The problem of Danzig
It is impossible to deal with Poland without touching on Danzig, for this city has a customs union with Poland. Its citizens also have to permit their business abroad to be watched over by the Polish consulates, although, as Danzigers have repeatedly assured me, they prefer to send their passports to Danzig, for extensions or the like, by registered post rather than visit Polish consulates. This is not surprising.
As British subjects require a visa for Poland, I had to visit a consulate and, being in Berlin on my way to Warsaw, set out for the consulate there. I was unable to enter, for a big group of people were standing outside waiting. It seemed that the consulate was only open for two hours, which was not sufficient time for the work on hand, so many had to be turned away, but they remained in the road, hoping they might be let in later. Some were Poles, desiring endorsements of some kind, others persons seeking a visa, or making some enquiries. I only succeeded in entering because I went to the Embassy and asked for advice there. An official then immediately gave me a special endorsement on my form of application, which enabled me to  obtain a Press visa, and on showing this document, I was admitted to the consulate. But if I were a Danziger, I should prefer to send my passport, since in any case the Embassy would not render me any assistance.
One of the claims of the Poles is that Danzig should not become part of Germany again on account of the Vistula. As has already been remarked on several occasions, a claim to the mouth of a river flowing through another country would mean that the Germans would have cause to quarrel with the Dutch about the Rhine. Strangely enough, the Germans never worry about the mouth of the Rhine being in Holland.
But the Vistula is not essential to Polish commerce. On the contrary, very little use is made of the river at all. Before the Great War, it was more utilised, although it was then divided between Germany and Russia, and the Russians did not foster commerce along it. In 1912, 610,286 tons of goods passed along the Vistula in either direction, as the lock figures show. That was not an exceptional year. On the contrary, in 1913 the figure was still higher, the total being 623,450 tons. But 20 years of progress in New Poland produced an astonishing result - in 1937 only 330,398 tons of merchandise passed along the Vistula. This is only a little over half the pre-War figure, so that any Polish claim to have made extensive use of the Vistula is obviously incorrect. The Poles say that the Vistula is necessary for their import and export busi-  ness. Excluding transit trade, Poland had a turnover of 14,694,898 tons of merchandise which left or entered her frontiers by way of the Baltic in 1938. Of this total, only 453,851 tons passed along the Vistula!
The Poles claim that the Vistula is their main waterway, but only 453,851 tons of goods were carried along the river, or well under 10,000 tons per week, while more than 14 million tons arrived or left by way of the sea, but without touching the Vistula. No clearer proof could be wished for. The Vistula was of no great importance whatever in Poland's trade balance. In 1937 a mere total of 182,726 tons of goods were exported via the Vistula.
Of these only 30,163 tons, or 16.5 per cent. were from the interior of Poland, and not a single ton came from any place on the other side of Warsaw. Some of the goods came from East Prussia, incidentally. The Vistula has thus lost its importance as a connecting waterway between distant parts, although goods were transported along this river from much more distant areas before the War.
It was during the War that the Poles spread a statement to the effect that Danzig had a Polish majority. And the Poles made gallant attempts to realise this dream by fostering schools and associations. They established no less than 19 Polish kindergarten centres, while attempts were always made to persuade German parents to send their boys and girls there.  The Association of Poles in Danzig has a membership of only 11,499, of whom no more than 7,561 are Danzig citizens, while the population of the Free City totals 407,517.
Danzig does not, of course, feel itself threatened by this small group. But, as a Free State, it is threatened by something very different. The Poles have done all in their power to foster Gdynia, and Danzig suffers accordingly. As preparations were completed in Gdynia, Danzig's trade dwindled. In 1926, 179 tons of goods were imported via Gdynia, and 640,696 tons by way of Danzig, the corresponding export figures being 413,826 and 5,659,604 tons. The total goods passing through Gdynia in 1926 were thus 414,005 tons, as compared with Danzig's 6,300,299 tons. By 1933 Gdynia's total had increased enormously to 6,105,866 tons, while Danzig's total fell to 5,152,975 tons. In 1929, to quote in percentages, 75.2% of the goods exported by way of the sea passed through Danzig and 24.8% through Gdynia; in 1933 Danzig's participation had fallen to 45.8%, and Gdynia's had risen to 54.2%.
