Part Six
The International Crisis
(August 20-September 3, 1939)
The German Will to Aggression
(August 20-22)
203  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 20
        The officials of the Reich Ministry for Foreign Affairs con- 
        sider that Herr Hitler is determined to settle the Danzig 
        question before September 1 ...............................  281

204  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 20
        The same officials declare that war is inevitable; they do 
        not believe, on the other hand, in British military interven-
        tion in favour of Poland ..................................  281

205  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 21
        The concentration of the German army has begun. The French Am-
        bassador in Berlin considers it necessary and urgent that 
        France on her side should take appropriate measures, he con-
        iders this in our best interest from both the military and 
        the political point of view ...............................  282

206  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 21
        The Pat Agency denies reports invented by the Reich propa-
        ganda service on the subject of the "terror" of which the 
        German minority in Poland is alleged to be the victim .....  283  
207  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 21 
        German troop movement towards the East allows of no further 
        doubt that the concentration of forces is in progress .....  283
208  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 21
        Following a report transmitted under reserve, action against 
        Poland is to take place during the night of August 22-23, it 
        is to be accompanied by a gesture towards the Czech provinces,
        which will be generous in appearance in that the restoration 
        of a limited measure of independence will be offered them. 
        Herr Hitler will remain on the defensive in the West ......  284  

209  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 21 
        The Military Attaché at the French Embassy in Berlin consid-
        ers that the German concentration of forces will be com-
        pleted by August 23 or 24 .................................  285
210  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, August 21
        The Minister for Foreign Affairs asks the French Ambassador 
        in Warsaw to make certain that the Polish Government is 
        taking steps to frustrate the German maneuver by which 
        they allege that the German minority in Poland is subjected 
        to persecution ............................................  285

211  M. GARREAU-Hamburg, August 22
        The German Government, it is believed, hopes to overcome all 
        Polish resistance by a lightning military attack before the 
        end of August .............................................  266  
212  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, August 22 
        Orders have been given to the Polish Press to refrain, at 
        least for several days, from any attack against the Reich .  286

213  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 22 
        Amongst the German General Staff action against Poland in 
        the very near future is considered certain ................  287

Part Six

The International Crisis

(August 20-September 3, 1939)


The German Will to Aggression

(August 20-22, 1939)

No. 203

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                                Warsaw, August 20, 1939.

(Received by air at 11 a.m.)

FROM a very reliable source I learn that Wilhelmstrasse circles are gravely concerned by the turn of events and believe that Herr Hitler is determined to "settle the Danzig question" before the 1st September.

                                                           LÉON NÖEL.  

No. 204

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Berlin, August 20, 1939. 12.25 p.m.

(Received at 1.40 p.m.)

ONE of my colleagues heard yesterday evening from high officials of the Wilhelmstrasse some very pessimistic views on the development of the international situation. In their opinion, German honour is at stake in Danzig and Germany cannot retreat: they saw no hope of avoiding war. As to a military intervention by Great Britain in favour of Poland, they did not believe in it. "Why should England intervene for Danzig, after allowing the Reich to seize Austria, the Sudeten territory, the Czech regions and Memel?"

These German high officials, whose remarks also showed an ex-


treme animosity towards the British, behaved as if, while personally feeling deep anxiety and grave apprehension for the future, they were trying hard to impress on my colleague the imminence of a conflict on which Germany was resolved.


No. 205

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 21, 1939.1.50 a.m.  

(Received at 7 a.m.)

A VERY important new fact in the military sphere, namely, the beginning of a concentration of German forces, is brought to light by the latest information collected, particularly after today's investigations.

There are sure signs that the units of the Berlin armoured division are on a war footing and that they will probably move tonight. Many roads in the eastern direction are under military guard; others have been prepared for troop movements. Today, some tanks have been sent off by train.

From Vienna comes news of an intense military activity since August 19. At Bremen, the 22nd Division is mobilized to war strength and ready to leave.

Mobilization has already been carried out on a very large scale: but it is not possible to estimate even approximately the actual figures. I do not consider exaggerated the number given by a foreign source, according to which the land forces alone amount to 2,400,000 men. A very large proportion of reservists has also been called up for the Air Force.

It may be that, by all these preparations, Germany only means to support the political maneuver which is being carried out by her at present. But it will become increasingly difficult for her to stop on the slope where Germany now finds herself.

Considering as I do that nothing should be left undone which might prevent Germany from proceeding further, I feel it my duty to stress once more the urgent and imperative necessity of taking the necessary measures, both as to calling up reserves and the mobilization of industry, so that our preparations remain level with those of Germany.

Even more than a military necessity, this is, in my opinion, a political necessity.


What constitutes one of the gravest dangers of war at the present time is the doubt which the Government of the Reich may still have concerning the intentions of France and Britain to lend Poland their support.

If we prove by our military and other measures that we are actually getting ready to fulfill our obligations, we shall thereby make use of the best possible method to dissipate this doubt. On the other hand, the Third Reich would find dangerous encouragement in the thought that a disparity in its favour may exist between the German preparations and our own.


No. 206

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 21, 1939.3.41 p.m. 

(Received at 535 p.m.)

THE Pat Agency publishes a communiqué to the effect that it is authorized to give a categorical denial to the absolutely baseless inventions of the Reich's propaganda services as regards the "terror" of which the German minority in Poland is said to be the victim, the alleged "tortures" of arrested Germans and the "mass flights into Germany."

On the other hand, the Polish newspapers announce that many Polish schools in the frontier zone have been requisitioned by the German authorities, that soldiers have been billeted in them, and that the classroom furniture has been thrown out into the street.

They announce too that many people employed in Polish institutions or organizations in German Silesia have been sent to labour camps and that the Polish workers have been sent to the interior of Germany.

