IT STARTED IN POLAND
On September 1, 1939, the Germans began World War II by their attack on Poland.
Five long years separate us from these events. Some circumstances accom-panying the outbreak of this war have already become dim in our memory.
On the other hand, however, in the perspective of time past these incidents acquire certain clarity. Today we all know that this war had nothing to do with the building of a highway linking Germany with East Prussia, nor with the German claims to the Polish province of Pomorze. Other factors were of far greater importance: German domination over the entire world -and her rule over free nations.
The documents reprinted from the files of the Polish, French and British Foreign Ministries show that Poland made every possible effort to prevent the outbreak of the world wide conflict.
However, while trying to avert the war, Poland was far from the thought of meek submission to enemy's power. It is Poland's undeniable merit that she has become the first country to break away from the policy of endless con-cessions and was first who had the courage to say NO to Hitler.
For this honor of being the first country to fight Hitler Poland paid dearly with the blood of her soldiers during the September 1939 campaign, on all Allied fronts, and primarily -with the blood of her people in their occupied, but unconquered country.
The documents quoted hereafter show clearly that Poland in her international policy was faithful at all times not only to the letter, but also to the spirit of her treaties.
Faithful to her policy Poland did not allow herself to be led astray by the German proposal to take part in an attack on Soviet Russia. Despite numerous tempting proposals during the period between 1936 and 1939, Poland stead-fastly refused to cooperate in any anti-Soviet plot abiding by her neutrality and striving for peace.
On August 25, 1939, Poland signed the agreement of mutual assistance with Great Britain. Like the Polish-French alliance, it became the nucleus of the pact concluded later between the United Nations against the Axis. Poland has remained faithful to all her international obligations resulting from these treaties since the outbreak of the war until this day.
Today, when the war is in its final phase, we should be mindful of the lesson we have learned from the conflict: European affairs are not distant matters and do not concern an alien territory only.
This war taught us that Danzig is not as distant from Pearl Harbor as it appears on the map. The world is small and peace is indivisible.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND OF WORLD WAR II
The main task of Poland's prewar policy was to maintain the peace so badly needed for the reconstruction of Poland's economic life destroyed by the long period of partitions and the first World War.
It was to this end that Poland cooperated with the League of Nations in the organization of a system of collective security and at the same time tried to insure her existence and peace by means of bilateral pacts.
In the East the foundation of Poland's policy was the non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union signed on July 25, 1932,,in Moscow for a period of three years and later prolonged until December 31, 1945.
In the West distrust of her German neighbor made Poland seek security in a military pact with France (signed in 1921). Having shared Poland's sad experience and harboring the same fears as to Germany's intentions, France was Poland's natural ally.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, Poland was the first nation to under-stand the danger which faced Europe and to draw full political conclusions from the new situation.
In May, 1933, the Polish Government approached the French Government with a proposal for a joint military action against the new Reich regime. This proposal did not meet with a favorable response.
Poland found herself in a most precarious situation. She was too weak, both militarily and economically, to start a war alone deprived of all help from without.
On the other hand, the Western democracies bad already begun to practice the policy of appeasement which they followed throughout subsequent years, and were ready for further concessions to the Nazis.
Therefore when towards the close of 1933 Hitler proposed to Poland an understanding on non-aggression for a Period of ten years, Poland accepted.
The form of this understanding clearly proved that Polish-German relations were not intended to develop into a friendship or a close political collaboration, to say nothing about a military alliance. Whereas Polish-Soviet relations were based on a pact of non-aggression-a full fledged international agreement, the Polish-German understanding, concluded in the form of a declaration, was merely the expression of both states of their will not to attack each other and to respect the existing frontiers.
In view of this it is absolutely erroneous to compare the Polish German declaration with such agreements as the Polish-French alliance or the Polish--British mutual aid agreement. The first was a result of bitter necessity, the latter-an expression of true aims of Polish foreign policy, which, in harmony with desires and feelings of the Polish nation, always sought close co-operation and real friendship with Western democracies.
In this connection it will be appropriate to quote instructions sent on the day of signing of the Polish-German declaration by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all diplomatic missions abroad:
The declaration . . . "distinctly stresses the inviolability of earlier obligations. It refers exclusively to questions directly concerning both States. . . . The Allied States, France and Romania, were given preliminary notice of the negotiation being con-ducted with a view to concluding an agreement. Mr. Litvinov also received general information beforehand. The signing of the Declaration should prove advantageous in the sphere of international collaboration, for instance an regards disarmament . . . No aims or intentions other than those clearly stated in its text should be read into the agreement."
In this way - according to all human expectations- Poland had peacefully set tier relations with her two powerful neighbors at least for a period of ten years.
Below are the texts of Polish-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression of July 25, 1932, and of the Polish-German Declaration of January 26, 1934.*
Pact of Non Aggression between Poland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Signed at Moscow, July 25, 1932.
The President of the Polish Republic, of the one part, and the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, of the other part,
Desirous of maintaining the present state of peace between their countries, and convinced that the maintenance of peace between them constitutes an important factor in the work of preserving universal peace;
Considering that the Treaty of Peace of March 18, 1921, constitutes, now as in the past, the basis of their reciprocal relations and undertakings;
Convinced that the peaceful settlement of international disputes and the exclusion of all that might be contrary to the normal condition of relations between Star" am the surest means of arriving at the goal desired;
Declaring that none of the obligations hitherto assumed by either of the Parties stands in the way of the peaceful development of their mutual relations or is incompatible with the present Pact;
Have decided to conclude the present Pact with the object of amplifying and completing the Pact for the renunciation of war signed in Paris on August 27, 1928, and put into force by the Protocol signed at Moscow on February 9, 1929, and for that purpose have designated as their Plenipotentiaries . . .
Who, after exchanging their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed on the following provisions:
The two Contracting Parties, recording the fact that they have renounced war as an instrument of national policy in their mutual relations, reciprocally undertake to refrain from taking any aggressive action against or invading the territory of the other Party, either alone or in conjunction with other Powers.
Any act of violence attacking the integrity and inviolability of the territory of the political independence of the other Contracting Party shall be regarded " con-trary to the undertakings contained in the present Article, even if such acts are committed without declaration of war and avoid all possible warlike manifestations.
