Monday, July 17, 2017

ADSS 1.271 Pacini to Maglione: Conversation with Polish Minister Beck

ADSS 1.271 Alfredo Pacini, Charge d’affaires, Polish Nunciature in Angers, France, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: Report 15/40 (AES 2954/40)

Location and date: Angers, 20.03.1940

Summary statement: Pacini reports on conversation with Polish Foreign Minister, August Zaleski who commented on Sumner Welles information:  Jozef Beck never consented to the return of Danzig to the Reich.  Pacini quotes the Polish ‘White Book’

Language: Italian


As I had the honour to inform Your Eminence whith my report No 14/40 of yesterday (1), M. Zaleski, Polish Foreign Minister (2), spoke to me about his meeting in Paris with Mr Welles at the occasion of Welles’ visit to the French Government. The Minister said: “As we do not want to keep anything secret from the Holy See, I wish to report the conversation I had with Mr Welles.

“Mr Roosevelt’s representative asked me only a few questions but insisted on knowing if it was true that Minister Beck (3) – during the visit paid by the Polish Minister to the German Chancellor in his residence in Berchtesgaden on 5 January 1939 – made concessions to Hitler regarding the return of Danzig and the Corridor to Germany”.

M. Zelseki replied: “From documents found in the Foreign Ministry and from other knowledge this information seems to be untrue.  When speaking with Chancellor Hitler, M. Beck used a formal phrase of courtesy, namely that there was always a way to reach an understanding on thorny questions without the necessity of letting it come to a serious conflict; he did not say clearly yes of no, and clarity would have been necessary.  But, at a meeting which M. Beck had in Munich on 6 January with the German Foreign Minister he took the opportunity to explain his ideas about these problems more clearly, saying that Poland would never agree to hand Danzig to Germany or to other requests regarding the extra-territorial status of a Corridor.

Mr Welles took notes on the subject and did not ask anything else of importance.

Minister Zaleski tells me that Mr Welles asked General Sikorski, President of the Council (4), his opinion on the military might of Germany and Russia and M. Sikorski made a report which was handed to Mr Welles while he was leaving London for Paris.

I note that the Polish “White Book” mentions the conversations which Minister Beck had with Chancellor Hitler and with the German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop in two documents: 48-49 and 78-79.  One can see from them, the manner in which very thorny questions, which then developed into a war, were dealt with.  The discussions were resumed in Berlin on 21 March (the “White Book” mentions them under No. 61) between the Polish Ambassador, M. Lipski and the German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, with the well known tragic results.

(1) Report not published in ADSS.  Pacini provided information about giving the document to the Polish Minister.  See ADSS 1.248 note 1.
(2) August Zaleski (1883-1972), Minister of Foreign Affairs Polish Government in Exile 1940-47.
(3) Jozef Beck (1894-1944), Polish Foreign Minister 1932-39.
(4) Wladislaw Sikorski (1881-1943), Prime Minister Polish Government in Exile 1939-43.

(5) The Polish “White Book” was a collection of documents dealing with Poland’s relations with Germany and the USSR between 1933 and 1939.  It was published on 15.03.1940.

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