The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Poland, Danzig, England & ; France
(Part 6 of 21)

It will be recalled that in the previous document discussed (C-137) orders had already been issued for preparations to be made for the occupation of Danzig by surprise. Yet some six weeks later Hitler assured the Polish Foreign Minister that there would be no fait accompli and that he should be quite at his ease. -On the day after the conversation between Beck and Hitler, Beck and Ribbentrop conferred, as follows:

"Mr. Beck asked M. Von Ribbentrop to inform the Chancellor that whereas previously, after all his conversations and contacts with German statesmen, he had been feeling optimistic, today for the first time he was in a pessimistic mood. Particularly in regard to the Danzig question, as it had been raised by the Chancellor, he saw no possibility whatever of agreement."


"In answer M. Von Ribbentrop once more emphasized that Germany was not seeking any violent solution. The basis of their policy towards Poland was still a desire for the further building up of friendly relations. It was necessary to seek such a method of clearing away the difficulties as would respect the rights and interests of the two parties concerned." (TC-73 No. 49)

Ribbentrop apparently was not satisfied with that one expression of good faith. On the 25th of the same month, January 1939, he was in Warsaw and made another speech, of which the following is a pertinent extract:

[Page 686]

"In accordance with the resolute will of the German National Leader, the continual progress and consolidation of friendly relations between Germany and Poland, based upon the existing agreement between us, constitute an essential element in German foreign policy. The political foresight, and the principles worthy of true statesmanship, which induced both sides to take the momentous decision of 1934, provide a guarantee that all other problems arising in the course of the future evolution of events will also be solved in the same spirit, with due regard to the respect and understanding of the rightful interests of both sides. Thus Poland and Germany can look forward to the future with full confidence in the solid basis of their mutual relations." (2530-PS)

Hitler spoke in the Reichstag on 30 January 1939, and gave further assurances of the good faith of the German Government. (TC-73 No. 57)

In March 1939 the remainder of Czechoslovakia was seized and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was set up. That seizure, as was recognized by Hitler and Jodl, had immensely strengthened the German position against Poland. Within a week of the completion of the occupation of Czechoslovakia heat was beginning to be applied on Poland.

On 21 March M. Lipski, the Polish ambassador, saw Ribbentrop. The nature of the conversation was generally very much sharper than that of the discussion between Ribbentrop and Beck a little time back at the Grand Hotel, Berchtesgaden:

"I saw M. Von Ribbentrop today. He began by saying he had asked me to call on him in order to discuss Polish- German relations in their entirety. "He complained about our Press, and the Warsaw students' demonstrations during Count Ciano's visit."


"Further, M. von Ribbentrop referred to the conversation at Berchtesgaden between you and the Chancellor, in which Hitler put forward the idea of guaranteeing Poland's frontiers in exchange for a motor road and the incorporation of Danzig in the Reich. He said that there had been further conversations between you and him in Warsaw on the subject, and that you had pointed out the great difficulties in the way of accepting these suggestions. He gave me to understand that all this had made an unfavorable impression on the Chancellor, since so far he had received no positive reaction whatever on our part to his suggestions. M. von Ribbentrop had had a talk with the Chancellor only yesterday. He stated that the Chancellor was still in favor of good relations with Poland and had expressed a desire to have a thorough conversation with you on the subject of our mutual relations. M. von Ribbentrop indicated that he was under the impression that difficulties arising between us were also due to some misunderstanding of the Reich's real aims. The problem needed to be considered on a higher plane. In his opinion our two States were dependent on each other."


"I [Lipski] stated that now, during the settlement of the Czechoslovakian question, there was no understanding whatever between us. The Czech issue was already hard enough for the Polish public to swallow, for, despite our disputes with the Czechs they were after all a Slav people. But in regard to Slovakia the position was far worse. I emphasized our community of race, language and religion, and mentioned the help we had given in their achievement of independence. I pointed out our long frontier with Slovakia. I indicated that the Polish man in the street could not understand why the Reich had assumed the protection of Slovakia, that protection being directed against Poland. I said emphatically that this question was a serious blow to our relations.

"Ribbentrop reflected a moment, and then answered that this could be discussed.

"I promised to refer to you the suggestion of a conversation between you and the Chancellor. Ribbentrop remarked that I might go to Warsaw during the next few days to talk over this matter. He advised that the talk should not be delayed, lest the Chancellor should come to the conclusion that Poland was rejecting all his offers.

"Finally, I asked whether he could tell me anything about his conversation with the Foreign Minister of Lithuania.

"Ribbentrop answered vaguely that he had seen Mr. Urbsys on the latter's return from Rome, and they had discussed the Memel question, which called for a solution." (TC-73 No. 61 )

That conversation took place on 21 March. The world soon learned what the solution to Memel was. On the next day German armed forces marched in.

As a result of these events, considerable anxiety was growing both in the government of Great Britain and the Polish govern-

[Page 688]

ment, and the two governments therefore had been undertaking conversations between each other. On 31 March, the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, spoke in the House of Commons. He explained the results of the conversations that had been taking place between the British and Polish Governments:

"As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's government in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period, in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish government all support in their power. They have given the Polish government an assurance to this effect.

"I may add that the French government have authorized me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government." (TC-72 No. 17)

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