The French Yellow Book

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No. 197 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 17, 1939.

FOR some days past, the German Press has entered upon a new chapter of its anti-Polish campaign. It claims that a sort of pogrom has been started by organized groups and certain local authorities against the Germans in Poland. This morning there were sensational headlines announcing that on the other side of the frontier a positive man-hunt was in progress against the "Volksdeutschen," that mass arrests were being made among them, that Polish officials were distributing arms to shady elements of the population and that an intolerable terror menaced the entire German minority. Lastly, refugees were said to be already flocking into German territory.

Thus we meet again the tactics and methods by which Nazi propaganda, nearly a year ago, was able to induce the German people and part of foreign opinion to believe that there was serious disorder in Sudetenland, that bloody conflicts were occurring there daily, and that the Germans there were treated as outlaws. Acting on orders from Berlin, agents of Herr Henlein were trying to create a panic in Northern Bohemia, and compelling members of the minority to cross the frontier and seek refuge, without any reason, in refugee camps, organized with great publicity in the neighbourhood of Dresden or in Silesia.

The object of this maneuver is clear; the intention is now, just as it was in September 1938, to inflame popular passions within the country and create externally, by artificial means, the impression, either that the opposing party was indulging in more and more intolerable provocations, or that its central authority, overwhelmed by irresponsible elements, is no longer in a position to maintain order. In both cases, the Reich can find a pretext for intervention, in the need either to avenge German honour, or to replace the irresolute authorities and themselves undertake the protection of their "brothers by race."

It should be noted that as a result of this campaign, the Danzig question tends to recede into the background. The problem assumes wider proportions and by implication includes the question of the Corridor and that of the Polish Provinces with a German minority.

In view of the results, direct and indirect, which National-Socialist policy proposes to secure by this propaganda, it is, in my view, important to counteract the latter as rapidly as possible, and demonstrate to the rulers of the Reich that foreign opinion, at least among the Western Powers is no longer taken in by maneuvers to which we now know what value to attach.

This counteracting process should be comparatively easy if, as M. Lipski asserts, 95 per cent of the facts brought forward by the German Press in support of its campaign are exaggerated, distorted, or even merely fabricated. Thus the Polish Ambassador gave me the following example: In its issue of August 15, the Angriff reported on its front page, in sensational manner, the murder of a German engineer in Eastern Galicia. "Horrible Polish murder," the heading read, "German engineer murdered."

This murder, had in actual fact, been committed as far back as June 15. The murderer was arrested, and the case is at present before a Polish Court. It has been established that the crime in question, whose motive was passion, and devoid of any political bias, comes under common law. As a result of their consul's report on the murder of this Reich subject, the German authorities came to the same conclusion, and on July 3, the German Ambassador in Warsaw informed the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that, in view of the character of the crime they would refrain from intervening.

Nevertheless National-Socialist propaganda seized the occasion of the victim's funeral which took place on June 23, to write up the affair as though it had been a political assassination, and the Angriff now returns to the charge.

This case is typical. It is not the only one; according to M. Lipski, many other examples might be quoted. In every case of this kind it would be desirable to set the facts in their true light as soon as possible, and, in this way, convict the German propaganda of mendacity and overstatement. These rectifications, would of course, be most valuable, in the first instance, to the competent Polish authorities. However, in so far as the Western Powers make common cause with the Poles the interests of their propaganda are obviously identical.

Perhaps, if Your Excellency thought it advisable, our Embassy in Warsaw might, if required, draw the attention of the Polish administration to this matter.

By setting the facts in a true light, in a dispassionate and objective manner, our Press and our broadcasting stations (particularly in their broadcasts in the German language) would very efficiently help in taking the edge off the German propaganda and enlighten readers and listeners, including those in the Reich, on the calculations and the ulterior motives of Nazi policy.


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