III
M. Daladier's Letter and Herr Hitler's Reply(August 26-27)
246  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 26 
        The French Ambassador in Berlin thinks that Herr Hitler might 
        be willing to agree to settle the question of the minorities 
        by an exchange of populations similar to the one recently ef-
        fected in the Tyrol. Sir Nevile Henderson and  M. Lipski share
        this belief.  M. Coulondre suggests that the Poles should take 
        the initiative and approach the Fhrer within forty-eight 
        hours .....................................................  307

247  M. LON NOL-Warsaw, August 26 
        The Polish Government confirms to the Ambassador of France 
        in Warsaw that it will discuss any plans with France and 
        Great Britain before making any important decision ........  308

248  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 26 
        Herr Hitler's proposals, which Sir Nevile Henderson is to 
        put before London for consideration, contain certain new 
        elements; serious dangers will none the less have to be 
        avoided; moreover, negotiations could not begin before all 
        threat of force were set aside ............................  305

249  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, August 26
        The Minister for Foreign Affairs transmits immediately to 
        the French Ambassador in Warsaw the suggestion concerning a 
        possible exchange of populations, with a request that he 
        should urge the Polish Government to accept it ...........  309

250  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 26
        Official circles absolutely refuse to accept President Roos-
        evelt's message ...........................................  309

251  M. DE DAMPIERRE-Ottawa, August 26 
        Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, sends an ap-
        peal to Herr Hitler, Signor Mussolini, and  M. Moscicki ...  310

252  M. LON NOL Warsaw, August 26
        The French Ambassador in Warsaw has submitted to the Polish 
        Government the suggestion of a possible exchange of popula-
        tions .....................................................  310

253  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, August 26 
        The Minister for Foreign Affairs transmits to the French 
        Ambassador in Berlin a letter from  M. Daladier addressed to 
        Herr Hitler, replying to the latter's message. Recalling once
        more the French attitude, he insists that a last attempt at 
        a peaceful settlement between Germany and Poland should be 
        made ......................................................  311

254  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, August 26 
        The British Ambassador in Warsaw has received instructions 
        that, in the event of conversations taking place between 
        the German and Polish Governments, he should propose the 
        appointment of neutral observers in the parts of Poland 
        inhabited by German minorities. The French Ambassador in 
        Warsaw is invited to support his British colleague in making
        this suggestion ...........................................  312

255  M. LON NOL-Warsaw, August 26
        The Polish Government points out to the French Ambassador in 
        Warsaw that the murders of Germans in Poland, to which Herr 
        Hitler drew the attention of  M. Coulondre on August 25, 
        were never committed ......................................  313

256  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 26 
        The German Press, making a pretext of a Polish raid on Danzig 
        territory, enlarges on its accusations against Poland .....  313

257  M. CORBIN-London, August 26 The British Cabinet, informed by Sir 
        Nevile Henderson of Herr Hitler's proposals, is preparing to 
        reply to the Fhrer. It will, in its communication, point 
        out in particular that a general discussion, if it is to 
        take place, could have no better preface than a peaceful 
        settlement of the German-Polish quarrel ...................  314

258  M. LON NOL-Warsaw, August 26 
        The Polish Government is prepared to countenance the sugges-
        tion concerning the exchange of populations ..............  315

259  M. CORBIN-London, August 26 
        The French Ambassador in London notes that in the course of 
        Herr Hitler's interview with Sir Nevile Henderson, the 
        British Ambassador had made no more than an allusion to a 
        possible exchange of populations, which Herr Hitler, more-
        over, did not, as it seems, take up .......................  316

260  M. CORBIN-London, August 26 
        Herr Hitler did not inform Sir Nevile Henderson whether it 
        would he possible to revert to the programme he had put for-
        ward in April, which dealt with the question of Danzig and 
        that of a motor road through the Corridor .................  316

261  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 27
        The French Ambassador in Berlin reports that Herr Hitler 
        has refused to consider the proposal advanced by  M. Daladier 
        as a contribution towards a peaceful settlement of the German-
        Polish dispute ............................................  317

262  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 27
        Herr Hitler insists that M. Daladier's letter and the reply 
        he will make to it be kept secret .........................  317 

263  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 27
        M. Coulondre considers that his approach to Herr Hitler 
        strengthened the latter's belief that France is prepared to 
        fight, and placed the Fhrer face to face with his own 
        responsibility, showing him, at the same time, that the 
        French Government remains in favour of a settlement honour-
        able to both parties ......................................  319
  
