THE GERMAN VIEW.
DANZIG AND THE FUTURE. BY N. T. SINCLAIR. No. I. " You cannot possibly understand it, you Englanders," said the Fraulein Doktor, "you who live in a little island. You cannot know what it is to have enemies on every frontier —Belgium, France, Czecho-Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania—enemies who hate you and seek to grind you into the dust and destroy you utterly. You do not know what it is to be a beaten nation, to have starved for years, to lose all colonies, every one, and credit, and now to be rent with dissension, and dismembered almos"t. Because that is what. France is working for. "ies, you may stare. It is obvious what her object i.s. It was not for nothing that she fostered secession in Bavaria, that she cut East Prussia off from us as effectively as if an ocean flowed between, and gave away to our enemies, Merael and Danzig, Silesia and Bohemia, which were not hers to give, to say nothing of AlsaceLorraine, which was German before ever it was French." I ventured something about the rights of nationalities and the justice of the plebiscite. "Plebiscite!" and here my German could barely cope with her impassioned flow. "Plebiscite! Do you not think that, Danzig and the, Korridor are as German as any part of Germany ? There is such a thing as boundary manipulation, my friend. Only fix it properly and you'll manage your result. Not always, though. They tried it in Schleswig-Holstein and failed. There, they're German still in name as well as heart. But Danzig and Memel!—the way those Lithuanians "rode into Memel by the thousand as election day drew near. It's a shame, a bitter shame, and they pretend that it is justice. But Memel is German still, as it always has been, and always will be, too." This was going a little too far, I thought. But- how should she remember that Memel had belonged to Poland long before Germany ever existed ! Yet it is surely inconsistent to claim the German ancestry of Alsace-Lorraine and deny Poland's right to Danzig and to Memel. " Memel did not, does not, want to be Lithuanian," she went on. " It was those hordes of Lithuanians that turned the vote. And Silesia, with all its most valuable mines. Oh, it is not fair, it is not fair" (she used the English word as the Germans do, having none of their own for this conception). "It was no question of nationality here. It was sheer talking again. And Alsace-Lorraine! Do you think it wants to be French? No, a thousand times, no!" Now here, in point of fact, I did agree with her, though my conclusion would differ considerably from hers; for, from my own personal acquaintance with Alsace-Lorraine, I know that it would prefer to be neither French nor German, but something which would save it from being the bone of contention always between two such ill-tempered neighbours. No! Alsace-Lorraine, if it had its way, would unhesitatingly turn to the Swiss. Only what would Switzerland do with such a slender and defenceless salient. ? I am afraid poor Alsace-Lorraine remains French, for future trouble. " You say," she continued, " that the principle of nationalities determined the treaty. I tell you it was no such thing. It was France's thirst for revenge, it was France-is ambition to destroy us by dismembering us, by hacking us to pieces. But. has she done so ? 'She has only j welded Germany the closer by the fierce heat of her hatred. And do you wonder, then, that we. do not love tho League of Nations, that catspaw of France?" I went home then to consider this statement, and to look at my map—a German map, of course, as befitted, in that part of the world, and one showing all Germany had lost; showing, too, just how much of Europe actually - is German in speech and race and sympathy. And then I realised, for the first time, I think, exactly what this much talked of Danzig injustice was; much talked of in Germany at least, if 95 per cent, of all Englishmen are ignorant of even its most elementary facts. How the whole of East Prussia, a prodigious tract, is isolated completely from tho rest of Germany and encompassed by her two enemies, Lithuania and Poland, so as to be distant, at its nearest point, a good fifty miles from the rest of Germany; so that all communication between this one vital part of Germany and the rest must needs be through hostile or at least alien ground. Now I am not. suggesting that Germany has not deserved punishment, punishment more severe than is in our power to mete. No one who has seen the havoc, that is Northern France and Belgium, can think that. But whereas it is probably historically just that Poland should have access to the sea (and that postulates the severance of the two Prussias), we must remember that a treaty, especially a treaty whoso purpose is to compose a mighty cataclysm, should be framed not in the light of immediate expedience alone; that an arrangement, however ideal, is worse than useless if it is obvious that ono of the contracting parties will not abide by it or will do so only so long as weakness compels her to. Hero then is the great fault of tho treaty. No one with any knowledge at all of German mentality, of German national ideals, could imagine that slio would submit to a virtual partition of her land. It is the old story of the Caudine Forks. If Germany was to bo wiped out, well and good. But wo have left her rankling under an insult, harbouring a grievance that is very real, and yet indubitably in a position to recover and recover until she is strong enough to wipe the insult, out. to right tho grievance and to seek revenge. For forty years Franco remembered Alsace-Lorraine. For how long will (Jermany remember Danzig and Memel, Silesia, Bohemia and Alsace-Lorraine as well? At any rate until she is a strong and vigorous nation once again. Tho pity of it. that, we, have learnt, nothing at all from Germany's own IS7O Peace of Paris mistake ! Yet was that not half so serious as is ours of to-day ? For outraged Franco of 1870 was nowhere near so dangerous a foe as resentful, determined, powerful Germany in 1950 will be. Who will stop her then, if she. wants Memel back again ? Not Poland. Not little Lithuania. Not, France, either, with her still diminishing population. It seems that we are to sit. quietly and hope, hope, that these unquiet Germans will sit quiet too. The treaty may be just. But it is pitifully, pitifully inexpedient.
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New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19151, 17 October 1925
THE GERMAN VIEW. New Zealand Herald, Volume LXII, Issue 19151, 17 October 1925
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