Изображения страниц

after some heated remarks both Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop assured me that it was only intended to stress urgency of the moment when the two fully mobilized armies

were standing face to face." (TC-72 No. 79) Again the British Government replied and Sir Neville Henderson handed this reply to Ribbentrop at the famous meeting on midnight of 30 August, at the time the Polish Emissary had been expected. The reply stated that the British Government reciprocated the desire for improved relations. It stressed again that it cannot sacrifice its interest to other friends in order to obtain an improvement in the situation. It understood that the German Government accepts the condition that the settlement should be subject to international guarantee. The British Government makes a reservation as to the demands that the Germans put forward in their last letter, and is informing the Polish Government immediately. Lastly, the British understand that the German Government is drawing up the proposals. (TC-72 No. 89)

Sir Neville Henderson gave this account of that interview at midnight on 30 August:

“I told Herr von Ribbentrop this evening that His Majesty's
Government found it difficult to advise Polish Government to
accept procedure adumbrated in German reply, and suggested
that he should adopt normal contact, i.e., that when German
proposals were ready to invite Polish Ambassador to call and
to hand him proposals for transmission to his Government
with a view to immediate opening of negotiations. I added
that if basis afforded prospect of settlement His Majesty's
Government could be counted upon to do their best in War-
saw to temporize negotiations.
“Herr von Ribbentrop's reply was to produce a lengthy docu-
ment which he read out in German aloud at top speed. Imag-
ining that he would eventually hand it to me I did not attempt
to follow too closely the sixteen or more articles which it con-
tained. Though I cannot therefore guarantee accuracy the
main points were:

[blocks in formation]

"When I asked Herr von Ribbentrop for text of these pro-
posals in accordance with undertaking the German reply of
yesterday, he asserted that it was now too late as Polish rep-
resentative had not arrived in Berlin by midnight.
"I observed that to treat matter in this way meant that re-
quest for Polish representative to arrive in Berlin on 30th
August constituted in fact, an ultimatum in spite of what he
and Herr Hitler had assured me yesterday. This he denied,

saying that idea of an ultimatum was figment of my imagi-
nation. Why then I asked could he not adopt normal pro-
cedure and give me copy of proposals and ask Polish Ambas-
sador to call on him, just as Herr Hitler had summoned me
a few days ago, and hand them to him for communication to
Polish Government. In the most violent terms Herr von
Ribbentrop said that he would never ask the Ambassador to
visit him. He hinted that if Polish Ambassador asked him
for interview it might be different. I said that I would nat-
urally inform my Government so at once. Whereupon he said
while those were his personal views he would bring all that I
had said to Herr Hitler's notice. It was for Chancellor to
“We parted on that note, but I must tell you that Herr von
Ribbentrop's demeanor during an unpleasant interview was
aping Herr Hitler at his worst. He inveighed incidentally
against Polish mobilization, but I retorted that it was hardly
surprising since Germany had also mobilized as Herr Hitler

himself had admitted to me yesterday.” (TC-72 No. 92) Henderson of course did not know at that time that Germany had also given the orders to attack Poland some days before. On the following day, 31 August, at 6:30 in the evening, M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador, had an interview with Ribbentrop. This is M. Lipski's account of the conversation:

"I carried out my instructions. M. von Ribbentrop asked if I had special plenipotentiary powers to undertake negotiations. I said no. He then asked whether I had been informed that on London's suggestion the German Government had expressed their readiness to negotiate directly with a delegate of the Polish Government, furnished with the requisite full powers, who was to have arrived on the preceding day, August 30. I replied that I had no direct information on the subject. In conclusion M. von Ribbentrop repeated that he had thought I would be empowered to negotiate. He would com

municate my demarche to the Chancellor.” (TC-73 No. 112) But it was too late. The orders had already been given on that day to the German Army to invade. A “Most Secret order” signed by Hitler, described as his “Direction No. 1 for the conduct of the war,” dated 31 August 1939, reads in part:

“Now that all the political possibilities of disposing by peace-
ful means of a situation of the Eastern Frontier which is in-
tolerable for Germany are exhausted, I have determined on a
solution by force.
"The attack on Poland is to be carried out in accordance with


the preparations made for 'Fall Weiss', with the alterations
which result, where the Army is concerned, from the fact
that it has in the meantime almost completed its dispositions.
"Allotment of tasks and the operational target remain un-
“Date of attack-1 September 1939
"Time of attack-04:45 [inserted in red pencil]
“This time also applies to the operation at Gdynia, Bay of
Danzig and the Dirschau Bridge.
“In the West it is important that the responsibility for the
opening of hostilities should rest unequivocally with Eng-
land and France. At first purely local action should be taken

against insignificant frontier violations." (C-126) That evening, 31 August, at nine o'clock, the German radio broadcast the terms of the German proposals about which they were willing to enter into discussions with the Polish Government. The proposals were set out at length. By this time, neither Sir Neville Henderson nor the Polish Government nor their Ambassador had yet been given their written copy of them. This is a document which seems difficult to explain other than as an exhibition or an example of hypocrisy. The second paragraph states:

