Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ADSS 1.106 Charles-roux to Tardini: Germany will bear responsibility for any war over Danzig

ADSS 1.106 François Charles-Roux, Amb France to Holy See, to Domenico Tardini, Secretariat of State.

Reference: AES 5559/39

Location and date: Rome, 20.08.1939

Summary statement: Explains the responsibility that would be incurred by Germany should it begin a world war for Danzig.  He asks that the Pope should state on whim the responsibility for the war would rest in such a case.

Language: French


The international situation is so dangerously tense that, in the absence of His Eminence Cardinal Maglione, I wish to make you my confidant for the thoughts that run through my mind.

The admirable words that the Holy Father pronounced yesterday (1) will certainly have the greatest and deepest echo in France.  I am sure that they will have the same effect in England and Poland.  Everybody on that side will be moved and grateful to His Holiness.

But the countries that should be stopped from sliding into war are in the other camp, that is Germany and Italy. Because it is these two who place peace in danger, the one by raising claimed on Danzig, the other by supporting them.

To undertake the responsibility of unleashing a European war for the purpose of under the pretext of re-uniting a city to the Reich which does not form part of Poland and where the inhabitants live under a regime granting them the most ample freedom, is really to assume the responsibility of a crime.

To state that a Germany with more than 80 million inhabitants cannot leave outside its borders 400,000 Germans under an autonomous government is to push intransigence to the point where it defies common sense.

To take up this attitude when on keeps under one’s yoke nine million Slavs (2), and I can also add, eight million Austrians, is to push a paradox to the extreme limit.

To provoke war for 400,000 Danzig citizens, when one has just agreed to the emigration of 250,000 Tyrolese, is a cynical contradiction (3).

Besides, it is evident to all that the German claim, supported by the Italian Government, covers the needs of a prestige, which nothing will ever satisfy, and of an ambition which nothing will quench.  And it is only this which puts Europe on the eve of a catastrophe.

It is impossible not to be struck by the complete similarity that the phases of the German-Polish dispute have with those of the Sudeten issue and of the German-Czech conflict.  They are copied one from the other.  The same methods are repeated by Germany for the same purpose and it would be well that Germany should know that this time the deed cannot be accomplished without starting a European war.

These are the considerations which, not leaving any doubt as to where responsibility would lie for the armed conflict which threatens Europe, lead me to think that these same responsibilities place on those who undertake them such a heavy moral indictment that the Holy See cannot let them pass unobserved.  Things have reach such a point that I think that the cause of peace, in the interest of which the Holy Father has made so many moving and persevering efforts, would greatly benefit from what he would say, with the authority which only belongs to him, to show that the guilt of a war would fall on a country whose enormous annexations have served only increase its insatiable ambition.

The confidence which you have been kind enough to show me has given me the courage to convey to you my thoughts on this subject.

(1) ADSS 1.105.

(2) A reference to the German seizure of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.
(3) In July 1939 Germany and Italy reached an agreement whereby the German-speaking population of South Tyrol (Alto Adige) would emigrate to the Reich.  The outbreak of the war brought the plan to a halt and after the Italian armistice in September 1943, the province was formally annexed to the Reich.

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