The Franco-British démarche in Berlin, and the Entry into War
(September 1-3)
336  M. CORBIN-London, September 1
        The so-called German proposals to Poland were not officially
        communicated to the British Government; Herr von Ribbentrop 
        had only read them hurriedly to Sir Nevile Henderson, and 
        refused to let him have the text ..........................  372

337  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 1
        M. Coulondre is instructed to associate himself with Sir 
        Nevile Henderson's approach to the German Government ......  372

338  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 1
        The French Ambassador in Warsaw is instructed to ask the 
        Polish Government if it would agree to take part in the 
        conference proposed by the Italian Government .............  373
339  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 1
        German Chargé d'Affairs in Warsaw has asked for his pass-
        ports .....................................................  373

340  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 1
        The Minister for Foreign Affairs informs all diplomatic
        representatives of the recent events which throw into relief 
        the aggressive character of German action against Poland ..  373

341  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 1
        Herr Hitler's speech to the Reichstag has been received with 
        only moderate enthusiasm; the population of Berlin appears 
        dismayed. The Führer has avoided using the word "war" .....  375

342  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 1
        The Slovak Minister in Warsaw has handed to the Polish Govern-
        ment, "in the name of the Slovak people," a letter protesting 
        against the German aggression .............................  375

343  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 1
        The Polish Government maintains that, since Poland is already 
        the victim of unprovoked aggression, it is now no longer a 
        question of calling a conference, but of what common action 
        should be taken by the Allies to resist it ................  376
344  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 1
        At 10 p.m., following immediately on the British Ambassador, 
        the French Ambassador in Berlin carries out the démarche he 
        had been instructed to make. Herr von Ribbentrop replies to 
        him that there has been no German aggression against Poland, 
        but that it is the latter country which has attacked Germany 376

345  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 1
        Text of the communication handed by  M. Coulondre to Herr 
        von Ribbentrop ............................................  377
346  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 1
        French Government thanks the Sovereign Pontiff for his 
        message ...................................................  378

347 Paris, September 1
        A Havas telegram, communicated to the Press on the night of 
        September 1-2, announces that the French Government, ap-
        proached on August 31 by the Italian Government with a 
        suggestion for a settlement of outstanding European difficul-
        ties, gave the Italian Government a favourable reply ......  378  

348  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 2
        Germany, to throw the responsibility for these events on to 
        Poland, denies the truth of the Polish Government's statement 
        that it was never informed of the proposals which it is ac-
        cused of having rejected. In support of this thesis, Germany 
        puts forward two facts: 1, on the night of August 30-31 Herr 
        von Ribbentrop is stated to have read the text of the German 
        proposals to Sir Nevile Henderson and commented on them at 
        length; 2, on the evening of August 31 the Polish wireless, 
        it is maintained, declared these proposals unacceptable. The 
        truth of the matter is different: Herr von Ribbentrop read 
        the German propositions very hurriedly to the British Ambas-
        sador and refused to let him have the text; 2, if the Polish 
        wireless did make the declaration it is said to have made, 
        this could only have referred to the drastic demands made by 
        Herr Hitler on August 29. The Polish Government was never
        informed of the proposals broadcast on August 31 at 9 p.m.; 
        nor were they made known even to the British and French Ambas-
        sadors until after they had been broadcast. Herr von Ribben-
        trop, after keeping the Polish Ambassador waiting until 7.45 
        p.m., did not breathe a word to him about them ............  378

349  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 2
        The German Air Force is causing many casualties among the 
        Polish civilian population ................................  380

350  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 2
        Herr Hitler, following President Roosevelt's appeal, has 
        informed Poland that aerial bombardment will be confined to 
        military objectives, the Polish Government has replied that 
        it has given identical orders, although German bombardments 
        have already caused many casualties among the civilian pop-
        ulation ...................................................  381

351  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 2
        Violent fighting in Poland on land and in the air .........  381  

352  M. FRANÇOIS-PONCET-Rome, September 2
        The Italian Government, in spite of fresh difficulties, would 
        still be prepared to intervene again on the lines of its 
        original proposal for the calling of a conference .........  381

353  M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, September 2
        German aircraft continues to cause casualties among the 
        civilian population .......................................  382
354  M. CORBIN-London, September 2
        The British Government considers that the existing situation 
        cannot be allowed to continue, and is of the opinion that 
        there can be no question of entering into any negotiations 
        before Polish territory has been evacuated by German troops  382

        Paris September 2
        Message from the President of the Republic to Parliament ..  383

        Declaration read to the Chamber of Deputies by  M. Daladier, 
        President of the Council of Ministers, and to the Senate by  
        M. Chautemps, Vice President of the Council of Ministers ..  384

357  M. CORBIN-London, September 2
        The forceful attitude of Mr. Chamberlain's Cabinet corres-
        ponds with the unanimous feelings of Parliament and of the 
        entire British nation .....................................  392

358  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 2
        The Polish Ambassador in Berlin has now left Germany ......  393

359  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 2 
        At 1.30 p.m. neither the French nor the British Ambassador 
        has received a reply from the German Government ...........  394

360  M. FRANÇOIS-PONCET-Rome, September 2
        At 2 p.m. Count Ciano reports to the French Ambassador in 
        Rome that he has had Herr Hitler informed this morning of 
        the Italian proposal for conference. The Führer has not re-
        jected this suggestion out of hand, but he would like to 
        know if the French and British notes of September 1 were to 
        be characterised as an ultimatum, leaving him until midday 
        on 1 September 3 to reply. Count Ciano then telephoned per-
        sonally to  M. Georges Bonnet, then to Lord Halifax, to 
        inform them of Herr Hitler's questions. Both replied that 
        the notes had not the character of an ultimatum, and that, 
        with regard to the time limit, they would have to consult 
        their respective Governments. Lord Halifax having added that, 
        in his opinion, the evacuation of Polish territory by German
        troops was in any case necessary, Count Ciano observes that, 
        in his opinion, there is little chance of obtaining this ..  394

361  M. CORBIN-London, September 2
        The Polish Ambassador in London informs the British Govern-
        ment of the progress of the German offensive, and insists 
        upon the immediate entry into force of the British guaran-
        tee .......................................................  395
362  M. CORBIN-London, September 2
        Speeches by Lord Halifax in the House of Lords and by Mr. 
        Chamberlain in the House of Commons .......................  395  

363  M. FRANÇOIS-PONCET-Rome, September 2
        Count Ciano informs the French Ambassador in Rome that he 
        does not consider himself in a position, in conformity with 
        the wish expressed by Lord Halifax, to ask the German Govern-
        ment to withdraw its troops from Poland,  M. Daladier's 
        speech to the Chamber of Deputies, moreover, reveals that 
        the French Government's attitude is identical with that of 
        the British Government. Consequently, Count Ciano telegraphs 
        to the Italian Ambassador in Berlin that unless the German 
        Government is of a different opinion, the Italian Government 
        does not think it should follow up the suggestion which it 
        had previously made .......................................  398

364  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 2
        At midnight the Minister for Foreign Affairs instructs the 
        French Ambassador in Berlin that the following day, September 
        3, at midday, he should make a further approach to the German 
        Government ................................................  398  

