The French Yellow Book

Previous Document Contents Next Document

No. 129 :
M. LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, May 25, 1939.

WITHIN the last few days there has been a series of incidents on the Danzig-Polish frontier. They were for the most part insignificant, but their frequency, the trouble stirred up about them by the Danzig authorities, and the use which these are obviously seeking to make of them give them exceptional importance.

It will, therefore, be of interest to sum them up briefly here;

1. The Kalthof incident (Customs post on the frontier of East Prussia).

A troop of the S.A. collected before a house occupied by the Polish Customs officials and threatened them. The officials withdrew. The assailants entered the house and ransacked it.

Informed of the incident the Polish Commissioner-General made it known that he was sending his deputy, M. Perkowski to the spot, and informed the Danzig authorities who agreed to have him accompanied by the police. A few moments later, the same authorities telephoned to say that they had no police available. M. Perkowski therefore went alone by car to Kalthof.

While he was visiting the ransacked building, a group of "unknown persons" attacked his car which was parked outside. The chauffeur, after firing two shots in the air, fired on his assailants. One of them was killed. The dead man turned out to be an S.A. from Marienburg in East Prussia, Grübnau by name.

The crowd scattered immediately. M. Perkowski and his chauffeur joined the Customs officials, who had taken refuge in a neighbouring railway station, and had themselves conveyed on a railway engine to Tczew, in Polish territory.

The German version separates the two portions of the incident. It explains Grübnau's death in the following manner: "A citizen was going through a deserted village in a taxi when he was killed by a Polish chauffeur who had first dazzled the taxi-driver with his headlights."

As a sequel to the incident the Polish Commissioner-General transmitted to the Senate of Danzig a note in which:

(1) He pointed out that the Polish Government could not admit that the work of the Polish Customs officials should be interfered with in any way.

(2) He demanded that an inquiry should be held.

(3) He claimed compensation for damages.

(4) He insisted upon a clear and precise declaration as to the guarantees that the Senate was disposed to give to ensure the security of the Polish minority in the Free City.

The Senate, on its part, sent a protest on account the death of the S.A. Grübnau, demanding also compensation, sanctions and apologies.

At this stage the Polish Customs officials returned to their post.

To the note of the Polish Commissioner-General, the Senate has just replied with two notes. In the first it declared itself unable to accept the Polish version of the incident and refused to accede to the requests of the Polish Commissioner-General. In the second, the Senate requested the recall of M. Perkowski, the Commissioner-General's deputy, and of the Polish Inspector General of Customs and one of his collaborators. The Danzig note accused M. Perkowski of taking advantage of his diplomatic rights to flee into Polish territory taking with him the murderer thus enabling the latter to escape from the Danzig justice.

Finally, yesterday, May 24, the funeral of the victim took place at Marienburg. Herr Hitler sent a wreath of flowers by special aeroplane. President Greiser and Gauleiter Forster took part in the ceremony. The speeches made dwelt chiefly upon the virtues of their lost comrade without making any allusion to Poland. But one of the S.A. took a solemn oath over the grave of Grübnau to avenge his death.

2. Incident at Pieklo (Picker) on the frontier of Danzig and East Prussia, opposite Elbing.

On Sunday, May 14, there was a further hostile manifestation before the Polish Customs post. But this time, at the request of the Polish Commissioner-General, the police intervened and dispersed the demonstrators.

3. Incident on the Tczew bridge (Dirschau).

On Tuesday, May 16, in the early hours of the morning a lorry coming from Elbing (East Prussia) going towards the Reich across the Corridor, drew up at the Polish frontier post near the Tczew bridge. At that moment a Polish Customs official fired a revolver shot in the air to prevent the chauffeur moving off. The Danzig version asserts that the Customs official attempted to kill the chauffeur. The Vorposten, the official organ of the Senate, devotes considerable space to the incident, preceding the story with the huge headline: "Fresh attempt at murder by Poles on Danzig territory."

4. Incident at Kohling.

Two Polish frontier guards crossed the frontier. Called upon to withdraw they left a bicycle in Danzig territory. The Senate speaks of a further violation of the frontier.

Taking their stand upon the whole series of incidents, the Senate sent the Polish Commissioner General a note of protest which the Vorposten describes as extremely vigorous. But it does not publish the text.

However, from information which has reached Warsaw it would seem that the Senate requested the Polish Government "to take the necessary measures to put a stop to the hysteria of the Polish officials before the trouble caused by it led to incalculable consequences."

The Polish press, which had reacted violently after the Kalthof incident, does not seem, on the other hand, to attach much importance to the incidents which followed. It publishes brief reports under the heading "Minor frontier incidents."

In the same way only a very fleeting allusion is made to yesterday's notes from the Danzig Senate. A telegram reproduced by the Gazeta Polska merely remarks "a peculiar feature of the Danzig requests is the recall of three Polish officials."

The Pat Agency observes, in one of its bulletins, that the Senate's request for the recall of the Deputy Commissioner at Danzig cannot possibly be accepted, for the Polish Commissioner-General represents the Polish Government at Danzig and cannot be regarded as a normal diplomatic Representative. The same considerations, adds the semi-official agency, hold good for the officials under him.

The same bulletin remarks that the Senate's notes are considered in Warsaw as tending, for purpose of propaganda, to aggravate the relations between Poland and Danzig; "the unhealthy publicity given by the Senate to minute incidents, and to the notes addressed to the Polish Government, cannot have any other object than that of further inflaming public opinion."


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

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.