The French Yellow Book

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No. 173 :
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, July 27, 1939.

IN Berlin today everyone is more or less in agreement with the view that there is an apparent lull in the international situation, an that this pause in the development of the crisis is due to the impression of strength and resolution given by France and Britain to Germany Nevertheless, among the members of the Diplomatic Corps as well as in German circles, opinions vary as to the importance to be attached to this lull, and as to the possible sequels to the deliberations now going on in the minds of the rulers of the Reich.

The Germans had hoped to annex Danzig without having to face the possibility of a general war. It is now evident that the affair has been badly started and that, if there is a desire to carry it through to the end, the risk of war must be reckoned with. In a recent dispatch I noted the signs that lead one to believe that they do not recoil in the face of this contingency, and other and more hopeful signs that are averse to the idea of a war.

It is likely, no doubt, that the Germans do not want to go war for the sake of Danzig; but is it, then, merely a question of Danzig? If this problem has been more clamorously advertised and was pressed in preference to any other, it is because its solution has been considered the easier, and that it involved less risk of war than I any other question in which Germany was equally concerned. Events have proved this estimate to be inaccurate and there are signs-or there thought to be signs-of hesitation at Berchtesgaden and Berlin. To what question do these hesitations relate? Is it wise to infer from them that the Chancellor, having ventured somewhat rashly in the matter, will show himself more reasonable?

The facts seem to be that since Munich, and more especially since March 15, two currents of influence have attempted to sway the Chancellor's mind. On the one hand he has been told, and that is Herr von Ribbentrop's view, that Germany can still realise many of ambitions without risking an armed conflict, or at any rate without provoking a general war. On the other hand he was told-and this was Field-Marshal Goering's view-that in the present circumstances nothing more could be done without going to war.

The fact that Herr von Ribbentrop's information regarding Danzig proved to be inaccurate need not be regarded by the Chancellor as a proof that no other German requirement can be met without war. It may have been that Danzig was a bad choice. In the past the Memel question, although it had been very definitely raised, was kept in suspended activity, because circumstances seemed suddenly to favour a transfer of attention to other problems. On the other hand, the recognition that there was truth in what might be called the "Goering line of thought" does not mean that-on the assumption that there can be no conquests without war-war will not be preferred to the surrender of a dynamic policy.

It does not appear that the Führer has made a decision. The keyboard is open before him: he can strike what note he will. Since all the military arrangements have been made he can, either in the case of Danzig or of any other question, decide to wait until the first propitious opportunity offers (and in the opinion of most Germans rifts will in time appear in the democratic fronts, of which it will be possible to take advantage). Alternatively, accepting the risk, he can concentrate upon the particular question of Danzig or upon the more general problem of German claims.

While there is rather less talk of Danzig, a campaign against Poland as a maritime state is already taking shape. In this connection an article in this morning's Völkischer Beobachter is significant. Voicing much the same view, the Lokal Anzeiger writes: "The Polish attempts to make of Poland a maritime state at all costs do not conform either with serious economic facts or with essential political or military interests."

Thus the question of the Corridor, already mentioned in private conversation, now creeps into the Press together with that of Upper Silesia. A German manufacturer said to a Frenchman within the last few days: "When we possess Upper Silesia, we shall have in our hands the last industrial area of Central and Eastern Europe which was still outside our range. Then our economic power need have no more fear of competition in the markets of the Near East."

It is necessary, therefore, to remain on the watch. What the members of the Diplomatic Corps in Berlin describe as an easing of the strain is probably no more than a period of reflection, upon which the reactions of France and Great Britain will certainly exercise some influence.


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