Archive/File: orgs/french/foreign-office/yellow-book-appendix.002 Last-Modified: 1997/10/19 APPENDIX II Extract from Speech Delivered to the Chamber of Deputies by M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, January 26, 1939 WE have also sought to improve our relations with Germany. Each of you, I think, will approve of this. After Munich, Mr. Neville Chamberlain signed with the Reich Government a "bon voisinage" agreement.  Chancellor Hitler had a conversation with our Ambassador, M. Franois-Poncet, on this subject at Berchtesgaden on October 22. Negotiations were immediately begun. They were conducted with great rapidity, and some time later, in the beginning of November, an agreement was reached without difficulty, after frank and full discussion. It is in these circumstances that Herr von Ribbentrop came to Paris to sign a Franco-German declaration. What, gentlemen, does this declaration say? The two Governments are agreed that no territorial questions are outstanding between their countries. They solemnly recognise as permanent the frontier as it now stands. And further, gentlemen, without prejudice to their own relations with third Powers, the two Governments declare their determination to remain in contact on all questions that concern them both, and to consult each other in the event of subsequent developments in these questions tending to lead to international difficulties. There, gentlemen, is the Franco-German Declaration. Is there any responsible man who, in my place, would have refused to sign it? (Loud applause in the centre, on the right, and on numerous benches on the left.) Have we in doing so sacrificed a single one of the interests of France? Have not all the men who have successfully been in power declared in their speeches that they would seize the first opportunity of bringing about a better understanding between France and Germany? And, in the hour when it appeared possible, would anyone suggest we ought not to have accepted it? No one would dare assert that. And, what is more, we consider that this joint declaration should constitute a first step, and that it should open for us both vistas of confident cooperation in the future. (Hear, hear! Hear, hear! from the same benches.) Yes, gentlemen, our geographical position wills it that we have Germany for a neighbour. Even if France were to- morrow again at war with Germany, she would be obliged, after the peace, to have relations and conversations with that nation. Can it be believed that these relations would be any freer, these conversations any easier after another war, which would have resulted in millions of dead, would have heaped up ruins, and revived hatreds for new generations? I doubt it. Herr von Ribbentrop, German Minister for Foreign Affairs, declared in a broadcast to the German people:  "France and Germany have reached an agreement to put an end to their age-old frontier disputes. The courage of the German people, and of the French people, have earned for them, during the World War, a mutual consideration which should, in peace time, increase, thanks to the bravery and to the efforts shown by each people in its work." And M. Daladier, President of the Council of Ministers, following this, expressed from this rostrum, the unanimous opinion of France when he declared: "I want peace with Germany. All ex-Service men want peace with Germany. (Applause on the left, in the centre and on the right.) Among them, among you, there are many who would give their lives, I can confidently state, for the sure establishment of peace." I need not say, gentlemen, that we have kept informed of our negotiations the principal countries concerned to which we are bound by friendship; Poland, Belgium, Great Britain, the U.S.S.R., the United States of America. And how have they received this agreement? In the House of Commons, Mr. Neville Chamberlain declared that the British Government felt a very special satisfaction that France had been able to reach an agreement with Germany. In America, editorials of the three leading newspapers of New York and Washington have revealed a full understanding of French policy. Poland has declared that her Government congratulates itself on the happy conclusions of the Franco- German declaration. And were this joint declaration to be submitted to a referendum of the French people, I should have no doubt of its unanimous approval. (Applause on the left, in the centre and on the right.) France has also maintained her traditional friendship with Poland. At the time of the Franco-German Declaration of December 6, I had, in accordance with our agreements, advised the Polish Ambassador of our intentions. The Polish Government, thanking me for keeping it informed, told me that it congratulated itself on an agreement of which it fully appreciated the aim, the significance, and the scope. In the same way, M. Beck, before leaving Monte Carlo, informed me of the invitation he had just received from Chancellor Hitler. Moreover, I would ask the Chamber not to forget, as certain speakers appear to have forgotten, that an agreement between Germany and Poland exists dating from 1934. M. Beck undertakes to keep our Ambassador informed of the coming conversations. We are remaining in  constant contact with the Warsaw Government, and we have had with it, whenever it has been useful, conversations justified by the particular relations of both countries and the course of events. On all occasions, and again recently, the Polish Government has renewed to us the assurance that friendship with France constitutes one of the fundamentals of Polish policy. There, gentlemen, we must once and for all be done with the legend that our policy has rendered worthless our undertakings in Eastern Europe with the U.S.S.R. and Poland. These undertakings remain still in force, and they must be fulfilled in the exact spirit in which they were conceived. III Telephone Communications of M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1939 Thursday, August 31, 1939 10.20 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Coulondre to M. Georges Bonnet M. COULONDRE telephones that the British Ambassador in Berlin has told him that, according to a very reliable source, there is considerable dissatisfaction in Berlin that no reply has yet been received from Poland, and it is to be feared that the Reich Government intends to give the troops orders to attack if no reply is received by the end of the morning. 