Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:00

740.00/658: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, March 22, 1939-8 p. m.
[Received March 22-5: 50 p. m.]

389. My 388, March 22, 7 p. m., in particular last paragraph. Replies to the British Government's proposals sent to Russia, Poland and France for signature of a joint declaration that the four countries would enter into discussions regarding concerted measures which might have to be taken in the event of an attack by Germany against any Eastern European state have not been received. The Foreign Office has, however, received certain preliminary reactions and observations which may be summarized as follows :

(1) Russia. M. Litvinoff has expressed great disappointment at the rejection of his earlier proposals for a conference, which he still prefers. Russia has in no way committed herself with regard to the draft declaration and M. Bonnet since his arrival in London has expressed the opinion that if anything is to be got from Russia she will have to be pinned down to a precise definition of exactly what she will do, as the Russians have a great predilection for making international propaganda by public statements, which do not commit them to anything.

(2) Poland indicates fears of Germany and expresses dislike of cooperation with Russia. She says that if she gives her adherence to the declaration proposed by the British it would take her definitely off the fence and put her in the Soviet camp against Germany. She indicates that it would be easier for her to go along with Great Britain and France if Russia were out of the picture. The British proposal, however, will he further examined.
_______________________________________________
[62] Telegram No. 370 not printed.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 93

(3) France. The French think it is time to call a halt to Germany but feel that it is necessary to know exactly how each country stands and exactly what action each country would take. M. Bonnet has expressed the view to Lord Halifax that the adherence of Poland to the proposed declaration is of vital importance and that it should be secured even if Poland had to be threatened. He apparently did not specify in what way Poland could be threatened.

Although the proposed declaration has not been submitted by the British Government to Turkey, the Turkish Ambassador has been informed of it by the Foreign Secretary. The Ambassador said to Lord Halifax that he could speak with confidence and full knowledge of Turkish policy and that his country would go to all lengths with Great Britain if assured of British support and if Turkey could rely on British assistance should she herself be attacked in the Mediterranean. Turkey would depart from neutrality only if on the side of Great Britain. Her attachment to this relationship is unconditional and would not be affected by Polish and Russian replies. Apart from this, Turkey is prepared to fulfill all her existing treaty obligations.

It will be seen from the foregoing features great are the difficulties of reaching any agreement on concerted action against Germany. Each country wants to know what the other one is going to do and if the views of the smaller countries are to be met to a degree sufficient to insure their cooperation, Great Britain and France will have to assume burdens of incalculable responsibility. With the Munich agreement washed away, an entirely new line of action has to be worked out and applied. Responsible officials indicate that the British Government has no attachment to solution along any doctrinaire line but that it is examining every possibility which might offer a lead to effective machinery for stemming German aggression. Such possibilities are therefore being examined solely from the viewpoint of what is practicable and expedient.

KENNEDY

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:01

740.00/718
The Minister in the Netherlands (Gordon) to the Secretary of State
[Extracts}
No. 691 THE HAGUE, March 22, 1939.
[Received March 31.]

SIR:
* * * * *
I have naturally been desirous during the past week of sending a telegram to the Department which would indicate with some authoritativeness the reactions of Dutch public opinion, both private and official, to this most recent demonstration of German unprovoked and

94 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

ruthless aggression, as well as contain references to official reports from Dutch representatives abroad as to definite indications of repercussions of this German move upon the position of the Netherlands—for such help as it might be in fitting into the Department's general mosaic—but so far there has been a dearth of information of sufficiently positive quality to warrant cabling it.

Universal indignation and dismay has been manifest, but of course that was only to be expected. Various conversations which I and other members of the Legation have had with officials and well-informed private individuals reveal a marked diversity of views, running the gamut from resigned certainty that this country will be crushed by Germany and that whatever resistance may be offered on land it cannot escape destruction from German bombers, to a feeling that there is little less ground to hope that the Netherlands may remain neutral in a forthcoming European war than there was in 1914.

