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THE ROAD TO GERMAN AGGRESSION
On September 1, a year will elapse since the solemn announcement of the "Report on the Losses Sustained by Poland as a Result of German Aggression and Occupation during The Second World War, 1939-1945". The choice of date was not accidental. This very day was the anniversary of Germany's attack on Poland in September 1939.
This aggression was an inevitable consequence of the attitude of German leadership circles regardless of the programmes of their parties. The Polish statehood, restored in 1918, was a thorn in the side of both the German conservatives, the Kremlin-moderated communists and the National Socialists gathered around Adolf Hitler.
Chief of the Reichswer General Staff Gen. Hans von Seeckt used to say that the very existence of Poland was unbearable for them.
The suppression of Polish statehood was to be supported by, among others, the customs war unleashed by the German side (1925-1929) and cooperation with the Soviet Union, initiated by the agreement in Rapallo on April 16, 1922.
After the National Socialists came to power in Germany, Hitler decided to make conciliatory gestures towards Poland. This was manifested primarily by the conclusion of the Polish-German declaration on non-violence in mutual relations on 26 January 1934. On the part of the German leader, however, this was a game of appearances, calculated to neutralise Poland until the Third Reich was ready to undertake territorial expansion.
Polish leadership circles led by Marshal Józef Piłsudski were aware of the transient nature of this agreement. In "Mein Kampf", Hitler defined the conquest of the so-called living space (German lebensraum) in the east as one of the priorities of German politics. However, in the absence of interest from France and Britain in pre-emptive halting of German inclinations, Piłsudski accepted an agreement with Berlin. According to his predictions, it was to last for four to five years.
The accuracy of the Polish leader's intuition was confirmed in the autumn of 1937 by the dictator of the Third Reich himself. He then announced to representatives of the German general staff that war with Poland was inevitable. Moreover, he stated that he was already convinced of this when he concluded the aforementioned agreement of 1934. It was therefore merely a camouflage of his actual intentions.
On 24 October 1938, the Foreign Minister of the Third Reich, Joachim von Ribbentrop, handed over to the Polish Ambassador Józef Lipski German proposals that were to lead to a "complete solution" (Gesamtlösung) of the problems that existed in Polish-German relations.
These included the incorporation of the Free City of Danzig into the Third Reich, the construction of an extraterritorial highway from Germany to East Prussia through Polish Danzig Pomerania (referred to in German propaganda as a "corridor") and the accession of the Polish side to the Anti-Comintern Pact.
In Warsaw, it was well known that this was only the beginning of German demands, ultimately aimed at a significant territorial truncation of the Republic of Poland and its full subordination to the interests of the Third Reich. Hence, in January 1939, during a meeting at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, the highest circle of Polish authorities decided to reject German demands.