264  M. LON NOL-Warsaw, August 27
        M. Beck takes a less pessimistic view of the situation ....  319  

265  M. LON NOL-Warsaw, August 27
        Fresh acts of unprovoked aggression by Germans are taking 
        place in increasing numbers at many different points on the 
        Polish frontiers ..........................................  320
 
266  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 27 
        Herr von Ribbentrop hands M. Coulondre a copy of Herr
        Hitler's reply to  M. Daladier; that reply is in the 
        negative ..................................................  320

267  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, August 27 
        Herr Hitler's reply to M. Daladier s message: "Danzig and 
        the Corridor must return to Germany." .....................  321

268  M. LON NOL-Warsaw, August 27
        Mobilisation appears to be general in Germany .............  324

269  M. DE LA TOURNELLE-Danzig, August 27
        Danzig is now a vast fortified camp .......................  325
        
270  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, August 27
        The French Government assures the Belgian Government that it 
        will respect Belgium's neutrality in the event of a war. 
        Only if Belgian neutrality were not respected by another 
        Power could France, in self-defence, be led to modify her 
        attitude ..................................................  325

271  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, August 27
        Our representatives abroad are informed of Herr Hitler's 
        refusal to be a party to  M. Daladier's proposal for a peace-
        ful settlement with Poland ................................  326

III

M. Daladier's Letter and Herr Hitler's Reply

(August 26-27)

No. 246

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                              Berlin, August 26, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 12.15 a.m.)

YESTERDAY Herr Hitler informed my British colleague that he was determined to remedy the weakness of his eastern frontier, due to the presence there of alien minorities. Sir Nevile Henderson asked him if, as in the Tyrol, he proposed to carry out an exchange of populations, but the Fhrer gave no definite answer.

My British colleague and I think that this is a most interesting idea and one which might make possible the reopening of conversations between Poland and Germany, and might even bring about an improvement in the relations between the two countries. We consider that this idea, which in principle at least harmonizes with the Fhrer's views, might be the object of an immediate proposal on the part of the Polish Government to the Government of the Reich.

This opinion is shared by my Polish colleague. At my suggestion, he will recommend it by telegram to his Government, which has already been informed of his conversation with the British Ambassador. I have pointed out to him that, at the present juncture, gaining time may be the decisive factor. It is not impossible that moderates in the National-Socialist party may find in the Russian pact fresh arguments to dissuade the Fhrer from going to war, by calling his attention to the unlimited economic possibilities of the Reich's collaboration with the Soviet.

Time presses, and a Polish approach should be made to Herr Hitler within 48 hours.

I take the liberty of impressing on the Department the importance of their instructing our Ambassador in Warsaw to give the above suggestion emphatic support.

                                                           COULONDRE. 

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No. 247

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                    Warsaw, August 26, 1939. 12.55 a.m.

(Received at 4.30 a.m.)

COUNT SZEMBECK has confirmed both to my British colleague and myself, the reply given me by M. Beck in the course of our conversation about Danzig late last night; the Polish Government fully appreciates the motives and the excellent grounds for our recommendations and will do all in its power to avoid confronting us with a fait accompli; it will consult with Great Britain and with ourselves before making any important decision; it will not reply to attacks on its rights in customs and transport matters except by suitable retaliatory measures of a non-military character; only in the event of a situation arising, in circumstances at present impossible to predict, which would be so serious that any delay would appear dangerous, does the Polish Government reserve the right to act immediately, having informed us, but without undertaking to consult us beforehand.

I replied to Count Szembeck that, in so far as this last part of his statement was concerned, I could only regard it as a reservation made with a view to some wholly unpredictable eventuality, and volunteered so to speak "to leave no doubts."

                                                           LON NEL.  

No. 248

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 26, 1939. 1.40 a.m.

(Received at 9.55 a.m.)

MY British colleague, who has already transmitted by telegram the overtures made by Herr Hitler to Britain, has left for England to explain them verbally and recommend them for consideration.

These proposals are in actual fact characterized by important new features (handing over of colonies other than those formerly German; transfer of populations to eliminate minority disputes; partial disarmament). In my opinion, it is important to avoid two dangers revealed by the Czech experiences.

The first of these would be for us to be content, after a settlement

[308]

of the German demands on Poland, with vague undertakings and hypothetical promises in further matters. In this respect, it is enough to recall the collective guarantee to Czechoslovakia.

The second would be to lend ourselves to a maneuver to break up the Allied Front. No pressure of a kind calculated to demoralize Poland should be contemplated. Danzig is only the point of least resistance by which the Reich is trying to penetrate into that country. As M. Lipski said to me yesterday: "What the Germans want is to be able to lay hands on Poland, and one day have the Polish Army at their disposal."