Between these two rather unreasoning extremes there is still a considerable variety of opinion. Even among members of the armed forces with whom we have talked there are those who feel that in a general European war Holland is so directly on Germany's necessary path to attack England that she cannot escape, and on the other hand those who hold that even if Belgium were able to maintain her neutrality vis-á-vis both France and Germany so that the road for a German attack upon England would necessarily point to going through Holland—both for that reason and for the submarine threat against England, which is greater than that afforded by the Belgian coast line—Germany would nevertheless be reluctant to force this country into the ranks of her active enemies. This latter view is based on the thought that even the present Spanish war has shown that a military decision cannot be won in the air only, and that the Dutch army, plus the Dutch scheme of land defense based on inundation, could oppose a stiff resistance to German invaders and inflict serious damage upon them; it is a view, however, which I fear is not very widely held by others than zealous and energetic military officers—by which I do not mean that faith in the efficacy of inundation to stop an advancing army has vanished from the face of the Netherlands, but rather that the dread of massed aerial bombing expeditions has captured first place in the popular imagination.

* * * * *

As regards high official opinion, I understand that Dr. Colijn [63] is still disposed to take the view that Germany will not be inclined to look for any unnecessary trouble by a wanton invasion of the Netherlands (see despatch No. 678,[64] page 3), but rather is only likely to
_____________________________________________________
[63] President of the Netherland Council of Ministers and Minister for General Affairs.
[64] Dated March 11, not printed.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 95

attack this country if Germany feels herself in such a position that she, to use the Prime Minister's words, "might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb". Dr. Patijn [65] and other officials of the Foreign Office state that there is nothing in their reports to indicate that in pursuance of the policy which dictated the Czechoslovak coup Germany has adversely changed her designs or intentions vis-á-vis the Netherlands. But even in official circles it is felt that not only the embodiment in this latest coup of a new German policy completely devoid of even any pretext of racial protection principles, but also the circumstances of its execution, are impressive of the stark fact that there is no longer the possibility of forming any reasonable estimate of what Hitler will do next. Moreover, when it considers the hypothesis of Hitler going to such extremes as to force England and France into a war, I doubt whether officialdom in general entirely shares the robust optimism of the Prime Minister.

All in all, therefore, it is my impression that the best informed opinion in this country, both official and private, is even more nervous than last September—save perhaps for the two or three days immediately preceding the meeting at Munich.

* * * * *

One thing, in any event, emerges from the recent events in Czechoslovakia more strongly than ever, and that is that in any future general European war Dutch sentiment will be far more anti-German than it was from 1914 to 1918; the Department is aware of this but it does no harm to state it concretely.

Respectfully yours,
GEORGE A. GORDON
________________________________________________
[65] Netherland Minister for Foreign Affairs.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:02

660M.01 Memel/590: Telegram
The Minister in Lithuania (Norem) to the Secretary of State
KAUNAS, March 23, 1939--4 p. m.
[Received March 23-3: 30 p. m.]

13. The occupation of Memel territory effected today. German troops entered at 5 this morning and Hitler arrived at 2 p. m., Mr. Norkaitis, Director of the Economic Division of Foreign Office, proceeding today to Memel to act with Mr. Bertuleit as Commissioner for transfer. The substance of agreement signed last evening in Berlin [66] is as follows :
(1) Return of territory to Germany, (2) withdrawal of Lithuanian military and transfer of Government property by commissions, (3) free harbor zone provided in Memel, (4) non-aggression clause. Ap-
________________________________________________
[65] Netherland Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[66] German White Book, Documents on the Events Preceding the Outbreak of the War (New York, German Library of Information, 1940), doc. No. 342, p. 363.

96 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

pendix: Part I, (1) German harbor board provided with Lithuanian rights vested in a company under terms of 99-year lease, (2) lease considered paid by Lithuanian investments, (3) harbor fees to be collected by company upon review of harbor board; [part II,] (1) tax exemptions granted to harbor company, (2) establishment of limits, et cetera, of free zone, (3) custom inspection on border of free zone, (4) traffic in bond to Lithuania via Kretinga, (5) stay of Lithuanian ships in territorial waters to be favorably regulated.

Reaction to agreement found favorable in all quarters. The Government is proceeding cautiously to make necessary readjustments with martial defense measures throughout country. Certain Cabinet changes likely but indications are that Nationalist Party will continue in power. Jewish refugee problem remains to be solved.

NOREM

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:10

740.00/471: Telegram
The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State
WARSAW, March 23,1939--5 p. m. [Received 5 : 03 p. m.]

42. 1. Upon Ribbentrop's advice that neither Britain nor France as signatories of Memel convention would intervene forcibly, Hitler timed Memel's annexation to discredit and circumvent British and French Eastern and Central European diplomatic maneuvers which on account of Memel, Czecho-Slovakia and other letdowns have left Warsaw cold. Accordingly Polish officialdom marks French and British soundings down to diplomatic "shadow boxing" and to efforts to get Poland and other countries out here to do their fighting for them. Moreover, disunion between Belgrade, the Baltic capitals and even Bucharest characterizes the preliminary reaction of the Memel annexation.

