The French Yellow Book

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No. 182 :
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, August 7, 1939.

IN a recent conversation, M. Beck informed the British Ambassador that military measures might have been taken, had the Senate rejected the Polish note. It is, therefore, of interest to refer to treaty articles applying either to the case of an attack on Danzig from outside, or to that of an attempt to alter by force the present status of the city.

The Treaty of Versailles contains no provision in regard to these, nor does the Convention of 1920 specify either the circumstances or methods of possible action for the defence of the Free City.

"In its sitting of November 17, 1920, the Council of the League of Nations adopted a report declaring that the Polish Government seemed particularly fitted to receive from the League of Nations in case of necessity the mandate to undertake the defence of the Free City, but adding that this mandate could at no time be given in a general form, but only after consideration by the Council of the circumstances peculiar to each case."

The Consultative Military Commission of the League of Nations, declared at this same date:

"(1) The League of Nations can undertake the defence of Danzig only by mandate.

"(2) A contingent mandate is of no military value; only a permanent mandate can be taken into account.

"(3) The defence of the Free City cannot be separated from that of the province of Pomerania.

"(4) Poland is the only Power in a position to organize the defence of the Free City.

"(5) Poland must be allowed to build fortifications in the territory of the Free City and to garrison them with Polish troops.

"(6) These fortifications would be built facing the sea and towards East Prussia. On the Pomeranian side Poland's western frontier constitutes Danzig's line of defence.

"Following this statement, the Council of the League of Nations decided to consult General Sir Richard Haking, at that time High Commissioner in Danzig. On January 25, 1921, he declared that Danzig had no need of defences as the Free City could not be defended against a German attack, which was the only possible contingency."

In June 1921, the Council adopted the following resolution:

(1) The Polish Government is specially fitted to ensure, if circumstances require it, and in the following conditions, the defence of Danzig by land, as well as the maintenance of order on the territory of the Free City, in the event of the local police forces proving insufficient.

With this object in view, the High Commissioner will, if occasion arises, request instructions from the Council of the League of Nations and will, if he thinks fit, submit proposals.

(2) It will nevertheless be within the competence of the High Commissioner to anticipate the authorization of the Council and to address a direct invitation to the Polish Government to ensure the defence of Danzig, or "the maintenance of order," in the following cases:

(a) In the event of the territory of the Free City being the object of aggression, threat or danger of aggression from a neighbouring country other than Poland, after the High Commissioner has assured himself of the urgency of the danger;

(b) In the event of Poland being, for any reason whatever, suddenly and effectively prevented from exercising the rights possessed by her under Article 28 of the Treaty of November 9th, 1920.

In these two cases the High Commissioner should report to the Council the reasons for the action which he has taken.

(3) As soon as the object in view has been achieved to the satisfaction of the High Commissioner, the Polish troops will be withdrawn.

(4) In all cases where Poland has to ensure the defence of the Free City, the Council of the League of Nations may provide for the collaboration of one or more States Members of the League.

(5) The High Commissioner, after consultation with the Polish Government, will present to the League of Nations a general report on the measures for which it may be necessary to provide in the above-mentioned cases.

Theoretically, therefore, Poland could be called upon to provide for the defence of Danzig either if the League of Nations appealed to it directly, or in certain circumstances at the behest of the High Commissioner appointed by the League of Nations. But Poland does not hold a permanent mandate nor has she herself the right to intervene in the matter, but is required by the resolution of the Council in 1921 to take no action until asked to do so by the High Commissioner.

At the end of last May, the Counselor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of questions affecting Danzig reminded M. Burckhardt when the latter was passing through Warsaw of his rights in this respect, the High Commissioner replied that if a contingency occurred that would justify his intervention, he would straightway have recourse to the Committee of Three.


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