Finally, no negotiation should be entered upon, and this is an essential preliminary condition, before all threat of force has been withdrawn.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

No. 249

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw.  
                                      Paris, August 26, 1939. 2.20 a.m. 

As suggested by M. Coulondre and M. Lipski, you should give emphatic support to the proposals to the Polish Government made in the telegram from our Ambassador in Berlin, which I transmit herewith.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET.

No. 250

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 26, 1939. 11.4 a.m.

(Received at 2.15 p.m.)

OFFICIAL German circles take strong exception to the message of the President of the United States. They profess to be unable to understand the reasons which prompted Mr. Roosevelt to launch this appeal. They maintain that the Reich, by signing a whole series of non-aggression pacts, of which the Russo-German Pact is the latest, has already responded by deeds to the manifesto of April 14. It is to the democratic countries, which encourage Polish intransigence, and not to Germany that Mr. Roosevelt ought to address himself. The Reich will never entrust to international procedure the care of protecting Germans and of defending its vital interests.

[309]

The President's proposals are no longer even mentioned in this morning's Press.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

No. 251

M. DE DAMPIERRE, French Minister in Ottawa,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                        Ottawa, August 26, 1939. 12 a.m. 

(Received at 10 p.m.)

THIS morning the Prime Minister addressed an appeal, through the German, Italian and Polish Consuls at Ottawa, to Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, as well as to the President of the Polish Republic. The messages intended for Warsaw and Berlin are couched in identical terms. The Havas Agency is telegraphing the full text of these documents.

The Governor-General has told me that he approves of this initiative and that it would have a considerable repercussion upon Canadian public opinion.

                                                           DAMPIERRE.  

No. 252

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 26, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 1 p.m.)

I HAVE just seen M. Arciszewski and put before him the plan suggested by M. Coulondre, with a request to let Colonel Beck know of it immediately, as Colonel Beck could not see me before twelve.

M. Arciszewski showed himself personally favourable to this suggestion, of which he understood the importance and advantages. Apart from the arguments set forth by M. Coulondre, I also stressed the following considerations: a Polish initiative in the sense indicated would bring the problem into the field of nationality questions, and consequently tend to safeguard the territorial status quo. The Chancellor could not reject it without serious drawbacks from his own point of view. Moreover, Italy, because of the precedent of the Tyrol, would probably take an interest in this solution.

                                                           LON NEL.  

[310]

No. 253

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin.  
                                      Paris, August 26, 1939. 2.50 p.m.

IN reply to the message which, at the end of your interview of the 25th August, Herr Hitler asked you to convey to M. Daladier, please deliver urgently to the Chancellor on behalf of the President of the Council of Ministers the personal letter which follows:

Your Excellency,

The French Ambassador in Berlin has sent me your personal message.

Faced as we are, as you remind me, with the gravest responsibility that can ever be assumed by two heads of government, that of allowing the blood of two great peoples to be shed, when they desire nothing but peace and work, I owe it to you, I owe it to our two peoples to say that the fate of peace still rests solely in your hands.

You cannot doubt my sentiments towards Germany, nor France's pacific dispositions towards your nation. No Frenchman has ever done more than I have to strengthen between our two peoples not merely peace, but a sincere cooperation in their own interest as well as in that of Europe and the whole world.

Unless you attribute to the French people a conception of national honour less high than that which I myself recognize in the German people, you cannot doubt either that France will be true to her solemn promises to other nations, such as Poland, which, I am perfectly sure, wants also to live in peace with Germany.

These two facts are easily reconciled. There is nothing today which need prevent any longer the pacific solution of the international crisis with honour and dignity for all peoples, if the will for peace exists equally on all sides.

I can vouch not only for the good will of France, but also for that of all her allies. I can personally guarantee the readiness which Poland has always shown to have recourse to methods of free conciliation, such as may be envisaged between the Governments of two sovereign nations. In all sincerity I can assure you that there is not one of the grievances invoked by Germany against Poland in connection with the Danzig question which might not be submitted to decision by such methods with a view to a friendly and equitable settlement.

I can also pledge my honour that there is nothing in the clear and

[311]

sincere solidarity of France with Poland and her allies which could modify in any manner whatsoever the peaceful inclinations of my country. This solidarity has never prevented us, and does not prevent us today, from helping to maintain Poland in her pacific inclinations.