2. Poland's current position may be described as steering a careful course through confused events, hoping that by strictly minding her own business and through adoption of precautionary military measures to meet a possible challenge of her own frontiers, she will not incur Germany's forceful attention. Attributable to this policy :

(a) Warsaw gave negative reply to Kaunas' recent question as to whether Warsaw considered Memel's potential annexation a fighting issue;

(b) Beck stated in response to British, French and Rumanian Ambassador's question whether Poland would march for Rumania if invaded from the west that Poland had no intention of marching unless Poland were attacked.

(c) Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Arciszewski, when pressed by British Ambassador to state unofficially Poland's potential atti-

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 97

tude in the event Germany provoked early European conflict, replied that Poland, except for her direct obligations under Rumanian and French alliances, would march only if attacked in which case Poland would fight to the last man. Moreover, experience during past few years had taught Poland not to count on outside support. In this connection I am aware that despite alliance Beck is convinced Poland could not count on France's assistance in a Polish-German conflict.

BULLITT

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:11

740.00/ß85 : Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the
Secretary of State
LONDON, March 23, 1939-8 p. m.
[Received March 23--3: 52 p. m.]

395. My 389, March 22, 8 p.m. The Foreign Office states that final replies to the British proposals for a joint declaration have been received from France and Soviet Russia and preliminary indications have been received from Poland.

1. The Soviet Government accepts and will sign as soon as France and Poland have accepted. Moscow is anxious that not only the Balkan but also the Baltic and Scandinavian countries be invited to adhere to the declaration after publication.

2. The French reply expresses entire assent. M. Bonnet, however, in conversations with the Prime Minister and Lord Halifax has emphasized the importance of Polish participation and the difficulty of effecting this in view of the Soviet participation.

3. The chief preoccupation of Poland is the suggested participation of Russia. The Polish Ambassador in London has been instructed to propose that the British Government and the Polish Government enter into a secret agreement of consultation on the lines suggested in the declaration, this not however to prejudice any official decision regarding Polish participation in the public declaration on which the Ambassador is to communicate the views of the Polish Government later. It would not affect the position of France either as the existing Franco-Polish treaty already contains a consultative clause. The British Ambassador in Warsaw has suggested that publication with Polish consent might be possible if Poland were given definite assurances that the Western powers would take effective and immediate steps in case of German aggression against Poland. Foreign Office officials do not venture an opinion as to whether the Polish and Soviet positions can be reconciled.

The British and French representatives are urging moderation at Budapest and Bucharest in view of the degree of military mobiliza-

98 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

tion in Hungary and Rumania. The British also understand that Poland is making vigorous representation in those two capitals against violent action.

KENNEDY

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:11

More from p. 98:
740.00/677 : Telegram
The Ambassador in Belgium, (Davies) to the Secretary of State
BRUSSELS, March 24, 1939-4 p. m. [Received March 24--1: 35 p. m.]

35. I have received information from a reliable source that the Belgian Government will maintain a strictly neutral and independent attitude in the present crisis, that it will not sign any "common declaration" against Germany nor become a party to any agreement relating to collective security.

Diplomatic representatives of smaller European countries here point out that although an entire week has elapsed since Chamberlain's speech condemning the German invasion of Czechoslovakia, Great Britain has been unable to establish a unified front even as between the three major powers in comparison with Hitler's rapid action. It cannot be expected, they urge, that the smaller states adjacent to Germany should join in any common declaration thereby incurring the risk of disaster without very definite commitments and guarantees of specific and effective military and other aid.

DAVIES

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:12

740.00/881 : Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
[Extract]
LONDON, March 24,1939-5 p. m. [Received March 24-6: 45 p. m.]