Danzig thus sees its future threatened. Gdynia is to become, as Danzigers told me, Poland's future port, and Danzig is to have nothing. This, at least, is what the people think, and figures undoubtedly show that this is the tendency. For only less valuable goods are transported via Danzig. According to value, Danzig participated in 1938 to the tune of 7.5% of all Poland's  imports, while Gdynia's share totalled 53.7%. Ores and gravel passed through Danzig.
The claim made by Marshal Rydz in a speech at Cracow on August 6th, 1939, was that Danzig was "Poland's lungs, as in one organism." This view is, however, difficult to uphold when the figures I have quoted are studied. Or, one might say, the speech should have been made before 1924, and is somewhat out of date - for the building of Gdynia made Danzig a back-number. In reality, of course, Danzig never really earned this designation, but since 1924 it is an obvious misnomer.
There can be no doubt regarding the German character of Danzig. The earliest human settlement on the site of the present Free City dates back tens of centuries, but it is doubtful as to who actually founded it. The Romans, at the height of their success, referred to it as a trading centre. Certainly, there is no reason to believe that the founders were Polish. They may have been Slavonic, but it is equally likely that they were Germanic. The earliest settlement of which we have ethnographical records was Germanic, but a Slavonic tribe later settled there. Those Slavs were the Pomeranes, who were not Polish. Their present descendants are the Cashubes, a West Slav people. The city of Danzig was founded by Germans in or about 1224. Danzig flourished under the Teutonic Order. At the end of the 13th century Danzig belonged to the Hanseatic League. In 1454 the city  passed from the Teutonic Order to the protection of the King of Poland, but remained a free Hanse City with a German administration. Neither Poles nor Jews might become Danzig citizens in those days. The city had its own economy, and even dabbled in foreign politics independently of Poland. Under Napoleon the French occupied the city, throttling its trade. This was part of the Little Corporal's scheme to blockade England, some assert, for, having failed to sweep the seas, Napoleon set about capturing the ports of Europe to prevent supplies reaching our shores.
Danzig was for long years part of Germany until the Great War. Following Versailles, the city was forcibly separated from the Reich, and the Poles laid claim to it. Their claim was based upon alleged historical rights, and upon the assertion that they need the whole course of the Vistula. After the War, one claim was that they needed the port, but since they have built Gdynia, no more has been heard of this. The Polish "minority" in Danzig may be compared with the negro "minority" in Cardiff - one does see some Poles in the former, just as one encounters representatives of the Dark Continent in the latter.
The claims of the Poles have increased of recent date, and they have recently been asserting that considerable areas in Germany, with a population between 95% and 100% Germans, should be handed over to them. Here and there, this view has been supported  in the world Press, although it would be difficult to justify it.
But in the French Chamber, to quote one example, a very different view has often enough been taken. The session of the Paris Chamber on September 4th, 1919, is of considerable interest in this connection. The subject under discussion was the Peace Treaty and the terms implied. A report made by the Deputy, M. Charles Benoist, was being considered. Deputy Marcel Sembat made the following statement:
"Those are the words of the report. I do not hesitate to draw your attention clearly to the fact that there is a definite contradiction between the form in which we treat Danzig and the principles I have just mentioned. It is a question of a German town; we take it away from Germany. I know what you want to say to me, and I am of your opinion in advance.  Poland must have access to the sea. I agree, and add that Danzig formed this access, offered to Poland by necessity."
That sums up the position. Danzig was admittedly German, but as there was no other port available for Poland, she was to have it - in some shape or form. The Poles, as I have already mentioned, have since proved that Danzig is not vital to them, for they now do most of their foreign trade by way of Gdynia. But there was no great port of Gdynia in those days. The Poles have developed it since, to cut out Danzig, thus showing that the reason given by M. Marcel Sembat was invalid. Or, at least, that it is no longer valid.