In so serious an hour I sincerely believe that no man endowed with human feelings could understand that a war of destruction should be allowed to break out without a last attempt at a pacific adjustment between Germany and Poland. Your will for peace may be exercised in all confidence in this direction without the slightest derogation from your sense of German honour. As for myself, the head of the Government of France, a country which, like yours, only desires harmony between the French people and the German people, and which, on the other hand, is united to Poland by bonds of friendship and by the pledged word, I am ready to make all the efforts that an honest man can make in order to ensure the success of this attempt.

Like myself, you were a soldier in the last war. You realize, as I do, how a people's memory retains a horror for war and its disasters, whatever may be its result. My conception of your eminent rise as leader of the German people, to guide them along the paths of peace towards the full accomplishment of their mission in the common work of civilization, prompts me to ask you for a reply to this proposal. If the blood of France and that of Germany flow again, as they did twenty-five years ago, each of the two peoples will fight with confidence in its own victory, but the most certain victors will be the forces of destruction and barbarism.

                                                      EDOUARD DALADIER.
                                                      GEORGES BONNET.

No. 254

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw.  
                                      Paris, August 26, 1939. 3.45 p.m. 

THE following instructions have been sent by the Foreign Office to your British colleague:

During any conversations that may be opened between the German Government and the Polish Government upon the questions at issue between the two countries, and in order to prevent the Government of the Reich from seizing the pretext of alleged ill-treatment inflicted on the German minorities in Poland to break off such conversations,

[312]

it is suggested that the Government of Warsaw should provide for the appointment in those regions of neutral observers, offering every guarantee of impartiality.

You should let the Polish Government know that you are in agreement with the dmarche that your English colleague is to make to this effect.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET.

No. 255

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 26, 1939. 4.45 p.m.  

(Received 7.20 p.m.)

ACCORDING to a telegram from M. Lipski, the Chancellor yesterday reported to our Ambassador the murder of 24 Germans near Lodz and of eight others near Bielsko.

M. Arciszewski informs me, and I have no reason for doubting his statement, that these two allegations are totally groundless.

                                                           LON NEL.  

No. 256

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Berlin, August 26, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 4.45 p.m.)

THIS afternoon's papers announce in huge headlines the "Polish attack in Danzig territory," in the course of which two Germans, a S.S. and a S.A. are supposed to have been killed. "A new and tragic violation of the frontier near Danzig" is the heavy-type headline spread across its whole front page by the Brsenzeitung, which alleges in its leading article that news is coming in hour by hour proving that troops are taking up position with a view to attack.

"England is responsible" is another headline in this same journal, repeating the words of Herr Rudolf Hess, at the opening of the 7th Congress of Germans Abroad, yesterday evening.

Apart from these fresh incidents alleged to have occurred in Danzig territory, the Press sums up and develops the accusations against Poland which were analyzed this morning.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

[313]

No. 257

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      London, August 26, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 8.46 p m.)

LORD HALIFAX, to whom I communicated the substance of the telegrams in which M. Coulondre described his interview with the Chancellor, observed that this conversation corresponded in the main with that between the British Ambassador and Herr Hitler on the same day. The latter reaffirmed his respect for the British Empire and his desire to establish permanent bonds of friendship with Great Britain.

He added that he had no objection against the close relations uniting England and France, and that he had no quarrel with the latter over the western frontier. Herr Hitler, after specifying that the Polish question must be settled as a preliminary, mentioned the possibility of broaching the problem of disarmament if a general settlement could be arrived at.

He also alluded to the colonial problem, but in terms devoid of a provocative character.

In all references to the settlement of the difficulties of the Reich with Poland, he never stated clearly the manner in which he thinks that they could be solved. The language he used may mean either that he feels it to be simply a question of solving the problem of Danzig and the Corridor, or that he contemplates more far-reaching changes.

Herr Hitler insisted that he did not wish to raise questions in too narrow or absolute a manner, nor would he ask the British Government to default on their pledges.

What he wanted was that the British Government should make a gesture that would induce Poland to be amenable to reason. During the whole interview the Chancellor had, as usual, an appearance of complete sincerity and deep conviction. Taking note of these various indications, Sir Nevile Henderson interpreted Herr Hitler's advice to him to visit London as a sign of the latter's good will. He even believed that the postponement of the Tannenberg ceremony indicated that the Fhrer would allow a certain delay in the carrying out of his plans and would at least wait for the replies from Paris and from London.

Lord Halifax, together with his colleagues of the inner Cabinet, listened to the Ambassador's account, and is now preparing a reply to

[314]

Herr Hitler. In its general lines, the document will first proclaim the British Government's faith in the possibility of continuing the negotiations with a view to avoiding a conflict. It will emphasize that the Chancellor's declarations do not, however, throw any light on the manner in which he envisages the settlement of his difficulties with Poland.

