The Death Dance of Danzig
“If a geographical position may be described as absolutely bad, this certainly applies to the position of Poland.”
So says Bukoviecki, in a pamphlet which he published when running as a parliamentary candidate for Poland twenty years ago. He was appointed Attorney General and therefore can be quoted as representing the views of a powerful section of the Polish ruling class. (The above quotation and those that follow are taken from “Poland’s Westward Trend,” by Hansen.)
He says something more, though he may not have realised it would be drawn attention to so long afterwards: “The political path followed by Poland must indeed be peaceful, but the nation must, nevertheless, be inspired by the military spirit! The people must be the army! The army the people.”
He expresses himself at length on the problem of Germany, Poland and East Prussia: “As already mentioned, the German-Polish relationship appears particularly hopeless. Poland, in consequence of the Treaty of Versailles, obtained from Germany what was her just due; if anything, even less, inasmuch as a great slice of Upper Silesia, with a preponderating Polish population, remained beyond the western frontier, while Ermeland and Masuria, with their mixed but preponderating Polish populations, are situated within the frontier of East Prussia, and the mouth of the Vistula, and Danzig itself, are situated outside the Polish frontier, these latter being the natural links between our country and the sea. Notwithstanding these facts, Germany regards the loss of these territories, which Poland has obtained, in the light of a grievous wrong, and will endeavour with all her might to regain possession of them. The right of this age-long quarrel is, if the matter be regarded objectively, undoubtedly on the side of Poland. . . . While we assert this to be our right, we must not, on the other hand, take it amiss if the Germans, regarding the matter from that subjective point of view, which plays so large a part in political sentiment and aims, feel the loss of these territories very acutely. . . . The German owners of Polish territories were, moreover, to be distinguished from the Russians and the Austrians in that they did not regard the conquered territories as an object of economic exploitation, but introduced a rational administration which was advantageous to the occupied territory, since they succeeded in raising the cultural level of the country in all directions. . . . To deny these facts would be unworthy of a serious political journalist; however, we must not draw conclusions from them, for they do not refute another fact, which must be regarded here as a circumstance of the greatest importance—the fact, namely, that this is Polish territory, and that even the most intensive German labour could not legitimatize its ownership, because it was the labour of an unlawful owner.”
It must be borne in mind by the readers of THE SOCIALIST STANDARD that Bukoviecki gave no thought whatever to the opinions of the wage slaves, Polish or German, in this connection. And now we come to what he is driving at: “… Most grievous to Germany, however, is the loss of Pommerellen, especially of its northern part, the so-called Danzig Corridor, which separates East Prussia from the rest of the state. The Danzig Corridor, which, on the one hand, is a stumbling-block to Germany, represents, on the other hand, a cause of complete dissatisfaction to Poland, something that does not guarantee her a really secure and permanent access to the sea. It is open to Germany to work for the removal of this obstacle, but it is, likewise, open to us to work for its extension. The mere fact that the lower course of the Vistula is not exclusively in our possession, whereas its eastern bank belongs to Germany, and, further, the fact that the Free City of Danzig to a considerable extent is bounded by German territory, is most unfavourable to Poland, and, in case of war-like developments, would be dangerous.”
The reader should carefully note the next part of the argument of this astute politician : “And East Prussia, which occupies such a central position in the northern part of the Polish territory— does it not for us represent a perpetual threat ? Is a real connection with the sea and the necessary development of our navigation and commerce to be reconciled with Germany’s possession of this territory?”
We can see from the above what may be behind the moves of Colonel Beck and, in addition, what may be involved in a fight for “democracy.” To be fair to Bukoviecki we must point out that he clearly states: “Obviously we are not speaking of preparations for any sort of military or diplomatic action, but merely of an absolutely peaceful activity on the part, not of the State alone, but also on that of the nation, calculated well beforehand and systematically pursued.”
Hitler never put it better.
We will now quote from the self-styled “Socialist” Grabski, who eventually allied himself with the National Democrats. He was a professor of Political Economy at the Lemberg University. As a representative of his party he was from 1919 to 1922 Chairman of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Polish Parliament. He was at one time Vice-Premier and twice held the office of Minister of Education. His book from which we take our extracts is (in English) “Observations concerning the present historical epoch in the development of Poland.” His views can be taken as the views of the National Democrats.
In the chapter, “The Direction of our National Expansion” : “What direction shall the expansion of the Polish people follow ? Shall it expand northwards to the Baltic or to the south-east, in the direction of the Ukraine and the Black Sea? . . . Thus in the course of the next fifty years at least Poland will have an opportunity of expanding towards the east. It must, however, be fully understood that our efforts towards further expansion to the east cannot be carried into effect without complete security from Germany. This security, however, can only be purchased by relinquishing our claims to the Baltic and by returning West Prussia and Upper Silesia to Germany. . . . The decision of the Eastern Prussia problem which was given by the Treaty of Versailles is too artificial to be permanently maintained. . . . And, therefore, one of two things—either we turn the Polish policy of ascendency eastwards against Russia, by taking advantage of the successive periods of weakness which the next half-century will bring, and thereby leave the decision of the merely provisional settlement of the East Prussia problem to Germany, or we stake all the power at our disposal on the solution of the East Prussia problem by Poland in a sense favourable to Poland. If this is our position, any hesitation will be mistaken.”