The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post published on July 3rd, 1939, an article by their former chief correspondent in Berlin, Mr. Hugh Carleton Greene. This article was headed: "Why a Free Danzig is Essential to Polish Independence." Mr. Greene sought to prove that Danzig should remain separated from the Reich, but he made considerable admissions - perhaps involuntarily.
He himself quotes a statement which he regards as inconvenient for German propagandists. Remarkably enough, his words support the view that Danzig is German. His exact words are as follows:
 "By 1454, when a union was concluded between Danzig and the Kingdom of Poland, the city was among the most prosperous ports of Northern Europe. This union lasted until the second partition of Poland in 1793 - an inconvenient fact which German propagandists are unable to explain away, although they insist, quite rightly, on Danzig's semi-independent position and control over her own affairs. Except for a short period as a Free State between 1807 and 1814, Danzig was from 1793 part of Prussia until the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles in January, 1920."
Mr. Greene's statements are correct, although he omits to mention that at the beginning of the 18th century Danzig was occupied by the French in an endeavour to throttle our trade. The main points he admits are that Danzig was German in character, and that it was "among the most prosperous ports of Northern Europe" at the time of the union with Poland in 1454. The Knights he refers to were the Teutonic Knights, and it is clear that under their control Danzig reached the prosperity Mr. Greene quotes. He does well not to mention the state of Danzig when the union with Poland came to an end, for the city was then anything but prosperous. Why German propagandists should try to explain away this union with Poland is not at all clear to me. But I agree that the union existed, but, as Mr. Greene also says, Danzig was semi-independent.
 Mr. Greene also remarks in the course of his article that the solution was "not ideal" as was "shown by the conflicts between Poland and Danzig during the post-war years." This proves that the conflicts have nothing to do with the National Socialists, for there was no single Nazi in Danzig in those days. In claiming that Danzig should remain separated from the Reich, Mr. Greene still calls them "Danzig Germans."
The article in the Daily Telegraph sought to prove that Danzig is essential to Poland, and tried to stress the Polish origin of the city. It failed completely because if Mr. Greene quoted the actual facts, he drew the wrong conclusions from them. It is also mentioned that Danzig was inhabited by Slavs long centuries ago - but Mr. Greene wisely avoids the word "Poles." Slavs did live on the site of present Danzig - but they were not Poles.
To quote the 10th century to prove that Slavs lived in Danzig is, however, dangerous. Even assuming that they had been Poles (which they were not), the argument would not be nearly so good as that in favour of handing the United States of America back to the Red Indians now living in the Reserves, for they owned the country at a comparatively recent date, and there is no doubt whatever that they are the descendants of the former lords of the prairie.
The Slav claim to Danzig, even if founded (which is doubtful), dates back much further, though there is  absolutely no proof (quite the contrary) that the Poles are the descendants of those Slavs.
If, however, a personal union with Poland long years ago entitles the Poles to claim Danzig, then I see no reason why we should not lay claim to Hanover - the whole province, not merely the town. Hanover and England were in a personal union from 1660 until 1837 - nearly two centuries. But I fear this proposal might work both ways. It was, after all, a Hanoverian (i.e. a German) prince, Georg-Ludwig by name, who assumed the title of George I of England, and came to London to rule over us as well as the Hanoverians. In other words, we were under German rule for well nigh two centuries. If a personal union enables the Poles to claim Danzig, the Germans might equally well claim England, Scotland and Ireland. The absurdity of such an argument must be obvious to anyone.
No such arguments as a personal union or the importance of the Vistula are valid. On the contrary, there is no reason whatever for regarding the Polish claim to Danzig as in any way tenable. Danzig can be the only judge as to whether it is German or not. The recent elections have clearly proved that the city is German in feeling, as it is in other respects.
