Monday, January 25, 2016

ADSS 1.155 Orsenigo to Maglione: German minorities in Poland

ADSS 1.155 Cesare Orsenigo, Germany, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: Telegram number 340 (AES 5873/39)

Location and date: Berlin, 30.08.1939.

Summary statement: British Ambassador, suggested a committee of priests to gather information on the oppression of the German minorities in Poland.  Hitler agrees to deal with Poland if the plenipotentiary arrives this morning.

Language: Italian


Following yesterday evening’s coded message Number 339 (1) I inform you that the British Embassy secretly expressed to me the wish that the Holy See would intervene in order to set up a Committee of priests to report on the Polish oppression of German minorities.  I replied that as far as I was concerned I preferred a Control Commission to enquire into both claims of oppression, that is also on the German oppression of Polish minorities, and that I was of the opinion that an international control commission would be more readily accepted. (2)

They (the British Embassy) told me in confidence that the situation is extremely grave.  Hitler replied yesterday evening to the British Government without mentioning the question of colonies, maybe to avoid delays, and agreeing to start negotiations with Poland although expressing his scepticism on the matter (?), but insisting that the Polish negotiator should arrive in Berlin this morning. (3) The British Embassy, to whom I have recommended the utmost secrecy, implores that Hitler should be approached regarding the question of the control of the oppressions because Hitler takes them as a pretext to unleash war: a telephone call in reply would be sufficient.

(1) ADSS 1.150
(2) DBFP contains no reference to Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador, making any request along these lines.  However, DBFP, Series 3, Volume 7, n523, p402 seems to contradict ADSS. 

(3) See DGFP, Series D, Volume 7, nn 421 and 458, pp 413-15; 447-50.  Copies of the German proposals were also sent to Rome, Paris and Moscow on 31.08.1939.

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