The British War Bluebook
Sir H. Kennard to Viscount Halifax. August 24, 1939
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No. 52.

Sir H. Kennard to Viscount Halifax.

(Telegraphic.) Warsaw, August 24, 1939.

WHILE I am of course not in a position to check all the allegations made by the German press of minority persecutions here, I am satisfied from enquiries I have made that the campaign is a gross distortion and exaggeration of the facts.

2. Accusations of beating with chains, throwing on barbed wire, being forced to shout insults against Herr Hitler in chorus, &c., are merely silly, but many individual cases specified have been disproved.

3. M. Karletan, for instance, arrested in connexion with murder of Polish policeman on 15th August, was alleged by German press to have been beaten to death and his wife and children thrown out of the window. Manchester Guardian correspondent tells me that he visited him in prison on Sunday and found him in good health. He had not been beaten or physically injured at all. Story about wife and child was equally devoid of any foundation whatever.

4. It is true that many of the German minority have left Poland illegally, but I hear both from the Acting British Consul at Katowice and from British Vice-Consul at Lodz that the Germans themselves have told many to leave. There was an initial exodus last May. Many subsequently asked to come back, but the Poles were not anxious to have them, as they had no doubt been trained in propaganda, sabotage and espionage activities, such as Jungdeutsche Partei in Katowice have been conducting. In Lodz area some of those who left recently raised all the money and credit they could before leaving, and the Voivode told Vice-Consul on 20th August that from evidence available he was satisfied that German Consulate had transferred these funds to Germany and was no doubt privy to their departure. Many of those who left, especially from Lodz, are of the intelligentsia, and they are said to include Herr Witz, leader of Volksbund. British Vice-Consul at Lodz says many German organisations have been closed there, but they were notoriously conducting Nazi propaganda, and Polish authorities could not ignore it altogether. I think, however, many Germans have lost their jobs, especially in factories of military or semi-military importance, and some 2,000 workmen have left Tomaszow.

5. Many of those who left their homes undoubtedly did so because they wished to be on German side of the front in event of war, and in general there is by common consent less individual friction with members of the minority now than last May.

6. Ministry for Foreign Affairs tell me that figure of 76,000 refugees quoted in German press is a gross exaggeration. I should say 17,000 was the absolute maximum. Gazeta Polska correspondent in Berlin has asked to be shown refugee camps of the 76,000 and apparently received no answer.

7. In Silesia the frontier is not fully open, but a special frontier card system is in force and considerable daily traffic is possible. The German authorities having closed frontier in Rybnik area where Poles cross to Poland, Polish authorities closed it elsewhere where Germans cross into Germany. In view of revelations of activities of Jungdeutsche Partei, the Polish authorities feel greater control of frontier traffic is in any case necessary.

8. Polish press has recently published many complaints of wholesale removal of Poles from frontier districts in Silesia and East Prussia to the interior of Germany, smashing of property, especially in Allenstein district, closing of all Polish libraries in Silesia and other forms of persecution. According to semi-official Gazeta Polska, from April to June there were recorded 976 acts of violence against the minority, and since then the number of cases is stated to have increased beyond all bounds. For the last two days, however, no further information has been published, as M. Beck has damped the press down.

9. In general, responsible organs of the Polish press have not published violent tirades, still less claimed German territory for Poland, and A.B.C., recently quoted in Germany, is a violent Opposition newspaper with little reputation and less influence.

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