It is true that the economic position of the Danzigers has not been bad of recent years, but this was due to the German-Polish Agreement, which assured the Free City a little business. Even so, the Poles  avoided the real issue by more or less distributing the tonnage between Danzig and Gdynia, but arranging it so that the value of the goods going and coming via Gdynia should be greater, as figures already quoted prove.
Danzig has long since had a purely National Socialist Government, while the Danzig Radio Station is usually linked up with the Reich network. The Free State is too small to be able to arrange its own broadcast programmes on a big scale. To join the system with that of Poland would no doubt be welcomed in Warsaw, but it would have the drawback that none of the Danzigers would understand what was being said. There is no parallel with other small States. The only other State of small size with its own radio is Luxembourg, whose programme is intended mainly for British consumption, rather than for the local inhabitants.
The inhabitants of Danzig walk about with passports in their pockets. Indeed, they cannot go far without reaching a frontier. It is possible to go for a long walk in places, of course, but those who own cars must either travel abroad or drive in circles. Furthermore, such a small State is never independent in an economic sense, and foreign business is essential. Danzig business men have to go abroad to attend almost any conference - unless the other parties travel to Danzig, of course.
I was sharing a railway compartment in one of the  Balkan countries with a Danziger not long ago, and we discussed the formalities necessary.
He told me that such formalities were quite impossible in Danzig, for if such forms had to be filled and so many questions were to be answered, a train would have crossed the second frontier before the formalities at the first had been settled.
As a Free State, Danzig is an artificial creation, which has no connection with earlier semi-independent or independent Free States. In earlier centuries small principalities and minute dukedoms were dotted all over Europe. Travelling was done by stage coach and it seemed to be quite a long way from one frontier to the other in any case. There were very different conditions to be dealt with. But to-day, such a small State is a nuisance to itself and others. It cannot be diplomatically represented, its currency is complicated, and the modern transport needs cannot be met. Danzig was a problem created in order to separate another group of Germans from the Reich. There was only one thing that was forgotten at Versailles - the Danzigers themselves should, in accordance with the much-vaunted principle of self-determination, have been asked to decide for themselves.
In order to show that these conclusions are not without the general support of well-informed persons and journals, I may quote the Economist of July 8th, 1939. An article endeavours to prove that the Poles  are largely in the right, but the admissions made really prove the contrary. For example:
"In 1937, when the Free City was badly hit by Polish export restrictions on rye, barley and fodder, following the worst harvest in many years, it was hardly conducive to good feeling to find grain appearing in Gdynia, however modestly, as an export commodity...."
Another interesting quotation from the Economist of the same date runs:
Professor Charles Sarolea has also written in support of Danzig. The Professor is known as a friend of Poland. He predicted the resurrection of that country in an article in Everyman as far back as 1912. In 1921 he wrote a book "for the special purpose of  defending Poland against the systematic and unjust attacks of the British Press," to quote his own words. Three Polish translations were published, one by the Polish Foreign Office, which, incidentally, also published a Polish rendering of the Professor's "Impressions in Soviet Russia." Professor Sarolea prefaces his article, which appeared in the Anglo-German Review for July, 1939, with the words: "I am entitled to claim that I have always been a friend of Poland." He remarks that:
A further interesting quotation throws a new light on the whole situation:
Examples follow, but they are similar to those I have already quoted. The Professor goes on to say that the minorities entrusted to Poland "transformed her from a homogeneous national state into a heterogeneous conglomerate of nationalities...."
Regarding Danzig, the same writer states:
This is explained by the fact, already quoted by myself, that the Poles were not allowed to become Danzig citizens during the personal union. But Professor Sarolea is unquestionably right - it is remarkable that there were more Scots than Poles in Danzig.
The Professor also deals with the question of access to the sea, and dismisses Poland's claims under this heading:
 Lord Elton, speaking in the House of Lords in June, 1939, also raised doubts as to the justice of Danzig's position. His precise words were as follows:
This was much to the point, for the very mention of Danzig's German character has been all but ruled as out of order.
