The French Yellow Book

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No. 162 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 13, 1939.

BEING due to leave Berlin to-morrow evening, I went this morning to see the State Secretary, to whom I introduced M. de Saint-Hardouin.

Herr von Weizsäcker once again told me that, without wishing to look too far into the future, he personally retained the belief that nothing would happen in Danzig which could cause serious complications. According to him, the danger of a conflict with Poland was still only to be found in the state of excitement of the population and of the Polish local authorities, which might give rise to fears that a serious incident might occur any day.

At the same time I found the State Secretary less easy in manner than during our recent interviews. He mentioned with obvious displeasure the communication which Your Excellency had made to Count von Welczeck. "The German Government," he informed me, "is preparing a reply to it, and I may tell you that it will not lend itself to any ambiguity."

I pointed out that the German Government could not have misinterpreted the spirit in which this step had been taken, since Your Excellency had been careful to show, with reference to the declaration of December 6, that you considered it an obligation of honesty to specify clearly the French Government's position in regard to the problem of Danzig. But Herr von Weizsäcker evaded discussion, declaring that he did not want to anticipate the reply which would be made to us, and went on to talk about Mr. Chamberlain's latest statement in the House of Commons. "While it may be useful to define one's attitude clearly," he said, "there can be no justification for the endless repetition of public declarations indulged in by the British Government."

I remarked that the Prime Minister's speech was very cool and very objective, and that to my knowledge this was the first time that he had defined the British Government's attitude concerning Danzig.

But Herr von Weizsäcker did not agree with this. Such a speech, according to him, could only have the effect of diminishing the possibilities of a friendly understanding still further by hardening the present attitude of both parties. What hope was there that the Poles, thus encouraged, would be conciliatory? Moreover, the Reich could not be affected by any intimidation.

After pointing out that the same applied to the Western Powers and that, moreover, I had found no wish to intimidate in Mr. Chamberlain's statements, I asked the State Secretary whether at the moment he saw any possibility of conversations with Warsaw.

"If I may refer to the information about Warsaw's position to be found in the Polish Press," he replied, "I see none, for we are really worlds apart. I believe that for the time being there is nothing better to do than to wait and keep as quiet as possible."

The State Secretary's tone unmistakably shows the impression produced upon the German Government by the clear and resolute attitude of the Western Powers in regard to Danzig.

Mr. Chamberlain's declaration, in particular, unpleasantly surprised those who, like Herr von Ribbentrop, wished to cast doubts upon the possibility of armed intervention by Great Britain in the event of a German-Polish conflict.

Now that our attitude is so clearly defined, and that it is known, moreover, to the German Government, I believe that it would be better to keep silent about Danzig, in so far as that depends on us. Anything which tends to foster polemics on this question could only make a waiting attitude or an eventual retreat more difficult for the Reich.

Lastly, while it is impossible to foresee the decision which Herr Hitler may take, at least it is essential not to throw into the scales considerations of prestige, which weigh heavily in totalitarian States.


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