399. I have just seen Halifax. He had just seen the Polish Ambassador. Poland says finally that they want to go along with Great Britain and France but hesitate to join up with Russia first of all because they do not like them as bedfellows and second because a tieup of any sort between Russia and Poland will cause an open break with Hitler and war will be on. Halifax feels, however, that on Beck's arrival here next week they will arrange, in a way, Halifax does not yet know, for Poland to assure Great Britain that it will fight if Hitler attempts to take Danzig or makes any other overt act against Poland.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 99

As to the Russian situation, they have indicated their willingness to sign the statement which Britain and France asked them to sign, but Halifax feels that Poland is of much more value to the tieup than Russia, because their latest information on Russia shows their air force to be very weak and old and of short range, their army very poor and their industrial backing for the army frightful and the most they could expect from Russia, if Russia wanted to be of help, would be that they might send some ammunition to Poland in the event of trouble.

As to the Rumanians, in spite of the trade agreement signed today between Rumania and Germany, which agreement Halifax said was signed by the Rumanians partially because they were promised that the ammunitions under contract with the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia for their account should continue to be delivered as per schedule, Halifax still feels it is possible that they may also fight against the Germans if Poland decides to take up arms.

I told Halifax that it seemed to me that, when England and France got down to the last stages of a working agreement with Poland and possibly Rumania and Russia, in the event of acts of aggression by Hitler against them, it would become quite obvious that the assurances given might not be satisfactory to both France and England and they would then find it necessary to wash their hands of the whole of Southeastern Europe. Halifax said he did not believe that was the case.

He felt that the inevitability of war sooner or later should be met right now and that the Prime Minister himself and the Cabinet are strongly of the opinion that a line should be laid down and a statement given to Berlin that if they cross that imaginary line the war is on. He is not quite sure whether they will want to include Rumania in that imaginary line.

* * * * *

KENNEDY

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:13

770.00/604: Telegram
The Minister in Bulgaria (Atherton) to the Secretary of State
[Extract]
SOFIA, March 24, 1939—midnight.
[Received March 21 9:06 a. m.]

11. The Prime Minister received me shortly after the details of the Rumanian-German accord [67] had been confirmed here.
____________________________________________________
[67] Signed March 23, 1939, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cxcix, p. 77.

100 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

The Prime Minister said that he had received the British and French Ambassadors to Turkey and in reply to their asseverations regarding assistance to Bulgaria he had informed them that it was now too late and that repeated speeches and diplomatic activity towards the formation of a democratic bloc was merely accelerating Hitler's preparations for self-sufficiency in case of war. The Prime Minister said very confidentially he was struck by how little either the French or British Ambassador understood the questions of Southeastern Europe and he intimated his discussions with the French and British representatives in Sofia had been equally disappointing. (I know this has been likewise the view of my Belgian colleague who has had long experience here.)

The Prime Minister observed that he probably was not favorably viewed in Germany which I understand results from his attitude at the time of Neurath's visit to Sofia (reported before my arrival in the Legation's despatch 393, June 12, 1937[68]) and to the fact that he has consistently maintained an independent Bulgarian policy in the face of persistent opposition. His attitude was one of utter discouragement even though his Government may be able to carry on.

ATHERTON
______________________________________
[68] Not printed.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:15

More from p. 100:
880k.01/182: Telegram
The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
Moscow, March 25, 1939-6 p. m.
[Received March 25-1: 35 p. m.]

149. My telegram No. 148, March 25, 5 p. m.[69] In discussing Polish-German relations a member of the German Embassy here stated the opinion that certain developments in the question of Danzig may now be expected which would involve the incorporation of that city into the Reich together with permission for Germany to construct an extraterritorial motor road across the Corridor and a guarantee on the part of Germany of the German-Polish frontier.[70] The informant added that it would be "unwise" for Poland to refuse these proposals although it was admitted that the internal political opposition in Poland might make it difficult for Beck to accept in the present circumstances.

KIRK
______________________________________
[69] Not printed.
[70] The German Minister for Foreign Affairs stated his Government's desires on these points to the Polish Ambassador in interviews on March 21 and March 20, 1939; see Polish White Book, Official Documents Concerning Polish-German and Polish-Soviet Relations, 1983-1939 (London, Hutchinson and Co., n. d.), doc. Nos. 61 and 83, pp. 61 and 66.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:16

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 101

860k.01/134: Telegram
The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State
WARSAW, March 25, 1939-8 p. m. [Received 8: 35 p. m.]

49. For the President and the Secretary.

1. Beck imparted to British Ambassador Hitler was pressing him for settlement of Danzig negotiations before Easter. Moreover, I am aware Beck does not exclude possibility of Berlin's timing potential trouble in Danzig to prevent Beck's London trip.