365  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 3
        M. Coulondre is requested to go at midday to the Wilhelm-
        strasse and ask for the German Government's reply to the com-
        munication addressed to it on September 1. If this reply is 
        in the negative the French Ambassador is to give notice that 
        his country finds itself in consequence under the obligation 
        of fulfilling its engagements towards Poland as from Septem-
        ber 3 at 5 p.m.............................................  399

366  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 3
        M. Coulondre reports that he has carried out these instruc-
        tions .....................................................  399

367  M. COULONDRE-Berlin, September 3
        M. Coulondre states that the German Government's reply is 
        in the negative ...........................................  400
368  M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, September 3
        The Minister for Foreign Affairs, in accordance with The 
        Hague Convention of October 18, 1907, notifies all Diploma-
        tic Missions accredited to Paris that a state of war exists 
        between France and Germany ................................  401  

        The two Governments of France and the United Kingdom affirm 
        their common intention of waging war humanely and observing 
        international undertakings, limiting the use of, or prohi-
        biting certain weapons; they reserve their liberty of action 
        in the event of their adversary not observing these under-
        takings ...................................................  402

370  M. DALADIER-Paris, September 3
        Text of the President of the Council of Ministers' appeal 
        to the French nation ......................................  403


Franco-British Démarche in Berlin and the Entry into War

(September 1-3)

No. 336

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                              London, September 1, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 535 p.m.)

THE British Government, in a statement issued to the Press last night, was at pains to emphasize the fact that the German proposals to Poland, broadcast one hour previously, came as a surprise and that these had never been officially communicated to them. The proposals had been hurriedly read over once only to Sir Nevile Henderson on the previous night.

It is a fact that when the British Ambassador asked Herr von Ribbentrop to let him have the text of what had just been read over to him, he met with a refusal.

The German Secretary of State put the paper in question back into his pocket. I should like to draw the Government's attention to this action, in view of the fact that the German Government has endeavoured to compromise the British Government by affirming that it had definitely exercised a mediatory function.


No. 337

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. CouloNDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin.  
                                     Paris, September 1, 1939. 5.55 p.m.

THE following is in confirmation of my telephone call:

The British Government have instructed your colleague to present


to the German Government an urgent communication of which Sir Nevile Henderson will himself inform you. You should associate yourself with this step.

You should confine yourself, if a reply is given, to stating that you will refer the matter to your Government.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET. 

No. 338

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw.  
                                     Paris, September 1, 1939. 6.25 p.m.

As I have already informed you by telephone, the Italian Government has offered to call an international conference in which France, Great Britain, Poland, Germany and Italy would take part.

Please let me know (at your very earliest convenience) whether this proposal would find acceptance with the Warsaw Government.

It should be understood that the object of such a conference would be, the settlement of all the questions involved in the construction of a lasting peace and would not apply merely to the current dispute.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET. 

No. 339

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                    Warsaw, September 1, 1939. 6.50 p.m.

(Received on September 2 at 330 a m.)

THE Reich's Chargé d'Affaires has just asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his passports.

                                                              LÉON NÖEL. 

No. 340

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to all Diplomatic Representatives.  
                                        Paris, September 1, 1939. 7 p.m. 

I AM now to give you the following details relative to the events of the last thirty-six hours, which reveal the responsibility of the Reich in the acts of aggression which have been committed against Poland.


The British Government having obtained the assent of the German Government to the opening of direct negotiations with Poland, the French and British Ambassadors in Warsaw called during the night of August 30-31 and in the morning of August 31 upon M. Beck, with a view to obtaining his consent to fall in with this procedure.

At noon on September 31 M. Beck gave notice of his acceptance and indicated that he had instructed his Ambassador in Berlin to request an audience at the Wilhelmstrasse in order to state that the Polish Government gave a reply in the affirmative to the British Memorandum.

At 2 p.m. M. Lipski asked to be received by Herr von Ribbentrop.

At 3 p.m. Herr von Weizsäcker asked him by telephone whether it was in the capacity of a plenipotentiary or an Ambassador that he had a communication to make. M. Lipski explained that he was acting as Ambassador, and Herr von Weizsäcker informed him that he would report the matter to Herr von Ribbentrop.

At 7.45 p.m., the Polish Ambassador delivered to the Foreign Minister of the Reich the communication with which his Government had entrusted him. Herr von Ribbentrop did not inform him of the German proposals.

At 8.30 p.m. the German radio announced that an important communication would be made at 9 p.m.

This broadcast dealt with the German proposals, of which the British Government was alleged to have been informed (this is untrue-see the official bulletin on the subject which appeared in the Press of September 1) and which the Reich Government regarded as having been refused by the Polish Government, the latter not having sent a plenipotentiary within the period fixed by the Reich.

At about 10.30 p.m. the German radio announced a Polish raid on the broadcasting station at Gleiwitz.

On September 1, at 4 a.m., it broadcast a proclamation by the Chancellor of the Reich, stating that Germany would henceforth meet force with force.

Towards 7 a.m. it announced that the Anschluss of Danzig to the Reich had been proclaimed by Herr Forster.

At 830 a.m. a communication from M. LÉON NÖEL informed this Department that the German troops had, at 5 a.m., attacked on all the Polish frontiers without ultimatum or previous warning.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET.  


No. 341

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                              Berlin, September 1, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 7.45 p m.)

IT was noticed at this morning's session of the Reichstag that the Führer received the applause of the whole assembly only when he stated that he would fight like a soldier and that he would not wage war on women and children. Even then, enthusiasm was moderate. For the rest of the time, one half only of the deputies applauded the Führer. The praises bestowed upon M. Molotov found no echo. The atmosphere, generally speaking, was rather dull.

Among the people, although they still wish to cherish the illusion that this is merely a German-Polish conflict, today's events have produced nothing short of consternation.

It is to be noted, moreover, that the Führer has taken pains to represent the action of the German troops as a police operation rather than as the beginning of a campaign, and that he avoided the word "war."


No. 342

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                    Warsaw, September 1, 1939. 9.29 p.m. 

(Received on September 2, at 1.10 p.m.)

THIS afternoon M. Beck received the Slovak Minister, who authorized him to publish a letter in which M. Szathmary protests "in the name of the Slovak nation," now dominated by brute force and powerless, against the aggression directed by Germany against "Poland, a friendly nation."

                                                           LÉON NÖEL. 


No. 343

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                    Warsaw, September 1, 1939. 9.31 p.m.

(Received on September 2 at 3 p.m.)

M. BECK has just made the following reply to Your Excellency's communication:

"We are in the thick of war, as the result of unprovoked aggression. The question before us is not of a conference but that the common action which should be taken by the Allies to resist. I have heard nothing, moreover, from any quarter of the Italian plan."

M. Beck added that the air attacks had been unrelenting since the morning. There have been considerable numbers of civilian victims at Poznan and Lwow. German aircraft have again flown over Warsaw.

M. Beck has asked me to inform Your Excellency of these attacks in order to show the position in which Poland now finds herself. The people are indignant at the German aggression and its methods, but still remain calm and resolute.

The atmosphere is no longer one for conciliation.

                                                              LÉON NÖEL. 

No. 344

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                              Berlin, September 1, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 11 p.m.)