10.45 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Corbin THE Minister requests our Ambassador in London to inform the Foreign Office of the communication from M. Coulondre and to add that the French Government considers it desirable to advise the Polish Government to agree, as a matter of extreme urgency, to open direct conversations with the Reich Government. 11.45 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. LON NEL THE Minister summarizes the communication from M. Coulondre.  He requests M. NEL to make a fresh overture to M. Beck, with a view to obtaining the Polish Government's consent to direct conversations. He stresses the extreme gravity of the situation and the necessity for the Poles to reply without delay. M. LON NEL states that M. Beck will give his answer at noon. He has given this assurance to the French Ambassador, who will see that this promise is kept and that no delay takes place. 12.15 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Franois-Poncet to M. Georges Bonnet M. FRANOIS-PONCET was received by the Italian Foreign Minister. The latter told him that, according to information supplied to him by his Ambassador in Berlin, the situation had now reached its most critical stage. Count Ciano fears that Poland's failure to reply will lead the German Government to begin military operations against Poland. The Minister replied to M. Franois-Poncet that, according to his recent telephone conversation with M. LON NEL, the Polish Government had agreed to accept the principle of direct conversations between Germany and Poland. 12.30 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Coulondre THE Minister informs M. Coulondre of M. Lon Nel's reply. This reply is favourable and should be sent either directly to the Government of the Reich or to the British Government, to be conveyed through the latter's agency to the German Government. 12.45 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Corbin THE Minister informs M. Corbin of his conversations with M. LON NEL and M. Coulondre. He requests him, in the event of the Polish Government sending its reply directly to the British Government, to ask the latter at once to inform its Berlin Ambassador thereof by telephone, for immediate communication to the Government of the Reich. The Minister insists on the necessity of losing no time over this communication. 1 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Franois-Poncet to M. Georges Bonnet "COUNT CIANO has just summoned me and told me: Signor Mussolini offers, if France and England would accept, to invite Germany  to a conference to be held on September 5, during which present difficulties arising out of the Versailles Treaty would be examined." 1.15 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Corbin to M. Georges Bonnet THE Prime Minister has just told M. Corbin that he has received from Count Ciano the same message as the French Government. M. Corbin requests the Minister to let him know as quickly as possible the French reply to enable the French Government and the British Government to compare their points of view. The Minister replies that he will let the British Government know the French answer as soon as possible, but that the latter cannot, of course, be drawn up until after the meeting of the Council of Ministers. 9 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Corbin THE Minister informs M. Corbin of the essential points of the French reply which come under two heads: 1. The desire that the direct German-Polish conversations should have a successful issue. 2. In the event of their not succeeding, acceptance of the conference, provided Poland were invited to take part and that the conference should cover all points at issue, the settlement of which would be calculated to establish a lasting peace. 11 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Corbin to M. Georges Bonnet THE Ambassador confirms that the British Government will send its reply to-morrow morning and that it will acquaint the Ministry with the terms thereof. Friday, September 1, 1939 (THE Minister learnt at 8 o'clock in the morning that German troops had crossed the Polish frontier at many points; he immediately informed the President of the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is summoned for 1030.)  10.20 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Franois- Poncet THE Minister informs the Ambassador that, as the Council of Ministers is about to meet, he will send him before noon the French Government's reply to Signor Mussolini's proposal for a conference. 10.30 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Corbin THE Minister makes certain that M. Corbin has in his possession the text of the draft French reply to Italy which has just been telephoned to the Embassy. M. Corbin is to communicate this text to the British Government. The Minister informs him that, failing contrary advice from London, the reply will be telephoned to Rome before noon. 11 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Corbin to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs M. CORBIN gives a broad outline of the British Government's reply to Italy. He adds that the British Government leaves it to the French Government to reply to the Italian Government as it sees fit. 11.50 a.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Franois- Poncet THE Minister, who left the Council of Ministers before the meeting ended, dictates over the telephone to M. Franois-Poncet the reply of the French Government to the Italian proposal. 1 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Thierry to M. Georges Bonnet THE French Ambassador at Bucharest has telephoned, at the request of the Minister, to M. Lon Nel. He passes on the information which the French Ambassador at Warsaw had just given him about German military action and the bombardment to which Warsaw and Cracow has been subjected.  