (so oder so).
(3) The German Press has not given any precise information concerning the conversations at Salzburg and Berchtesgaden. In so far as any items of information have been given, these have sometimes proved contradictory. To give one instance, certain newspapers have maintained that Germany and Italy had, of course, examined the question of the revision of the order of things established in Central and South-Eastern Europe by the treaties of 1919. Others have declared that neither Germany nor Italy had ever contemplated giving the Western Powers the pleasure of such a digression.
From what it has been possible to observe in Berlin, the predominant impression left by the German-Italian conversations may be summed up as follows: Italy has endeavoured to exercise a moderating influence, to restrain the Reich. But the results of this attempt are still uncertain.
(4) The situation created by the Salzburg and Berchtesgaden conversations is therefore precarious. Certain indications, it is true, permit the hope that the danger of war is not immediate. The crops have not yet been entirely gathered in; the harvest was very late and was partly damaged by the very abundant rains of the last few weeks. Work on the fortifications is not completed either on the Western Front, or on the German-Polish frontier. The preparations for the demonstrations at Tannenberg (August 27) and Nuremberg (September 2-10) are apparently being continued. The members of the Diplomatic Corps have just been invited to the Congress, which, as nearly a million Germans are expected to attend, will disorganize the railway service for several weeks.
Nevertheless, these indications, cannot be considered entirely conclusive.
The principal dangers of war may, therefore, be reduced to these two:
(a) Illusion as to the attitude of France and Great Britain.
(b) The hope of being able to destroy the Polish Army before
the Western Powers have been able to give effective assistance, and of having by this means created a "war map" which would set London and Paris thinking.
(a) There is no doubt that certain of the Nazi leaders and, in particular, Herr von Ribbentrop, still hope to give some sort of satisfaction to the Western Powers by restricting the German claims to Danzig, setting aside, provisionally, the question of the Corridor and other claims against Poland.
(b) The idea that the German Army could crush the Polish Army and take Warsaw in a few weeks, or even a few days, before France and England had time to intervene, or even to come to a decision, is fairly widespread among the public and in certain official circles. The Führer himself is said to consider the undertaking as not impossible. It is said that certain officers in his circle encourage him in that view.
What is most likely at the present time, is that Germany, while endeavouring to carry through the first solution (a) is continuing to push on her preparations with a view to being able if necessary to attempt the second solution (b).
The best means of counteracting this manoeuvre obviously aimed at gaining possession of Danzig in order to prepare the ruin of Poland, to demoralize the small States guaranteed by France and England, and to bring about the collapse of the entire system, built up to resist aggression is, it would seem, to invite the Germans, if they were to submit proposals to us to this effect, to address themselves to Warsaw.
At the same time it is, however, essential, in view of the extent of the military measures adopted by the Reich, that we should not allow ourselves to be forestalled by the German mobilization. Moreover, it is by maintaining our military forces on a level with theirs that we shall most effectively help to persuade the Reich that we are fully resolved to keep our engagements with our Polish allies, and, if need be to intervene immediately in their favour.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 16, 1939.
M. BECK has confirmed to me that he will make every effort to reach a peaceful settlement of the Danzig dispute and that he would have recourse to the good offices of M. Burckhardt should the occasion arise.
In the course of this morning, a conversation which seems to have been satisfactory took place between M. Chodacki and Herr Greiser. The latter notified the Polish Commissioner General that the Polish Customs officers arrested two days ago were to be released.
Last night, it is true, a fresh incident occurred with regard to which M. Beck told me he had as yet no detailed information: a Polish soldier was killed on the Polish-Danzig frontier.
In order to cooperate in the settlement of questions still outstanding, technical experts are going from Warsaw to Danzig.
In this connection, I once more advised the Minister for Foreign Affairs to act in such a way that the population of Danzig, the majority of whom are hostile to the Nazi agitation, should have the feeling that its economic interests are being to the fullest possible extent safeguarded by Poland.
M. Beck replied that, acting in this spirit, he would oppose any measure of retaliation the necessity of which did not arise.
M. CouloNDRe, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 17, 1939.
FOR some days past, the German Press has entered upon a new chapter of its anti-Polish campaign. It claims that a sort of pogrom has been started by organized groups and certain local authorities against the Germans in Poland. This morning there were sensational headlines announcing that on the other side of the frontier a positive man-hunt was in progress against the "Volksdeutschen," that mass arrests were being made among them, that Polish officials were distributing arms to shady elements of the population and that an intoler-
able terror menaced the entire German minority. Lastly, refugees were said to be already flocking into German territory.