I TOOK the steps prescribed in Your Excellency's instructions in an interview with Herr von Ribbentrop at 10 p.m.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, after remarking that my communication was identical with that which had just been handed to him by my British colleague, replied as follows:

"There has not been, on the German side, any aggression against Poland. It is Poland that, for months, has resorted to continual provocation by stifling the economic life of Danzig, ill-treating minorities and incessantly violating the frontiers.

"The Führer has endured this provocation with the greatest patience, in the hope that Poland would again revert to reason. But the


very opposite has been the case. Poland, which has been mobilizing for months, decreed general mobilization last night. The Poles have made three attacks on German territory. In such circumstances there can be no question of German aggression.

"I am handing your communication to the Führer and will let you know his answer as soon as it reaches me."

In accordance with Your Excellency's instructions by telephone, I confined myself to telling Herr von Ribbentrop that I would report his answer to my Government.

My colleague and I had asked to be received together. Herr von Ribbentrop preferred to receive us separately.


No. 345

Text of the communication handed over on September 1, 1939, at 10 p.m. by M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to Herr von Ribbentrop


According to instructions from the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have the honour to submit the following statement:

Early this morning, the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German army which gave clear evidence that he was just about to attack Poland.

Information which has reached the French Government and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom goes to show that troops have crossed the Polish frontier and that attacks are now being made on Polish towns.

This being so, it would seem to the French and British Governments that by its action, (that is to say, an act of force of an aggressive character against Poland, threatening that country's independence), the German Government has brought about those conditions which call for the carrying out by the Governments of France and of the United Kingdom of their undertaking to Poland to come to her help.

As a consequence, I have to inform Your Excellency that, unless the German Government is prepared to give the French Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government has suspended all aggressive action against Poland and is ready promptly to withdraw its


forces from Polish territory, the French Government will unhesitatingly fulfill its obligations towards Poland.

I am, Sir, etc.


No. 346

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. CHARLES-ROUX, French Ambassador to the Holy See.  
                                    Paris, September 1, 1939. 11.15 p.m.

You should inform the Sovereign Pontiff that the French Government, deeply alive to the thought that has inspired him, thanks him for his moving message.

The French Government have given their unreserved adherence to all the steps towards the maintenance of peace taken during these last days of August. It is their wish that these noble efforts may yet fulfill their purpose and allow a peace founded on justice and honour to prevail once more among all free nations.

                                                         GEORGES BONNET. 

No. 347

Havas Note communicated to the Press during the night of September 1-2, 1939

THE French Government has been made cognizant, yesterday, as were several Governments, of an Italian move with the object of insuring the settlement of the European difficulties. After carefully considering the question the French Government has given a "positive" reply.

No. 348

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             Berlin, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 11.55 a.m.)

THROUGH the Press and the wireless, Germany is still maintaining that it was Poland who rejected the peaceful settlement put forward by the Führer, and who thus made a conflict inevitable. German propaganda absolutely denies the statement that the Polish Government was


informed of the proposals which it is accused of having rejected.

In support of its contentions it puts forward two facts:

No. 1. Herr von Ribbentrop, in the night of August 30-31, not only read to the British Ambassador the text of the German proposals, but it is further claimed that he commented at length on these proposals:

No. 2. In the evening of Thursday, August 31, the Polish wireless, it is alleged, declared that the German proposals could not be accepted as a basis for discussion. That, so it is claimed, is a clear proof that the Warsaw Government had been informed of the German plan for a settlement.

As to No. 1 of the above paragraphs, the matter has already been put in its true light. Herr von Ribbentrop read the German proposals at such a speed that Sir Nevile Henderson could not get any definite idea of them.

Although the British Ambassador explicitly requested that the said document should be handed to him, the German Minister for Foreign Affairs replied that this plan had already been rendered obsolete, as the Polish plenipotentiary had not presented himself on August 30.

Such was the pretext used by Herr von Ribbentrop for refusing to hand the text to Sir Nevile Henderson.

As to No. 2 of the above paragraphs, there is clearly on the German side a manoeuvre to bring about a deliberate confusion between the plan read out by Herr von Ribbentrop at midnight on the 30th, and the note addressed on the 29th by the Reich Government to the British Government.

In the latter note, drawn up in brutal terms, the German Government laid down most drastic conditions. In particular it referred "to what would be left of Poland after the alleged agreement had been reached." If the Polish wireless declared on the evening of the 31st that the German proposals were absolutely unacceptable, this assertion can apply only to the German note of the 29th sent to the British Government and not to the German plan comprising 16 points.

Not only was the Warsaw Government kept uninformed of the German proposals, but furthermore the French and British Governments did not have in their hands the text of the German plan until after the German wireless had announced that Poland had rejected the proposals of the Reich and that negotiations were broken off.

It was, in fact, at 9 p m. on the 31st that the German wireless gave out the communiqué announcing the breaking off of the negotiations and the text of the plan.


But it was only at 9.15 p.m. and at 9.25 p.m. that the British and the French Ambassadors had been respectively summoned by Herr von Ribbentrop in order to receive a copy of the communiqué and of the plan.

From this it follows that there was never a time when Warsaw, or London, or Paris was in a position to examine the proposals, which were communicated to them by the German Government only after the latter had already declared them to be null and void.

Moreover, the fact cannot be over-stressed that on August 31, as early as 1 p.m., the Polish Ambassador in Berlin requested Herr von Ribbentrop to receive him in order to inform him of the consent by Poland to conversations being opened.

It was not till 7.45 p.m. that M. Lipski was received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who confined himself to taking note of his communication, without informing him as to the contents of the German plan or even making mention of it in any way.


No. 349

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,  
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Warsaw, September 2, 1939. 12 noon.

(Received at 3 p.m.)

IN contradiction to German assertions, the aggressor's aircraft have not confined themselves to striking at objectives of military importance.

According to an official communiqué in the course of yesterday's raids and those of last night 130 persons were killed, among whom were only 12 belonging to the army. Of the civilian victims 50 per cent are women and children. A lunatic asylum for children was hit in Warsaw.

Also, civilian refugees who were in a train coming from Poznan were bombed. The victims in both cases were very numerous.

                                                           LÉON NÖEL


No. 350

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET. Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Warsaw. September 2. 1939. 12 noon.  

(Received at 2.50 p.m.)

IN reply to President Roosevelt's initiative, the German Government has, through the good offices of the Netherlands, sent a note to the Polish Government, informing it that Herr Hitler had given orders to confine the bombing from the air to military objectives.

The Polish Government, through the same channel, replied that it had given identical orders, that it was adhering to them in spite of cases of bombing which had made many victims among the Polish civilian population, but that it was reserving to itself the right to retaliate, if this happened again.

No. 351

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,  
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Warsaw, September 2, 1939. 1 p.m.  

(Received at 6 p.m.)

FIERCE fighting is continuing, according to the latest news given out by the Polish General Staff, on all the Polish-German frontiers. The Germans seem to be exerting their main efforts in Silesia and in the north and the south of the industrial area.

The great activity of the German air force still continues.

                                                         LÉON NÖEL. 

No. 352

M. FRANÇOIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Rome,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Rome, September 2, 1939. 1.10 p.m.

(Received at 2.30 p.m.)

