The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Poland, Danzig, England & ; France
(Part 5 of 21)

The earlier discussions between the German and Polish governments on the question of Danzig, which commenced almost immediately after the Munich crisis in September 1938, began as cautious and friendly discussions, until the remainder of Czechoslovakia had finally been seized in March of the following year. A document taken from the Official Polish White Book, gives an account of a luncheon which took place at the Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden, on 25 October, where Ribbentrop had discussions with M. Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Germany. The report states:

"In a conversation on 24 October, over a luncheon at the Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden, at which M. Hewel was present, von Ribbentrop put forward a proposal for a general settlement of issues (Gesamtloesung) between Poland and Germany. This included the reunion of Danzig with the Reich, while Poland would be assured the retention of railway and economic facilities there. Poland would agree to the building of an extra- territorial motor road and railway line across Pomorze. In exchange M. von Ribbentrop mentioned the possibility of an extension of the Polish-German Agreement by twenty-five years and a guarantee of Polish-German frontiers."


"Finally, I said that I wished to warn M. von Ribbentrop that I could see no possibility of an agreement involving the reunion of the Free City with the Reich. I concluded by promising to communicate the substance of this conversation to you." (TC-73 No. 44)

It seems clear that the whole question of Danzig, as indeed Hitler himself said, was no question at all. Danzig was raised simply as an excuse, a justification, not for the seizure of Danzig but for the invasion and seizure of the whole of Poland. As the story unfolds it will become ever more apparent that that is what the Nazi conspirators were really aiming at, only providing themselves with some kind of crisis which would afford some kind of justification for attacking Poland.

Another document taken from the Polish White Book (TC-73 No. 45) sets out the instructions that Mr. Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, gave to Mr. Lipski to hand to the German government in reply to the suggestions put forward by Ribbentrop at Berchtesgaden on 24 October. The first part reviews he history of Polish-German relationship and emphasizes the needs of Poland in respect to Danzig. Paragraph 6 of the document states:

"In the circumstances, in the understanding of the Polish government, the Danzig question is governed by two factors: the right of the German population of the city and the surrounding villages to freedom of life and development; and the fact that in all matters appertaining to the Free City as a port it is connected with Poland. Apart from the national character of the majority of the population, everything in Danzig is definitely bound up with Poland." (TC-73 No. 45)

The document then sets out the guarantees to Poland under the statute, and continues as follows:

"Taking all the foregoing factors into consideration, and desiring to achieve the stabilization of relations by way of a friendly understanding with the government of the German Reich, the Polish government proposes the replacement of the League of Nations guarantee and its prerogatives by a bi-lateral Polish-German Agreement. This agreement should guarantee the existence of the Free City of Danzig so as to assure freedom of national and cultural life to its German majority, and also should guarantee all Polish rights. Notwithstanding the complications involved in such a system, the Polish government must state that any other solution,

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and in particular any attempt to incorporate the Free City into the Reich, must inevitably lead to a conflict. This would not only take the form of local difficulties, but also would suspend all possibility of Polish-German understanding in all its aspects.

"In face of the weight and cogency of these questions, I am ready to have final conversations personally with the governing circles of the Reich. I deem it necessary, however, that you should first present the principles to which we adhere, so that my eventual contact should not end in a breakdown, which would be dangerous for the future." (TC-73 No. 45)

The first stage in those negotiations had been entirely successful from the German point of view. The Nazis had put forward a proposal, the return of the City of Danzig to the Reich, which they might well have known would have been unacceptable. It was unacceptable and the Polish government had warned the Nazi government that it would be. The Poles had offered to enter into negotiations, but they had not agreed, which is exactly what the German government had hoped for. They had not agreed to the return of Danzig to the Reich. The first stage in producing the crisis had been accomplished.

Shortly afterwards, within a week or so, and after the Polish government had offered to enter into discussions with the German government, another top secret order was issued by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, signed by Keitel (C-137). Copies went to the OKH, OKM, and OKW. The order is headed "First Supplement to Instruction dated October 21 1938," and reads:

"The Fuehrer has ordered: Apart from the three contingencies mentioned in the instructions of October 21 1938, preparations are also to be made to enable the Free State of Danzig to be occupied by German troops by surprise.

"The preparations will be made on the following basis: Condition is quasi-revolutionary occupation of Danzig, exploiting a politically favorable situation, not a war against Poland." (C-137)

The remainder of Czechoslovakia had not yet been seized, and therefore the Nazis were not yet ready to go to war with Poland. But Keitel's order shows how the German government answered the Polish proposal to enter into discussions.

On 5 January 1939 Mr. Beck had a conversation with Hitler. (TC-73 No. 48). Ribbentrop was also present. In the first part of that conversation, of which that document is an account, Hitler offered to answer any questions. He said he had always followed the policy laid down by the 1934 agreement. He discussed

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the question of Danzig and emphasized that in the German view it must sooner or later return to Germany. The conversation continued:

"Mr. Beck replied that the Danzig question was a very difficult problem. He added that in the Chancellor's suggestion he did not see any equivalent for Poland, and that the whole of Polish opinion, and not only people thinking politically but the widest spheres of Polish society, were particularly sensitive on this matter.

"In answer to this the Chancellor stated that to solve this -problem it would be necessary to try to find something quite new, some new form, for which he used the term 'Korperschaft,' which on the one hand would safeguard the interests of the German population, and on the other the Polish interests. In addition, the Chancellor declared that the Minister could be quite at ease, there would be no faits accomplis in Danzig and nothing would be done to render difficult the situation of the Polish Government." (TC-73 No. 48)

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