Thus we meet again the tactics and methods by which Nazi propaganda, nearly a year ago, was able to induce the German people and part of foreign opinion to believe that there was serious disorder in Sudetenland, that bloody conflicts were occurring there daily, and that the Germans there were treated as outlaws. Acting on orders from Berlin, agents of Herr Henlein were trying to create a panic in Northern Bohemia, and compelling members of the minority to cross the frontier and seek refuge, without any reason, in refugee camps, organized with great publicity in the neighbourhood of Dresden or in Silesia.
The object of this maneuver is clear; the intention is now, just as it was in September 1938, to inflame popular passions within the country and create externally, by artificial means, the impression, either that the opposing party was indulging in more and more intolerable provocations, or that its central authority, overwhelmed by irresponsible elements, is no longer in a position to maintain order. In both cases, the Reich can find a pretext for intervention, in the need either to avenge German honour, or to replace the irresolute authorities and themselves undertake the protection of their "brothers by race."
It should be noted that as a result of this campaign, the Danzig question tends to recede into the background. The problem assumes wider proportions and by implication includes the question of the Corridor and that of the Polish Provinces with a German minority.
In view of the results, direct and indirect, which National-Socialist policy proposes to secure by this propaganda, it is, in my view, important to counteract the latter as rapidly as possible, and demonstrate to the rulers of the Reich that foreign opinion, at least among the Western Powers is no longer taken in by maneuvers to which we now know what value to attach.
This counteracting process should be comparatively easy if, as M. Lipski asserts, 95 per cent of the facts brought forward by the German Press in support of its campaign are exaggerated, distorted, or even merely fabricated. Thus the Polish Ambassador gave me the following example: In its issue of August 15, the Angriff reported on its front page, in sensational manner, the murder of a German engineer in Eastern Galicia. "Horrible Polish murder," the heading read, "German engineer murdered."
This murder, had in actual fact, been committed as far back as
June 15. The murderer was arrested, and the case is at present before a Polish Court. It has been established that the crime in question, whose motive was passion, and devoid of any political bias, comes under common law. As a result of their consul's report on the murder of this Reich subject, the German authorities came to the same conclusion, and on July 3, the German Ambassador in Warsaw informed the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that, in view of the character of the crime they would refrain from intervening.
Nevertheless National-Socialist propaganda seized the occasion of the victim's funeral which took place on June 23, to write up the affair as though it had been a political assassination, and the Angriff now returns to the charge.
This case is typical. It is not the only one; according to M. Lipski, many other examples might be quoted. In every case of this kind it would be desirable to set the facts in their true light as soon as possible, and, in this way, convict the German propaganda of mendacity and overstatement. These rectifications, would of course, be most valuable, in the first instance, to the competent Polish authorities. However, in so far as the Western Powers make common cause with the Poles the interests of their propaganda are obviously identical.
Perhaps, if Your Excellency thought it advisable, our Embassy in Warsaw might, if required, draw the attention of the Polish administration to this matter.
By setting the facts in a true light, in a dispassionate and objective manner, our Press and our broadcasting stations (particularly in their broadcasts in the German language) would very efficiently help in taking the edge off the German propaganda and enlighten readers and listeners, including those in the Reich, on the calculations and the ulterior motives of Nazi policy.
M. ROGER CAMBON, French Chargé d'Affaires in London, to M. GeoRGEs BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, London, August 18, 1939.
THE British Ambassador had, on the date already mentioned, a conversation with Herr von Weizsäcker, which was very similar to the conversation reported by M. Coulondre, but which dealt exclusively with German-Polish relations and their international repercussions.
In the course of this conversation, the German State Secretary was particularly aggressive and even brutal towards Poland, on account of the notes sent by Warsaw both to the Senate and to the Wilhelmstrasse, and of the treatment meted out to the German-speaking population in Polish territory. Without referring to the possibility of England remaining outside the conflict, he declared that the last limit of German patience had now been reached.
According to Sir Nevile Henderson's account, he replied with equal vigour and put forward the other side of all these questions. Not for one moment did he feel that he was even holding the interest of the person to whom he spoke.
Lord Halifax has had this report sent to Colonel Beck for information.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 18, 1939.
DESPITE some indications of a local relaxation at Danzig, the situation becomes increasingly tense. It is difficult to say for the moment whether it will reach a climax before or after the Nuremberg Congress. There are indications favouring either view. Consequently, I shall venture to recall the chief suggestions made in my last telegrams:
(1) It is of the utmost importance to keep abreast of Germany in all military matters. Germany is at the present time calling up large numbers of reserves and is forming them into divisions, and also carrying out considerable movements of troops and war material.
(2) It is imperative to bring the Russian negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as possible. I learn from various sources that it is now the military authorities who are most active in pressing the Chancellor to go to war with Poland. The most powerful deterrent would be a pact with the Russians.
