Operation Barbarossa Army Group Center 22 June 1941

 
9781536815825: Operation Barbarossa Army Group Center 22 June 1941

At the beginning of May 1933, the new National Socialist Government made its first attempt to come to an understanding with Poland. But from the very outset it left no doubt that the permanent preservation of peace between the two nations was unthinkable as long as the Versailles boundaries were retained. Also, it refused to recognize that Poland had a special right to Danzig. Nevertheless, in spite of all this, negotiations between the two countries led, on January 26, 1934, to a declaration that in the future they would under no circumstances use force for the settlement of any future disputes (G 37). However, in spite of this agreement, German-Polish relations remained more or less the same as before. On November 5, 1937, Germany and Poland concluded a new agreement for the mutual protection of minorities. But the expected improvement in the condition of the German communities in Poland still failed to take place, and unemployment, especially among the youth, steadily increased. The Germans felt this to be especially hard, since in the Reich Hitler had managed within a few years to put an end to unemployment. The situation in Danzig demands special consideration. Under the Versailles Treaty, Danzig and its immediate vicinity had been separated from Germany and made into a "Free City" and its external political relations placed under a League of Nations Commissioner. Poland was given certain special economic and transport privileges, while on the Westerplatte, an island at the mouth of the Vistula, she had the right to maintain a fixed number of troops for the protection of a munitions depot. An economic agreement between Danzig and Poland, signed in August 1933, if loyally carried out, might have brought about a lessening of the friction. But the Polish Government, besides building up the purely Polish port of Gdynia, held fast to its expansionist policy toward Danzig, and tried by unjustified tariff policies to deflect commerce from the Free City. Polish propaganda even demanded the annexation of Danzig. In spite of Poland's intransigent attitude, Germany continued to seek an understanding concerning Danzig and the Corridor. Towards this end the German Foreign Office made certain concrete proposals at the end of 1938. In these, Poland was asked to agree to the return of Danzig and to the establishment of an extraterritorial highway and railway connection across the Corridor to East Prussia. In return, Germany was to give Poland a similar connection with Danzig, and, when the agreement came into effect, definitely to recognize Poland's boundaries.

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