The British Government would regard it as dishonourable to fail in its obligations. It could not, therefore, stand aside and take no interest in the solutions which might be contemplated for the present dispute.

The importance of preventing any fresh violence at the expense of the German minority, in order to facilitate direct negotiations between Berlin and Warsaw, is fully recognized in London. The British Government would therefore be pleased to see this subject discussed. But they realize that these conversations will have no chance of success unless:

(1) Herr Hitler shows a sincere intention to take into consideration the vital interests and the economic rights of Poland;

(2) The settlement envisaged is made subject to certain international guarantees.

The document containing the British Government's answer would add that a general discussion, if it should be opened, could not have a better preface than a pacific settlement of the German-Polish quarrel.

In conclusion, Lord Halifax told me that this document, when drawn up and approved by the Cabinet, will be forwarded to the French Government.

I took it upon myself to assure him that our reply would be likewise communicated to the British Government.

                                                           CORBIN.  

No. 258

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 26, 1939. 9.5 p.m. 

(Received 11.75 p.m.)

COLONEL BECK has just informed me, through Count Szembeck, that the Polish Government were inclined to adopt our suggestion. However, for fear that Herr Hitler should misunderstand their intentions, they do not desire to take the initiative.

M. Lipski is being asked to find an intermediary who might in-

[315]

troduce the question. Count Szembeck thinks that certain neutral colleagues, or even persons in Field-Marshal Goering's circle, would accept this mission. Generally speaking as soon as the initiative in this sense is taken by somebody, the Polish Government will reply in the affirmative.

It would be advisable for M. Coulondre to get into touch on this matter with M. Lipski as soon as possible.

                                                           LON NEL.  

No. 259

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      London, August 26, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 10 p.m.)

AccoRDiNG to what Sir Nevile Henderson said this afternoon to a member of Lord Halifax's staff, the question of the exchange of populations had been the subject of only one very vague allusion in the course of yesterday's conversations with Herr Hitler, and it had arisen in the following way.

During the interview the Fhrer spoke at one point of "Macedonian conditions" which complicated the racial problems on the German-Polish frontier.

The British Ambassador then remarked that this situation is the more to be deplored as national sentiments were today so strong that one could understand the exchanges of population which certain countries had carried out.

Moreover, this remark, which could not, properly speaking, be considered as a suggestion, was not taken up by the German Chancellor.

                                                           CORBIN.  

No. 260

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      London, August 26, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 10 p.m.)

I iNviTE reference to M. Coulondre's telegram, which was communicated to me this morning.

In his telegraphic report of his conversation yesterday with Herr Hitler, the British Ambassador in Berlin did not mention the possibility

[316]

of the Fhrer reverting to the programme he had laid down last April, which was limited to the question of Danzig and to that of a motor road across the Corridor.

Sir Nevile Henderson, in his communication to the Foreign Office, definitely said that no allusion to the proposals of last April was made yesterday by Herr Hitler in the course of their interview.

                                                           CORBIN.  

No. 261

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Berlin, August 27, 1939. 12.15 a.m.

(Received at 430 a.m.)

I REGRET to have to report to Your Excellency that the proposal of Prime Minister Daladier has not been taken up by Chancellor Hitler. For forty minutes I commented upon the President's moving letter. I said everything that my heart as a man and a Frenchman could prompt to induce the Chancellor to agree to a supreme effort for a pacific settlement of the question of Danzig. I conjured him, in the name of history and for the sake of humanity, not to thrust aside this last chance. For the peace of his conscience, I begged him, who had built an empire without shedding blood, not to shed it now, not to shed the blood of soldiers nor that of women and children, without being absolutely certain that this could not be avoided. I confronted him with the terrible responsibilities that he would assume towards western civilization. I told him that his prestige is great enough outside Germany to remain undiminished even after a gesture of appeasement, the men who feared him would perhaps be astonished, but would admire him, mothers would bless him. Perhaps I moved him; but I did not prevail. His mind was made up.

Herr Hitler, after reading the Prime Minister's letter and paying tribute to the noble thoughts it expressed, told me that ever since Poland had had the English guarantee, it had become vain to seek to lead her to a sound comprehension of the situation. Poland's mind was set in morbid resistance. Poland knew that she was committing suicide, but was doing so telling herself that, thanks to the support of France and England, she would rise once more.

Besides, he added, things have now gone too far. No country having any regard for its honour could tolerate the Polish provocations. France,

[317]

in Germany's place, would have already gone to war. No doubt there were some reasonable men in Warsaw, but the soldiery of that barbarous country had now broken loose. The central Government no longer had the situation in hand.