Should one of the Contracting Parties be attacked by a third State or by a group of other States, the other Contracting Party undertakes not to give aid or assistance, either directly or indirectly, to the aggressor State during the whole period of the conflict.
If one of the Contracting Parties commits an act of aggression against a third State the other Contracting Party shall have the right to be released from the present Treaty without previous denunciation.
Each of the Contracting Parties undertakes not to be a party to any agreement openly hostile to the other Party from the point of view of aggression.
The undertakings provided for it, Articles I and 2 of the present Pact shall in no case limit or modify the international rights and obligations of each Contracting Party under agreements concluded by it before the coming into force of the present Pact, so far as the said agreements contain no aggressive elements.
The two Contracting Parties, desirous of settling and solving, exclusively by peaceful means, any disputes and differences, of whatever nature or origin, which may arise between them, undertake to submit questions at issue, which it has not been possible to settle within a reasonable period by diplomatic channels, to a procedure of conciliation, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention for the applica-tion of the procedure of conciliation, which constitutes an integral part of the present Pact and shall be signed separately and ratified as soon as possible simultaneously with the Pact of Non-Aggression.*
*The Convention for Conciliation between the Republic of Poland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was signed at Moscow, November 23, 1932.
The present Pact shall be ratified as soon as possible, and the instruments of ratification shall be exchanged at Warsaw within thirty days following the ratification by Poland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, after which the Pact shall come into force immediately.
The Pact is concluded for three years. If it is not denounced by one of the Contracting Parties, after previous notice of not less than six months before the expira-tion of that period, it shall be automatically renewed for a further period of two years.
The Present Pact is drawn up in Polish and Russian, both texts being authentic.
In faith whereof the above-named Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Pact and have thereto affixed their seals.
Done at Moscow, in two copies, July 25, 1932.
Text of Polish-German Declaration, January 26, 1934.
The Polish Government and the German Government consider that the time has come to introduce a new phase in the political relations between Germany and Poland by a direct understanding between State and State. They have, therefore, decided in the present Declaration to lay down the principles for the future development of these relations.
The two Governments base their action on the fact that the maintenance and guarantee of a lasting peace between their countries is an essential pre-requisite for the general peace of Europe.
They have therefore decided to base their mutual relations on the principles laid down in the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, and propose to define more exactly the application of these principles in so far as the relations between Germany and Poland are concerned.
Each of the two Governments, therefore, lays it down that the international obligations undertaken by it towards a third party do not hinder the peaceful development of their mutual relations, do not conflict with the present Declaration, and are not affected by this Declaration. They establish, moreover, that this Declaration does not extend to those questions which under international law are to be regarded exclusively as the internal concern of either of the two States.
Both Governments announce their intention to settle directly all questions of whatever nature which concern their mutual relations.
Should any disputes arise between them and agreement thereon not be reached by direct negotiation, they will, in each particular case, on the basis of mutual agreement, seek a solution by other peaceful means, without prejudice to the possibility of applying, if necessary, those methods of procedure in which provision is made for such cases in other agreements in force between them. In no circum-stances, however, will they proceed to the application of force for the purpose of reaching a decision in such disputes.
The guarantee of peace created by them principles will facilitate the great task of both Governments of finding a solution for problems of political, economic and social kinds, based on a just and fair adjustment of the interests of both parties.
Both Governments are convinced that the relations between their countries will in this manner develop fruitfully, and will lead to the establishment of a neighborly relationship which will contribute to the well-being not only of both their countries, but of the other Peoples of Europe as well.
The present declaration shall be ratified, and the instruments of ratification shall be exchanged in Warsaw as soon as possible.
The declaration is valid for a period of ten years, reckoned from the day of the exchange of the instruments of ratification.
If the declaration is not denounced by one of the two Governments six months before the expiration of this period, it will continue in force, but can then be denounced by either Government at any time on notice of six months being given.
Made in duplicate in the German and Polish languages.
Berlin, January 26, 1943.
For the German Government;
FREIHERR VON NEURATH.
For the Polish Government:
It is doubtful whether the Germans sought security only in the agreement. On the contrary, further developments show that the declaration about non--aggression was regarded by the Germans as the first step towards a rapprochement which in the future was to lead towards Poland's participation in the Reich's attack on Soviet Russia.
On many occasions outstanding Nazi leaders were pressing Poland to sign the anti-Komintern pact and to collaborate in a joint campaign against Russia.
It was Fieldmarshat Goering who was most insistent in this respect. As the Polish Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs relates in a note written on February 10, 1935, Goering
"outlined far-reaching plans, almost suggesting an anti-Russian alliance and a joint attack on Russia. He gave it to be understood that the Ukraine would become a Polish sphere of influence and North-Western Russia would be Germany's."
This scheme of anti-Soviet action and sharing of booty with Poland can be traced in all German declarations. Two years later (on February 16, 1937) Fieldmarshal Goering declared that previous German Governments have made
"many serious mistakes in relation to Russia. The dangerous policy of Rapallo had been followed and as the result Germany helped Russians in military matters, armed her, sent her instructors, assisted her to build up her war industry. The old Reichwehr had had many advocates of rapprochement with Soviet Russia, but an end was put to this by the elimination of all such elements from the German Army. It is true that General Schleicher had said that he wanted to fight Communism internally, but externally he had sought contacts with the Soviets. These were serious mistakes which must never be repeated. Mr. Hitler had completely reversed the policy, and had laid down the principle, against which there was no appeal, that an contacts with Communism were prohibited . . .
Germany would never return to a pro-Russian policy. For it should always be remembered that there was one great danger coming through Russia from the East, and menacing both Germany and Poland alike. This danger existed not only in the form of a Bolshevik and Communized Russia, but of Russia generally, in any form, be it Monarchist or Liberal. In this respect the interests of Poland and Germany were entirely one. In the German view, Poland could conduct a truly independent policy on a large scale only if she had to deal with a friendly disposed
Reich, while Germany could develop in peace only if she did not have a hostile
Poland beside her. In these circumstances Poland could count on the help of
Germany, who saw far more advantage than disadvantage to herself in the pursuit
of a policy of friendship with Poland."
All German attempts met with decided opposition of Polish official circles. Poland did not harbor any aggressive plans against Russia and refused to par-ticipate in any anti-Soviet adventure.
