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The Ambassador in Poland Reports on Reaction of Government and Press to Events in Danzig

P. 24 WARSAW, July 6, 1939
Pol. V 6351 Received July 7.

Subject: The Polish attitude to events in Danzig.

The events in Danzig have been interpreted here as a sign that Germany is determined to solve the Danzig question by force if need be. The requested meetings between the President and the advisers on matters of foreign and military policy, the presence in Warsaw of the London Ambassador, Raczynski, and the visits of the British Charge d'Affaires to the Foreign Minister show that a lively exchange of views is going on between the allies. I learn that Government quarters here are inclined to the views that what is taking place in Danzig is predominantly in the nature of a demonstration. But there are also agitators who take the view that Poland's rights have already now been clearly violated and that a counter action is necessary. It is, of course, fully realized here that any counter action would mean war. Up to the present, however, there is no reason to suppose that the more moderate elements will not keep the upper hand. From every aspect it would, in fact, be to the disadvantage of the Polish Government to adopt aggressive tactics in the face of a situation which is not yet fully clear. Whether in such a case French and British aid would be available, and whether public opinion in the democratic countries could then be roused to the desired degree may be doubtful.

How great is the nervousness of the public here, is shown by the paradoxical effect produced by the publication of our Note on the forthcoming visit of the cruiser Koenigsberg. It might have been expected that the announcement of the visit of a German warship - and that in August, the month clouded with prophecies of war - would arouse fresh unrest. Instead, this announcement made through the regular channels, quite obviously resulted in a relaxation of tension, because it was regarded as proof of Germany's still abiding by the Danzig Statute. It would be wrong, however, to regard this nervousness as tantamount to fear. There is hardly any doubt that in the present excited state of the whole country a clear violation of Poland's rights in Danzig would not be tolerated. The determination to fight is general. In this connection reliance on the Allies and their repeated assurances probably plays a large part. Though the Poles fear that they cannot hold out more than a few months with their own army, there is complete confidence in the final victory of the encirclement Powers. There are even large groups who would welcome war now since, in their opinion, the favourable circumstance that Britain is prepared to take up arms in defence of the status quo in Danzig, may perhaps not recur so soon. As things are today, any Government will be compelled to take this warlike mood into account.

However, the impression gained, particularly from the events of the last few days, is that the carte blanche given to the Polish Government is not, after all, as unlimited as at first appeared from the Anglo-Polish Agreement. It would seem from various indications that Britain has obviously safeguarded herself against being involved in a war against her will by obtaining from Poland an undertaking to consult her. This, on the other hand, also means a safeguard for Poland against being left without help at the crucial moment as well as a kind of brake on rash actions which, in view of the Polish character, can certainly not be ruled out altogether.


Source: "Documents on German Foreign Policy," Series D, Vol.VI, p. 864.

Source: Yad Vashem - Eclipse of Humanity