The French Yellow Book

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No. 200 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 18, 1939.

As the German campaign against Poland develops, the analogies between it and that undertaken last autumn against Czechoslovakia are becoming more and more apparent. The methods used by the Reich on both occasions are so similar that we can try and ascertain what point the crisis has reached by a comparison with the events of 1938.

(1) M. Burckhardt went back to Danzig on August 14. Last year, on about the same date, Lord Runciman arrived in Prague to reopen negotiations between Herr Henlein's Party and the Government in Prague. But from that time onwards it was seen that these conferences and the agreements which might be reached between the Czech Government and the Sudeten Party were of secondary interest in the eyes of the German rulers. It is more or less the same today with the settlement of local questions affecting Danzig. Yet it should be noted that the Nazis of the Free City and of the Reich seem far more disposed to be conciliatory in the settlement of these questions than the German negotiators ever were with regard to the Czechs.

(2) Ever since the month of May last year-on May 28 to be precise-the Führer had resolved not only to settle the Sudeten question, but also to have done with Czechoslovakia altogether. For a long time, the rulers of the Reich had made no secret of their desire to wipe Czechoslovakia-that "air-craft carrier for Soviet Russia"-off the map.

For the moment, the Danzig question has fallen into a secondary place. The problem of the German minorities in Poland, and indirectly that of the German frontiers of 1914, have come into the foreground: but it cannot yet be affirmed that the Führer has decided to liquidate Poland. The existence of that State has so far been challenged in comparatively few newspaper articles. The destruction of Poland has not yet been presented to the German public as one of the essential aims of German policy.

(3) From the end of August, 1938, it was clear that the Reich, in fomenting a revolt of the Sudeten Germans, was looking for a pretext for military intervention. Such is probably the aim of the agitation going on at present about the German minorities in Poland, but the manoeuvre has not yet reached such an advanced stage. Violent as it is, the campaign against the Poles is a long way from reaching the size and the violence assumed by the anti-Czech agitation towards the middle of August last year.

It is true that for some days past the German Press has been describing ill treatment of every sort which is said to be inflicted on the Germans in Poland: it speaks of mass arrests, "man-hunts," the distribution of arms to doubtful elements, of tens of thousands of people compelled to seek refuge in Germany, of the violation of frontiers by military planes. But last year, tales such as these, considerably amplified and dramatized, were spread all over the German papers for whole weeks, while the crisis reached its peak only at the end of September.

(4) In conclusion, therefore, we cannot say that the German-Polish crisis is any nearer its culmination now than was the German-Czech crisis at a corresponding period last year.

This remark does not apply to symptoms of a military character.

In this sphere, the preparations would seem to be on a far vaster scale and in a much more advanced stage. This is a point to which we must attach the utmost importance.


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