                                                           LÉON NÖEL.  

No. 207

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 21, 1939. 5.29 p.m.  

(Received 7 p.m.)

OWING to the large numbers of troops moving eastward during the whole of yesterday and the heavy traffic last night on the Magdeburg-


Berlin motor road, it is no longer possible to doubt that the concentration of forces is in progress.

However, Germany has not officially mobilized, and is supposed to be using the army and calling up reserves for a period of training; the reserves are being called up by individual summons and not by proclamation.

I think that for our part it would be best to avoid any ostentatious action while taking all necessary steps. The measures we adopt will be all the more effective for being discreet. The German Government will always get to know enough about them to realize what they mean It will be able neither to consider our attitude as a provocation, nor our preparations as a piece of bluff.


No. 208

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 21, 1939. 9.7 p.m.

(Received on the 22nd at 12.10 a.m.)

I HAVE just heard, from a source which is usually reliable, that the immediate intentions of Germany are as follows:

(1) Orders have been given to all officer pilots of the Berlin region to join their posts at midnight to-morrow, with three days' provisions. Similar information reached me from another source this morning stating that the concentration of German forces was to be completed in two or three days' time.

(2) An important decision is to be taken by the Reich in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, in connection with the Danzig affair. This step on the precise nature of which no information has been given, would cause very serious international tension and would probably involve the closing of the German frontiers.

(3) At the same time, Bohemia and Moravia would be granted an independence similar to that of Slovakia, an action calculated to have the appearance of generosity and meant to confuse French and English public opinion, to separate the Allies and to isolate Poland.

(4) The Führer would merely have the Siegfried Line manned: he would not declare war on France or on Britain, and would remain on the defensive. Even should the Western Powers formally declare war on Germany, Herr Hitler would wait to be attacked and avoid taking


any initiative. He is said to hope that the French and British Governments will come to see the futility of any intervention and will then accept the situation created de facto on the eastern frontiers.

I am not able to vouch for the accuracy of these indications; yet they come from a well-informed source and seem to me likely to be true, as a maneuver of this kind seems to correspond pretty well with Herr Hitler's mentality and methods.

There must be no illusions concerning the independence that the Czech provinces might obtain: by making such a gesture while at the same time acting against Poland, the Third Reich would endeavour to create the impression that the establishment of a just peace was its sole concern, while actually carrying on its policy of conquest.


No. 209

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 21, 1939.9.55 p.m.

(Received 11.30 p.m.)

IN THE opinion of our Military Attaché, the German forces will have completed their concentration in two or three days' time. The greater part of the German forces will be concentrated on the Polish frontier.


No. 210

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw.
                                      Paris, August 21, 1939. 10.30 p.m.

THE German Press and wireless are widely exploiting the alleged persecutions, of which the German minority in Poland is supposed to be the victim, just as they did last year over the Sudetens.

The Polish Government would be well advised, in order to frustrate this manoeuvre: (1) To make the necessary rectifications through the same channels, and perhaps to provide the English and French wireless with all details in order that they may refute these allegations; (2) To take, locally, all such steps as may prevent incidents which might be exploited by the German propaganda.


Although I have no doubt that the Government in Warsaw is fully aware of all this, I leave it to your discretion to confirm this, in whatever way seems to you most expedient and with all due discretion.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET.  

No. 211

M. GARREAU, French Consul-General in Hamburg,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Hamburg, August 22, 1939. 4.10 p.m.  

(Received 6 p.m.)

I LEARN on good authority that the German Government hopes, by a lightning attack, to dispose of Poland before the end of the month. The Reich seems to be convinced that Great Britain and France, equally disconcerted by the Russian attitude, will not move. The Reich believes that Moscow is preparing a great political upheaval which would tend to bring the ideologies of the two totalitarian regimes into harmony.

The rumour that the offensive against Poland would be launched on August 22 has been circulating in Hamburg for several days. A great number of railway employees have been ordered to report in various Polish towns, notably in Warsaw, Ibrun and Poznan, on a date which would be notified towards the end of the month. From this it would seem that the occupation of these centres by the German Army was expected very soon.

Many motor-cars have been requisitioned in Hamburg. They are at once given military numbers and repainted grey.

The departure of the 20th Mechanized Division for the Polish frontier has taken place within the last 48 hours; these troops left Hamburg partly by train and partly in three motor convoys which set out respectively for Rostock, Ludwiglust and Lübeck.


No. 212

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 22, 1939. 4.16 p.m. 

(Received 8.45 p.m.)

HEARD that, in accordance with the request that I made to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Polish Government will daily from


to-morrow give the necessary corrective statements to the Havas Agency, to your Department through the Polish Embassy in Paris, and to me.

I took this opportunity to have a conversation with one of M. Beck's private secretaries, in which I stressed the points desired by Your Excellency. He assured me that Poland, fully aware of the necessity for avoiding incidents, would redouble her vigilance in this matter.

He told me that instructions had been given yesterday morning to the Government newspapers to refrain, for some days at least, from all attacks on the Reich and from giving prominence to any news items which might possibly irritate the Germans.

                                                           LÉON NÖEL.

No. 213

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                               Berlin, August 22, 1939.

(Received by courier the 23rd at 12.30 p.m.)

A RESERVE officer, who has just been called up in a Department of the German War Office, declared to a reliable intermediary that in the General Staff it is considered certain that action against Poland will be taken very shortly. It is not doubted that this action will produce decisive results in a very few days.

They would seem, in fact, to be anticipating that, under the violence of the blows rained upon her, Poland will collapse internally. They appear to be counting a great deal upon upheavals among the racial minorities, chiefly the Ukrainians.

The announcement of the non-aggression pact with Russia has contributed powerfully to the strengthening of the Army's confidence in the success of German arms.



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