COUNT CIANO had asked me yesterday, September 1, at 2.45 p.m., whether we had reason to think that Poland would still agree to the calling of a conference. I had replied at about 5 p.m. that the attitude of Poland was uncertain but that it was worth while all the same to give a trial to the course suggested by Signor Mussolini.


Count Ciano summoned me again last night, at 9 p.m., to the Palazzo Chigi. He declared to me that the Duce was in a state of great hesitation and that he feared lest Herr Hitler, faced by military operations in full course, should accuse him of trying to balk him of his victory. Signor Mussolini, however, did not give up the idea of intervening and was still on the watch to make use of the first favourable opening.


No. 353

M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                    Warsaw, September 2, 1939. 1.45 p.m.

(Received at 6 p.m.)

THE German air force keeps up its great activity. The civilian victims are numerous.

                                                           LÉON NÖEL

No. 354

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             London, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 2.30 p.m.)

THE attitude the German Government is going to take up as a result of the communication, made yesterday evening in Berlin by the French and British Ambassadors, is exercising the minds of the British Government. It is asking itself whether Chancellor Hitler, in order to increase his hold on Polish territory, is not deliberately putting off his answer. Once the positions which he may judge to be necessary have been occupied, the Chancellor will turn to the other Powers and declare that he has no wish to go on with the war with Poland, that, having taken back Danzig and the Corridor and brought help to the German minorities, he is prepared to make a magnanimous peace based on the conditions he stated on August 31.

Lord Halifax deems it impossible to allow the present situation to continue any longer.

That was why, as early as last night, he had suggested that our representatives in Berlin should, without further delay, inform the Government of the Reich of the obligation under which both our


Governments would be to consider themselves in a state of war with Germany if satisfaction was not given, or if no answer had reached them within a few hours. Lord Halifax even contemplated a communication in which the Ambassadors would make a declaration that France and England consider themselves from now on as being in a state of war with the Reich.

We must, however, foresee a case in which Chancellor Hitler, in order to gain time, might make a declaration of the kind specified above. The British Government, should this happen, would be inclined to reply that it was not possible to open negotiations before Polish territory had been evacuated by the German troops.

Lord Halifax would highly appreciate an early intimation of your views on this subject.


No. 355

Message addressed by M. Albert Lebrun, President of the Republic, to the French Parliament. September 2, 1939 [1]

GENTLEMEN of the Senate, Gentlemen of the Chamber of Deputies,

You have been summoned at a critical time in our national life. War has broken out in Central Europe; men are killing one another; innocent victims are falling under machine-gun fire from the air.

How has this come about?

Two nations had differences to settle. They could do this by way of free and fair negotiations, as they had been advised from every side. At the moment when their plenipotentiaries were about to meet, Germany brutally attacked Poland, thus bringing about a state of war which nothing could justify. (Applause.)

England and France, steadfastly devoted to a policy of prudence, wisdom and moderation, did all that was humanly possible to avert this crisis. The voices of their Heads of Government, together with the voices of the highest moral and political authorities in the world, joined in adjuring the men who held war or peace in their hands, to give careful thought to their decisions before unleashing the dread scourge.

That was of no avail. And, unless they should be, even at this

[1] Chamber of Deputies. Sitting of Saturday, September 2, 1939 (Journal 
Officiel, of September 3, 1939).

hour, willing to listen to the appeal of universal conscience which is rising towards them, the worst must be expected.

With great calmness, with cool resolve and in perfect order, France has taken the steps required by her own safety and her faithfulness to her obligations. (Loud applause on the left, on the extreme left, in the centre, and on the right.)

For the last few days already, our young men have been keeping watch on the frontiers. Today general mobilization summons all the forces to the defence of our country.

On behalf of the nation I send our land, sea and air forces an affectionate greeting and the expression of the unanimous confidence which the country has in them. (Loud applause everywhere.)

The people within the country also are doing their whole duty. The union of all citizens, more sacred than ever, has once more come about spontaneously. Fortitude, discipline, hopefulness have one and all stirred their innermost souls. (Fresh applause.)

They realise that over and above the fate of their own country the freedom of the world and the future of civilization are both at stake.

They can be relied on to face the most portentous decisions unflinchingly.

Let us remain united! Long live France!

(The deputies rise. Prolonged applause.)

No. 356

Declaration read out on September 2, 1939, to the Chamber of Deputies by M. Edouard Daladier, President of the Council of Ministers, and to the Senate by M. Camille Chautemps, Vice-President of the Council [1]


The Government yesterday decreed general mobilization.

The whole nation is answering the call with serious and resolute calm. The young men have rejoined their regiments. They are now defending our frontiers. The example of dignified courage which they have just set to the world must provide inspiration for our debates. (Applause.) In a great impulse of national brotherliness they have forgotten everything which only yesterday could divide them. They

[1] Chamber of Deputies. Sitting of Saturday, September 2, 1939 (Journal Officiel, of September 3, 1939).  


no longer acknowledge any service but the service of France. As we send them the grateful greeting of the nation let us all pledge ourselves together to be worthy of them. (Loud and unanimous applause.)

Thus has the Government put France into a position to act in accordance with our vital interests and with national honour.

It has now the duty of setting forth before you the facts as they are, fully, frankly, and clearly.

Peace had been endangered for several days. The demands of Germany on Poland were threatening to provoke a conflict. I shall show you in a moment how-perhaps for the first time in history-all the peaceful forces of the world, moral and material, were leagued together during those days and during those nights to save the world's peace. But just when it could still be hoped that all those repeated efforts were going to be crowned with success, Germany abruptly brought them to naught.

During the day of August 31 the crisis reached its peak. When Germany had at last let Great Britain know that she agreed to hold direct negotiations with Poland, a course which she had, let it be said, refused to me, Poland, in spite of the terrible threat created by the sudden armed invasion of Slovakia by the German forces, at once endeavoured to resort to this peaceful method. (Loud applause on all the benches.) At one o'clock in the afternoon M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador to Germany, requested an audience from Herr von Ribbentrop. Peace seemed to be saved. But the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs would not receive M. Lipski till 7.45 p.m., seven hours later. While the latter was bringing the consent of his Government to direct conversations, the German Minister refused to communicate Germany's claims to the Polish Ambassador, on the pretext that the Ambassador had not full powers to accept or reject them on the spot. (Sensation.)

At 9 p.m. the German wireless was communicating the nature and the full extent of these claims; it added that Poland had rejected them. That is a lie. (Long applause on the left, on the extreme left, in the centre, and on the right.) That is a lie, since Poland did not even know them. (Renewed applause.)

And at dawn on September 1 the Führer gave his troops the order to attack. Never was aggression more unmistakable and less warranted; nor for its justification could more lies and cynicism have been brought into play. (Unanimous applause.)

Thus was war unleashed at the time when the most noteworthy


forces, the authorities who were at the same time the most respected and the most impartial, had ranged themselves in the service of peace; at the time when the whole world had joined together to induce the two sides to come into direct contact so as to settle peacefully the conflict which divides them.

The Head of Christianity had given voice to reason and feelings of brotherhood; President Roosevelt had sent moving messages and proposed a general conference to all countries; the neutral countries had been active in offering their impartial good offices. Need I say that to each of these appeals the French Government gave an immediate welcome and complete assent? (Applause.)

