The French Yellow Book

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No. 261 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, August 27, 1939. 12.15 a.m.

(Received at 430 a.m.)

I REGRET to have to report to Your Excellency that the proposal of Prime Minister Daladier has not been taken up by Chancellor Hitler. For forty minutes I commented upon the President's moving letter. I said everything that my heart as a man and a Frenchman could prompt to induce the Chancellor to agree to a supreme effort for a pacific settlement of the question of Danzig. I conjured him, in the name of history and for the sake of humanity, not to thrust aside this last chance. For the peace of his conscience, I begged him, who had built an empire without shedding blood, not to shed it now, not to shed the blood of soldiers nor that of women and children, without being absolutely certain that this could not be avoided. I confronted him with the terrible responsibilities that he would assume towards western civilization. I told him that his prestige is great enough outside Germany to remain undiminished even after a gesture of appeasement, the men who feared him would perhaps be astonished, but would admire him, mothers would bless him. Perhaps I moved him; but I did not prevail. His mind was made up.

Herr Hitler, after reading the Prime Minister's letter and paying tribute to the noble thoughts it expressed, told me that ever since Poland had had the English guarantee, it had become vain to seek to lead her to a sound comprehension of the situation. Poland's mind was set in morbid resistance. Poland knew that she was committing suicide, but was doing so telling herself that, thanks to the support of France and England, she would rise once more.

Besides, he added, things have now gone too far. No country having any regard for its honour could tolerate the Polish provocations. France, in Germany's place, would have already gone to war. No doubt there were some reasonable men in Warsaw, but the soldiery of that barbarous country had now broken loose. The central Government no longer had the situation in hand.

I laid stress on the importance of the French proposal: not only did M. Daladier undertake that Poland would agree to seek a solution by free conciliation, but he bound himself, with all the authority vested in his person, to work for the success of an attempt at pacific settlement.

Herr Hitler replied that he did not doubt the sentiments of M. Daladier and his sincere desire to save peace, but he thought that the advice of the Prime Minister to Warsaw, however pressing it might be, would not be listened to, for Poland was deaf since she had the British guarantee. Moreover, if Poland showed any willingness to talk matters over, it would, doubtless, be in order to gain time for her mobilization.

I returned many times to my point. I pointed out that Poland and Germany had not talked to one another for a long time, that in the course of the crisis the points of view might perhaps have drawn closer, that at any rate it was impossible to find this out unless conversations took place, and that both sides might refrain from taking any military measures while contacts were made.

"It is useless," Herr Hitler replied to me. "Poland would not give up Danzig; and it is my will that Danzig, as one of the ports of the Reich, should return to Germany."

In face of the impossibility of breaking down Herr Hitler's resistance, and after having invoked the arguments of sentiment reported at the beginning of this telegram, I thought I ought to leave the door ajar by expressing the hope that the F├╝hrer had not said his last word.

As I was taking leave, Herr Hitler announced to me that he would reply in writing to M. Daladier's proposal.


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