N0 serious authority doubts that the next week or two are going to see still more serious tension between Germany and Poland. It will again arise over the principle of selfdetermination.
If Danzig determines to be in the German Reich, as the Sudetens, under a similar pressure, decided last year, why can we refuse to give them Danzig when we admitted the strength of the Sudeten case?
That is a question to which nine Germans out of ten see only one answer. To them it would make a war a just war if Poland were to bring violence to bear against Danzig's choice.
Yet the Poles arc equally clear in thinking they must enter into war, even with a neighbour so immensely powerful, rather than let Danzig enter the Reich ; and we need to know their case well, for our own lives are pledged for it..
They say that the neutrality of Danzig is guaranteed to them by solemn treaty : that no Danziger it; under foreign control, and that. Danzig has no real gain to make in those things by which men live and prosper; for practically all her trade is with Poland, practically none with East Prussia; that Danzig would almost starve if Poland diverted her whole trade to Gdynia, her own port further north. And besides this, they point to the fact that no sooner does Germany take a town or a territory than she fortifies it. A fortified Danzig would menace Gdynia, and control Gdynia's communications with Poland.
In other words. with Danzig in the Reich, Poland would be as much at the merry of Germany as Czechoslovakia was after the rape of Austria. Germany would then claim the Polish territories which were once in the Reich : she would want the railway junction of Bogumin and through the Cracow-Lemberg railway she would make her way into that Ukraine which Hitler has very definitely stated in Mein Kampf to be a necessity to Germany.
Poland would be as much a protectorate of Germany as Bohemia and Moravia now are. When we consider the Polish case, we can perfectly well understand why the Poles are determined to fight for Danzig.
And ourselves? Well, the French have been Poland's allies for nearly twenty years, and they are morally and strategically bound to fight. We cannot see France go down to Germany, so we would very soon have been brought in even before we gave a direct pledge to Poland. That pledge gave backbone to Poland to maintain her alliance with France, and it was also a warning to Germany that her policy of treatybreaking had reached the limit.
The promise to Poland must be made good, or England must forego the immemorial policy which makes her combine against any power which threatens her security.
The question becomes quite a simple one. Is Ribbentrop to govern all Europe? Is National Socialism to dominate the world in the interests of Germany?
On those questions, the peoples of Britain, of France, of Poland, of Rumania have made up their minds many months since. No Government which thought otherwise could survive for a day in any of those countries.
If Germany forces that issue over Danzig, we will view it not with her eyes but with those of Poland, and there will be war. This is because Hitler broke his engagements with regard to Prague. Henceforward we can afford to let him break no more engagements.
So much is clear. But that is neither the beginning nor the end of the story. First, we can do nothing direct for those countries. They would have to be backed up by Russia, and Russia is a country between whom and them there is deep distrust and hate. Russia is run by a clique who would welcome war as a means towards revolution in any country in Europe. As a support, she is sinister and dangerous. But on the other hand, as the Ukraine is mostly hers, she has a selfish interest in the maintenance of Poland against Germany: and Catholic Poland will never go Bolshevik. Secondly, in Germany, and still more in Poland, there is real economic distress. For this Hitler and his armaments are by no means wholly to blame. If democracy had not in earlier years absolutely failed to help German democracy, if it had had any consideration for the wellbeing of the Danube areas and Poland, this danger would never have arisen. Britain, France, even America are all very much to blame for their negligence, their ignorance, their selfishness during the years succeeding the war. The resentment of the German people is well grounded.
The conclusion is plain. We have a national obligation to help Germany to find a way out of her difficulties, to take thought for her, to pray for her, and to do everything possible to strengthen within her the sane forces, the forces of Christianity. If Europe is to be saved, it will be only by the Christians combining. That would prevent a war in the first place; and even if the horror began, it would be the only way back to sanity.
F,ROM the flood of rumours and reports about the present situation in Spain one fact emerges. Spain is going through that nerve racking period of reaction after the long strain of the war which we experienced in 1918-19. The work of reconstruction, which is the one necessity to-day, needs firm handling on the part of General Franco to enable it to gather way amidst the international difficulties with which he also nas to contend, as well as the extraordinarily difficult internal situation which is the legacy of the civil war.
As regards Spain's policy towards other countries, it should be emphasised how consistently the Caudillo is doing his best to improve relations with France. Recently he gave an interview to Mgr. Beaussart, Auxiliary Bishop of Paris, who has been on a visit to Spain. According to the Journal des Debats, the Bishop reported General Franco as saying: " Spain and France must understand that their interests, like their historic roles and their duty, postulate the adoption of good relations extending to all countries hostile to Communism and Fascism." In this interview General Franco again emphasised the importance of French-Spanish understanding.
Even if General Franco's words have been correctly reported it must not be inferred that Spain intends to be hostile to Fascist Italy. General Franca has every right and every reason to maintain as friendly relations as possible with Italy, and we have no cause to grumble at this. Al. the same time he has more than once said that he would be willing to resume normal friendly relations with such countries as Britain and France, which gave at least the appearance of favouring the Red side in the recent war.
General Franco's words, as well as the fact that foreign affairs are in the hands of General Jordana, who has also reiterated Spain's determination to maintain friendly relations with all countries who will treat Spain on equal and friendly terms, should reassure those who have been led by our Press to believe that Franco is a puppet of Germany and Italy.
Franco is at the moment engaged in the necessary task of setting up a stable system of Government. He is hampered in this great work by the supreme necessity of pushing on with the reconstruction of Spain's economic organisation. The housing, clothing, and food situation is very bad in many parts. In addition, Spain's communications, bridges, roads, railways, and rolling stock, all need replacement and repair. To make matters worse Spain is finding it difficult to buy necessities from abr&id through lack of foreign exchange. England might well play a useful part in helping Spain out of these temporary difficulties, but we must not make the mistake that in order to get our help in this respect Spain will become our puppet instead of, as is thought in England, the puppet of Italy and Germany. It should be remembered that England still appears to many in Europe as a gentleman with a hooked nose buying safety with his bags of gold. Our duty towards Spain is obvious. We should look with sympathy at her present distress and not gloat over the difficulties she is striving to overcome. We should do what we can to help her but not be jealous that she strives to be friendly with other countries besides ourselves.