I myself, Gentlemen, if I may be allowed a reference to my own person, thought it my duty as a Frenchman to approach Herr Hitler directly. The Head of the German Government had let me know on August 25, through M. Coulondre, our Ambassador in Berlin, that he deplored the fact that in case of an armed conflict between Germany and Poland, German blood and French blood might be shed. I immediately had a definite proposal put to the Führer, a proposal wholly inspired by the real concern to safeguard without any delay the peace of the world now imperiled. (Loud applause on the left, on the extreme left, in the centre, and on the right.)

You were able to read, I think in fact that you must have read these texts. You know the answer I was given; I will not dwell on it.

But we were not disheartened by the failure of this step, and once more we backed up the effort to which Mr. Chamberlain devoted himself with splendid stubbornness. (Loud and prolonged applause on the same benches.) The documents exchanged between London and Berlin have been published. On the one side impartial and persevering loyalty; on the other side, embarrassment, shifty and shirking behavior. I am also happy at this juncture to pay my tribute to the noble efforts made by the Italian Government. (Applause.) Even yesterday we strove to unite all men of goodwill so as at least to stave off hostilities, to prevent bloodshed and to ensure that the methods of conciliation and arbitration should be substituted for the use of violence. (Loud applause.)

Gentlemen, these efforts towards peace, however powerless they were and still remain, will at least have shown where the responsibility lies. They insure for Poland, the victim, the effective cooperation and moral support of the nations and of free men of all lands.

What we did before the beginning of this war, we are ready to do


once more. If renewed steps are taken towards conciliation, we are still ready to join in. (Loud and unanimous applause. On the extreme left, on the left, in the centre, and on the right the deputies rise and applaud again.)

If the fighting were to stop, if the aggressor were to retreat within his own frontiers, if free negotiations could still be started, you may well believe, Gentlemen, the French Government would spare no effort to ensure, even today, if it were possible, the success of these negotiations, in the interests of the peace of the world. (Loud and prolonged applause.)

But time is pressing; France and England cannot look on when a friendly nation is being destroyed (renewed applause), a foreboding of further onslaughts, eventually aimed at England and France. (Applause.)

Indeed, are we only dealing with the German-Polish conflict? We are not, Gentlemen; what we have to deal with is a new stage in the advance of the Hitler dictatorship towards the domination of Europe and the world. (Loud and unanimous applause.) How, indeed, are we to forget that the German claim to the Polish territories had been long marked on the map of Greater Germany, and that it was only concealed for some years to facilitate other conquests? So long as the German-Polish Pact, which dates back only a few years, was profitable to Germany, Germany respected it; on the day when it became a hindrance to marching towards domination it was denounced unhesitatingly. (Applause.) Today we are told that, once the German claims against Poland were satisfied, Germany would pledge herself before the whole world for ten, for twenty, for twenty-five years, for all time, to restore or to respect peace. Unfortunately, we have heard such promises before! (Loud applause on a very great many benches.)

On May 25, 1935, Chancellor Hitler pledged himself not to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria and not to unite Austria to the Reich; and on March 11, 1938, the German army entered Vienna; Chancellor Schuschnigg was imprisoned for daring to defend his country's independence, and no one today can say what is his real fate after so many physical and moral sufferings. (Loud applause.) Now we are to believe that it was Dr. Schuschnigg's acts of provocation that brought about the invasion and enslavement of his country!

On September 12, 1938, Herr Hitler declared that the Sudeten problem was an internal matter which concerned only the German minority in Bohemia and the Czechoslovak Government. A few days


later he maintained that the violent persecutions carried on by the Czechs were compelling him to change his policy.

On September 26 of the same year he declared that his claim on the Sudeten territory was the last territorial claim he had to make in Europe. On March 14, 1939, Herr Hacha was summoned to Berlin: ordered under the most stringent pressure to accept an ultimatum. A few hours later Prague was being occupied in contempt of the signed pledges given to other countries in Western Europe. In this case also Herr Hitler endeavoured to put on the victims the onus which in fact lies on the aggressor. (Unanimous applause.)

Finally, on January 30, 1939, Herr Hitler spoke in loud praise of the non-aggression pact which he had signed five years previously with Poland. He paid a tribute to this agreement as a common act of liberation, and solemnly confirmed his intention to respect its clauses.

But it is Herr Hitler's deeds that count, not his word. (Loud and repeated applause on all the benches.)

What, then, is our duty? Poland is our ally. We entered into commitments with her in 1921 and 1925. These commitments were confirmed.

I, myself, in the Chamber said, on May 11 last:

"As a result of the journey of the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs to London and of the reciprocal pledges of guarantee given by Great Britain and Poland, by a common agreement with this noble and brave nation we took the measures required for the immediate and direct application of our treaty of alliance."

Parliament approved this policy.

Since then we have never failed both in diplomatic negotiations and in public utterances, to prove faithful to it. Our Ambassador in Berlin has several times reminded Herr Hitler that, if a German aggression were to take place against Poland, we should fulfill our pledges. And on July 1, in Paris, the Minister for Foreign Affairs said to the German Ambassador to France:

"France has definite commitments to Poland. These engagements have been further strengthened as a result of the latest events, and consequently France will at once be at Poland's side as soon as Poland herself takes up arms."

Poland has been the object of the most unjust and brutal aggression. The nations who have guaranteed her independence are bound to intervene in her defence.

Great Britain and France are not Powers that can disown, or dream


of disowning, their signatures. (Loud and prolonged applause on the extreme left, on the left, in the centre, and on the right.)

Already last night, on September 1, the French and British Ambassadors were making a joint overture to the German Government. They handed to Herr von Ribbentrop the following communication from the French Government and the British Government, which I will ask your leave to read out to you:

"Early this morning the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German army which clearly indicated that he was about to attack Poland.

"Information which has reached His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government indicates that German troops had crossed the Polish frontier and that attacks upon Polish towns are proceeding.

"In these circumstances, it appears to the Governments of the United Kingdom and France that, by their action, the German Government have created conditions (viz., an aggressive act of force against Poland threatening the independence of Poland) which call for the implementation by the Governments of the United Kingdom and France of the undertaking to Poland to come to her assistance.

"I am accordingly to inform Your Excellency that, unless the German Government are prepared to give the French Government and His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, the French Government and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfill their obligations to Poland."

And indeed, Gentlemen, it is not only the honour of our country: it is also the protection of its vital interests that is at stake.

For a France which should allow this aggression to be carried out would very soon find itself a scorned, an isolated, a discredited France, without allies and without support, and, doubtless, would soon herself be exposed to a formidable attack. (Applause.)

This is the question I lay before the French nation, and all nations. At the very moment of the aggression against Poland, what value has the guarantee, once more renewed, given for our eastern frontier, for our Alsace (loud applause), for our Lorraine (loud applause), after the repudiation of the guarantees given in turn to Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland? More powerful through their conquests, gorged with the plunder of Europe, the masters of inexhaustible natural


wealth, the aggressors would soon turn against France with all their forces. (Fresh applause.)

Thus, our honour is but the pledge of our own security. It is not that abstract and obsolete form of honour of which conquerors speak to justify their deeds of violence: it is the dignity of a peaceful people, which bears hatred towards no other people in the world (loud and prolonged applause on all benches) and which never embarks upon a war save only for the sake of its freedom and of its life.