I laid stress on the importance of the French proposal: not only did M. Daladier undertake that Poland would agree to seek a solution by free conciliation, but he bound himself, with all the authority vested in his person, to work for the success of an attempt at pacific settlement.

Herr Hitler replied that he did not doubt the sentiments of M. Daladier and his sincere desire to save peace, but he thought that the advice of the Prime Minister to Warsaw, however pressing it might be, would not be listened to, for Poland was deaf since she had the British guarantee. Moreover, if Poland showed any willingness to talk matters over, it would, doubtless, be in order to gain time for her mobilization.

I returned many times to my point. I pointed out that Poland and Germany had not talked to one another for a long time, that in the course of the crisis the points of view might perhaps have drawn closer, that at any rate it was impossible to find this out unless conversations took place, and that both sides might refrain from taking any military measures while contacts were made.

"It is useless," Herr Hitler replied to me. "Poland would not give up Danzig; and it is my will that Danzig, as one of the ports of the Reich, should return to Germany."

In face of the impossibility of breaking down Herr Hitler's resistance, and after having invoked the arguments of sentiment reported at the beginning of this telegram, I thought I ought to leave the door ajar by expressing the hope that the Fhrer had not said his last word.

As I was taking leave, Herr Hitler announced to me that he would reply in writing to M. Daladier's proposal.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

No. 262

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                                Berlin, August 27, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 9.35 a m.)

HAVE arranged with Herr Hitler that no publicity should be

[318]

given until further notice to the letter from M. Daladier, and to the imminent reply from the Fhrer. I must beg that all the competent services should receive the strictest instructions to this effect.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

No. 263

M. CouloNDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                               Berlin, August 27, 1939. 

(Received by telephone at 1.20 p.m.)

THE dmarche made by me yesterday had to be made. No doubt no immediate result can be expected from it, first because apparently we have not yet reached the climax of the trial of strength; then because Herr Hitler had to wait to learn the reception accorded by London to his overtures before taking up his position. It may nevertheless have had some psychological effect, at once, by confirming Herr Hitler in the belief that we are ready to fight, by making him face his responsibility and by showing him that we remain in favour of a solution honourable for both parties.

It is not to be ruled out that this dmarche may bear fruit at the moment when Herr Hitler must make his choice between peace and war.

We cannot, however, in my opinion, expect a happy result from it unless we are careful not to give the impression that we are on the watch for every possible compromise, whatever the cost may be. I know full well that this is not in the minds of the French and British Governments. I have simply emphasized the importance of making appearances correspond with the facts to the very end.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

No. 264

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 27, 1939, 3.20 p.m.

(Received at 5.31 p.m.)

COLONEL BECK finds that, in spite of fresh incidents, the aggressiveness of the Germans on the Polish frontiers has rather diminished

[319]

during the last twenty-four hours. He told me that it was his impression that the Chancellor had not yet decided to make war.

                                                           LON NEL.  

No. 265

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, august 27, 1939, 3.20 p.m.

(Received at 5 p.m.)

THE Polish Press report fresh German acts of aggression, pointing out that they are increasing in number on the most different points of the frontier.

Two of these incidents on the frontier of Eastern Prussia led to casualties. In the district of Mlawa, two Polish frontier guards were killed by German soldiers firing from German territory. Not far from there, near Dzialdowo, a column of German artillery having entered Polish territory, one of the gunners was killed.

Eight other less serious incidents are reported from Pomerania, in the district of Czestochowa and in Silesia. On the Slovak frontier an attack was made on a Polish post with machine-gun fire.

According to the papers, German aeroplanes have again flown over Polish territory and the prohibited zone of Hel.

                                                           LON NEL.  

No. 266

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                               Berlin, August 27, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 530 p.m.)

HERR VON RIBBENTROP communicated to me today a copy of Herr Hitler's reply to M. Daladier. This reply is of a negative character.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, after having read this document, stated to me: "I must add to the Fhrer's letter that since yesterday the situation has become still more acute. The Polish Government is no longer master in its own country. This may perhaps be as well, as otherwise we should have to hold it responsible for the provocations directed against us. But I must warn you that we shall strike at the first incident."

                                                           COULONDRE.  

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No. 267

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                                Berlin, August 27, 1939.

HERR VON WEIZSCKER has handed me, and I have the honour to forward to you herewith the original of Chancellor Hitler's reply to the personal letter from M. Daladier.

I attach two copies of the translation of that document.