According to the Gazetta del Popolo of Turin (No. 160), "Hitler will come into possession of Danzig as surely as the sun will rise to-morrow morning." This journal was of the opinion that no Anglo-French veto would make any greater impression than in Autumn, 1938. Incidentally, Mussolini warned the Poles to moderate their attitude long years before the Axis was thought of.
The Danzig problem was created at Versailles. Dean Inge went further than this in the Church of England Newspaper (July 7th, 1939, front page), when he remarked that "the things which we hate in Germany are largely the creation of the Allies, especially France, after the peace. If we had made things easier for the Weimar Republic there might have been no Nazism."
 It would be fitting to revise these clauses which have never met with the approval of thinking Britons ever since the Treaty of Versailles has existed. But it would have been much better if we had revised this treaty, and met the just demands of the minorities, before Germany rearmed - in the days of the Weimar Republic.
The London Evening Standard (June 19th, 1939) published an article by George Malcolm Thomson, in which the terms of the Peace Treaty were sharply criticised. The heading ran: "Nobody wants to fight for Danzig." The article gives some interesting details, of which I quote a few extracts:
"If you boarded a train in Danzig, you came under the jurisdiction of the Poles. For the railways were Polish. If you got on a tramcar, on the other hand, you were looked after by the Free City.... If you had business to do in Danzig harbour, you came under the Harbour Board. And that was a half-and-half body, partly Danzig, partly Polish, with a Swiss chairman.... When a Danzig citizen wanted a  passport, he had to apply to Warsaw. When the city proposed to raise a loan, again it had to apply for permission to Warsaw. The Poles generally gave the passport, but they did not always consent to the loan.
"At any rate, for a whole year they held up a loan for harbour improvements. And during that year, the Danzigers allege, the Poles pushed ahead with the construction of their new port of Gdynia, on the Baltic....
"...to make the financial tangle worse, the Free City was cursed with two currencies. The Danzig gulden and the Polish zloty. Both were legal tender. You could use either... on the tram. But when you took the train you had to pay for your ticket in Polish currency."
In the same article, Poland is warned not to regard Danzig as "a flag which, if hauled down, would damage Poland's prestige and inflict injury on the nations acting in support of Poland."
The description of the complications may serve to explain why Danzigers were against having a "Free City" from the start. Other States have one central government, but the "Free" part of Danzig consisted of having several authorities and other complications. Mr. Thomson's article also makes it clear that Danzig is not a military basis, as so many people wrongly believe. He writes, "...Danzig is not a military objective that wise generals would choose to fight for." He also says that "if the Poles, defying  Hitler, marched into Danzig, they would pay dearly for their rashness."
As regards the High Commissioner, the same article remarks that he cost £44,000 per annum at first, but that he "does not appear often in the city" nowadays.
The concluding paragraph of this article also deserves quotation. It runs:
The statements regarding Danzig and Gdynia are proved by official Polish figures. Each year after 1924, the new port was extended or improved, and it is obvious that the right to refuse the Free City permission to raise a loan to improve the harbour was to the advantage of Gdynia. It is such matters that have made the Danzigers regard the Poles as their competitors, and not as their friends and helpers.
It has been authoritatively asserted in England that Danzig was not included in the Reich when the peace treaties were made because a foreign Power holding the delta of the Vistula could blockade Poland and economically strangle that country. Now if this is so, the argument I have already quoted regarding the  Rhine might be pressed by Germany as meaning that the independence of the Reich was in danger because the mouth of the Rhine is in Holland. The Danube question might be similarly dealt with. The argument sounds outwardly feasible to those who have never left Britain's shores, and who only know their rivers as entirely British. But such blessings are enjoyed by few other lands. The Danube is shared by numerous countries, including Germany and Hungary, and its tributaries extend through wide tracks of S. E. Europe. But certain East Prussian villages were included in Polish territory, and not allowed to participate in a plebiscite, so as to make the Vistula all-Polish. This was probably the first time in Europe that villages were handed over to a foreign Power merely in order to keep the banks of a river in one State. It created a very dangerous precedent.