Forfeiting our honour would purchase nothing more than a precarious peace liable to rescission, and when, tomorrow, we should have to fight after losing the respect of our allies and the other nations, we should no longer be anything more than a wretched people doomed to defeat and bondage. (Loud and unanimous applause.)

I feel confident that not a single Frenchman harbours such thoughts today. But I well know, too, Gentlemen, that it is hard for those who have devoted their whole lives to the cause of peace and who are still prompted by a peaceful ideal to reply, by force if needed, to deeds of violence. As head of the Government, I am not the man to make an apology for war in these tragic hours. I fought before like most of you. I can remember. I shall not utter a single one of those words that the genuine fighters look upon as blasphemous. (Applause.) But I desire to do my plain duty, and shall do it, as an honourable man. (Fresh applause.)

Gentlemen, while we are in session, Frenchmen are rejoining their regiments. Not one of them feels any hatred in his heart against the German people. (Loud and unanimous applause.) Not one of them is giving way to the intoxicating call of violence and brutality; but they are ready, unanimously, to discharge their duty with the quiet courage which derives its inspiration from a clear conscience. (Fresh applause.)

Gentlemen, you who know what those Frenchmen are thinking, you who even yesterday were among them in our provincial towns and in our countryside, you who have seen them go off-you will not contradict me if I evoke their feelings here. They are peace-loving men, but they have decided to make every sacrifice needed to defend the dignity and freedom of their country. If they have answered our call, as they have done, without a moment's hesitation, without a murmur, without flinching, that is because they feel, all of them, in the depths of their hearts that it is, in truth, whatever may be said,


the very existence of France that is at stake. (Loud and unanimous applause.)

You know better than anyone else that no government, no man, would be able to mobilize France merely to launch her into an adventure. Never would the French rise to invade the territory of a foreign country. (Loud and prolonged applause on all the benches.) Theirs is the heroism for defence and not for conquest. When you see France spring to arms it is because she feels herself threatened.

It is not France only that has arisen; it is that whole, far-flung empire under the sheltering folds of our tricolour. (Applause.) From every corner of the globe moving protestations of loyalty from all the protected or friendly races are reaching the mother country today. (Applause.) The union of all Frenchmen is thus echoed beyond the seas by the union of all peoples under our protection who in the hour of danger are proffering both their arms and their hearts. (Loud applause.) And I wish also to salute all the foreigners settled on our soil (loud applause) who on this very day in their thousands and thousands, as though they were the volunteers of imperiled freedom, are placing their courage and their lives at the service of France. (Renewed applause.)

Our duty is to make an end of aggressive and violent undertakings; by means of peaceful settlement, if we can still do so, and this we shall strive our utmost to achieve (unanimous applause), by the wielding of our strength, if all sense of morality as well as all glimmering of reason has died within the aggressors. (Renewed applause.)

If we were not to keep our pledges, if we were to allow Germany to crush Poland, within a few months, perhaps within a few weeks, what could we say to France, if we had to face aggressors once more? Then would those most determined soldiers ask us what we had done with our friends. They would feel themselves alone, under the most dreadful threat, and might lose, perhaps for all time, the confidence which now spurs them on.

Gentlemen, in these hours when the fate of Europe is in the balance, France is speaking to us through the voice of her sons, through the voice of all those who have already accepted, if need be, the greatest sacrifice of all. Let us recapture, as they have done, that spirit which fired all the heroes of our history. France rises with such impetuous impulses only when she feels in her heart that she is fighting for her life and for her independence.

Gentlemen, today France is in command. (Loud and repeated


applause on all the benches. The deputies sitting on the left, on the extreme left, in the centre, and on the right rise and applaud at great length.)

No. 357

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             London, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 4.15 p.m.)

THE sittings of both Houses of Parliament yesterday afternoon were marked by the same feeling of dignity and quiet determination.

According to the information I have gathered from all sides, the Members, who on returning from the parliamentary recess had just renewed contact with their constituents, were struck by the firmness shown by all sections of the people regarding the foreign policy that should be followed. All Englishmen were absolutely resolved not to see a repetition of the events of last September and March. Convinced that sooner or later the British Empire would have to make a stand against German ambitions, the majority held that it was better to have done with it at once and not to continue the uncertainty about the morrow which was hindering any normal life.

The aggression by the Reich against Poland once known, everyone understood that in any case the hour for action had now struck. No one dreamed for a moment that it was even possible to hesitate as to his duty in face of the open attack on a country to which Great Britain had given a formal guarantee, thus pledging her honour.

The speech by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons was therefore in agreement with the unanimous feeling in Parliament and the country. He was listened to with the seriousness called for by the situation; but the Members none the less drowned in cheers the words with which Mr. Chamberlain, using a language new on his lips and obviously satisfied to be able to express at last what he thought of the leaders of the Reich, branded Herr Hitler's "senseless ambitions" and the "sickening technique" of the Nazi Government. Cheers also welcomed the Prime Minister's speech in which he declared that it was no longer a time for words but for deeds, that there was only one course left to Britain and that she was ready to face the situation, whatever it might be.

The leaders of the two sections of the Opposition gave their support


to the Head of the Government, each in his own way, but both of them with the same determination; and the House unanimously voted a credit of £500,000,000 for war supplies and various extraordinary measures directed to the same purpose.

The Press this morning announces that all the Ministers have proffered their resignations to Mr. Chamberlain, so as to allow him to form a National Government without delay. It is, however, uncertain whether the Labour Party will agree to join in. The Left newspapers, in fact, say that this party would rather for the moment stand aside, while supporting with all its power the Government's policy, in the country. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the attitude in political circles completely corresponds with the prevailing opinion in the country. The British people is united as it has perhaps never been throughout its history, by its will to resist any German attempt at domination and to safeguard the essential principles of international morality. It knows that it is entering upon an ordeal which undoubtedly will be a lengthy one and will call for the heaviest sacrifices; but it is resolved to carry out to the end what it deems to be both a duty and a mission not only in respect of its own country but also in respect of the civilized world.


No. 358

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                              Berlin, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 6.40 p.m.)

M. LIPSKI left the Polish Embassy early in the morning with his whole staff. The Polish mission has been sent by train to Denmark, whence it will go back to its own country. The house will be looked after by two lesser officials left in Berlin.

I tried in vain during the day to telephone to my Polish colleague.



No. 359

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             Berlin, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 6.55 p.m.)

HERR VON RIBBENTROP has not yet given an answer at 1.30 p.m. either to my British colleague or to me.

Sir Nevile Henderson and I are awaiting our instructions.


No. 360

M. FRANÇOIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Rome.  
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Rome, September 2, 1939. 7.25 p.m.

(Received at 10 p.m.)

THE British Ambassador and I were called today at 2 p.m. to the Palazzo Chigi. Count Ciano informed us there that he had finally resolved to inform the Führer and Herr von Ribbentrop, but without putting any pressure upon them, that France and Great Britain had agreed to the suggestion for a conference to which they had hope of bringing Poland. This conference could follow very closely upon an immediate armistice, leaving the adversaries in their respective positions.