Up to 1938 the Germans did not show any desire to change their Eastern frontiers. On the contrary, each speech of Adolf Hitter and of minor Fuehrers of the Third Reich were full of high praise of the Polish-German non-aggres-sion pact. In his speeches Hitler maintained that the Germans fully realize the necessity of assuring Poland an access to the sea.
Assurances of the integrity of Polish frontiers were also given in diplomatic conversations. Fieldmarshal Goering for instance announced on February 16, 1937, that on the German side there was no desire whatever to deprive Poland of any part of her territory. Germany was completely reconciled to her present territorial status. Germany would not attack Poland and had no intention of seizing the Polish corridor.
"We do not want the 'Corridor'. I say that sincerely and categorically; we do not need the 'Corridor.
Only after Germany occupied Austria, Memel (Klaipeda) and Sudetenland and when it became obvious that Poland would reject any anti-Soviet collabora-tion, did the German Government's attitude begin to change rapidly.
Quite unexpectedly, after the Munich Congress, the German Government demanded that Danzig be annexed to the Reich and that a highway and a direct railway line be built through the Polish province of Pomorze. The said province, inhabited by 90%, Polish population, was called "Corridor" by the German propaganda, thus hinting to the world that Poland's access to the sea war artificially created by cutting through German territory.
This demand was expressed for the first time during a conversation between the Polish Ambassador in Berlin, Mr. Lipski, and the German Minister for Foreign Affairs von Ribbentrop on October 25, 1938. In exchange, von Rib-bentrop suggested the extension of the Polish-German declaration by twenty- five years and a guarantee of Polish-German frontiers.
Ambassador Lipski warned the German Minister that he could see no pos-sibility of an agreement involving the reunion of the Free City of Danzig with the Reich. He stressed the importance of Danzig as a port to Poland, and repeated the Polish Government's principle of non-interference in the internal life of the German population in the Free City, where complete self-government had been established.
From that moment on, all conversations of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs and of the Polish Ambassador with representatives of the Reich con-cerned these questions.
The situation became even more acute after Germany's occupation of the remaining Czechoslovak territory. German demands to Poland became more and more pressing and led to the "Spring crisis" in Europe.
In order to get a clear picture of the development of incidents, let us look at diplomatic documents of that time.
Mr. Lipski, Polish Ambassador in Berlin, to Mr. Beck, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Berlin, March 21, 1939.
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 He said the Chancellor was convinced that the poster in Danzig had been the work of Polish students themselves.* I reacted vigorously, asserting that this was a clear attempt to influence the Chancellor unfavorably to Poland.
[*Some days prior to the date of this conversation a poster had been put up in a cafe at Danzig, bearing the inscription "Entry forbidden to Poles and dogs." This had caused protest demonstrations by Polish students.}
He mentioned the question of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia, which had particularly troubled Polish opinion, and stated that this question had been settled in conformity with Poland's wishes. This was to be communicated to you by Ambassador von Moltke. He spoke of the experts' negotiations on the Minority questions, and dwelt on the fact of the failure to reach agreement as to a joint communique.
At this point I interrupted him to correct his inaccurate statement.
Further M. von Ribbentrop referred to the conversation at Berchtesgaden between you and the Chancellor, in which M. 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 "pressed 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. It must not be forgotten that, by defeating Russia in the World War, Germany had been a contributory factor in the emergence of the Polish State. Obviously they could not forget the shedding of Polish blood, which they held in high honor. Subsequently, thanks to Chancellor Hitler's policy, General Schleicher's plan of German-Soviet collaboration had been smashed. That plan, which would have led to the annihilation of the Polish State, was defeated. It must also be remembered that Danzig and Pomorze had belonged to the Second Reich, and that only through Germany's breakdown had Poland obtained these territories.
At this point I remarked that it was not to be forgotten that before the Partitions the" territories had belonged to Poland.
M. von Ribbenrop replied that it was difficult to appeal to purely historical conceptions, and he stressed that the ethnic factor was today of prime importance.
I remarked that Pomorze certainly was Polish, and alluded to the fact that in regard to the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia the Germans had used historical
M. von Ribbentrop recalled that after all Danzig was a German city, but he realized that in regard to the Danzig question Poland also was activated by sentiment.
I corrected him by pointing out that in addition it was a vital necessity to Poland, to which M. von Ribbentrop remarked that that could be settled by way of a guarantee.
In connection with Danzig, the motor road and the guarantee, M. von Ribbentrop also mentioned the question of Slovakia, indicating that conversations would be possible on this subject. He emphasized that obviously an understanding between us would have to include explicit anti-Soviet tendencies. He affirmed that Germany could never collaborate with the Soviets, and that a Polish-Soviet understanding would inevitably lead to Bolshevism in Poland.
I stated that no Polish patriot would allow himself to be drawn towards Bolshevism. He said he realized that, but in this respect the Jewish element in Poland was a danger.
Replying generally to M. von Ribbentrop's arguments, I pointed out that so far
as our Press was concerned its tone was now quieter than that of any other country.
M. von Ribbentrop retorted that he took no notice of the uproar in the British
Press. That agitation was entirely without importance. He believed that the Fuehrer always followed the right policy.
Subsequently, I stressed the fact that since 1934 our public opinion had been put to considerable trials. Nevertheless it remained quiet . . .
I stated that now, during the settlement of the Czecho-Slovakian 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 under-stand 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.
M. von 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. M. von Ribbentrop remarked that l might go to Warsaw during the court 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.
M. von Ribbentrop answered vaguely that he had seen M. Urbszys on the latter's return from Rome, and they had discussed the Memel question, which called for a solution.
Arising out of the conversation, I am prompted to make the following remarks:
The fact that M. von Ribbentrop said nothing on his own initiative about Memel suggests that his conversation with me today, proposing a fundamental "change of view between you and the Chancellor, is perhaps aimed at securing our neutrality during the Memel crisis.
M. von Ribbentrop's suggestion of a conversation and his emphasis on its urgency are a proof that Germany has resolved to carry out her Eastern programme quickly, and so desires to have Poland's, attitude clearly defined.
In these circumstances the conversation acquires very real importance, and mmt
be carefully considered in all its aspects.
I assume that you will be desiring to summon me to Warsaw in a day or two in regard to this matter.
