The French Yellow Book

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No. 97 :
M. DE VAUX SAINT-CYR, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, April 11, 1939.

REGARDING the state of German-Polish relations after Colonel Beck's journey to London and his return to Warsaw, certain facts seem worthy of attention.

Up to the present, there has been no evidence of large-scale military measures which would justify the conclusion that an operation against Poland is imminent. The verifications undertaken during the Easter holiday showed that up to yesterday, April 10, there was as yet no concentration of troops in Silesia, nor opposite Posen, nor in Pomerania.

No newspaper campaign has yet been launched against Poland by the Reich. Even at the time of Colonel Beck's visit to London, the German Press maintained a certain sense of proportion in its language with regard to Poland. After trying, especially on the eve of Colonel Beck's journey, to intimidate the Warsaw Government, it resumed, during and after the Anglo-Polish conversation, a moderate tone towards Warsaw. It was principally against England that it vented its resentment and annoyance.

In so far as the Danzig question in particular is concerned, the German Press has till now refrained from directly attacking it. The problem has not been put before the public. The Führer's prestige, so far as his own people are concerned, is therefore not yet involved. His liberty of action remains complete.

On the German side, hope of coming to an amicable settlement with Poland has not yet been given up, a resumption of contacts and exchanges of views appears to be under consideration. Likewise, on the Polish side, a new approach by the Reich is expected, and there is no aversion whatever to a renewal of contacts. Even the hope of effecting an arrangement is still entertained. Up to the present, it is true, it is hard to see what fundamental conditions would make this arrangement feasible. Germany's two main demands are: The return of Danzig and the establishment of an extra-territorial passage across the Corridor. Poland has categorically refused to admit these demands. She has made it clear that she would not hesitate, if the occasion arose, to resort to force to oppose the German requirements on these points. She hopes to be able to settle the dispute by granting most generous privileges to the Germans in Danzig and considerable traffic facilities across the Corridor. According to certain reports, the Warsaw Government would even agree to the breaking of all juridical ties between the Free State and the League of Nations, to Danzig's becoming in some sort independent, and to Germany's obtaining important economic privileges.

Be that as it may, one thing appears incontestable. Before having recourse to measures which might provoke an armed conflict with Poland, the Third Reich will neglect no means of settling its disputes with Poland by the method which the Chancellor has until now found so successful, that is to say "without firing a shot."

The German hesitations must without any doubt be attributed in the first place to the firm attitude adopted by Poland. For the first time the Third Reich has come up against a categorical No; for the first time a country has clearly expressed its determination to oppose force by force, and to reply to any unilateral movement with rifles and guns. This is the kind of language that is understood in Germany. But they have not been used to hearing it there for a long time. It has also been very difficult for them to believe their ears, and they still do not despair of wearing down Polish resistance in the long run. Meanwhile, no decision regarding Danzig seems to have been reached as yet, although its restoration to the Reich had been anticipated for April 1.

The vacillation of German policy in the Danzig affair brings out a point which seems to me of capital importance for the appreciation of the general political situation, viz.: the German aversion to rush into a conflict in which the Reich would be engaged on two fronts and in which it would have to reckon, in the East as in the West, with powerful adversaries.


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