"Further, the German Government pointed out that they felt able to make the basic points regarding the offer of an understanding available to the British Government by the time

the Polish negotiator arrived in Berlin." The manner in which they did that has been shown. The German Broadcast continued, that instead of the arrival of an authorized Polish personage, the first answer the Government of the Reich received to their readiness for an understanding was the news of the Polish mobilization; and that only toward 12 o'clock on the night of 30 August 1939 did they receive a somewhat general assurance of British readiness to help towards the commencement of negotiations. The fact that the Polish negotiator expected by the Reich did not arrive, removed the necessary conditions for informing His Majesty's Government of the views of the German Government as regards the possible basis for negotiation. Since His Majesty's Government themselves had pleaded for direct negotiations between Germany and Poland, the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ribbentrop, gave the British Ambassador on the occasion of the presentation of the last British note, precise information as to the text of the German proposals which will be regarded as a basis for negotiation in the event of the arrival of the Polish Plenipotentiary. The Broadcast thereafter went on to

set out the Nazi version of the story of the negotiations over the last few days. (TC-73 No. 113)

On 1 September, when his armies were already crossing the Polish frontier, Hitler issued this proclamation to his Armed Forces:

"The Polish Government, unwilling to establish good neigh-
borly relations as aimed at by me, wants to force the issue by
way of arms.
"The Germans in Poland are being persecuted with bloody
terror and driven from their homes. Several acts of frontier
violation which cannot be tolerated by a great power show
that Poland is no longer prepared to respect the Reich's fron-
tiers. To put an end to these mad acts I can see no other
way but from now onwards to meet force with force.
“The German Armed Forces will with firm determination
take up the struggle for the honor and the vital rights of the
German people.
“I expect every soldier to be conscious of the high tradition
of the eternal German soldierly qualities and to do his duty
to the last.
"Remember always and in any circumstances that you are
the representatives of National Socialist Greater Germany.

“Long live our people and the Reich.” (TC-54) So that at last Hitler had kept his word to his generals. He had afforded them their propagandistic justification, and at that time, anyway, it did not matter what people said about it afterwards.

"The view shall not appear, asked later on, whether we told the truth or not. Might is what counts—or victory is what

counts and not right.” (1014-PS) On that day, 1 September, when news came of this invasion of Polish ground, the British Government, in accordance with their treaty obligations, sent an ultimatum to the German Government, in which it stated :

"I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfill their obligations to

Poland.” (TC-72 No. 110) At 9 o'clock on 3 September the British Government handed a final ultimatum to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. It read in part:

事 * *

Although this communication was made more than twenty-four hours ago, no reply has been received but German attacks upon Poland have been continued and intensified. I have accordingly the honor to inform you that, unless not later than eleven o'clock, British Summer Time, today 3d September, satisfactory assurances to the above effect have been given by the German Government, and have reached His Majesty's Government in London, a state of war will exist between the two countries as from that hour."

(TC-72 No. 118) And so it was that at 11 o'clock on 3 September a state of war existed between Germany and England and between Germany and France. The plans, preparations, intentions, and determination to carry out this assault upon Poland which had been going on for months, for years before, had come to fruition despite all appeals to peace, all appeals to reason. It mattered not what anybody but the German Government had in mind or whatever rights anybody else but the German nation thought they had. If there is any doubt left about this matter, two more documents remain for consideration. Even now, on 3 September, Mussolini offered some chance of peace. At 6:30 hours on 3 September Mussolini sent a telegram to Hitler:

“The Italian Ambassador handed to the State Secretary at
the Duce's order following copy for the Fuehrer and Reich
Chancellor and for the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs:
"Italy sends the information, leaving, of course, every de-
cision to the Fuehrer, that it still has a chance to call a con-
ference with France, England and Poland on following basis:
1. Armistice which would leave the Army Corps where they
are at present. 2. Calling the conference within two or three
days. 3. Solution of the Polish-German controversy which
would be certainly favorable for Germany as matters stand
“This idea which originated from the Duce has its foremost
exponent in France.
"Danzig is already German and Germany is holding already
securities which guarantee most of her demands. Besides,
Germany has had already its "moral satisfaction. If it would
accept the plan for a conference, it will achieve all her aims
and at the same time prevent a war which already today has
the aspect of being universal and of extremely long dura-
tion.” (1831-PS)

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »