No. 75 NAI DFA 219/4

Confidential report from William Warnock to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 21 November 1939

The German attempt to divide Great Britain and France by propaganda, or at all events to persuade the German people that France's heart is not in this war, seems to have been given up for the present. I asked an official of the Foreign Office recently if they really believed that the Daladier Government is so weak that anti-English propaganda would influence the French people to any extent, and he replied quite unhesitatingly that he did not. He said that on the contrary, he felt that the French Government is in a very strong position.

Propaganda has now taken a new line. The French Government is represented as having no policy of its own at all, except to follow blindly to where they are led by the British. The visit of the French Minister of Finance1 to London last week is interpreted as meaning that France is in a serious position financially, and that she is insisting on receiving financial aid from Britain at once. In order to obtain this she has had to surrender her economic freedom, and to join the co-ordinating committee set up by the British to control supplies. The 'Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung' says that 'doubtless the golden chains with which French economics and finance are tied to the “City” will under the political influence of British financial circles bind France's trading freedom even tighter.' The establishment of the Allied committee is taken as a proof of the telling effect which the German Navy is having on deliveries to England.

It is further reported that the French Air Force is to be placed under British control, and that Mr. Churchill has asked for a more active co-operation from the French Navy in carrying on the blockade against Germany. In other words, Great Britain is asking everything from France, and giving next to nothing in return. German observers have seen no trace of British Soldiers in the front lines on the Western Front; the French 'poilu' is, of course, expected to do all the fighting there.

It is hotly disputed that the 'Simon Bolivar', the big Dutch liner which sank in the North Sea a few days ago, went down as the result of striking a German mine.2 It is thought to be a poor compliment to the efficiency of the over-rated British Navy if mines could have been laid comparatively close to the English coast by German mine-layers. Just as in the case of the 'Athenia',3 Great Britain, without one vestige of proof, is endeavouring to throw the blame on Germany, and to poison neutral opinion.

The Baltic Germans are being settled in the old Polish 'Corridor' and in the Posen district. The Poles planted there since 1920 have been removed to the purely Polish territory, and their houses and farms are being given to the German immigrants. The houses in the towns are said to be in poor condition. Poles never had a high reputation for cleanliness and order, and the war made things worse. About 40,000 have been repatriated from Esthonia, and 70,000 from Latvia. About 20,000 have already been accommodated in Dantzig and West Prussia (the 'Corridor') and it is hoped to settle at least 70,000 in the Posen province. The majority of the elderly people will be settled within the old Reich, mainly in institutions.

The borders of the new Polish state or protectorate, whichever may be the correct title, do not seem to have been definitely determined. The German Ministry of the Interior has appointed a 'Regierungspräsident' (a position not unlike our City Manager) in Lodz, which would indicate that this city is to be incorporated in the Reich, even though it was not inside the German frontiers in 1914. Cracow is at present the residence of the Governor-General, but there are suggestions that it, too, may be incorporated. The Governor-General received a delegation in Zakopane a few days ago from the Gorals (a Tatra mountain-folk), who expressed their loyalty to Germany, and rejoiced that the days of Polish oppression of minorities were now at an end. It is thought that Cracow, Zakopane and the adjacent mountain district may be eventually taken over as German territory.

The inclusion of a restoration in Austria among the stated war-aims of the Allies has caused great anger. It is pointed out that both Britain and France had already accepted the 'Anschluss' in March 1938 and that it is now rather late in the day for them to change their minds. English newspapers of the 13th March 1938 and following days are quoted to show the enthusiasm with which the Anschluss was greeted in Austria. Articles in the 'Observer' written by Mr. Garvin4 soon after the event are cited to show that leading persons in Britain were satisfied that the union of Germany and Austria was just – and final. Mr. Ward Price, the well-known English journalist, and M. Jules Sauerwein, the equally well-known French journalist, are quoted as eye-witnesses of the spontaneous demonstrations of joy which broke out all over Austria at the time. The very mention of a separate Austria is regarded as an attack on German unity.

It is admitted that there have been disturbances in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Nine Czech students have been executed, and the polytechnic institutes have been closed for three years. It is almost impossible in Berlin to get any reliable news about the Protectorate, as permission for entry into or exit from the Protectorate is rarely given. I have had no opportunity to go there myself, but an Irishman who passed through Prague early in September told me that he had seen cases of Germans being jostled in the streets. While I have no idea at the moment of the extent of the discontent, I feel quite sure that the Germans have the situation well in hand from the military point of view. It is obvious that a revolt would have no chance of success. No doubt the Czech nationalists are well aware of this. The occasional outbursts are intended to keep national feeling alive, and to prevent peaceful penetration by Germany.

There have been few direct references to us in the last few days, save that it is reported that our unemployment figures have gone up appreciably as a result of the war.

[signed] W. Warnock

1 Paul Reynaud (1878-1966), French Minister of Finance (1938-40), French Prime Minister (March-June 1940).

2 The Dutch liner Simon Bolivar was en-route from Holland to the West Indies with 397 passengers when it was sunk in the North Sea on 18 November 1939. Later reports agreed that the ship had hit a German mine.

3 On 3 September 1939 Athenia was sunk off the Rockall Bank by German U-boat U-30 commanded by Leutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp. Germany initially refused to admit that her forces had sunk the liner. Survivors were landed in Galway and Irish military intelligence (G2)learned from them that a German torpedo had sunk Athenia.

4 James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), editor and manager of The Observer (1908-42).

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