Poland's reply to all principal German demands was as definite and as decidedly negative as it could be expressed in diplomatic language. Below we give the text of Minister Beck's instructions to Ambassador Lipski.
Mr. Beck's Instructions to Mr. Lipski.
Warsaw, March 25, 1939.
With reference to the questions addressed to you on the 21st inst. by M. von Ribbentrop, relating to the complex of Polish-German relations, please communicate the following reply:
1. As in the past, so now, the Polish Government attach full importance to the maintenance of good neighborly relations to the utmost extent with the German Reich ...
2. In regard to questions on which hitherto agreement has always been achieved, but concerning which the German Reich has recently put forward new proposals, namely on the question of transit between the Reich and East Prussia, and on the question of regulating the future of the Free City of Danzig, the Polish Government consider that:
(a) They have no interest in hindering the German Government's free communication with the Eastern Province of the Reich. For this reason also, despite many changes which have occurred of recent years, by comparison with the previous state of affairs (for instance, the payment transfers), the Polish Government not only has not placed any difficulties in the way of privileged rail transit, but has arranged the financial side of this transit in accordance with German interests. This being their attitude, the Polish Government is quite willing to study together with the German Government the possibility of further simplification and more facilities in rail and road transit betweem Germany and Past Prussia, so that German citizens shall not encounter unnecessary difficulties while using these communications. To this end, technical experts could set to work to draw up plans which would by degrees render possible an improvement, also from the technical aspect of these communications. All facilities granted on Polish territory could, however, only exist within the limits of Polish sovereignty, and therefore extraterritorial status for ways of communication could not be considered. With this proviso the Polish Government's intentions are in the direction of the most liberal treatment of the German desiderata.
The solution of the problem, however, depends upon the attitude the German Government adopt in regard to my suggestions in the following point.
(b) So far as the status of the Free City of Danzig is concerned, the Polish Government recalls that they have, for a long time now, made references to the necessity for a settlement of this issue by way of an understanding between Warsaw and Berlin, this because it would correspond to the essence of the problem, and all the more because the League of Nations is losing the possibility of fulfilling the obligations it has undertaken in the matter.
From previous conversation it is clear that there is no difference of opinion to the basic approach to the problem, i.e., that the Polish Government in no way hinder the free national life of the Free City of Danzig, while the German Govern-ment have declared their respect for Polish rights and interests in the spheres of economy, communications, mercantile marine, and the Polish population on the territory of the Free City. As the entire problem is contained within then two points, the Polish Government consider it, would be possible to find a solution based on a Joint Polish-German guarantee to the Free City of Danzig. Such a guarantee would need to meet the aspiration of the German population on the one hand, and to safeguard Polish interests on the other, which interests for that matter are synonymous with the interests of the population of the Free City, considering that the City's well-being has for centuries, been based upon Polish maritime trade.
The problem of the motor road is primarily of a technical nature. In the opinion of the Polish Government, it should be studied by technical experts. On the question of the Free City of Danzig, it would be advisable first to have a discussion of political principles between the Government of the German Reich and the Polish Government and to ensure that in this organism, in the Chancellor's words employed in February fast year, the national conditions of the Free City on the one hand, and the rights and interests of Poland on the other, would be respected. To assume a stabilization of conditions in our part of Europe, the Polish Government considers it desirable to carry on conversations on all these questions as quickly as possible, so as to find a basis for a lasting consolidation of good neighborly relations between Poland and Germany.
I request you to add, orally, and with some emphasis, that Marshal Pilsudski implicidy stressed to me that the method of handling the Polish-Danzig problem would he a touchstone of Polish-German relations. I ask you to add that you would be grateful-if this opinion were brought to the Chancellor's notice.
You can present your statement, in extenso or recapitulated in the force of a memorandum, to the Reich Foreign Minister. On the occasion please add that if it is a question of my eventual meeting with the Reich Chancellor, I always regard this contact as a factor of immeasurable importance, not only to relations between our countries, but to general European policy. Yet I would add that in the present difficult situation I think it indispensable that such conversations should be prepared for by a preview elucidation of the above-mentioned questions, at least in outline form. For, in the atmosphere existing today, personal contacts which yielded no positive results might prove to be a retrogressive step in relations between our States.
That my Government would desire to avoid.
Please add at the same time' that we must now devote great attention to out mutual relations. For, owing to Germany's latest steps in regard to both Slovakia and Lithuania, of which the Polish Government were not informed even at the last moment, although they concerned territories situated right on the frontiers of the Polish Republic, the general atmosphere demands clarification, and the methods of progress utilized by both Governments most be chosen with particular caution.
While attempting to liquidate all difficulties through direct negotiations, Poland could not agree to any unilateral decisions and was decided to oppose all threat contained in Ribbentrop's demands.
Here is the text of a declaration warning Germany that the change of the international statute of the City of Danzig will not be tolerated. The cate-gorical Polish declaration was backed by certain shifting of troops towards the City of Danzig.
Minutes of Conversation between Mr. Beck and German Ambassador in Warsaw von Moltki.
Warsaw, March 28, 1939.
M. Beck made the following declaration to the German Ambassador.
"In a conversation which has taken Place in Berlin between the Polish Ambassador and M. von Ribbentrop, the latter has declared that Polish aggression against the
Free City of Danzig would be regarded by the Reich Government as an aggression
against Germany itself. I
"Without considering the justification for this declaration from the point of view of international law, I must state in the name of my Government that any interven-tion by the German Government aimed at changing the status quo in Danzig will be regarded as an aggression against Poland.
"By way of commentary I add that any similar attempt on the part of the Senate of the Free City would cause an immediate reaction on the part of the Polish Government.
"Nevertheless you have my authority for telling your Government that the Polish Government have no intention of committing any act of violence against the Free City, and are still of the opinion that the fate of that Organism should be settled by way of an agreement between the Polish and German Governments."
The Ambassador: "You want to negotiate at the point of the bayonet!"
M. Beck: "That is your own method."
In the meantime the Western democracies and primarily Great Britain, after the shock of German occupation of Prague, decided to take a firmer stand against German aggression.
On March 21, 1939, the very day on which German Minister von Ribbentrop threatened Poland with unilateral action, the British Ambassador Sir Howard Kennard submitted the following memorandum to the Polish Government:
Metnorandum presented to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs by Sir Howard Kennard.
