THE New Zealand Herald AND DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS. FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 1925. POLAND'S PORT.
The Council of the League of Nations will on Monday return to the vexed question of Poland's relations with Danzig. Itvhas been the subject of much debate, and is not without importance in considering Germany's determination to have a free hand on her eastern frontier. Before the war Danzig was a German city; but at the Peace Conference Poland made claim to it. It was a claim not easily resisted, much less rejected. Danzig is the great port on the Baltic at the mouth of tho Vistula, and so situated that it is Poland's only means of access to the sea. Without it, she has no possibility of engaging in oceanborne trade. The 1 fact that the population is almost wholly German made the Peace Conference hesitate to yield to the Polish claim, and in the end a compromise was reached. Danzig was to belong to neither Germany nor Poland. It was made a free and self-governing city under tho protection of the League of Nations. The League does not exercise governance directly, however, as in tho somewhat similar case of the Saar Valley, the small patch of mining territory wedged, in between Germany and Lorraine. Danzig manages its own affairs, but it has to allow Poland all sorts of rights in connection with the use of the harbour and the running of trains to the dock-side. Anticipating difficulties in the working of so hazardous an expedient, the League appointed a High Commissioner to represent it in Danzig and to mediate between the two parties whenever differences arose. It is further provided that, should he fail in that mediation, the matters in dispute go to the Council of the League for its final adjudication. The arrangement has been but partially successful. Disputes have been frequent. In the administration of the railways they have been particularly acute. Before the war a Prussian railway board established at Danzig administered the whole Pomeranian system; but in 1920, as an outcome of the decision of the Peace Conference, a Polish board was given control of the Danzig and the Pomeranian-Polish lines. Although it would seem to be in the city's interests to co-operate in Bystematising intercommunication, its Senate has been hampering Warsaw's management and persistently protesting that Poland should abandon all administration of the Pomeranian traffic. In postal and telegraphic control similar discord has persisted- By the Versailles Treaty the control of postal, telegraphic and telephonic services between Poland and the port is assured to Poland, and it is stipulated by the treaty and the Paris Convention that Danzig shall lease to Poland all land and equipment necessary for the functioning of these services. This provision is annulled by the Senate's refusal to grant the stipulated facilities, and the Senate's followers have attempted to bring the Polish administration into ridicule by interference with the letterboxes erected at Warsaw's directions. In customs administration also Poland's position was made clear by the Peace Treaty and the Paris Convention, only to be nullified by Danzig's opposition. Danzig was declared to be within Poland's customs frontier, but its authorities refuse to carry out Warsaw's wishes. Essential customs statistics are not kept as directed, and prohibitions on specified exports , and imports are not enforced. Danzig maintains that, although it is obliged under treaty provisions to collect dues in general, it is not obliged to conform to any special measures promulgated by Poland. There is declared by tho Poles to be a political motivo in all this defiance of tho international mandate. The Danziggcrs, they say, are deliberately playing tho game of the Nationalist and similar parties in Germany, and are maliciously putting sand into the administrative machinery to make it appear unworkable. The accusation is probably well "based. Its truth accords with all else that is known of Germany's wish to . reassert' influence beyond her eastern frontier as delimited by tho Peace Treaty. Whether the accusation be fully true or not, it is certain that a situation bristling with theoretical and practical difficulties exists. The Danzig Senato, maintaining that their city is free and self-governing, claim rights that almost go the length of bestowing power to make any treaties they wish with Germany. But this claim runs counter to the authority committed to tho League of Nations. Poland's view—that foreign affairs in Danzig are practically under its jurisdiction—accords with the mandate given to the League by the Allies. Apart from that controversy in theory, the considered opinion of General Commissioner at Danzig is that some change of system is urgently required. "As things are now," he said in March last, "Poland cannot go ahead with her work of economic construction and national reconstruction on account of the worry and the loss of time and money involved in preparing one question after another for the League tribunal." It is not > clear that the situation is as ; desperate as he avers. There have been over thirty questions submitted on appeal by the parties to the League Council since 1920, but nearly all of them have been quickly settled, some of them without going ) further than tho Council's provisional agenda. It is therefore quite possible that those >.
now to bo considered may prove capable of speedy and satisfactory settlement. If it were not for the shadow o,f German intrigue lying athwart the Polish corridor to the Baltic, this unusual experiment in government might prove a sure success. Poland, despite its natural dread of Germany, has shown confidence in the League, even to the extent of accepting its decisions when they were manifestly opposed to Polish aims. It is Germany's resurgent ambition for extension and alliances on tho east that gives a less promising outlook for those aims.
Permanent link to this item
New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19036, 5 June 1925
THE New Zealand Herald AND DAILY SOUTHERN CROSS. FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 1925. POLAND'S PORT. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19036, 5 June 1925
Using This Item
NZME is the copyright owner for the New Zealand Herald. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of NZME. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Auckland Libraries and NZME.