It is to be observed that he gradually works up to the necessity of fighting Germany, and now we have the plan of campaign: “First of all, however, we must bring into being our movement of expansion towards the Masurian lakes and the Baltic. This is, as yet, not a fact of our daily life, yet it is the first commandment of Polish history, the historical path of the Machtpolitik of Polish people and the Polish State. … In this clash Poland, however, will be victorious only if she is not merely technically prepared by the necessary organisation and equipment of her army but also politically, by the arousing of a Polish national consciousness in the Polish population of East Prussia. . . . For, as a matter of fact, the continuance of the Polish Republic will be permanently secured only if we are victorious in the inevitable war with Germany, a war in which the latter will hurl herself as soon as she has recuperated from the defeat that she sustained in the Great War.. . .”
He concludes with an interesting statement: “The Polish expansion towards the Baltic implies at the same time a rapid industrialisation of Poland, the development of the towns and of democratic middle-class culture, the consolidation of the administrative organisation of the constitutional State, and the progress of western civilisation.”
The progress of capitalism and the extension of wage slavery is what he really means. It is to be noted that the class to which we belong is never taken into consideration.
The above is reproduced at length in order to show the reader what is operating underneath the movements of the different politicians; the Germans are just as ruthless as the Poles, but, should War come between Germany and Poland, and we be called upon to respond to a call to protect “Poor little Poland,” it is well to know what the trouble is about. There are many other authors I could quote to prove that the Poles aimed at expansion twenty years ago, but I will use just one more, Stanislau Srokovski. His work, “From the Country of the Black Cross: Notes on East Prussia,” is well worth perusing.
From 1921 to 1923 Srokovski was the Polish Consul-General at Koenigsberg. The fact that he was at one time an official Polish representative in a German province justifies one in concluding that his statements are of considerable importance.
Having stated that East Prussia has lately displayed a greater eagerness to attract settlers of the small-holder type, Srokovski continues as follows:
“Poland does not consider it in any way necessary that the East Prussian colony should attract a surplus population, since in that case there will be an increasing danger, not so much of peaceful penetration by an element foreign to the Polish race, but of the possibility of an effective armed intervention on the part of East Prussia in conjunction with simultaneous action on the part of the Reich. It does not seem superfluous to call attention to the fact that the East Prussian frontier is less than seventy miles distant from Poland’s capital.
“If the Polish part of East Prussia, the Masurian district, which by right should fall to us, cannot be severed from the province, thereby at a stroke reducing the numerical weight of the East Prussian population which is hanging over us, we ought at least to counteract, by all possible means, such a process of colonisation, which would produce over our heads, on the shores of the Baltic, a concentration of elements hostile to Poland.”
He recommends the flooding of East Prussia with cheap Polish peasant labour as a means of getting Poland entrenched in the country, but if you would understand what is behind the present controversy, carefully chew your cud on the following:
“The idea of a Polish-German conflict in respect of the Corridor is gradually being replaced by the idea of a conflict in respect of the development and importance of East Prussia. For there is no sense in insisting on an immediate territorial connection between the Reich and East Prussia, unless the latter, which is to be bound and held fast, does actually represent a valuable and important object, and unless there are, to the north and east of it, territories into which Germany, based on East Prussia, might seek to expand. In proportion as East Prussia declines, or acquires a different and independent administration, and in proportion as Lithuania, White Russia and Latvia, with all their commercial and other possibilities, slip away from East Prussia, the less will East Prussia interest the leading political and commercial leaders of Germany. Almost automatically it would lose its importance as a German province, and would become a sort of autonomous region, more or less estranged from general German politics, and, under certain circumstances, even in opposition to them. In that case, too, the Polish-German conflict in respect of the Corridor would, almost automatically, recede into the sphere of problems devoid of actuality, and, after a further lapse of years, during which the strength of Poland would increase, it would sink more or less into oblivion.”
In other words, Srokovski, a responsible Pole, who, as Consul-General, held important posts, was advising that East Prussia be economically strangled. We can gauge from these statements the general attitude of the military caste of the fair land of Poland towards the Danzig problems.
It is the same old system that is responsible. Amid the A.R.P. and the Labour Exchange we perceive, if we look closely, that what is involved is a question of capitalist expansion and profit. So far as the working class are concerned, they will be periodically used as cannon-fodder, until they decide upon the abolition of the wages system.