2. Meanwhile mobilization of four classes here rapidly nearing completion and large-scale concentrations on northern and western frontiers as well as southeastern Poland indicate Beck contemplates stubborn defense in the light of aforementioned negotiations (it is pertinent that German Ambassador imparted last fall that Berlin was always concerned lest, in the event of a show-down in German-Polish differences, Poland might pounce on East Prussia as a retaliatory measure).

3. Further preparation for possible action is marked by withdrawal of Polish railway rolling stock from Danzig terminal aimed partly : (a) to make it available for Polish troop movements, (b) to withdraw it to a safe position, (c) to impress Nazi Danzigers with their dependence on Polish railways, and (d) importantly to strengthen Beck's hand in further dealings on Danzig and in case of German demand for a double right of way across Corridor.

4. It is, moreover, significant that Warsaw and Moscow agreed to dispense with ratification of trade agreement and to bring it into force March 27.

BIDDLE

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:16

800k.01/133: Telegram
The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State
WARSAW, March 26, 1939-1 p. m. [Received 2:06 p. m.]

50. For the President and the Secretary. Referring to my No. 49, March 25.

1. Poland today on war footing having achieved same swiftly but quietly. Attitude of people calm but determined to defend Poland's integrity to last man.

2. Situation grave and at mercy both of frontier and political incidents.

3. Poland, however, has thus spoken quietly but firmly language Berlin understands and might even conceivably swallow provided Berlin's prestige were not jeopardized by public knowledge that

102 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

Poland's mobilization represented more Poland's challenge to Berlin's pressure over Danzig issue (see paragraph 1, my telegram No. 49, March 25th) than general precautionary measures.

BIDDLE

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:17

More from p. 102:
7600.62/477 : Telegram
The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State
WARSAW, March 29, 1939--2 p. m.
[Received 3:08 p. m.]

55. 1. Beck remarked following in last night's lengthy conversation : Poland's mobilization had been a dignified, polite but firm answer to certain suggestions made by Berlin [71] which the Polish Government feared might only represent forerunner of further demands and an eventual ultimatum. So far no ultimatum had been received. Poland was open to conciliation looking to an equitable solution but not open to a solution imposed by intimidation. The Government felt, however, that even if equitable conciliation of current differences were accomplished Poland under current day circumstances would have to maintain her present status of mobilization at least until cessation of the international danger.

2. I interpret current situation in the following light: (a) Berlin is power drunk, unaccustomed to resistance and the extremists are pressing Hitler to bring about a quick annexation of Danzig and Poland's agreement to allow permanent right of ways over Corridor all of which tends to make Berlin more than ordinarily "prestige conscious". (b) Marshal Smigly-Rydz[72] imparted he had gained more than an impression that Berlin is seeking to provoke a war with Poland. The present firm stand by the Polish Government enjoys the consolidated support of the people. Even if under the heading of conciliation the Polish Government conceded Danzig, for example, current mass courage and determination might conceivably give way to defeatism—and even cause the Government's or at least Beck's downfall. (c) In my opinion about only formula which might conceivably prove a solution would be Berlin's willingness to accept and Warsaw's willingness to grant a promise eventually to concede (1) modification in Danzig's status and (2) a single right of way (but not extraterritorial) over the Corridor provided Berlin agreed to defer further discussions thereon at least until present grave tension subsided.

BIDDLE
__________________________________________________
[71] See telegram No.149, March 25, 6 p, m., from the Chargé in the Soviet Union, p. 100.
[72] Inspector General of the Polish Army, ranking immediately after the President

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:18

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 103

860M.01 Memel/600
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)
[WASHINGTON,] March 29, 1939.

The Lithuanian Minister came to see me this morning. He said that when he had come, under instructions from his Government, to announce the cession of the Memel Territory, I had asked him certain questions as to constitutional procedure, which he had perhaps not answered very clearly.

For the sake of the record, therefore, he wanted to explain the constitutional factors involved :

Article 2 of the Constitution of Lithuania, which was promulgated on February 12, 1938, reads :

"The territory of the Lithuanian State is that which is defined by the International Treaties, signed by the Lithuanian State,[73] up to the present time. The territory cannot be alienated."

No alienation of territory was therefore constitutional, but a nation which is faced by a threat of extinction has to follow, even above the letter of the Constitution, the task of self-preservation. This was what impelled the Government to cede the Memel Territory.

After the cession, Lithuania signed a treaty with Germany regarding Memel.

