The Chargé in Denmark ( Osborne ) to the Acting Secretary of State 10

No. 1995

Sir: Adverting to my telegram No. 3385,11 of yesterday’s date, with regard to the visit of M. Paderewski to Posen, I have the honor to enclose herewith the memorandum on which that telegram was based.

I have [etc.]

Lithgow Osborne

Memorandum by the Chargé in Denmark (Osborne)

The British Chargé d’Affaires to-day showed me an original despatch from Colonel H. H. Wade, British Military Attaché in Copenhagen, dated from Posen December 28 (?), 1918, relative to M. Paderewski’s visit to Poland.

The despatch stated that upon his arrival in Danzig, together with Monsieur and Madame Paderewski, he was visited by a German official who requested that no demonstrations be organized in Danzig. Colonel Wade replied that he could not prevent M. Paderewski’s friends from meeting him at the station. The German official endeavored to induce Colonel Wade and M. Paderewski to proceed to Warsaw via Thorn, but Colonel Wade insisted on going to Posen.

The party was given a saloon car from Danzig. On the way to Posen a representative of the German General Staff in civilian clothes boarded the train and informed Colonel Wade that his safe-conduct called for his transit through Germany to Warsaw and requested that he should not proceed to Posen. Colonel Wade replied that he had received orders to proceed to Posen, where he was to meet the rest of his mission, and that the German Foreign Office must be cognizant of this fact. In consequence of this statement by Colonel Wade, the representative of the German General Staff withdrew, saying that in that case he only wished to enter a formal protest, which Colonel Wade reported that he took note of.

Colonel Wade further reported that upon their arrival in Posen they were greeted with great enthusiasm by the populace; their carriage was escorted by Polish soldiers from the railway station to the [Page 423] hotel; the soldiers finally ended by carrying the mission into the hotel. The following day shots were heard, and it was soon reported that German soldiers had stormed the offices of the Polish National Council and had torn down the Polish and Allied flags and stamped them into the gutter. These German soldiers were supposedly “reactionaries.” At the time of writing the despatch, Colonel Wade stated that the hotel was being besieged by these German troops and defended by Polish soldiery.

Colonel Wade further reported that agitation was under way by the Germans for the organization of forces of defense in the province of Posen, and that these German forces were following a policy of repression against the Poles, suppressing the language, etc. He had despatched Lieutenant Commander Rawlings, R. N., who was attached to him, to the Commander of the Fifth Army Corps, with the message that the British Government would hold him responsible for the consequences of the attitude of the German troops. The Commander of the Fifth Army Corps replied that he had no official knowledge of Colonel Wade’s mission.

Colonel Wade further stated that the German forces in the province of Posen were removing valuable material of all kinds and in general treating the territory as if they were forces of occupation and in a manner contrary to the terms of the armistice. He recommended that Allied or neutral commissioners be despatched to exercise surveillance.

Enclosed with Colonel Wade’s despatch were the following:

An American flag torn to shreds, stated to have been one of those pulled down by the German troops from the offices of the Polish National Council.
A proclamation signed by the Commander of the Fifth Army Corps, the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Council, the Jewish Council, and other city organizations, promulgating a state of siege for the city.
A hand-bill printed by some German organization setting forth the consequences of Posen’s becoming Polish and calling upon the German population to “vote German” for the National Assembly.
A copy of the same manifesto republished by the German organization in question with notations by a Pole made on the original hand-bill.
An official order issued by the Commander of the Fifth Army Corps and countersigned by the “Schlichtungskommission” stating that disorders had broken out in the city, that it was still too soon to determine the guilt in the matter, but calling upon all troops to maintain order, in view of the hardships which they had undergone together during the war.
An official order signed by the Commander of the Fifth Army Corps and countersigned by the “Schlichtungskommission” stating that a British commission had arrived and that, as it was under the protection of international law, it was not to be interfered with. The order further stated that the commission would carry the British flag.
A clipping from a German newspaper in Posen calling for the formation of voluntary militia for the protection of German interests in the province of Posen.

In a letter to his wife, Colonel Wade stated that field-guns had been drawn up in front of the hotel, which was being fired on by machineguns from the neighboring buildings. Bullets had entered Mr. Paderewski’s room.

Colonel Wade also indicated that he was not in complete accord with M. Paderewski’s ideas as to the territorial extent of Poland, which he seemed to regard as exaggerated.

  1. A copy of this despatch, with its enclosure, was sent to the Commission to Negotiate Peace, Jan. 18, 1919, by the American Embassy in Paris.
  2. Not printed.