March 21, 1939.
1. Recent German absorption of Czechoslovakia shows clearly that the German Government are resolved to go beyond their hitherto avowed aim to consolidate the German race. They have now extended their conquest to another nation, and if this should prove subsequently part of a definite policy of domination, there is no State in Europe which is not directly or ultimately threatened.
2. In the circumstances thus created, it seems to His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to be desirable to proceed without delay to the organization of mutual support on the part of all those who realize the necessity of protecting international society from further violation of the fundamental laws on which it rests.
3. As a first step they propose that the French, Soviet and Polish Governments should join with His Majesty's Government in signing and publishing a formal declaration, the terms of which they suggest should be on the lines of the following:
"We, the undersigned, duty authorized to that effect, hereby declare that inasmuch as peace and security in Europe are matters of common interest and concern, and since European peace and security may be affected by any action which constitutes a threat to the political independence of any European Star,, our respective Governments hereby undertake immediately to consult together as to what steps should be taken to offer joint resistance to any such action.,,
4. It appears to his Majesty's Government that such a declaration would in itself be a valuable contribution to the stability of Europe, and they would propose that the publication should be followed by an examination by the signatories of any specific situation which requires it, with a view to determining the nature of any action which might be taken.
5. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would be prepared to sign the declaration immediately the three other Governments indicated their readiness to do so.
6. They would propose to say nothing of this to other Governments concerned
before the four Powers are agreed on the declaration.
As the declaration was wide in scope, it had to be discussed. Such a loss of time was undesirable. That is why Poland - while not rejecting the plan of mutual declaration of the Polish, British, French and Soviet Governments -suggested a temporary bilateral agreement between Poland and Great Britain.
Mr. Beck's Instructions to Polish Ambassador
in London Mr. Raczynski.
Warsaw, March 23, 1939.
With reference to the British proposal of Lord Halifax whether, in view of:
1. the unavoidable difficulties and complications, and consequent waste of time, involved in multilateral negotiations,
2. on the other hand, the very rapid pace of events, which from one day to the next might create the necessity for friendly understanding to coordinate views and actions,
the British Government would not be prepared to consider the possibility of concluding with us immediately a bilateral agreement in the spirit of the proposed declaration.
In my understanding, such an agreement would not prejudge the fate of further general negotiations; nevertheless it would at once give us a basis for useful cooperation in various fields which to-day present certain dangers.
I have mentioned the idea of such an agreement to the British Ambassador here, adding that we have alliance with France dating from 1921, and the British, for their part, also have their understanding with the French, so that in the event of our two Governments reaching an agreement, we would not be acting in contradiction either to Polish or to British policy in relation to France. I also assume that the French Government would be confidentially informed of our eventual decisions.
The form and scope of such an arrangement, or possibly "Gentlemen's Agree-ment," could be quickly defined, if the British Government regarded the principle itself as possible of acceptance.
As a result of the exchange of opinions the British Prime Minister submitted to the House of Commons in the name of His Majesty's Government and the French Government the following declaration:
Statement by Mr. Chamberlain in the House of Commons.
March 31, 1939.
"As I said this morning, His Majesty's Government have no official confirmation of the rumors of any projected attack on Poland and they must not, therefore, be taken as accepting them as true.
"I am glad to take this opportunity of stating again the general policy of His Majesty's Government. They have constantly advocated the adjustment, by way of free negotiation between the parties concerned, of any differences that may arise between them. They consider that this is the natural and proper course where differences exist. In their opinion there should be no question incapable of solution by peaceful means, and they would see no justification for the substitution of force or threats of force for the method of negotiation.
"As the House is aware, certain consultation are now proceeding with other Governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Gov-ernment in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform tire 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 feet 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 de His Majesty's Government."
Prime Minister Chamberlain's declaration bore the characteristics of uni-lateral guarantee. Poland was aiming at substituting this guarantee with a mutual assistance pact in which both countries would assure military assistance in case of enemy aggression.
The Anglo-Polish communique of April 6, 1939, testified to the existence of these tendencies.
April 6, 1939.
The conversations with M. Beck have covered a wide field and shown that the two Governments are in complete agreement upon certain general principles.
It was agreed that the two countries were prepared to enter into an agreement of permanent and reciprocal character to replace the present temporary and uni-lateral assurance given by His Majesty's Government to the Polish Government. Pending the completion of the permanent agreement, M. Beck gave his Majesty's Government an assurance that the Polish Government would consider themselves under an obligation to render assistance to His Majesty's Government under the same conditions as those contained in the temporary assurance already given by His Majesty's Government to Poland.
Like the temporary assurance, the permanent agreement would not be directed against any other country, but would be designed to assure Great Britain and Poland of mutual assistance in the event of any threat, direct or indirect, to the independence of either. It was recognized that certain matters, including a more precise definition of the various ways in which the necessity for such assistance night arise, would require further examination before the permanent agreement could be completed.
It was understand that the arrangements above mentioned should not preclude either Government from making agreements with other countries in the general interest of the consolidation of peace.
In the meantime international gossipers and troublemakers began spreading rumors that Poland's attitude concerning Danzig underwent a change.
These rumors were cut short when on April 20, 1939, Minister Beck sent the following message to Polish diplomatic representatives:
Mr. Beck to all Polish Diplomatic Missions abroad.
Warsaw, April 20, 1939.
In connection with a new wave of rumors, the Polish Government have to state that their attitude to the Danzig question is as follows:
(a) The Polish Government hold unswervingly to the position that the German population of the Free City of Danzig should be left in complete freedom of development of their internal political life.
(b) The Polish Government cannot resign their fundamental rights, or consent that the enjoyment of such rights should be under the control of a third Party.
(c) The Polish Government cannot accept any unilateral decisions in regard to the Danzig question.
The German Government are aware of this attitude, and at any moment it may be the subject of negotiation, but there is no sign of any haste on the part of Germany.
The reply to Poland's stand came from Hitler himself. In a speech delivered at the Sportpalast in Berlin Hitler rejected the pacifist proposals of President Roosevelt and took the following attitude toward Poland:
Extract from Chancellor Hitter's Speech to the Reichstag.
April 28, 1939.
"I have had the following proposal submitted to the Polish Government:
"(1) Danzig returns as a Free State into the framework of the German Reich.