A duplicate copy of Herr Hitler's message must have been handed to you by the German Embassy in Paris.

I dispatch the present communication by a special messenger.

                                                           COULONDRE.  

Personal

To His Excellency, M. DALADIER, President of the Council of Ministers of France, at Paris.

MY DEAR PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL,

I can understand the thoughts that you have expressed. Nor have I, for my part, ever minimized the high duties devolving on those on whom the fate of peoples rests. As an ax-Serviceman I am as aware as you are of the frightfulness of war. Owing to this outlook and to this experience, I have likewise made sincere efforts to eliminate all cause of conflict between our two peoples. Some time ago I gave a public assurance to the French people that the return of the Saar territory was the preliminary condition of such an appeasement. As soon as this return had been effected I solemnly confirmed my renunciation of any other claim that might affect France.

The German people has approved my attitude.

As you were able to ascertain on the occasion of our last meeting, the German people, fully conscious of their own attitude, did not and do not harbour any kind of bitterness or of hatred towards their old and gallant opponent. Quite the contrary. The appeasement on our Western Frontier engendered a growing sympathy, at least on the part of the German people, a sympathy which on numerous occasions showed itself particularly demonstrative. The building of great fortifications in the West, which has absorbed and absorbs many millions of marks, amounts at the same time for Germany to an official act of acceptance and fixation of the final frontier of the Reich. The German people has consequently renounced the two provinces which

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belonged in the past to the German Empire, and were conquered afresh with much blood and defended a last time with yet more blood. This renunciation does not represent, as your Excellency will certainly agree, any tactical attitude for external consumption, but a decision which was strictly confirmed by all the measures that we have taken.

You could not, Mr. Prime Minister, mention one instance in which, either by a line or a speech, I have ever acted contrary to this final fixation of the Western frontier of the German Reich. By this renunciation and this attitude, I thought to have eliminated every conceivable element of conflict between our two peoples, which might lead to a repetition of the tragedy of 1914-1918. But this voluntary limitation of the vital aspirations of Germany on the West cannot be considered as an acceptance, valid in all other spheres, of the Diktat of Versailles. I therefore year by year sought to obtain, by means of negotiation, the revision of at least the most incredible and most intolerable clauses of this Dikat. I found this impossible. That this revision ought to take place many far-seeing people in all countries considered to be obvious. Whatever reproaches might be leveled at my methods, however much you might feel obliged to oppose them, no one has the right to overlook or to deny that, thanks to them, it has been possible, in numerous cases, without fresh shedding of blood, not only to find a solution satisfactory for Germany, but also that, by such methods, the statesmen of other nations have been freed from the obligation (which it was often impossible for them to fulfill) of assuming before their own peoples the responsibility for this revision. For, in any case, it is a point upon which your Excellency will agree with me: the revision was inevitable. The Dikat of Versailles was intolerable. No Frenchman of honour, you least of all, M. Daladier, would have acted, in a similar situation, differently from me. I have, therefore, in this spirit, endeavoured to wipe out from the world the most unreasonable of the provisions of the Dikat of Versailles. I made to the Polish Government a proposal which alarmed the German people. No one but I myself could have attempted to bring such a proposal to the light of day. And therefore it could be made only once. I am now convinced, in my innermost conscience, that if England in particular, instead of launching a savage Press campaign against Germany, and of spreading rumours of German mobilization, had by one means or another induced Poland to show herself reasonable, Europe would be enjoying today and for twenty-five years the profoundest peace. But on the contrary, through the mendacious allegation of German aggression,

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Polish public opinion was alarmed, it became more difficult for the Polish Government to take of their own accord the clear-cut decisions required, and above all their appreciation of the actual limits of what was possible was thereby obscured when we made our offer of a promise of guarantee. The Polish Government rejected my proposals. Polish public opinion, convinced that England and France would henceforth fight for Poland, then started to advance demands which could be treated as ludicrous follies if they were not infinitely dangerous as well. Then began an intolerable reign of terror, a physical and economic oppression of the million and a half Germans still to be numbered in the territories separated from the Reich. I do not want to speak here of the horrors that have been perpetrated. But Danzig itself, following the incessant encroachments of the Polish authorities, has become increasingly aware of being subjected, with no hope of redemption, to the arbitrary exactions of a force alien to the national character of the city and of its population.

