Monday, April 13, 2015
ADSS 1.4 Filippo Cortesi, Poland to Cardinal Maglione: German Polish tension
ADSS 1.4 Filippo Cortesi (1), Poland to Luigi Maglione, Secretary of State.
Reference: Report number 202, (AES 1528/39)
Location and date: Warsaw, 18.03.1939
Summary statement: German-Polish tension; German note on their claims in Poland and Polish reply.
Warsaw, and with it the entire nation, lives through days of great anxiety and earnest patriotism, following the uncertain and vague news of grave international events appearing in the Press and watching the extraordinary measures taken by the Government and the movement of the troops at the frontier.
The Government has not yet issued any official statement to the Press on the situation; but the fact that Parliament has been adjourned for 30 days and the various appeals to the country, inviting the people to stand together in disciplined calm, are signs that a serious danger threatens the nations.
I have been informed that the Government has today given in confidence to the principal Press representatives the following news which I hasten to send to your Eminence.
The Reich has sent to the Polish Government a Note (2) with the following demands:
1. Annexation of Danzig to the Reich, including the port of Westerplatte, the railway and other properties of the Polish Government included in the area of the Free Port.
2. Transfer of a strip of territory through Pomerania from Chojnice (German: Konitz) to Tczew (German: Dirschau), which links West Prussia with East Prussia.
3. German participation in the main Polish steel plants in Silesia.
The Government replied: Poland observes the Non-aggression Pact of 1934. And being invited almost in the form of an ultimatum to clarify its position replied: Poland has no claim whatsoever on German Territory.
After this the Reich requested permission to send a military aircraft to Warsaw to remain at the disposal of the German Ambassador; the Government’s immediate reply was that as many as five aeroplanes could be sent.
It is to be noted that this bandying of words has taken place orally or by notes, between the German Ambassador and the Polish Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, although Minister Beck was in office in Warsaw. (3)
A state of tension, therefore, exists between the Reich and Poland, which could have the most serious consequences. Undoubtedly, both Government and people are ready to defend the integrity, the rights and the liberty of Poland at any cost, and to stand fast in this resolve and to trust only in their own strength. The proof of this is the enthusiasm with which people from every walk of life have accepted and willingly subscribe to a great national loan.
In political and diplomatic circles there is the feeling that in case of armed conflict Poland, who has received in the last few days a big loan from Great Britain to assist the manufacturing industries, could count on the help of the Western Powers. It is also believed that Italy, long standing friend of Poland, will exert its influence to avoid an armed conflict between Germany and Poland.
(1) Archbishop Filippo Cortesi (1876-1947) Nuncio to Poland 1936-47.
(2) DGFP, D, VI, no. 61, pp 58-60 – Ribbentrop’s note of 21.03.1939 in which he claimed Danzig and a motorway link with East Prussia.
(3) Hans-Adolf von Moltke (1884-1943), German Ambassador to Poland 1931-39; Jan Szembek (1881-1945), Polish Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1932-39; Jozef Beck (1894-1944), Polish Foreign Minister 1932-39.