"(2) Germany receives a route through the Corridor and a railway line at her own disposal possessing the same extra-territorial status for Germany as the Corridor itself has for Poland.
"In return, Germany is prepared:
"(1) To recognize all Polish economic rights in Danzig.
"(2) To ensure for Poland a free harbor in Danzig of any size desired which would have completely free access to the sea.
"(3) To accept at the same time the present boundaries between Germany and Poland and to regard them as ultimate.
"(4) To conclude a twenty-five-year non-aggression treaty with Poland, a treaty therefore which would extend far beyond the duration of my own life.
"(5) To guarantee the independence of the Slovak State by Germany, Poland and Hungary jointly - which means in practice the renunciation of any unilateral German hegemony in this territory.
"The Polish Government have rejected my offer and have only declared that they are prepared (1) to negotiate concerning the question of a substitute for the Commissioner of the League of Nations and (2) to consider facilities for the transit traffic through the Corridor.
"I have regretted greatly this incomprehensible attitude of the Polish Government, but that alone is not the decisive fact; the worst is that now Poland, like Czecho-slovakia a year ago, believes, under the pressure of a lying international campaign, that it must call up troops, although Germany on her part has not called up a single man and had not thought of proceeding in any way against Poland. An I have said, this is in itself very regrettable and posterity will one day decide whether it was really right to refuse this suggestion made this once by me. This - as I have said -was an endeavor on my part to solve a question which intimately effects the German people by a truly unique compromise, and to solve it to the advantage of both countries. According to my conviction Poland was not a giving party in this solution at all but only a receiving party, because it should be beyond all doubt that Danzig will never become Polish. The intention to attack on the part of Germany, which was merely invented by the international Press, led as you know to the so called guarantee offer and to an obligation on the part of the Polish Government for mutual assistance, which would also, tinder certain circumstances, compel Poland to take military action against Germany in the event of a conflict between Germany and any other Power and in which England, in her men, would be involved. This obligation is contradictory to the agreement which I made with Marshal Pilsudski some time ago, seeing that in this agreement reference is made exclusively to existing obligations, that is at that time, namely, to the obligations of Poland towards France of which we were aware. To extend these obligations subsequently is contrary to the terms of the German-Polish non-aggression pact under these circumstances I should not have entered into this pact at that time, because what sense can a non-aggression pact have if one partner in practice leaves open an enormous number of exceptions.
"There is either collective security, that is collective insecurity and continuous danger of war, or clear agreements which, however, exclude fundamentally any we of arms between the contracting parties. I therefore look upon the agreement which Marshal Pilsudski and I at one time concluded as having been unilaterally infringed by Poland and thereby no longer in existence!
"I have sent a communication to this effect to the Polish Government. However, I can only repeat at this point that my decision does not constitute a modification of any attitude in principle with regard to the problems mentioned above. Should the Polish Government wish to come to fresh contractual arrangements governing its relations with Germany, I can but welcome such an idea, provided, of course, that these arrangements are based on an absolutely clear obligation binding both parties in equal measure. Germany is perfectly willing at any time to undertake such obligations and also to fulfill them."
At the very moment when Hitler was delivering his speech, the Polish Foreign Office in Warsaw was handed a diplomatic note by the Charge d'Affaires of the German Embassy. In a roundabout lengthy legal argumenta-tion the note endeavored to expound Hitler's decision to break off the German--Polish non-aggression pact.
The truth remained nevertheless that the act was illegal, for there was no provision in the pact for its being terminated by any one party to it before 1944.
A week after Hitler's speech Jozef Beck, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed the Polish Parliament.
Mr. Beck's Speech to the Seym.
May 5, 1939.
This session of Parliament provides me with an opportunity of filling in some gaps in my work of recent months. The course of international events might perhaps justify more statements by a Foreign Minister than my single expos4 in the Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs.
(2) On the other hand, it was precisely that swift development of events that prompted me to postpone a public declaration until such time " the principal prob. losses of our foreign policy had taken on a more definite form.
(3) The consequences of the weakening of collective interi2ational institutions and of a complete change in the method of intercourse between nations, which I have reported an several occasions in both Houses, caused many new problems to arise in different parts of the world. That process and its results have in recent months reached the borders of Poland.
(4) A very general definition of these phenomena may be given by saying that relations between individual Powers have taken on a more individual character, with their own specific features. The general rules have been weakened. One nation simply speaks more and more directly to another.
(5) As far m we are concerned, very serious events have taken place Our contact with some Powers has become easier and firmer, while in man cases serious difficulties have arisen. Looking at things chronologically, I refer, in the first place, to our agreement with the United Kingdom, with Great Britain. After repeated diplomatic contacts, designed to define the scope and objects of our future relations, we reached on the occasion of my visit to London a direct agreement based on the principle of mutual assistance in the event of a direct or indirect threat to the inde-pendence of one of our countries. The formula of the agreement is known to you from the declaration of Mr. Neville Chamberlain of April 6, the text of which was drafted by mutual agreement and should be regarded as a pact concluded between the two Governments. I consider it my duty to add that the form and character of the comprehensive conversations held in London give a particular value to the agreement. I should like Polish public opinion to be aware that I found on the part of British statesmen not only a profound knowledge of the general political problems of Europe, but also such an attitude towards our country as permitted me to discuss all vital problems with frankness and confidence without any reservations or doubts.
(6) It was possible to establish rapidly the principles of Polish-British collaboration, first of all because we made it clear to each other that the intentions of both Governments coincide as regards fundamental European problems; certainly, neither Great Britain nor Poland his any aggressive intentions whatever, but they stand equally firmly in defense of certain basic principles of conduct in international life.
(7) The parallel declarations of French political leaders confirm that it is agreed between Paris and Warsaw that the efficiency of our defense pact not only cannot be adversely affected by changes in the international situation, but, on the contrary, that this agreement should constitute one of the most essential elements in the political structure of Europe. The Polish-British Agreement, however, has been employed by the Chancellor of the German Reich " the pretext for unilaterally declaring nonexistent the agreement which the Chancellor of the Reich concluded with us in 1934.
(8) Before passing to the present stage of this matter, allow me to sketch a brief historical outline.
