The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Aggression Against Poland, Danzig, England & ; France
(Part 10 of 21)

The minutes of that meeting show quite clearly the German intention to attack England ar.d France ultimately, if not at the me time as Poland. In trying to show the strength of Germany and its certainty of winning the war as a means of persuading the Italians to come in, Hitler declared:

"At sea, England had for the moment no immediate reinforcements in prospect. Some time would elapse before any of the ships now under construction could be taken into

[Page 696]

service. As far as the land army was concerned, after the introduction of conscription 60,000 men had been called to the colors. If England kept the necessary troops in her own country she could send to France, at the most, two infantry divisions and one armored division. For the rest she could supply a few bomber squadrons but hardly any fighters since, at the outbreak of war, the German Air Force would at once attack England and the English fighters would be urgently needed for the defense of their own country.

"With regard to the position of France, the Fuehrer said that in the event of a general war, after the destruction of Polandwhich would not take longGermany would be in a position to assemble hundreds of divisions along the West Wall and France would then be compelled to concentrate all her available forces from the Colonies, from the Italian frontier and elsewhere on her own Maginot Line, for the life and death struggle which would then ensue. The Fuehrer also thought that the French would find it no easier to overrun the Italian fortifications than to overrun the West Wall. Here Count Ciano showed signs of extreme doubt. The Polish Army was most uneven in quality. Together with a few parade divisions, there were large numbers of troops of less value. Poland was very weak in anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense and at the moment neither France nor England could help her in this respect.

"If, however, Poland were given assistance by the Western powers, over a longer period, she could obtain these weapons and German superiority would thereby be diminished. In contrast to the fanatics of Warsaw and Cracow, the population of their areas was different. Furthermore, it was necessary to consider the position of the Polish State. Out of 34 million inhabitants, one and one-half million were German, about four million were Jews, and nine million Ukrainians, so that genuine Poles were much less in number than the total population and, as already said, their striking power was not to be valued highly. In these circumstances Poland could be struck to the ground by Germany in the shortest time.

"Since the Poles, through their whole attitude, had made it clear that in any case in the event of a conflict they would stand on the side of the enemies of Germany and Italy, a quick liquidation at the present moment could only be of advantage for the unavoidable conflict with the Western Democracies. If a hostile Poland remained on Germany's

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eastern frontier, not only would the eleven East Prussian divisions be tied down, but also further contingents would be kept in Pomerania and Silesia. This would not be necessary in the event of a previous liquidation."


"Coming back to the Danzig question, the Fuehrer said that it was impossible for him now to go back. He had made an agreement with Italy for the withdrawal of the Germans from South Tyrol, but for this reason he must take the greatest care to avoid giving the impression that this Tyrolese withdrawal could be taken as a precedent for other areas. Furthermore, he had justified the withdrawal by pointing to a general easterly and northeasterly direction of a German policy. The east and northeast, that is to say the Baltic countries, had been Germany's undisputed sphere of influence since time immemorial, as the Mediterranean had been an appropriate sphere for Italy. For economic reasons also, Germany needed the foodstuffs and timber from these eastern regions." (TC-77)

Now the truth of this matter appears. It is not the persecution of German minorities on the Polish frontiers, but economic reasons -- the need for foodstuffs and timber from Poland. The minutes of the Italo-German meeting continue:

"In the case of Danzig, German interests were not only material, although the city had the greatest harbour in the Baltic. Danzig was a Nurnberg of the North, an ancient German city awakening sentimental feelings for every German, and the Fuehrer was bound to take account of this psychological element in public opinion. To make a comparison with Italy, Count Ciano should suppose that Trieste was in Yugoslav hands and that a large Italian minority was being treated brutally on Yugoslav soil. It would be difficult to assume that Italy would long remain quiet over anything of this kind.

"Count Ciano, in replying to the Fuehrer's statement, first expressed the great surprise on the Italian side over the completely unexpected seriousness of the position. Neither in the conversations in Milan nor in those which took place during his Berlin visit had there been any sign from the German side that the position with regard to Poland was so serious. On the contrary, Ribbentrop had said that in his opinion the Danzig question would be settled in the course of time. On these grounds, the Duce, in view of his conviction that a conflict with the Western Powers was unavoidable, had assumed

[Page 698]

that he should make his preparations for this event; he had made plans for a period of two or three years. If immediate conflict were unavoidable, the Duce, as he had told Ciano, would certainly stand on the German side, but for various reasons he would welcome the postponement of a general conflict until a later time.

"Ciano then showed, with the aid of a map, the position of Italy in the event of a general war. Italy believed that a conflict with Poland would not be limited to that country but would develop into a general European war." (TC-77)

Thereafter, Ciano tried to dissuade Hitler from any immediate action. He argued further

"For these reasons the Duce insisted that the Axis Powers should make a gesture which would reassure people of the peaceful intentions of Italy and Germany." (TC-77)

The Fuehrer's answer was clear:

"The Fuehrer answered that for a solution of the Polish problem no time should be lost; the longer one waited until the autumn, the more difficult would military operations in Eastern Europe become. From the middle of September, weather conditions made air operations hardly possible in these areas, while the condition of the roads, which were quickly turned into a morass by the autumn rains, would be such as to make them impossible for motorized forces. From September to May, Poland was a great marsh and entirely unsuited for any kind of military operations. Poland could, however, occupy Danzig in September and Germany would not be able to do anything about it since they obviously could not bombard or destroy the place." (TC-77)

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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