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Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/diplomacy/diplomatic.001


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Subject: The Diplomats were shocked...
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Archive/File: holocaust/poland diplomatic.001
Last-Modified: 1994/07/10


   "The diplomats were shocked when Josef Lipski, the new Polish
   ambassador, told everyone on January 25 [1934] that some rumored
   Polish-German discussions were 'only of an economic nature'; 
   the following morning, the Polish-German non-aggression treaty was
   announced. ...The ten-year nonaggression treaty, concluded
   secretly, outside the League of Nations and behind the back of
   Poland's ally, France, brought Western distrust for Colonel Josef
   Beck, the Polish foreign minister. It is even more ironic in the
   light of events in 1939, when Beck's actions were a factor that
   prevented the Russians from closing a treaty with the French and
   British. The Poles refused to allow the Russians into their country
   in case of a German attack on Poland, and it was this which opened
   the door for the German-Soviet Pact, which soon destroyed Poland."
   (Weitz, 71)
   
   "The empty drive to reassure the world continued. Following the
   hollow state visit to Paris, the von Ribbentrops, accompanied by
   Paul Schmidt, took a private train to Poland for a state visit with
   Colonel Josef Beck, the Polish foreign minister, and his
   associates. Poland was still treated as a potential anti-Russian
   ally, but there were specific German 'requests' on the agenda.

   Earlier in January, Colonel Beck, unable to dodge it, had accepted
   an invitation to the Berghof. Among the requests made by Hitler,
   ... was the return to Germany of Danzig. In exchange, Poland could
   use the city as a free port. Hitler also wanted an
   'extraterritorial' right-of-way for an autobahn and a railroad line
   across the Polish Corridor to German East Prussia. He virtually
   wanted to carve a slim strip of German territory across Polish soil
   so that Germany and East Prussia, now separated by Polish
   territory, could be connected. No more Polish frontier police, no
   more Polish customs, no Polish uniforms on German trains. The ideas
   were rebuffed by Joseph Beck. No matter how powerful his host and
   how beautiful the scenery, the suave Colonel Beck made it clear
   that Danzig would 'stay Polish' and that cars and trains would have
   to submit to Polish law when crossing Polish soil.

   ...von Ribbentrop had two only two aims: Danzig and the autobahn
   strip. Now von Ribbentrop heard the echo of the Berghof 'nay'
   repeated in Warsaw. Once more the answer from Poland was a firm and
   polite no. On the second day of the state visit, proceedings were
   cut short by a 'bad cold' that Beck developed overnight.<74>

   Hitler was infuriated by these two failures, and von Ribbontrop was
   mortified. According to Schmidt, he had already used hours of his
   famed perseverance at the Berghof to change the mind of Colonel
   Beck, but without an iota of success. He thought he could improve
   on his Berghof performance during the Warsaw visit, but he was
   disappointed once more. It angered him that Hitler had supported
   Poland's claims against Czechoslovakia and her seizure of Olsa. Was
   Poland still to be pampered because she was a potential ally
   against Soviet Russia? In von Ribbentrop's view, Poland had
   exhausted her credit." (Weitz, 195-196)

   [...]

   "While von Ribbentrop was signing the [Soviet-German] treaty in
   Moscow, Sir Nevile Henderson was delivering an urgent letter from
   Neville Chamberlain to Hitler at the Berghof. The letter stated
   that Britain would support Poland but would still help to find a
   solution for Anglo-German differences if Germany was prepared to
   open such negotiations, and that Briatain was anxious for a truce
   while Polish-German differences regarding the treatment of
   minorities were being discussed.

   Hitler's first reaction was intermperate and negative. His second
   reaction was calm and negative. For the patient Henderson, he
   trotted out the false allegation that 100,000 'Germans' had now
   fled from Polish brutality, and once again presented himself as the
   world protector of all the people he alone decided were 'Germans,'
   no matter how remote their national or racial bonds. He said he
   realized it might mean war to 'protect German interests' but he
   would rather 'fight a war at fifty than one at fifty-six,<101> He
   hinted that Britain had incited Czechoslovakia and was doing the
   same to Poland. While von Ribbentrop was proposing friendly toasts
   in faraway Moscow, Ernst von Weizaecker and Walter Hewel were in
   the Berghof as witnesses to this display of Hitler's intransigence.

   Sir Nevile Henderson's memoirs treated the German Fuehrer with more
   objectivity than he deserved. He wrote, 'When Hitler comes up
   before the bar of the Last Judgement, he will certainly argue with
   apparently complete self-conviction that he could have spared the
   horrors of war if the Poles had accepted his reasonable and
   generous conditions. It will, I submit, be false.' The British
   guarantee to Poland of earlier in the year was transformed into a
   full treat on August 25, and Hitler originally planned Case White,
   his invasion of Poland, for August 26." (Weitz, 213-214)

<74>  J. von Ribbentrop, Zwischen London und Moskau. (Annelies von
      Ribbentrop, ed. Leoni am Starnberger: Druffel, 1953). p. 160

<101> Henderson, Nevile. Failure of a Mission: Berlin 1937-1939. New 
      York: Putnam, 1940. p. 270

                            Work Cited

Weitz, John. Hitler's Diplomat: The Life and Times of Joachim von
Ribbentrop.New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992.

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