Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ADSS 1.69 Cortesi to Maglione: Poland does not believe Germany

ADSS 1.69 Filippo Cortesi, Poland, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: Report without number, (AES 4002/39 – handwritten personally)

Location and date: Warsaw, 22.06.1939

Summary statement: Done as instructed.  Josef Beck (1894-1944), Minister Foreign Affairs does not trust the Germans and mentioned recent provocations in Danzig.

Language: Italian


As soon as I received your coded despatch Number 32 (1) I asked for an audience with the Foreign Minister Colonel Beck (2) who received me shortly afterwards at this home, since he was ill with a cold.

He listened with respectful attention to my messages, expressed his appreciation for the Holy See’s great and benevolent interest, but rather sullenly said that the Government unfortunately could not trust al all people who usually do not keep their word which in the case of Danzig and of the Corridor, had been given to him in writing by the Head of the German Government. (3)  He declared, however, that Poland would continue in its prudent and moderate policy, as it has done so far, notwithstanding the frequent incidents intentionally provoked by the other side.

He related at length the latest incidents in Danzig, where the Polish Custom House was attacked and razed to the ground by National Socialist armed forces, and the next day the Polish Customs Superintendent himself was put in gaol (3); and on the Silesian border where, just last night, German army officers had removed the demarcation posts, put back in place next morning by Polish officers.

(1) ADSS 1.64
(2) Jozef Beck, (1894-1944), Polish Foreign Minister 1932-39.
(3) The Minister may have been referring to a speech made by German Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels in Danzig on 18.06.1939 where he declared that “German Danzig will return to Germany very soon”.
(4) The Minister was referring to the attack on the Polish Customs House in Kalthof, outside of Danzig.  Pro-Nazi demonstrators accused the Customs Inspectors of demeaning German women, and alleging that a Pole shot a German without provocation. See Courier Mail, 23.05.1939.

(5) Border provocations continued throughout the summer of 1939 culminating in the “Gleiwitz Incident” on the night of 31.08.1939 and used by Hitler as the “justification” for the German invasion the following morning.

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