(9) The fact that I had the honor actively to participate in the conclusion and "execution of the Polish-German Pact imposes on me the duty of analyzing it. The pact of 1934 was a great event in 1934. It was an attempt to improve the course of history between two great nations, an attempt to escape from the unwholesome atmosphere of daily discord and wider hostile intentions, to rise above the animosity which had accumulated for centuries, and to create deep foundations of mutual respect. An endeavor to oppose evil is always the beat form of political activity.
(10) The policy of Poland proved our respect for that principle in the most critical moments of recent times.
(11) From this Point of view the breaking off of that pact in not an insignificant matter. However, every treaty is worth as much as the consequences which follow it. And if the policy and conduct of the other party diverges from the principle of the pact, we have no reason for mourning its weakening or dissolution. The Polish. German Pact of 1934 was a treaty of mutual respect and good neighborly relations, and as such it contributed a positive value to the life of out country, of Germany and of she whole of Europe. But since there has appeared a tendency to interpret it as limiting the freedom of our policy, or as a ground for demanding from m unilateral concessions contrary to our vital interests, it has lost its real character.
(12) Let us now pass to the present situation. The German Reich has taken the mere fact of the Polish-British understanding as a motive for the breaking off of the pact of 1934. Various legal objections were raised on the German side. I will take the liberty of referring jurists to the text of our reply to the German memoran-dum, which will be handed today to the German Government. I will not detain you any longer on the diplomatic form of this event, but one of its aspects has a special significance. The Reich Government, as appears from the text of the German memorandum, made its decision on the strength of Press reports, without consulting the views of either the British or the Polish Government as to the character of the agreement concluded. It would not have been difficult to do to, for immediately on my return from London I expressed my readiness to receive the German Ambassador, who has hitherto not availed himself of the opportunity.
(13) Why is this circumstance important? Even for the simplest understanding it is clear that neither the character nor the purpose and scope of the agreement influenced this decision, but merely the fact that such an agreement had been concluded. And this in turn is important for an appreciation of the objects of German policy, since if, contrary to previous declarations, the Government of the Reich interpreted the Polish-German Declaration of non-aggression of 1934 as intended to isolate Poland and to prevent the normal friendly collaboration of our country with the Western Powers, we ourselves should always have rejected such an inter-pretation.
(14) To make a proper estimate of the situation, we should first of all ask the question, what is the real object of all this? Without that question and our reply, we cannot properly appreciate the real import of German statements with regard to matters of concern to Poland. I have already referred to our attitude towards the West. There remains the question of the German proposals as to the future of the Free City of Danzig, the communication of the Reich with East Prussia through our province of Pomorze, and the further subjects raised as of common interest to Poland and Germany.
(15) Let us therefore, investigate these problems in turn.
(16) As to Danzig, first some general remarks, The Free City of Danzig was not
invented by the Treaty of Versailles. It has existed for many centuries as the result - to speak accurately, and rejecting the emotional factor - of the positive interplay of Polish and German interests. The German merchants of Danzig assumed the development and prosperity of that city, thanks to the overseas trade of Poland. Not only the development, but the very raison d'etre of the city was formerly due to the decisive fact of its situation at the mouth of our only great river, and today to its position on the main waterway and railway line connecting us with the Baltic. This is a truth which no new formula can change. The population of Danzig is today predominantly German, but its livelihood and prosperity depend on the economic potentialities of Poland.
(17) What conclusions have we drawn from this fact? We have stood and stand firmly on the ground of the rights and interests of our sea-borne trade and our maritime policy in Danzig. While seeking reasonable and conciliatory solutions, we have purposely not endeavored to exert any pressure on the free national, ideological and cultural development of the German majority in the Free City.
(18) I shall not prolong this speech by quoting examples. They are sufficiently well known to all who have been in any way concerned with the question. But when, after repeated statements by German statesmen, who had respected our standpoint and expressed the view that "This provincial town will not be the object of a conflict between Poland and Germany," I hear a demand for the annexation of Danzig to the Reich, when I receive no reply to our proposal of March 26 for a joint guarantee of the existence and rights of the Free City, and subsequently I learn that this has been regarded as a rejection of negotiations, l have to ask myself, what is the real object of all this?
(19) Is it the freedom, of the German population of Danzig (which is not threatened), or a matter of prestige, or is it a matter of barring Poland from the Baltic, from which Poland will not allow herself to be barred?
(20) The same considerations apply to communication across our province of Pomorze. I insist on the term "province of Pomorze." The word "corridor" is an artificial invention, for this is an ancient Polish territory with an insignificant percentage of German colonists.
(21) We have given the German Reich all railway facilities, we have allowed its citizens to travel without customs or passport formalities from the Reich to East Prussia. We have suggested the extension of similar facilities to road traffic.
(22) And here again the question arises - what is the real object of it all?
(23) We have no interest in obstructing German citizens in their communication with their eastern province. But we have, on the other hand, no reason whatever to restrict our sovereignty on our own territory.
(24) On the first and second points, i.e., the question of the future of Danzig
and of communication across Pomorze, it is still a matter of unilateral concessions
which the Government of the Reich appear to be demanding from us.
A self - respecting nation does not make unilateral concessions. Where, then, is the recipr-ocity? It appears somewhat vague in the German proposals. The Chancellor of the Reich mentioned in his speech a triple condominium in Slovakia. I am obliged to state that I heard this proposal for the first time in the Chancellor's speech of April 28. In certain previous conversation only allusions were made to the effect that in the event of a general agreement the question of Slovakia could be discussed. We did not attempt to go further with such conversations, since it is not our custom to bargain with the interest of others. Similarly, the proposal for a prolongation of the pact of non-aggression for twenty-five years win not advanced in any concrete focus in any of the recent conversations. Here also unofficial hints were made, emaciating, it is true, from prominent representatives of the Reich Government. But in such conversations various other hints were made which extended much further risen the subjects under discussion. I reserve the right to return to this matter if necessary.
(25) In his speech the Chancellor of the Reich proposes, as a concession on his part, the recognition and definite acceptance of the present frontier between Poland and Germany. I must point out that this would only have been a question of recognizing what is de jure and de facto our indisputable property. Consequently, this proposal likewise cannot affect my contention that the German desiderata regarding Danzig and a motor road constitute unilateral demands
(26) In the light of these explanations, the House will rightly expect from me
an answer to the last passage of the German memorandum which says: "If the Polish Government attach importance to a new settlement Polish-German rela-tions by means of a treaty, the German Government are prepared to do this., It appears to me that I have already made clear our attitude, but for the sake of order I will make a resume.
