No. 35 NAI DFA 219/4
Berlin, 22 September 1939
The rout of the Polish armies came much quicker than anyone expected. The invasion of East Poland by the Russians finally settled the matter.
The fact that Poland's allies did not raise a finger to assist her has called forth sarcastic comment among the general public here. German official circles always maintained that Poland would have behaved in a much more 'sensible' manner if left alone, and would have come to some kind of agreement long ago had it not been for the interference of Great Britain. It was often asked what Great Britain could do to help Poland in a practical way: we have now seen that Great Britain was completely powerless to assist. Even if Poland had accepted the most far-reaching claims imaginable from Germany, she would have been spared the humiliation and the terrible destruction which she has suffered since the war began less than three weeks ago. The renewed British assurances of support for Poland are looked on here as shameful hypocrisy, and praise of the Polish resistance in Warsaw is regarded as the height of cynicism. In short, Poland is presented as the victim of British intrigue. It was intended by Germany's opponents, as formerly in the case of Czecho-Slovakia, that Polish resistance should make it necessary for the Germans to keep a strong force on the East Front, but, unfortunately for the allies' plans, the Polish armies have been annihilated, and the whole Polish state battered to pieces in a couple of weeks. All this time the Allies have done next to nothing in the West, beyond dropping propaganda leaflets (in my opinion a waste of time and paper at the present juncture) over parts of Western Germany, and making an unsuccessful air-raid on Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven.
Unfortunately for us, one of the members of the crew of a British machine, which crashed during the raid in Wilhelmshaven, is an Irishman. The men interned were interviewed over the wireless on Sunday evening last, and prominence was given to a Mr. Slattery from Tipperary.1 The interview was re-broadcast on Monday.
People are waiting to see whether Poland's allies, in view of their protests of loyalty, will now declare war on Russia. If they really do intend to restore Poland, they will have to do so. It is confidently expected that they will shirk this issue. In fact, in spite of the fact that the rest of the world expects the war to drag on for years, hope still persists here that the Western Powers will come to terms. It is believed in many quarters that Russia and Japan will settle their differences in the near future.
One power, however, causes the Germans some anxiety, and that is the United States of America.
Despite allegations to the contrary, the morale of the civil population is very high. At first there were grumblings concerning food-rationing, but no significance could be attached to that. I can well imagine that there is a certain amount of complaining at the present time even in Ireland, where food is plentiful. The inconveniences of food-cards and 'black-outs' are now accepted as part of everyday life. The vast majority of the population are, of course, pedestrians, and therefore the restrictions on petrol-consumption and the use of motor-vehicles are exceedingly popular with the man-in-the-street. Officially inspired articles in the press assure the public that the food supply is safe, even though they will have to do without delicacies. Now that Russia and all Central and South-Eastern Europe are open to Germany, there does not appear to be any reason to doubt this, except that after a few years the problem of payment may raise difficulties. Before the war started a great part of Germany's trade was with countries outside Europe. The British will very probably succeed in stopping a considerable portion of this. The figures for 1938 in terms of RM. 1,000 were:-
Neutral countries outside Europe who normally have a large trade with Germany are very concerned as the result of the British blockade. As in our own case, their trade may be brought to a standstill. The Brazilian Ambassador informs me that his country is at present at a loss to know how to continue trading with this country. All the South American countries, with the exception of Ecuador, had a favourable trade balance with Germany in 1938, and consequently the threatened falling-away of this trade is a severe blow to them economically.
I shall close with the question uppermost in the minds of all Germans for the past fortnight:- 'If there really is to be war in the West, when is it going to start?'
[signed] W. Warnock
The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.
The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
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