This suggestion had not been at once rejected from the German side, but Herr Hitler had pointed out that, being faced with a French note and a British note which the Ambassadors of the two countries had handed him on the evening of the 1st, he wished to know if these notes were in the nature of an ultimatum or not. If so, he would definitely reject them. If the contrary was true, he would ask for some time to think them over until noon to-morrow. Herr Hitler further requested that the answer to his two questions should be sent him through Rome.

Count Ciano then telephoned directly to Your Excellency, who, after stating that the note handed yesterday by the French Ambassador was not in the nature of an ultimatum, gave approval in principle, in so far as the time limit was concerned, subject to the views of the President of the Council.

Count Ciano then telephoned to Lord Halifax, who himself also


stated to him that the English note was not in the nature of an ultimatum and informed him that on the question of the time limit he (Lord Halifax) must consult his Government. He added that in his opinion to halt the troops on their positions would be insufficient; the occupied territories would have to be evacuated.

Count Ciano replied that in his opinion there was little possibility of obtaining this from the Germans.

So as to leave time for the necessary consultations to be held, and after I had pointed out that the consent of the Poles would be harder to get, we decided to part and to meet again in Count Ciano's room at 4 p.m.


No. 361

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             London, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 7.30 p.m.)

THE Polish Ambassador went this afternoon to Downing Street and was received during the Cabinet meeting, which was being held at the Prime Minister's house.

Count Raczinski gave the information that, according to the news received from Warsaw, the German offensive had been violently resumed this morning along the whole Polish front, and that since the beginning of the afternoon there had been bombing from the air of unprecedented intensity on a great many towns.

The Ambassador made a fresh and urgent appeal to Mr. Neville Chamberlain for the immediate putting into force of the British guarantee.

Sir Alexander Cadogan requested Sir Eric Phipps by telephone to inform the French Government at once of this démarche.


No. 362

M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             London, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone 9.45 p.m.)

LORD HALIFAX has just made a declaration in the House of Lords


which was received with cheers. The Secretary of State pointed out that the British Ambassador was received last night at 9.30 by Herr von Ribbentrop, to whom he delivered the warning message that was read to the House yesterday. Herr von Ribbentrop replied that he must submit the communication to the German Chancellor

Our Ambassador declared his readiness to receive the Chancellor's reply, but up to the present no reply has been received. "It may be," Lord Halifax pointed out, "that delay is caused to a proposal which, meanwhile, had been put forward by the Italian Government that hostilities should cease and that there should then immediately be a conference between the five Powers-Great Britain, France, Poland, Germany, and Italy.

"While appreciating the efforts of the Italian Government, His Majesty's Government, for their part, would find it impossible to take part in a conference whilst Poland is being subjected to invasion. Her towns are under bombardment, and Danzig has been made the subject of a unilateral settlement by force."

This last passage was interrupted by great cheering.

Resuming, Lord Halifax recalled that the British Government, as stated yesterday, would be bound to take action unless the German forces were withdrawn from Polish territory.

"The Government," he stated, "is in communication with the French Government as to the limit of time within which it would be necessary for the two Governments to know whether the German Government were prepared to effect such withdrawal.

"If the German Government would agree to withdraw their forces then His Majesty's Government would be willing to regard the position as being the same as it was before the German forces crossed the Polish frontier. That is to say, the way would be open to discussion between the German and Polish Governments of the matters at issue between them, on the understanding that the settlement arrived at was one that safeguarded the vital interests of Poland and was secured by an international guarantee.

"If the German and Polish Governments wished that other Powers should be associated with them in the discussion, His Majesty's Government for their part would be willing to agree.

"There is one other matter to which allusion should be made in order to make the present situation perfectly clear. Yesterday, Herr Forster, who on August 23 had, in contravention of the Danzig Con-


stitution, become the head of the State, decreed the incorporation of Danzig in the Reich and the dissolution of the Constitution.

"Herr Hitler was asked to give effect to this decree by German law. At the meeting of the Reichstag, yesterday morning, a law was passed for the reunion of Danzig with the Reich. The international status of Danzig as a Free City is established by a treaty of which His Majesty's Government are a signatory, and the Free City was placed under the protection of the League of Nations.

"The rights given to Poland in Danzig by treaty are defined and confirmed by agreements concluded between Danzig and Poland. The action taken by the Danzig authorities and the Reichstag yesterday is the final step in the unilateral repudiation of these international instruments which could only be modified by negotiation.

"His Majesty's Government do not therefore recognize either the validity of the grounds on which the action of the Danzig authorities was based, the validity of this action itself, or of the effect given to it by the German Government."

At the same time the Prime Minister made a declaration in identical terms in the House of Commons. In the course of this statement, which was greeted with warm cheering, he said, in substance:

"The Government is in a somewhat difficult position. I suppose it always must be a difficulty for allies who have to communicate with one another by telephone to synchronize their thoughts and actions as quickly as those who are in the same room; but I should be horrified if the House thought for one moment that the statement that I have made to them betrayed the slightest weakening either of this Government or of the French Government in the attitude which we have taken up.

"I am bound to say that I myself share the distrust which Mr. Greenwood expressed of maneuvers of this kind.... I should have to be convinced of the good faith of the other side ... before I could regard the proposition of a conference as a proposition having reasonable chances of a successful issue.

"I should have been very glad had it been possible for me to say to the House now that the French Government and ourselves were agreed to make the shortest possible limit to the time when action should be taken by both of us.

"It is very possible that the communication which we have had with the French Government will receive a reply from them in the course of the next few hours.


"I feel certain that I can make a statement to the House of a definite character to-morrow when the House meets again. I anticipate that there is only one answer. I hope that the issue will be brought to a close at the earliest possible moment so that we may know where we are."


No. 363

M. FRANÇOIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Rome,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                     Rome, September 2, 1939. 11.10 p.m.

(Received September 3, at 3.10 a.m.)

SIR PERCY LORAINE and I have returned to our respective Embassies, after waiting an hour in Count Ciano's room for the communications from London and Paris. It was agreed that, as soon as the telephone replies had reached him, Count Ciano would make them known to us.

At 7.20 p.m. Count Ciano informed me that Lord Halifax accepted the Italian suggestion, but on condition that the German troops should withdraw to the frontiers of the Reich. Count Ciano told me that he did not think he was in a position to put forward such a request to Germany. This was likewise Signor Mussolini's opinion.

The speech delivered in the Chamber of Deputies by M. Daladier intimated that the position of the French Government was the same as that of the British Government. Consequently, it seemed that the Italian suggestion would have to be abandoned.

Count Ciano informed me that he had therefore just telephoned to Signor Attolico that, in these circumstances, Signor Mussolini did not think he could follow up his suggestion.

The above news has been conveyed to your department by a telephone call received by M. Hoppenot.


No. 364

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin.  
                                  Paris, September 2, 1939. 12 midnight.

I WILL specify to you to-morrow morning the terms of a new démarche which I would ask you to make on September 3, at noon, at the Wilhelmstrasse.

                                                        GEORGES BONNET.  


No. 365

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin.  
                                    Paris, September 3, 1939. 10.20 a.m.

LAST night, following a communication made to us by the British Government, and following the meeting of the French Chamber of Deputies, the French Government at a Cabinet meeting took the following decisions, which I have been charged to transmit to you.

You should present yourself today, September 3, at noon, at the Wilhelmstrasse and ask for the German Government's reply to the communication which you handed in at 10 p. m. on September 1.