3 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Franois-Poncet to M. Georges Bonnet THE Italian Government considers that if the French Government could sound the Polish Government and discovers its attitude to the conference offer, if the latter did intend to accept the Italian proposal, the Government of Rome would be able to make a final appeal to Herr Hitler. 3.40 p m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Corbin THE Minister acquaints M. Corbin with the information communicated to him by M. Franois-Poncet. The Italian Government believes it possible, if it obtains the assent of France and of England, to take up again its proposal of yesterday; it considers that Poland ought to be present at the conference, and it has asked whether we have the assent of the Polish Government. The Minister has informed M. Franois-Poncet that we are trying to get into touch with the Polish authorities. 4 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Lon Nel THE Minister informs M. Lon Nel of the Italian Government's proposals and requests him to communicate them to M. Beck. Would the Polish Government accept the proposal for a conference? It is understood, of course, that this conference would not be held if the Polish Government did not agree to take part in it. 4.5 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Thierry THE preceding communication not having come through clearly over the telephone, the Minister repeats it through the agency of the French Embassy at Bucharest. He requests the latter to telephone to M. Lon Nel for the latter to ascertain whether Poland would agree to take part in a conference convened by the Italian Government. He begs the Embassy to tell M. Lon Nel that he considers the Italian proposal as important. At the present juncture no effort should be neglected to try, if it is still possible, to save the peace.  4.35 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Lon Nel (The connection is extremely bad; conversation is impossible.) 4.50 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Franois- Poncet THE Minister states that he has handed on the Italian communication to the Polish Government and that he has not yet been able to get a reply, owing to difficulties of transmission. He will inform him of this reply as soon as he has received it. Meanwhile, he leaves the initiative to the Rome Government. 4.55 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to M. Coulondre THE Minister informs the Ambassador that the French and English Governments have agreed upon the text of a note to be handed to the Government of the Reich, protesting against the invasion of Poland by the German armies. He instructs him to make a joint approach with his British colleague. Saturday, September 2, 1939 2.15 p.m. Communication telephoned by Count Ciano to M. Georges Bonnet COUNT CIANO telephones to the Minister as follows: "I have had transmitted to Berlin, simply by way of information and without any attempt at persuasion, our project for a conference. M. Attolico has just informed me of Herr von Ribbentrop's reply. "Herr Hitler has taken note of the message; he does not refuse to consider the project, but he has before him two notes, one French, the other English, which were handed to him yesterday evening. If these notes are in the nature of an ultimatum, he will reply by a categorical NO to the Governments of London and of Paris, and will consequently be unable to take into consideration the project of a conference. "Herr von Ribbentrop wants to know, moreover, if Germany can assume that it has until noon to-morrow morning to reply to these two notes. "Count Ciano would therefore be obliged if the French and English  Governments would put him in a position to reply to these two questions raised by Herr von Ribbentrop. M. Franois- Poncet and Sir Percy Loraine are in his room at the present moment. The latter has given him the assurance that, in the British Government's mind, the note delivered yesterday evening in Berlin has not the character of an ultimatum." Count Ciano asks for the reply of the French Government and adds that Poland will be invited to the conference. The Minister thanks Count Ciano cordially for his communication and replies to the two questions raised: As regards the nature of the note delivered the previous evening to the Government of the Reich, this note has in no way the character of an ultimatum. As regards the second point, he states that he thinks that Germany's reply could be awaited until noon on Sunday, but this is a question which he must discuss with M. Daladier and with the British Government. 3 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to Lord Halifax THE Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs states that he has received from Count Ciano the same communication as the Minister. He adds that the English Cabinet is about to discuss the matter and that he will give his reply in the course of the afternoon. 5.20 p.m. Communication telephoned by Lord Halifax to M. Georges Bonnet LORD HALIFAX communicates the decision of the British Cabinet, which considers that a favourable reply to the proposed conference can only be given upon one preliminary condition: that is that the German troops are withdrawn from the territory which they occupy. 9 p.m. Communication telephoned by M. Georges Bonnet to Count Ciano THE Minister confirms to Count Ciano that the note of September 1 did not bear the character of an ultimatum, and that the French Government is prepared to wait until Sunday, September 3, at noon, for the German reply. However, the French Government deems, like the British Government, that the conference cannot open under the auspices of force and that, in order that the plan might be successfully  realized, it is advisable that the German armies should evacuate the territory occupied in Poland. Count Ciano informs the Minister that Lord Halifax had already told him that the British Government stipulated as a preliminary condition the evacuation of the occupied territories. Count Ciano thinks that this condition will not be accepted by the Reich Government. The Minister ends by thanking Count Ciano for the efforts he has made with a view to maintaining peace. 
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