The French Yellow Book

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No. 104 :
M. DE LA TOURNELLE, French Consul in Danzig, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Danzig, April 25, 1939.

THE failure of the attempt last month by the Reich to blackmail Poland has in the diplomatic and military spheres still further increased the confusion in the Free City; one might almost speak of a crisis in the regime itself, since the National-Socialist Party, with its Gauleiter, the Government represented by the Senate, and lastly the Gestapo, are severally at loggerheads with one another.

Himmler was obliged to come here in secret, at the beginning of the month; he endeavoured to settle the dispute, very bitter since Herr Greiser's journey to Berlin, in order to frustrate the Putsch prepared by Herr Forster's associates. He is said to have been very dissatisfied with the lack of discipline prevailing in the Danzig district and, on his return to Berlin, to have advised the recall of the Gauleiter. It remains to be seen whether the Führer, who is a personal friend of the latter, will consent to this.

The leaders of the storm troops do not admit defeat; they repeatedly prophesy the return of the Free City to Germany at an early date, which they are compelled continually to postpone; and they condemn in the strongest terms the present state of deferred hopes.

The responsible officials maintain quite a different attitude. The Head of the Department for Foreign Affairs of the Senate readily declares, in conversation with foreigners, that the Danzig question can only be settled by German-Polish negotiations; that such negotiations, in view of their complexity, will necessarily be long and difficult; but that time does not matter, since the Free City, having already waited twenty years for its future to be decided, can be patient a little longer. Finally, according to Herr Böttcher, the Danzig people are said to be taking offense at being looked upon almost as a box of chocolates that one might give away as a birthday present.

This attitude of caution may have been due to a warning that the High Commissioner of Poland is said to have given to the Senate at the beginning of the month; at the slightest attempt to modify the constitution by violence, whether coming from inside or outside the Territory, Polish troops would immediately enter Danzig and endeavour to maintain themselves there, whatever damage the City might suffer.

That is apparently the sort of language best understood here.

I have learned from an authoritative German source that the Reich in order to disarm Polish prejudices, would, in the negotiations it hopes to open with the Warsaw Government, drop its claim to the territorial annexation of Danzig; it would recognize and confirm the sovereignty of the Free City; freed from the control of the League of Nations, but it would demand its transfer from Polish customs territory to that of Germany.

This would mean that in return for a formal concession, the neighbouring Republic would have to give up the advantages it now holds. But, according to the local Polish authorities, it is not likely that Warsaw will allow itself to be thus duped, so that this maneuver has little chance of success.


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