As at that time Germany's army was restricted to 100,000 men, and no heavy arms were permitted her, it is difficult to see how she could have blockaded Poland, especially since the warships to accomplish such a task had been sunk at Scapa Flow. But to-day Germany could blockade Poland. The Polish coast is some 50 miles in length, and a small part of the German navy could accomplish this task with ease, as every strategist will admit. We thus see that the possession of Danzig is not necessary for a blockade.
I have quoted figures to show how the Poles have gradually withdrawn their trade from Danzig, and  have shown that the value of the merchandise is sinking from year to year. [Scriptorium notes: see Appendix.] A further example may help to make the situation clearer. The value per ton of the goods passing through Danzig in 1938 was 62.8 zloty, that of goods entering or leaving Gdynia totalled 116.7 zloty per ton. It must also be remembered that Danzig depreciated its currency largely with the object of coming into line with the zloty (in 1935). But trade only enjoyed a brief benefit as a result. That Danzig retained a part of its export trade was mainly due to foreign firms, who preferred dealing with Danzigers. Communication was easier, for example. In fact, imports via Danzig actually increased between 1934 and 1938 to a much greater degree than those going through Gdynia. In the same period, exports through Gdynia grew tremendously, mainly because the Polish authorities, in granting licences, favoured the port they had built. Imports in 1934 via Danzig totalled 655,763 tons, via Gdynia, 991,544 tons; by 1938 Danzig was responsible for 1,547,866 tons, and Gdynia for 1,526,536 tons. And yet Danzig's total trade was only 7,131,752 tons, against Gdynia's 9,173,438 tons.
Those who allotted Danzig to Poland's customs union naturally believed that the Free City would remain Poland's sole port. Indeed, the Poles had claimed it because they needed a port. Wilson and Lloyd George would never have agreed to this if the Poles had announced their intention of building a  rival port to undermine Danzig's trade. It is true that Warsaw accorded Danzig a comparatively recent agreement, assuring the Free City of a full share in trade. But there was no improvement in the situation - on the contrary, immediately afterwards Danzig's share in the trade fell again, this time from 26 to 24% (in 1937).
Danzig developed industries to balance the growing loss of trade, but Poland placed a high duty on machines and machine parts. This was a purely one-sided arrangement. There was a time when the number of unemployed in Danzig totalled 40,000, which is a figure corresponding to nearly four and a half million registered unemployed in Great Britain. Danzig cannot be said to be extremely prosperous to-day, but what the city has is due to orders from Germany. The shipyard, especially, is kept busy with German orders, while Zoppot and the spas live mainly on German visitors.
The Vistula is one of the five great streams of Europe, and might reasonably be expected to have proved the pride of Poland. But the river loses in importance from year to year.
All this, so long as it applies to the Vistula in Polish territory, is, of course, the business of the Poles alone. If they prefer to neglect their great river, it is not for us to complain. But it is unjust for German land to be included in Poland, and for Danzig to remain outside the Reich, in order to assure the Poles an all-  Polish river which they themselves neglect, and which is not, as generally assumed, their main artery of commerce at all.
Danzig has its own Senate, a High Commissioner appointed by the League of Nations, and a Polish High Commissioner in residence. The members of the Senate are elected by the adult population of these 750 square miles of territory forming the Free City.
But the High Commissioner appointed by the League takes no active part
nowadays, while, according to Mr. George Bilainkin, the author of "Poland's
Destiny," "the resident Polish High Commissioner is also ignored." Bilainkin, in
the Sunday Press (July 16th, 1939) wrote that "Danzig's German
citizens - and they are admittedly in a vast majority - have every possible
opportunity of exercising complete Germanism." Bilainkin also writes of Danzig
that "already Nazi flags fly from all houses." And his article aims at proving that
Danzig must remain outside the Reich. Yet he cannot avoid making these