The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archive/File: orgs/french/foreign-office/yellow-book-foreward
Last-Modified: 1997/10/19

                    DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS
                         (1938-1939)
                              
           (Also known as The French Yellow Book)
                              
    Papers relative to the events and negotiations which
 preceded the opening of hostilities between Germany on the
one hand, and Poland, Great Britain and France on the other.
                              


                          FOREWORD
                              
     THE  present  Yellow Book is a collection of  the  most
important  among the documents which bring out  clearly  the
course of French diplomatic action from September 29,  1938,
the  date of the Munich Agreement, to September 3, 1939, the
date  when France and Great Britain, in execution  of  their
pledges of assistance, declared themselves to be in a  state
of war with Germany.
     This  publication  is limited to the general  theme  of
Franco-German relations, as it clearly was not  possible  to
find space for all the other problems on which our diplomacy
was  active during the same period (Spanish affairs, Franco-
Italian relations, events in the Far East, negotiations with
Moscow and pacts of assistance).
     Two principal phases can be distinguished in the period
under review:
     From  October  1  to march 15 French diplomatic  action
followed  the policy of detente and collaboration  of  which
the   framework   had  been  set  up  by  the   Anglo-German
declaration   of   September  30   and   the   Franco-German
declaration of December 6. French diplomacy made  a  sincere
and whole-hearted effort to put Franco-German relations on a
normal   footing   in  every  sphere,  to  establish   wider
possibilities and enlarge peaceful cooperation  between  the
two countries.
     As  early  as  the  month  of February  the  resistance
opposed   by   the  German  Government  to   any   practical
organization  of the international guarantee  stipulated  on
September  29  in favour of Czechoslovakia was  such  as  to
raise  doubts  regarding the sincerity of the intentions  of
the  Reich.  On  March 15 the entry of  German  troops  into
Prague  completed the violation of the Munich Agreement  and
irrevocably  destroyed  the  element  of  mutual  confidence
without  which the declaration of December 6 became  a  dead
letter.
     In  the course of the following weeks the direction  of
the  next  German  drive  became  evident  through  numerous
incidents, until at last the speech delivered by Herr Hitler
to the Reichstag on April 28 plainly disclosed Poland as the
next victim of German imperialism.
     French diplomacy spared no effort, during the next four
months,

[V]

     to  avert the danger which menaced Europe: efforts were
made  to  reach an agreement with the U.S.S.R.;  secret  but
categorical warnings were given to Germany that France would
be  faithful  to  her  pledges  of  assistance;  Poland  was
encouraged  to  persevere in her attitude of moderation  and
patience   in  face  of  German  provocation.  Nothing   was
neglected  which  could  directly or indirectly  induce  the
German  Government to renounce the use of methods  of  force
and violence; nothing was concealed from Germany which could
make  her realize the risks to which her policy exposed  her
and, with her, the whole of Europe. To This persevering will
for peace the message of the French Foreign Minister to Herr
von  Ribbentrop  on  July 1, as well as the  appeal  of  The
French  Prime  Minister to Herr Hitler on  August  26,  bear
witness in an unimpeachable manner.
     At  the  very  moment  when the Italian  initiative  of
August 31 and the acceptance by Poland of the Franco-British
proposals  for direct negotiation offered a last  chance  of
peace  the  German  aggression of September  1  deliberately
plunged Europe into war.

[VI]
                              

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