The French Yellow Book

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No. 133 : M.
LÉON NÖEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, June 7, 1939.

THE two notes which were handed by the Senate of Danzig on June 3 to the Polish Commissioner-General and, according to the Vorposten, constituted "Danzig's last word" on the Kalthof shooting, are worth particular study. They would seem, in fact, to give a clearer picture of the tactics which the Free City means to adopt towards Poland at any rate for the next few weeks. On the one hand, the idea seems to be to turn a deaf ear to any proposal for renewing collaboration, or even easing the existing tension, with Poland. On the other hand the Free City seems to be planning to profit by the circumstances in order to proclaim itself an independent German state; it must, therefore, abolish progressively all the Polish prerogatives. Thus it is taking advantage of the Kalthof incident, to quarrel with the Polish Representatives whom the Senate wishes to reduce to the level of ordinary diplomatic representatives and with the Polish Customs inspectors. If Poland should grow weary of the struggle, they would manage, in course of time, to obtain recognition by her of the Free City as an independent German state; and it will be remembered that it was towards such a solution that M. Beck seemed inclined to turn at the time when he was on good terms with Berlin. If Poland resists and conflicts arise, which from a distance appear to be of quite minor importance, Poland will be accused of adopting an uncompromising attitude and of wishing to undermine the essentially German character of Danzig.

We know that, as a result of the Kalthof incident when the chauffeur of the Polish Deputy Commissioner, M. Perkowski, fired at a Marienburg butcher and killed him, the Senate demanded the "recall" of this official, for abusing his diplomatic privileges in order to make good the escape of the murderer, as well as that of two other Customs officials.

In its reply the Polish Government had refused to recognise the right of the Senate to make any demands, but at the same time declared itself willing to examine the arrangements that could be made in order to ensure the possibility of normal activity for Polish officials on the territory of the Free City "if the Senate was willing to put an end to the existing tension."

The last two notes of the Senate had, as their object, to leave no doubt that it was not in the least prepared to end the existing tension and still less to assist in ensuring the possibility of normal activity for the Polish officials.

The presentation of these notes is in itself eloquent. According to the official Danzig communiqué, they were addressed by "the Government of Danzig to the diplomatic Representative of the Polish Republic" and the Polish Commissioner-General, M. Chodacki, found himself addressed as "Herr Minister." The first note warns the Polish Government that "if it maintained its refusal to recall the three officials mentioned, an order would be given to all Danzig officials, whether directly dependent on the Senate or not, to cease for the future all private and official dealings with them."

The second note protests against the excessive number of Polish Customs inspectors, which was "contrary to treaty stipulations"; and notifies the Polish Representative that in future the Customs officials would be obliged to take an oath of allegiance to the authorities of the Free City.

The Polish Press, which had received orders not to lay stress on the question, published only a brief report in which the reply of the Senate was reduced to the proportions of a purely local event upon which it was not necessary to dwell. The few newspapers which brought the matter up again, only did so in order to ridicule the Senate's claims. The I.K.C., for example, called Herr Greiser the "Burgomaster of the town of Gdansk." The Kurjer Warszawski was rather sarcastic about the senators who "in asking for a reduction in the number of Polish Customs officials revealed their ignorance of the statutes of their own city."

The remarks made by Herr Forster on Sunday last, June 4, at the festival of the Danzig Labour Service, with the agreement of Reichsarbeitsführer Hierl, seem to confirm the impression that the Free City is at present determined to carry on a policy of resistance and systematic sabotage of Polish rights. The Gauleiter compared the "unbridled fury" and the "hysteria" of the Poles with the calm of Danzig. "For us, Danzigers," he said, "we must not allow ourselves to lose our tempers-we leave that to our neighbours-we have only to wait, trusting in the Führer. We have held out for peace, we can hold out a little longer. The Führer wants a strong Danzig. Four hundred thousand people of Danzig are waiting, resolute, at the mouth of the Vistula, and look to no one but him."


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