(27) The motive for concluding such an agreement would be the word "peace," which the Chancellor emphasized in his speech.
(28) Peace is certainly the object of the difficult and intensive work of Polish diplomacy. Two conditions are necessary for this word to be of real values (1) peaceful intentions, (2) peaceful methods of procedure. If the Government of the Reich are really guided by those two pre-conditions in relation to this country, then all conversations, provided, of course, that they respect the principle I have already enumerated, are possible.
(29) If such conventions take place, the Polish Government will, according to their custom, approach the problem objectively, having regard to the experience of recent times, but without withholding their utmost good will.
(30) Peace is a valuable and desirable thing. Our generation, which has shed its blood in several wars, surely deserves a period of peace. But peace, like almost everything in this world, has its price, high but definable. We in Poland do not recognize the conception of "peace at any price." There is only one thing in the life of men, nations and States which is without price, and that is honor.
OUTBREAK OF THE WAR
After this aggravation of the situation in the Spring of 1939, there followed a period of calm on the diplomatic front. The summer witnessed a psycho-logical war of nerves carried on rather by the German press and Nazi organiza-tions than by diplomatic elements.
It was only at the end of August that two important international events took place.
The first was the signing of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact in Moscow on August 23, 1939. The circumstances surrounding the signing of that pact and the empty-banded dismissal of the French-British military mission from the Kremlin are still vivid in the mind of the world.
Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.*
The Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, guided by the desire to strengthen the cause of peace between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and taking as a basis the fundamental regulations of the Neutrality Agreement concluded in April, 1936, between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, have reached the following agreements:
Article 1. The two Contracting Parties bind themselves to refrain from any act of force, any aggressive action and any attack on one another, both singly and also jointly with other Powers.
Article 2. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties becoming the object of warlike action on the part of a third Power, the other Contracting Party shall in no manner support this third Power.
Article 3. The Government of the two Contracting Parties shall in future remain continuously in touch with one another, by way of consultation, in order to inform one another on questions touching their joint interests.
Article 4. Neither of the two Contracting Parties shall participate in any grouping of Powers which is directed directly or indirectly against the other Party.
Article 5. In the event of disputes or disagreement arising between the Contracting Parties on questions of this or that kind, both Parties would clarify the" disputes or disagreements exclusively by means of friendly exchange of opinion, or, if necessary, by arbitration committees.
Article 6. The present Agreement shall be concluded for a period of ten years on the understanding that, in so far as one of the Contracting Parties does not give notice of termination one year before the end of this period, the period of validity of this Agreement shall automatically be regarded as prolonged for a further period
of five years.
Article 7. The present Agreement shall be ratified within the shortest possible time. The instruments of ratification shall be exchanged in Berlin, the Agreement takes effect immediately after it has been signed.
For the German Reich Government:
For the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics:
Moscow, August 23, 1939.
The Ribbentrop-Molotov pact assured Germany a free band in her attack on Poland. Secret clauses of the pact provided for Russia's neutrality in the im-pending German-Polish conflict and for an even division of spoils.
Two days later the Anglo-Polish negotiations, which had been going on in London, were speedily concluded. The pact of mutual assistance signed August 25, 1939, was the nucleus of the later pact of the United Nations to fight the Axis.
Anglo-Polish Agreement of Mutual Assistance.
London, August 25, 1919.
The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Polish Government,
Desiring to place on a permanent basis the collaboration between their respective countries resulting from the assurances of mutual Resistance of a defensive character which they have already exchanged;
Have resolved to conclude an Agreement for that purpose and have appointed &a their Plenipotentiaries:
The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: The Rt. Hon. Viscount Halifax, K.G., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs;
The Polish Government:
His Excellency Count Edward Raczynski, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Polish Republic in London;
Who, having exchanged their Full Powers, found in good and due focus, have agreed on the following provisions:
Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power.
(1) The provisions of Article I will also apply in the event of any action by a European Power which clearly threatened, directly or indirectly, the independence of one of the Contracting Parties, and was of such a nature that the Party in question considered it vital to resist it with its armed forces.
(2) Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of action by that Power which threatened the independence or neutrality of another European State in such a way as to constitute a clear menace of the security if that contracting party, the provisions of Article I will apply, without prejudice, however, to the rights of the other European State concerned.
Should a European Power attempt to undermine the independence of one of the Contracting Parties by processes of economic penetration or in any other way, the Contracting Parties will support each other in resistance to such attempts. Should the European Power concerned thereupon embark on hostilities against one of the Contracting Parties, the provisions of Article I will apply.
The methods of applying the undertakings of mutual assistance provided for by the present Agreement are established between the competent naval, military and air authorities of the Contracting Parties.
Without prejudice to the foregoing undertakings of the Contracting Parties to give each other mutual support and assistance immediately on the outbreak of hostility, they will exchange complete and speedy information concerning any development which might threaten their independence and, in particular, concerning any development which threatened to call the said undertakings into operation.
(1) The contracting Parties will communicate to each other the terms of any undertakings of assistance against aggression which they have already given or may in future give to other States.
(2) Should either of the Contracting Parties intend to give such an undertaking after the coming into force of the present Agreement, the other Contracting Party shall, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Agreement, be informed thereof.
(3) Any new undertaking which the Contracting Parties may enter into in future shall neither limit their obligations under the present Agreement nor indirectly create new obligations between the Contracting Party not participating in these un-dertakings and the third State concerned.
Should the Contracting Parties be engaged in hostilities in consequence of the application of the present Agreement, they will not conclude an armistice or treaty of peace except by mutual agreement.
(1) The present Agreement shall remain in force for a period of five years.
(2) Unless denounced six months before the expiry of this period it shall
continue in force, each Contracting Party having thereafter the right to denounce it at any time by giving six months' notice to that effect.
(3) The present Agreement shall come into force on signature.
In faith whereof the above-named Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Agreement and have affixed thereto their seats.
Done in English in duplicate, at London, the 25th August, 1939. A Polish text shall subsequently be agreed upon between the Contracting Parties and both texts will then be authentic.
(L.S.) EDWARD RACZYNSKI