(3) The most burning question today is perhaps less that of Danzig than that of the German minorities in Poland, and I wonder if Germany is not behaving thus in order to find points of attack less explicitly covered than Danzig by the Franco-British guarantees. It seems dear that the Reich is now trying to confuse the issue and to collect a dossier of such Polish acts of provocation as would permit her
to intervene against Poland in a military sense on other grounds than Danzig, in the hope that these alleged acts of Polish provocation would place the conflict outside the framework of the pact existing between Poland and the Western Powers. It would be useful to remember this when drawing up the agreements which are at present being prepared.
(4) On the other hand, the treatment dealt out to the German minorities is one of the things to which Herr Hitler is most sensitive. Besides, this tendency has been reflected in the German Press for some days.
(5) It is of course important to bring no pressure to bear on Poland which might injure her moral strength or vital interests, and to leave her free to decide the limit of the concessions she can make regarding Danzig, but at the same time it seems to me that we should let her know the value we attach to the safeguarding of peace, so that she should give no grounds for complaint nor justification for the German maneuver concerning the treatment of minorities, and should do all she can to avoid incidents with Germany, especially in the German-inhabited districts.
(6) Given the extremely precise indications, which have reached me from a safe source, on the Chancellor's state of mind, I consider that the Government should make use of its powers and forbid the Press to make any attack which might be taken as a personal insult against the Head of the German State.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 18, 1939.
As the German campaign against Poland develops, the analogies between it and that undertaken last autumn against Czechoslovakia are becoming more and more apparent. The methods used by the Reich on both occasions are so similar that we can try and ascertain what point the crisis has reached by a comparison with the events of 1938.
(1) M. Burckhardt went back to Danzig on August 14. Last year, on about the same date, Lord Runciman arrived in Prague to reopen negotiations between Herr Henlein's Party and the Government in Prague. But from that time onwards it was seen that these conferences
and the agreements which might be reached between the Czech Government and the Sudeten Party were of secondary interest in the eyes of the German rulers. It is more or less the same today with the settlement of local questions affecting Danzig. Yet it should be noted that the Nazis of the Free City and of the Reich seem far more disposed to be conciliatory in the settlement of these questions than the German negotiators ever were with regard to the Czechs.
(2) Ever since the month of May last year-on May 28 to be precise-the Führer had resolved not only to settle the Sudeten question, but also to have done with Czechoslovakia altogether. For a long time, the rulers of the Reich had made no secret of their desire to wipe Czechoslovakia-that "air-craft carrier for Soviet Russia"-off the map.
For the moment, the Danzig question has fallen into a secondary place. The problem of the German minorities in Poland, and indirectly that of the German frontiers of 1914, have come into the foreground: but it cannot yet be affirmed that the Führer has decided to liquidate Poland. The existence of that State has so far been challenged in comparatively few newspaper articles. The destruction of Poland has not yet been presented to the German public as one of the essential aims of German policy.
(3) From the end of August, 1938, it was clear that the Reich, in fomenting a revolt of the Sudeten Germans, was looking for a pretext for military intervention. Such is probably the aim of the agitation going on at present about the German minorities in Poland, but the manoeuvre has not yet reached such an advanced stage. Violent as it is, the campaign against the Poles is a long way from reaching the size and the violence assumed by the anti-Czech agitation towards the middle of August last year.
It is true that for some days past the German Press has been describing ill treatment of every sort which is said to be inflicted on the Germans in Poland: it speaks of mass arrests, "man-hunts," the distribution of arms to doubtful elements, of tens of thousands of people compelled to seek refuge in Germany, of the violation of frontiers by military planes. But last year, tales such as these, considerably amplified and dramatized, were spread all over the German papers for whole weeks, while the crisis reached its peak only at the end of September.
(4) In conclusion, therefore, we cannot say that the German-Polish crisis is any nearer its culmination now than was the German-Czech crisis at a corresponding period last year.
This remark does not apply to symptoms of a military character.
In this sphere, the preparations would seem to be on a far vaster scale and in a much more advanced stage. This is a point to which we must attach the utmost importance.
M. ROGER CAMBON, French Chargé d'Affaires in London, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. London, August 19, 1939.
TAKEN in conjunction with the interview of the British Ambassador with Herr von Weizsäcker, the conversation held by the latter with M. Coulondre on August 10 would seem to have been a "friendly warning" of the imminence of a German-Polish conflict, given to France by the State Secretary by order of Herr von Ribbentrop, though less brutally than to Great Britain.
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 19, 1939.
A Pat Agency telegram from Berlin, reproduced this morning in the Gazeta Polska, states that the persecutions of the Poles have now reached terrifying proportions. In the period from April 1 to June 30, it is stated that there have been 976 acts of violence, attacks on farms, destructions of property and forced evacuations from the frontier zone. Since July 1, the situation is said to have grown worse.