Sunday, September 13, 2015

ADSS 1.117 Orsenigo to Maglione: Britain will defend Poland

ADSS 1.117 Cesare Orsenigo, Germany, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State

Reference: Telegram 333, (AES 5625/39)

Location and date: Berlin, 24(?).08.1939; received Rome, 24.08.1939.

Summary statement: Neville Henderson (1) conveyed note confirming the UK intention to defend Poland.  Hitler accuses Poland of mistreating the German minority in Poland.

Language: Italian


As soon as I returned to Berlin I made cautious contacts with trusted diplomats.  Yesterday I went to the British Ambassador who has handing Hitler a letter from his Government stating that Great Britain would for certain enter war at the side of Poland. (2) In a rage, Hitler expressed his regret that after twenty years of efforts to reconcile Germany with England, the latter was not even obstructing his national claims. (3)

Hitler added, however, that it was neither the Danzig question nor the Corridor that would make him decide to go to war immediately; he could wait for these claims; what was forcing him towards war was the ill-treatment of the Germany minority by the Polish people, ill-treatment which now had become inhuman.  As a similar accusation is made also by the Polish people against the Germans regarding the Polish minority in Germany, some diplomats and good Catholics have expressed the opinion and hope that the Holy Father could still make a peace move by suggesting a truce to both sides regarding their minorities.  Here war is believed imminent unless a timely intervention could at least postpone it; a truce would annul the motive for an immediate war as desired by Hitler. (4)

(1) Neville Henderson (1882-1942), British Ambassador to Germany, 1937-40.   
(2) ADSS 1.115, n1. See too Chamberlain to Hitler, DGFP, Series D, Volume 7, n200, pp 210-16.
(3) Hitler to Chamberlain, DGFP, Series D, Volume 7, n201, pp 216-19.

(4) DDI, Series 8, volume 13, n271, corrected by n318, pp 174, 201.  The Italian Ambassador informed the Italian government about Orsenigo’s dispatch.

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