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by twenty-five years and a guarantee of Polish-German frontiers.”
"Finally, I said that I wished to warn M. von Ribbentrop that I could see no possibility of an agreement involving the reunion of the Free City with the Reich. I concluded by promising to communicate the substance of this conversation
to you." (TC-73 No. 44) It seems clear that the whole question of Danzig, as indeed Hitler himself said, was no question at all. Danzig was raised simply as an excuse, a justification, not for the seizure of Danzig but for the invasion and seizure of the whole of Poland. As the story unfolds it will become ever more apparent that that is what the Nazi conspirators were really aiming at, only providing themselves with some kind of crisis which would afford some kind of justification for attacking Poland.
Another document taken from the Polish White Book (TC-73 No. 45) sets out the instructions that Mr. Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, gave to Mr. Lipski to hand to the German government in reply to the suggestions put forward by Ribbentrop at Berchtesgaden on 24 October. The first part reviews the history of Polish-German relationship and emphasizes the needs of Poland in respect to Danzig. Paragraph 6 of the document states:
"In the circumstances, in the understanding of the Polish government, the Danzig question is governed by two factors: the right of the German population of the city and the surrounding villages to freedom of life and development; and the fact that in all matters appertaining to the Free City as a port it is connected with Poland. Apart from the national character of the majority of the population, everything in
Danzig is definitely bound up with Poland.” (TC-73 No. 45) The document then sets out the guarantees to Poland under the statute, and continues as follows:
“Taking all the foregoing factors into consideration, and desiring to achieve the stabilization of relations by way of a friendly understanding with the government of the German Reich, the Polish government proposes the replacement of the League of Nations guarantee and its prerogatives by a bi-lateral Polish-German Agreement. This agreement should guarantee the existence of the Free City of Danzig so as to assure freedom of national and cultural life to its German majority, and also should guarantee all Polish rights. Notwithstanding the complications involved in such a system, the Polish government must state that any other solution,
and in particular any attempt to incorporate the Free City
which would be dangerous for the future.” (TC-73 No. 45) The first stage in those negotiations had been entirely successful from the German point of view. The Nazis had put forward a proposal, the return of the City of Danzig to the Reich, which they might well have known would have been unacceptable. It was unacceptable and the Polish government had warned the Nazi government that it would be. The Poles had offered to enter into negotiations, but they had not agreed, which is exactly what the German government had hoped for. They had not agreed to the return of Danzig to the Reich. The first stage in producing the crisis had been accomplished.
Shortly afterwards, within a week or so, and after the Polish government had offered to enter into discussions with the German government, another top secret order was issued by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, signed by Keitel (C-137). Copies went to the OKH, OKM, and OKW. The order is headed “First Supplement to Instruction dated 21 October 1938," and reads:
“The Fuehrer has ordered: Apart from the three contin-
(C-137) The remainder of Czechoslovakia had not yet been seized, and therefore the Nazis were not yet ready to go to war with Poland. But Keitel's order shows how the German government answered the Polish proposal to enter into discussions.
On 5 January 1939 Mr. Beck had a conversation with Hitler. (TC-73 No. 48). Ribbentrop was also present. In the first part of that conversation, of which that document is an account, Hitler offered to answer any questions. He said he had always followed the policy laid down by the 1934 agreement. He discussed
the question of Danzig and emphasized that in the German view it must sooner or later return to Germany. The conversation continued:
“Mr. Beck replied that the Danzig question was a very diffi-
ation of the Polish Government." (TC-73 No. 48) It will be recalled that in the previous document discussed (C-137) orders had already been issued for preparations to be made for the occupation of Danzig by surprise. Yet some six weeks later Hitler assured the Polish Foreign Minister that there would be no fait accompli and that he should be quite at his ease.
On the day after the conversation between Beck and Hitler, Beck and Ribbentrop conferred, as follows:
“Mr. Beck asked M. Von Ribbentrop to inform the Chancellor that whereas previously, after all his conversations and contacts with German statesmen, he had been feeling optimistic, today for the first time he was in a pessimistic mood. Particularly in regard to the Danzig question, as it had been raised by the Chancellor, he saw no possibility whatever of agreement."
“In answer M. Von Ribbentrop once more emphasized that Germany was not seeking any violent solution. The basis of their policy towards Poland was still a desire for the further building up of friendly relations. It was necessary to seek such a method of clearing away the difficulties as would respect the rights and interests of the two parties concerned."
(TC-73 No. 49) Ribbentrop apparently was not satisfied with that one expression of good faith. On the 25th of the same month, January 1939, he was in Warsaw and made another speech, of which the following is a pertinent extract:
"In accordance with the resolute will of the German National Leader, the continual progress and consolidation of friendly relations between Germany and Poland, based upon the existing agreement between us, constitute an essential element in German foreign policy. The political foresight, and the principles worthy of true statesmanship, which induced both sides to take the momentous decision of 1934, provide a guarantee that all other problems arising in the course of the future evolution of events will also be solved in the same spirit, with due regard to the respect and understanding of the rightful interests of both sides. Thus Poland and Germany can look forward to the future with full confidence in the solid basis of their mutual relations." (2530–
PS) Hitler spoke in the Reichstag on 30 January 1939, and gave further assurances of the good faith of the German Government. (TC-73 No. 57)
In March 1939 the remainder of Czechoslovakia was seized and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was set up. That seizure, as was recognized by Hitler and Jodl, had immensely strengthened the German position against Poland. Within a week of the completion of the occupation of Czechoslovakia heat was beginning to be applied on Poland.
On 21 March M. Lipski, the Polish ambassador, saw Ribbentrop. The nature of the conversation was generally very much sharper than that of the discussion between Ribbentrop and Beck a little time back at the Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden:
"I saw M. Von Ribbentrop today. He began by saying he
"Further, M. von Ribbentrop referred to the conversation at Berchtesgaden between you and the Chancellor, in which Hitler put forward the idea of guaranteeing Poland's frontiers in exchange for a motor road and the incorporation of Danzig in the Reich. He said that there had been further conversations between you and him in Warsaw on the subject, and that you had pointed out the great difficulties in the way of accepting these suggestions. He gave me to understand that all this had made an unfavorable impression on the Chancellor, since so far he had received no positive reaction whatever on our part to his suggestions. M. von
Ribbentrop had had a talk with the Chancellor only yesterday. He stated that the Chancellor was still in favor of good relations with Poland, and had expressed a desire to have a thorough conversation with you on the subject of our mutual relations. M. von Ribbentrop indicated that he was under the impression that difficulties arising between us were also due to some misunderstanding of the Reich's real aims. The problem needed to be considered on a higher plane. In his opinion our two States were dependent on each other.”
“I (Lipski] stated that now, during the settlement of the
No. 61) That conversation took place on 21 March. The world soon learned what the solution to Memel was. On the next day German armed forces marched in.
As a result of these events, considerable anxiety was growing both in the government of Great Britain and the Polish govern