This treaty was signed by virtue of Article 141 of the Constitution, which reads :

"The president of the Republic makes decisions regarding mobilization, war and peace, upon the recommendation of the Council of Ministers. When the Seimas (Parliament) is in session, the consent of the Seimas is mandatory concerning peace decisions."

The theory on which the Lithuanian Government was acting was that the treaty in effect made peace following a war which was not fought.

I thanked the Minister for his explanations, which, I said, would be made a matter of record. The Minister then reiterated that he was speaking without instructions.

He then referred to Mr. Welles' press conference [74] and the various newspaper accounts thereof. I explained that Mr. Welles' position could be summarized in the following sentence : "The attitude of the United States Government toward cessions of territory brought about by force or threat of force is well known; inasmuch, however, as the
_____________________________________________
[73] Peace treaty between Lithuania and the Russian Socialist Federal Republic, signed July 12, 1820, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. ni, p. 105 ; Memel Convention, signed May 8, 1924, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xxix, p. 86.
[74] March 23, 1939.

104 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

Lithuanian Minister had informed the United States Government of the cession of Memel, the latter was constrained to accept it as a fact."

PIERREPONT MOFFAT

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:19

740.00/748
The Ambassador in Belgium (Davies) to the Secretary of State
[ Extracts]
No. 261 BRUSSELS, March 30, 1939.
[Received April 7.]
Subject: General Observations on the European Situation Reflected from this Post.

SIR : With reference to the above entitled matter, I have the honor to submit herewith a short recapitulation of certain factors in the European situation as reflected from this post and as of this particular date.

General.

Pessimism is the darkest here that I have seen. War is regarded as inevitable. Hope only is expressed that hostilities may be averted for the next few months. This obtains in all circles : court, military, business, and diplomatic.

* * * * *

Hitler and War or Peace.

Chamberlain's Birmingham speech [75] is held generally to have radically reversed the situation as to Peace prospects for the year. Peace this summer is not now protected by a British policy of appeasement. Hitler is considered to be faced with the decision of war or peace, now, when he is at the height of his power which relatively would be less later on. If he decides upon peace, he can have it only upon condition of disarmament preceding discussion, over the council table, as to colonies, etc. Disarmament for Germany, economically and socially, and probably politically, would be disastrous. There is no adequate local or foreign market for German manufactured goods, and hence no adequate demand for goods or for labor. Consequent thereon, unemployment would require enormous financial credits and gold reserves. Germany has neither. From this point of view, peace for Hitler would be the hard way out. It is feared that Hitler is thinking in the terms that war is the easier and safer way out. This is on the theory that he has a first class chance to win by a quick "putsch", and that even if he does not win, he nevertheless cannot be defeated because he is immune from blockade and with the
_____________________________________
[75] March 17, 1939.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 105

Siegfried line can hold off attack; and if worse comes to worst, he can still probably make peace. It is extraordinary that nowhere can you find any real confidence that Hitler has a will for peace. The little countries are scared to death.

* * * * *

Respectfully yours,
JOSEPH E. DAVIES

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23384
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:19

T41.60043: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, March 31, 1939-2 p. M. [Received March 31—noon.]

425. The Prime Minister this afternoon will answer the following question in the following manner :

"Question. To ask the Prime Minister whether he can now make a statement as to the European situation.

Answer. As I said this morning His Majesty's Government have no official confirmation of the rumors of any projected attack on Poland and they must not therefore be taken as accepting them as true.

I am glad to take this opportunity of stating again the general policy of His Majesty's Government. They have constantly advocated the adjustment, by way of free negotiations between the parties concerned, of any differences that may arise between them. They consider that this is the natural and proper course where differences exist. In their opinion there should be no question incapable of solution by peaceful means and they would see no justification for the substitution of force or threat of force for the method of negotiation.

As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Government in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorized me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government."

I asked Cadogan [76] whether this meant if Poland fights Britain fights. He said of course if Poland itself committed an act of aggression it would not mean that but for the first time in the history of
__________________________________________________
[76] Sir Alexander Cadogan, British Permanent Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

106 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

Great Britain the latter has left the final decision as to their fighting outside of their own country to the other power.

I asked Cadogan could there be any hedging on the part of Great Britain as to whether Poland was fighting for "Polish independence"; he said absolutely not; that if Poland thought that any gesture of Germany's threatened their independence and they themselves are the judges of that, Great Britain commits itself to fight.

KENNEDY

Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”