The French Yellow Book

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No. 185 :
M. DE SAINT-HARDOUIN, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 8, 1939.

LAST week-end seems to have opened a new chapter in the development of the Danzig question: that of Polish resistance to the encroachments of the Senate and the Nazis of the Free City. This will to resist has assumed two forms: the ultimatum addressed to the Senate on August 5 on the subject of the Polish Customs officers, and Marshal Rydz-Smigly's speech at Cracow (August 6). The result has been a revival of anti-Polish agitation in the German and Danzig newspapers, but at any rate for the present this further outburst of ill-feeling seems chiefly designed to hide the setback suffered last Saturday in Danzig.

The Nazi plan, as it appeared since the beginning of June, evidently consisted in the gradual eviction of Poland from Danzig by an unremitting series of infringements of the statute; when the remilitarization of the Free City had been completed, the next objective of the attack was the Customs barrier separating Danzig from East Prussia.

Here too the Danzig Nazis proceeded by stages, and all things considered, with a great deal of caution. They differentiated among the Polish officials between Customs officers and frontier guards. The latter were singled out for a start, although of course there was every intention, if successful, to turn their attention towards breaking down entirely the Polish Customs control.

The conflict arose over the Amada margarine factory. By way of a protest against the captiousness to which their agents were subjected, the Polish authorities on August 2 prohibited the importation of this firm's products into Polish territory. The Senate retorted by ordering the Danzig Customs officials to collaborate only with Polish Customs officers, and not with frontier guards disguised as Customs men.

Next day, on August 4, Herr Forster demanded that reprisals should cease and threatened to do away with the Customs control. That same day, a high official of the Danzig Customs House ordered the arrest of Polish inspectors looked upon as "Grenzer" (frontier guards). On being informed of this order, the Warsaw Government issued on the morning of the 5th an ultimatum expiring at six p.m., whereupon the Danzig Senate, startled by the reaction of the Poles, finished by giving way, after alleging that it knew nothing of the measure which had provoked the Polish ultimatum.

Poland, which had for months tolerated countless infringements of the Danzig statute in order to avoid incidents, had scored the first point.

Next day, August 6, in the speech which he delivered at Cracow before 150,000 legionaires, Marshal Rydz-Smigly announced that Poland was determined to meet "force with force" and to oppose any direct or indirect attempt to tamper with her interests and rights. He added that Danzig, bound to Poland for many centuries, formed the lung of her economic organization and that in this matter the Government of Warsaw had made its position completely and unequivocally clear.

Thus the attempt at intimidation has been unsuccessful. From now on the nibbling process will meet with Polish resistance. That is what the past week-end has meant for Germany.

In Berlin as in Danzig, it appears that the Nazis have been somewhat disconcerted by the firmness of the Warsaw Government. On Sunday morning the newspapers were silent about the events which had taken place in Danzig on Saturday. Not until Monday afternoon did a tendentious version find its way into the whole Press which strove to make things out as if the Senate had purely and simply rejected the "barefaced" demand which the Poles had made and "accompanied by threats." The Government in Warsaw was accused of having taken action as a result of false rumours and its attitude was announced as "a particularly dangerous provocation." Furthermore, the papers in Danzig and the Reich asserted that the Senate would seek to settle the question of the Danzig Customs officials' authority by negotiation and that it upheld the fundamental distinction between Customs inspectors and frontier guards.

This was a thinly veiled retreat.

The comments of the Czas on Marshal Rydz-Smigly's speech conveniently provided the Nazis with an opportunity to cover this retreat with a clamour of threats and imprecations. The Polish Conservative organ wrote that if the Danzig Nazis tried to create a fait accompli, "Polish guns would speak." "We are being threatened!" cried the entire German Press. "Poland has overstepped all limits in her insolence and irresponsibility. Poland, beware! It should be understood

in Warsaw, as well as in Paris and in London, that if Polish guns convert the German city of Danzig into a heap of ruins, German guns will not remain silent."

After accepting the Polish ultimatum last Saturday, the Nazis had in their turn started to utter threats. Thus the balance tended to be established.

From the fact that after a long series of concessions, the Poles last Saturday scored a point, one cannot draw any conclusions as to the ultimate outcome of the Danzig affair. Berlin and Warsaw still stand in complete opposition.


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