May I be allowed, M. Daladier, to inquire how you would act, as a Frenchman, if, as the unhappy result of a courageous struggle, one of your provinces was separated by a corridor occupied by a foreign Power; if a great city-let us say Marseilles-were forcibly prevented from proclaiming itself French, and if Frenchmen residing in this territory were at the present moment beset, beaten, maltreated, nay bestially done to death? You are a Frenchman, M. Daladier; I know therefore how you would act. I am a German. Have no doubt, M. Daladier, as to my feeling of honour and as to my conviction that it is my duty to act precisely thus. If you suffered what we are suffering, would you accept, M. Daladier, that Germany should want to intervene without any motive so that the corridor should continue to cut across France?-so as to prevent the return of the stolen territories to the mother country?-so as to prohibit the return of Marseilles to France? In any case, the idea would never occur to me, M. Daladier, that Germany should embark on a struggle with you for this reason. For I and all of us have renounced Alsace-Lorraine to avoid a fresh shedding of blood. And still less should we shed blood in order to maintain a state of affairs which would be intolerable for you and which would be of no value to us. All that you express in your letter, M. Daladier, I feel exactly as you do. Perhaps, just because we are ax-Servicemen, we are able to understand each other more easily in many spheres. But I beg of you, do understand this equally well; it is not possible for a nation of honour to give up nearly two millions

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of human beings and to see them ill-treated on its frontiers. I have therefore formulated a precise demand; Danzig and the Corridor must return to Germany. The Macedonian situation must be liquidated on our eastern frontier. I do not see the possibility of bringing to a pacific solution a Poland who now feels herself inviolable under the protection of her guarantees. But I should despair of an honourable future for my people if, under such circumstances, we had not decided to settle the question in one way or another. If, consequently, fate compels our two peoples to fight afresh, there would nevertheless be a difference between the motives of the one and the others. I, M. Daladier, should then be fighting with my people for the reparation of an injustice which was inflicted upon us, while the others would fight for maintenance of that injustice. This is the more tragic, since many of the most important personalities of your own nation have recognized the insanity of the solution of 1919, as well as the impossibility of its indefinite prolongation. I perfectly realize the heavy consequences which such a conflict would involve. But I believe that the heaviest would fall on Poland, for it is a fact that, whatever the issue of a war born of this question, the Polish State of today would be lost anyhow. That for this result our two peoples must engage in a new and bloody war of extermination, is a matter of the deepest sorrow not only for you, M. Daladier, but also for me. But, as already indicated, I fail to see any possibility for us to obtain any result from Poland by reasonable means so as to redress a situation which is intolerable for the German people and for the German nation.

                                                           ADOLF HITLER.  

No. 268

M. LON NEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Warsaw, August 27, 1939. 8.40 p.m.

(Received at 10.25 p.m.)

THE arrival at the Polish Frontiers of a new German division in the north-west and of a second division of reserves in Eastern Prussia is reported.

The German troops in Slovakia are advancing westward and have reached Poprad.

The latest information gathered by the Polish authorities confirms that the German mobilization appears to be general.

                                                           LON NEL.  

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No. 269

M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                      Danzig, August 27, 1939. 10 p.m.

(Received August 28, at 1.15 a.m.)

THE population of the districts adjoining the Polish frontier has been evacuated. Only military vehicles are circulating in Danzig, where life is that of an entrenched camp. Defence arrangements appear to be complete.

All Polish stocks, notably 3,000 tons of wheat, 2,500 tons of petrol, and 1,000 tons of salt, have been confiscated by the Senate.

                                                           LA TOURNELLE.  

No. 270

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. BARGETON, French Ambassador in Brussels.  
                                      Paris, August 27, 1939. 10.30 p.m. 

PLEASE request the King of the Belgians to grant you an audience, and hand him the following communication on behalf of the Government of the Republic:

"The Government of the Republic have neglected nothing that might contribute to the maintenance of peace. If their efforts should fail, the French Government know that the Belgian Government would act in exact conformity with their international obligations.

"In the event of Belgium adopting an attitude of neutrality, the French Government would, of course, as in 1914, fully respect this neutrality. Only in the event of Belgian neutrality not being respected by another Power might France be led to modify her attitude in order to secure her own defence.

"The binding promises of assistance given by the French Government to Belgium, as expressly stated in their communication to the Belgian Government of August 24, 1937, as a matter of course, retain their full value."

                                                         GEORGES BONNET.  

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No. 271

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to the French Ambassadors in London, Warsaw, Washington, Istanbul, 
     and Bucharest.  
                                         Paris, August 27, 1939. 11 p.m.

ON the evening of August 26 the Chancellor of the Reich declared verbally to our Ambassador in Berlin that he could not accept M. Daladier's suggestion to agree to a supreme attempt at a pacific settlement with Poland.

GEORGES BONNET.


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