No. 37, 40, & 44 : Messages from F. M. Shepherd to Halifax on Danzig

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19 Jul 1939

ww2dbase----- The British War Bluebook No. 37 -----
From: F. M. Shepherd, Acting British Consul-General in Danzig
Sent: Wednesday, 19 Jul 1939
To: Viscount Halifax, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(Telegraphic.) Danzig, July 19, 1939.

GAULEITER FORSTER visited the High Commissioner at noon to-day. The latter has sent me, in a personal and confidential form, notes of conversation, of which the following is a translation:-

The Gauleiter told me the result of his interview with German Chancellor was as follows:-

1. There is no modification of German claims regarding Danzig and the Corridor as formulated in Chancellor's speech to Reichstag.

2. Nothing will be done on the German side to provoke a conflict on this question.

3. Question can wait if necessary until next year or even longer.

4. The Gauleiter said that the Senate would henceforth seek intervention of High Commissioner in difficult questions which might arise between the Senate and Polish representative. This would, he said, terminate a war of notes which only poisons the situation, but he added that "a single press indiscretion to the effect that the Senate and German Government are having recourse to politics would immediately terminate practice and more direct and consequently more dangerous method would again be applied." He said verbatim: "We are having recourse to High Commissioner and not to Geneva itself."

5. He requested High Commissioner to intervene officially at once in the matter of military trains not announced beforehand. Non-observance of this rule, which was established by an exchange of letters between the Senate and Polish representative in 1921, would have effect beyond local Danzig question and would, for example, entail a modification of German usage announcing to Polish Government visit of warships to port of Danzig. In addition, according to information at disposal of Senate, there were 300 men at Westerplatte in place of 100 agreed to. Herr Forster gave his word of honour that there were at Danzig only a few anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank guns and light infantry guns-no heavy guns, not an invading German soldier-nobody but Danzigers and four German officers. He claimed that a sharp watch at the frontier was necessary by the extensive importation of weapons for 3,000 Polish reservists resident in the district.

6. Herr Forster will publish an article which he had already read to me confidentially on the occasion of our last interview, when he said he would submit the question of publication to the Chancellor's decision. This article underlines point of view announced in Reichstag speech. Herr Forster declared that if repercussion of his article is not violent and if there is no incident, this will put an end to all Danzig-Polish polemics and press would be ordered to drop the subject of Danzig completely.

7. If there is a détente in situation, all military measures now taken in Danzig would be dropped.

8. The Gauleiter promised his loyal collaboration.

9. High Commissioner would be happy if it were possible to obtain from Poland a positive reaction in any formal matter which might arise in the near future so that new methods may be given a good initiation.

10. The Gauleiter said that Herr Hitler would have liked to take an opportunity to talk to the High Commissioner about the Danzig situation, but that Herr von Ribbentrop, who was present at the interview at Obersalzberg, had raised objections to which the Chancellor replied evasively: "Well, it will be a little later, I will let you know."

----- The British War Bluebook No. 40 -----
From: F. M. Shepherd, Acting British Consul-General in Danzig
Sent: Tuesday, 25 Jul 1939
To: Viscount Halifax, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(Telegraphic.) Warsaw, July 25, 1939.

HERR FORSTER informed High Commission yesterday that Danzig question could, if necessary, wait a year or more, and said that military precautions now being taken would be liquidated in the middle of September.

2. Meanwhile, there is increasing amount of horse and motor transport visible, and frequent reports reach me of men being called up and of arrival of men and material from East Prussia. While I cannot at present confirm these reports, it would be unwise to ignore them. There are numerous warehouses and other buildings in Danzig where material could be stored and men housed.

3. I learn that a certain Major-General Eberhard is now in command here.

----- The British War Bluebook No. 44 -----
From: F. M. Shepherd, Acting British Consul-General in Danzig
Sent: Friday, 4 Aug 1939
To: Viscount Halifax, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

(Telegraphic.) Danzig, August 4, 1939.

POLISH representative saw the High Commissioner this morning on his return from Warsaw and read to him a translation of a note which he will hand to the Senate this afternoon. It is polite but firm, and ends on a conciliatory note. Referring to the threat to open the East Prussian frontier M. Chodacki requested the High Commissioner to give the President of the Senate a personal message to the effect that such a move would be for Poland a casus belli.

2. The President of the Senate complained to the High Commissioner that Gauleiter had not passed on to him the desire of the Führer to terminate the war of notes and to work towards a détente. Herr Greiser was incensed at having been placed in a false position, and said he would not have sent his notes of 29th July had he been kept au courant.

3. The President and Polish representative will meet at the High Commissioner's house on 7th August.

Yale Law School Avalon Project

Added By:
C. Peter Chen

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