The French Yellow Book

Previous Document Contents Next Document

No. 348 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, September 2, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 11.55 a.m.)

THROUGH the Press and the wireless, Germany is still maintaining that it was Poland who rejected the peaceful settlement put forward by the Führer, and who thus made a conflict inevitable. German propaganda absolutely denies the statement that the Polish Government was informed of the proposals which it is accused of having rejected.

In support of its contentions it puts forward two facts:

No. 1. Herr von Ribbentrop, in the night of August 30-31, not only read to the British Ambassador the text of the German proposals, but it is further claimed that he commented at length on these proposals:

No. 2. In the evening of Thursday, August 31, the Polish wireless, it is alleged, declared that the German proposals could not be accepted as a basis for discussion. That, so it is claimed, is a clear proof that the Warsaw Government had been informed of the German plan for a settlement.

As to No. 1 of the above paragraphs, the matter has already been put in its true light. Herr von Ribbentrop read the German proposals at such a speed that Sir Nevile Henderson could not get any definite idea of them.

Although the British Ambassador explicitly requested that the said document should be handed to him, the German Minister for Foreign Affairs replied that this plan had already been rendered obsolete, as the Polish plenipotentiary had not presented himself on August 30.

Such was the pretext used by Herr von Ribbentrop for refusing to hand the text to Sir Nevile Henderson.

As to No. 2 of the above paragraphs, there is clearly on the German side a manoeuvre to bring about a deliberate confusion between the plan read out by Herr von Ribbentrop at midnight on the 30th, and the note addressed on the 29th by the Reich Government to the British Government.

In the latter note, drawn up in brutal terms, the German Government laid down most drastic conditions. In particular it referred "to what would be left of Poland after the alleged agreement had been reached." If the Polish wireless declared on the evening of the 31st that the German proposals were absolutely unacceptable, this assertion can apply only to the German note of the 29th sent to the British Government and not to the German plan comprising 16 points.

Not only was the Warsaw Government kept uninformed of the German proposals, but furthermore the French and British Governments did not have in their hands the text of the German plan until after the German wireless had announced that Poland had rejected the proposals of the Reich and that negotiations were broken off.

It was, in fact, at 9 p m. on the 31st that the German wireless gave out the communiqué announcing the breaking off of the negotiations and the text of the plan.

But it was only at 9.15 p.m. and at 9.25 p.m. that the British and the French Ambassadors had been respectively summoned by Herr von Ribbentrop in order to receive a copy of the communiqué and of the plan.

From this it follows that there was never a time when Warsaw, or London, or Paris was in a position to examine the proposals, which were communicated to them by the German Government only after the latter had already declared them to be null and void.

Moreover, the fact cannot be over-stressed that on August 31, as early as 1 p.m., the Polish Ambassador in Berlin requested Herr von Ribbentrop to receive him in order to inform him of the consent by Poland to conversations being opened.

It was not till 7.45 p.m. that M. Lipski was received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who confined himself to taking note of his communication, without informing him as to the contents of the German plan or even making mention of it in any way.


Previous Document Contents Next Document
Nuremberg War Crimes Trial 20th Century Page World War II Page

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.