740.00/1372: Telegram

The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

104. For the President and Secretary.

1. I am aware that, supported by the Holy See, a move is now afoot to sound out Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, and Warsaw on holding a five-power conference looking to peaceful settlement of outstanding differences.

2. Though approached by Nuncio only at noon today Polish Government since first indications of this move has been and is still wary of the potential implications of such a conference in existing highly charged atmosphere. Moreover, I am aware that inner-government circles here feel that unless it were ascertained in advance what might be accomplished along equitable and practical lines (a) there would be little use in calling a conference envisaging merely French [Page 182] concessions to Italy and Polish concessions to Germany, and (b) such a suggestion might cause embarrassment between Polish Government and Vatican.

3. Recalling Beck’s statement that France better serve her own interests by settling French-Italian differences through bilateral channels than at a multi-power conference which would necessitate France’s attendance with a blank check in hand, I believe Beck would regard in similar light Poland’s position in regard to a potential conference envisaging settlement of Polish-German differences.

Moreover, my strictly confidential discussions with several informed officials disclosed (a) their impression that the aforementioned move suspiciously smacked of another Munich—again at the expense of the smaller powers; (b) their disinclination to believe as reported that the Vatican would support such a move for the price of maintaining the Vatican–Berlin Concordat of 1933,90 for they felt the Vatican was too wise to place much value on a check from Hitler; (c) their hopes that their impression was unfounded that traces of the British hand were discernible in the aforementioned move, for were their impression correct it would demonstrate the difficulties entailed in alliances between a larger and a smaller power whereby the larger was apt to sacrifice the interest of the smaller to come to terms with the potential adversary of the alliance.

3. [sic] In connection with reports that Ribbentrop continued to look for London to respond to another appeal for an appeasement gesture based on his information from London, my informants expressed the hope that such reports were unfounded.

4. While Polish public opinion approves Beck’s speech it goes far beyond it in terms of a firm determination to maintain Poland’s stand. Moreover, official as well as public opinion here now have what amounts to a religious conviction that “Danzig” is no longer a question of technicalities in the light of Hitler’s one-sided demands but one involving the principle of protecting the dignity and equilibrium of the European system.

  1. Signed July 20, 1933, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxxxvi, p. 697.