If the reply to the questions contained in that communication is in the negative, you should recall the responsibility of Germany which you evoked during your last interview, and you should notify to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich or to his representative that the French Government find themselves, by reason of the German reply, compelled to fulfill as from today, September 3, at 5 p. m., the engagements which France entered into towards Poland, and which are known to the German Government.

As from that moment you may ask for your passports.

                                                        GEORGES BONNET. 

No. 365

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                             Berlin, September 3, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 2 p.m.)

MY communication by telephone at 1 p.m. with Your Excellency.

At 12.40 p.m. today I made the communication prescribed by Your Excellency to Herr von Ribbentrop.

The First Secretary of this Embassy is at this moment asking for my passports.



No. 367

M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.  
                                              Berlin, September 3, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 5.50 p.m.)

I HAVE the honour to confirm as here below the communication which I made to Your Excellency by telephone at 1 p.m.

Herr von Ribbentrop returned at noon. I was received at this hour by the State Secretary, but the latter informed me that he was not in a position to tell me whether a satisfactory reply had been made to my letter of September 1, nor even whether such a reply could be given thereto. He insisted that I should see Herr von Ribbentrop himself. In these circumstances I asked to be received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the earliest possible moment.

I was received by Herr von Ribbentrop at 1230 p.m.

I asked him whether he could give me a satisfactory reply to my letter which I had handed to him on September 1 at 10 p.m.

He replied to me as follows:

"After the delivery of your letter, the Italian Government notified the German Government of a proposed compromise, stating that the French Government was in agreement. Later, Signor Mussolini intimated to us that the contemplated compromise had failed owing to British intransigence. This morning the British Ambassador handed us an ultimatum, due to expire two hours later. We rejected it for the reason which is explained in the memorandum which I handed to the British Ambassador today and of which I give you a copy.

"If the French Government feels bound by its commitments to Poland to enter into the conflict, I can only regret it, for we have no feeling of hostility towards France. It is only if France attacks us that we shall fight her, and this would be on her part a war of aggression.

I then asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if I was to infer from his utterances that the reply of the Government of the Reich to my letter of September 1 was in the negative. "Yes," he replied.

"In these circumstances I must, on behalf of my Government, remind you for the last time of the heavy responsibility assumed by the Government of the Reich by entering, without a declaration of war, into hostilities against Poland and in not acting upon the suggestion made by the Governments of the French Republic and of His Britannic


Majesty to suspend all aggressive action against Poland and to declare itself ready to withdraw its forces promptly from Polish territory.

"I have the painful duty to notify you that as from today, September 3, at 5 p.m., the French Government will find itself obliged to fulfill the obligations that France has contracted towards Poland, and which are known to the German Government."

"Well," Herr von Ribbentrop remarked, "it will be France who is the aggressor."

I replied to him that history would judge of that.


No. 368

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to all the Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited to Paris.  
                                               Paris, September 3, 1939.


In conformity with Article 2 of Convention III of The Hague, dated October 18, 1907, I have the honour to send you herewith the notification relative to the State of War existing between France and Germany.

                                                        GEORGES BONNET.  

The aggression which the German Government, scorning the methods of peaceful settlement of differences to which it had bound itself to have recourse, and the appeals to free discussion or to mediation addressed to it by the most authoritative voices, committed against Poland on September 1, in violation of engagements most freely accepted both towards Poland herself as well as towards all the signatory States of the Pact of renunciation of war of August 27, 1928, has confronted the French Republic with its obligations to assist Poland, obligations resulting from public treaties and known to the Government of the Reich.

The supreme effort, attempted by the Government of the French Republic and by the British Government with a view to maintain peace by the cessation of aggression, was frustrated by the refusal of the German Government.

In consequence, as a result of the aggression aimed by Germany against Poland, a state of war exists between France and Germany as from September 3, 1939, at 5 p.m.

The present notification is made in conformity with Article 2 of


Convention III of The Hague, dated October 18, 1907, relating to the outbreak of hostilities.

No. 369

Joint Anglo-French Declaration

THE Governments of the United Kingdom and France solemnly and publicly affirm their intention should a war be forced upon them to conduct hostilities with a firm desire to spare the civilian population and to preserve in every way possible these monuments of human achievement which are treasured in all civilized countries.

In this spirit they have welcomed with deep satisfaction President Roosevelt's appeal on the subject of bombing from the air. Fully sympathizing with the humanitarian sentiments by which that appeal was inspired, they have replied to it in similar terms.

They had indeed some time ago sent explicit instructions to the Commanders of their armed forces prohibiting the bombardment, whether from the air, or the sea, or by artillery on land, of any except strictly military objectives in the narrowest sense of the word.

Bombardment by artillery on land will exclude objectives which have no strictly defined military importance, in particular large urban areas situated outside the battle zone. They will furthermore make every effort to avoid the destruction of localities or buildings which are of value to civilization.

As regards the use of naval forces, including submarines, the two Governments will abide strictly by the rules laid down in the Submarine Protocol of 1936 which have been accepted by nearly all civilized nations. Further they will only employ their aircraft against merchant shipping at sea in conformity with the recognized rules applicable to the exercise of maritime belligerent rights by warships.

Finally, the two allied Governments reaffirm their intention to abide by the terms of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 prohibiting the use in war of asphyxiating or poisonous or other gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare. An inquiry will be addressed to the German Government as to whether they are prepared to give an assurance to the same effect.

It will, of course, be understood that in the event of the enemy not observing any of the restrictions which the Governments of the United Kingdom and France have thus imposed on the operations of their


forces these Governments reserve the right to take all such action as they may consider appropriate.

No. 370

Appeal to the Nation

by M. EDOUARD DALADIER, President of the Council of Ministers.

                                               Paris, September 3, 1939.

Men and Women of France,

Since daybreak on September 1, Poland has been the victim of the most brutal and most cynical of aggressions. Her frontiers have been violated. Her cities are being bombed. Her army is heroically resisting the invader.

The responsibility for the blood that is being shed falls entirely upon the Hitler Government. The fate of peace was in Hitler's hands. He chose war.

France and England have made countless efforts to safeguard peace. This very morning they made a further urgent intervention in Berlin in order to address to the German Government a last appeal to reason and request it to stop hostilities and to open peaceful negotiations.

Germany met us with a refusal. She had already refused to reply to all the men of goodwill who recently raised their voices in favour of the peace of the world.

She therefore desires the destruction of Poland, so as to be able to dominate Europe quickly and to enslave France.

In rising against the most frightful of tyrannies, in honoring our word, we fight to defend our soil, our homes, our liberties.

I am conscious of having worked unremittingly against the war until the last minute.

I greet with emotion and affection our young soldiers, who now go forth to perform the sacred task which we ourselves did perform before them. They can have full confidence in their chiefs, who are worthy of those who have previously led France to victory.

The cause of France is identical with that of Righteousness. It is the cause of all peaceful and free nations. It will be victorious.

Men and women of France!

We are waging war because it has been thrust on us. Every one of us is at his post, on the soil of France, on that land of liberty where


respect of human dignity finds one of its last refuges. You will all cooperate, with a profound feeling of union and brotherhood, for the salvation of the country.

Viva la France!


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