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from the beginning
Viasat History

Józef Beck

In 1939, he played a decisive role; staunchly refusing Hitler's demands to subordinate Poland and turn it into a German puppet-state.

Józef Beck

In 1939, he played a decisive role; staunchly refusing Hitler's demands to subordinate Poland and turn it into a German puppet-state.


Today's announcements about the intended non-aggression pact prove conclusively that the Soviet government has been playing a double game for a long time, seeking to break the negotiations with Paris and London, and as such, our negative position on the march of Soviet troops can not be blamed for the situation created. In view of the psychological significance of today's events, I believe that the only answer is consolidation of the position of England, France and Poland. The Germans will certainly encounter the same difficulties in negotiations with the Soviets, and the German-Soviet pact surely implies a further collapse of Hitler's ideology, the Anti-Comintern pact, and the sentiments in the Soviets. In addition, it creates a new situation in the Far East.

Under these conditions, much depends on the decisive attitude of governments and the press in our three countries. If necessary, I agree to publish the final phase of the Moscow negotiations, and will manage attitude of our press and opinion.

The French and the British ambassadors briefed me after the negotiations of the French-British-Soviet sides, in which the Soviets demanded the option of contact with the German army in Pomerania, in the Suwalki Region and in Eastern Lesser Poland. The British and the French position supported this statement. See more

Telegram of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Embassies in London and Paris with regard to Minister Ciano’s statement.

After returning from Salzburg, Ciano told the diplomatic corps that Italy did not need to take account of a potential conflict because, in case of a Polish-German conflict, it would be localised, since Poland would not get help from France and Great Britain. See more

Much excitement in official Polish circles today. Conferences between Smigly-Rydz, Beck, and the generals. A Polish soldier has been shot on the Danzig frontier. Result: an order tonight instructing Polish troops to shoot anyone crossing the Danzig border on sight and without challenge. Lunch at Ambassador Biddle's. He is full of enthusiasm for his job and chockfull of good information, though I do not always agree with his conclusions. He is very pro-Polish, which is natural, and all right with me. Biddle is afraid the French and British are going to try appeasement again and suggests that Professor Burkhardt, the League High Commissioner in Danzig, and a Swiss, who saw Hitler at Berchtesgaden last week-end, may turn out to be another Runciman.

On declaration with regard to Burckhardt’s travel to Germany

Since Burckhardt’s trip features negotiations, today I declared to the ambassadors of Great Britain and France that the Polish government considered behaviour of the Secretary-General of the League of Nations improper because Mr. B. leads discussions on Danzig with the Reich’s government who is not a member of the league and other powers, behind the Polish government’s back. Due to the status of the Free City and the fact that Poland is a member of the League, our government should be informed about everything first. See more

Information from Gdańsk – 2 customs inspectors were arrested and a motorboat was seized. I informed the prime minister and minister Beck.

Today discussions with the ambassadors of Great Britain and France in reference to suggestions of both governments. I asked if the French and the British governments consider it necessary to remind the government of the German Reich that such interference in Danzig affairs threatens peace, and that the governments of Great Britain and France would not be indifferent to it. I asked for a quick answer.

Moreover, I said that, since the German government had not previously published its declaration to the Polish chargé d'affaires in Berlin, I considered the case confidential and I did not inform press about it until I heard that Germany had publicised it.

To the Embassies in London and Paris on Polish-German declarations exchange with regard to Danzig:

On the 9th day of this month the German Secretary of State called chargé d'affaires ad interim of the Republic of Poland in Berlin and entered a protest against Poland's ultimatum concerning customs affairs in Danzig and declared that Polish economic sanctions resulting from Danzig disregarding Polish customs control would, according to the German government, justify Danzig seeking other import/export options, and should be understood as a threat of violation of customs unity. See more

Today the president of the Senate of Danzig responded that no orders hindering work of our customs inspectors would be issued henceforth. He also declared that he would confirm this in writing the following week.

We acknowledged it, emphasizing that in case of any attack or hindering the work of our customs inspectors, our stated response would remain the same.