The French Yellow Book

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No. 113 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 30, 1939.

OFFICIAL circles in the Reich have clearly been disappointed by the attitude of the French Press following the Chancellor's speech; they had counted on its making a profound impression and creating controversies which would divide French public opinion. This hope has been clearly disappointed. The propaganda of the Reich has not, however, on that account, given up exploiting the Führer's declarations on the hope of breaking up the defensive front that is forming round Paris and London.

This morning the efforts of this propaganda seem to be directed chiefly against Britain. The diplomatic correspondent of the Börsenzeitung, the semi-official mouthpiece of the Wilhelmstrasse, today outlines in a significant article a maneuver certainly marked out for future development. He endeavours to persuade the British public that the German demands with regard to Danzig and the Corridor are trifling and that the stake certainly does not justify Great Britain in giving a guarantee to Poland and imposing the burden of conscription on her people.

I am still convinced that it is important that the French Press should not carry on any long discussions on the subject of the Führer's speech. Should the German maneuver indicated above become clearly defined and developed, I feel I ought to draw attention to the following points concerning, in particular, the question of Danzig and the Corridor:

1. The position adopted by the Führer with regard to Danzig is in direct opposition to that which he took up in his speech on February 20, 1938.

The Führer then declared in so many words that Danzig had entirely lost its menacing significance; that the Polish State respected the national character of the Free City, just as Germany, on its side, respected the rights of Poland; that the relations between the two countries had been finally cleared up and transformed into a loyal and friendly collaboration.

At that date, then, the Führer had declared that the Danzig question had been settled in a final manner to the satisfaction of both the Reich and Poland.

2. In order to denounce the German-Polish agreement of 1934, the Führer later on invoked the promises of mutual assistance recently agreed upon between London and Warsaw. He appears thus to imply that Germany, by virtue of the Agreement of 1934, held a mortgage on Polish foreign policy, while itself retaining complete liberty of action allowing the conclusion of political agreements with other countries. In these circumstances, the new settlement proposed by Germany, which would link the questions of Danzig and of the passage across the Corridor with counterbalancing questions of a political nature, would only serve to aggravate this mortgage and practically subordinate Poland to the Axis and the Anti-Comintern Bloc. Warsaw refused this in order to retain its independence.

3. If Poland, after thus weakening its political and strategic position by yielding to the German demands, had subsequently tried to find in London a counterweight to Nazi pressure, can it be doubted that the Reich would then have declared not only that the Agreement of 1934 was null and void, but also the new arrangement from which the Reich would, however, have received all the benefit?

4. The same process, in two stages, which has ended in the disappearance of Czechoslovakia would have then been applied against Poland.

5. Polish acceptance of Germany's demands would have rendered the application of any braking machinery in the East impossible.

The Germans are not wrong then, when they claim that Danzig is in itself only a secondary question. It is not only the fate of the Free City, it is the enslavement or liberty of Europe which is at stake in the issue now joined.


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