Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]



Stop Press


Complete Soviet Articles & Background Information


Précis of Gareth's Soviet Famine Articles


All Published Articles




Tell Them We Are Starving




Eyewitness to the Holodomor



More Than Grain of Truth



Manchukuo Incident





'Are you Listening NYT?'  U.N. Speech - Nov 2009


Gareth Recognised at Cambridge - Nov 2009


Reporter and the Genocide - Rome, March 2009


Order of Freedom Award -Nov 2008


Premiere of 'The Living' Documentary Kyiv - Nov 2008


Gareth Jones 'Famine' Diaries - Chicago 2008


Aberystwyth Memorial Plaque 2006





Scholarship Fund


Site Map




Legal Notices


Sponsored Links



The Contemporary Review,  July 1931



POLAND’S policy has been determined by permanent factors which never allow a Foreign Minister to stray far from a certain definite path.  These factors are her geographical position, her history and her economic structure.  Geography teaches Poland to be wary.  Her straddling frontiers run for thousands of miles through the flat European plain.  Not a single mountain bars the way to foreign troops; there is hardly a hillock between Warsaw and the Urals.  To the east and to the west the frontier line winds through villages and farms and towns.  The lesson of history is still more impressive.  The Partition throws a shadow over modern Polish life.  Although it was rectified in 1919, its psychological effect will not be wiped out for many a long day and there remains a lurking fear of a new partition.  Finally, Poland’s economic structure necessitates an outlet to the sea, which raises formidable barriers against friendship with Germany. 

Two other influences play a great part in Poland’s foreign relations.  These are international finance and the Catholic Church.  One of the main aims of Polish foreign policy is to obtain a loan.  The desire to give the appearance of stability in order to satisfy international financial circles was one of the reasons why Marshal Pilsudski was intent upon gaining a majority in the last elections.  A two-thirds majority in the Sejm is necessary in order to mortgage the country’s securities, which is essential in securing a foreign loan.  Polish diplomats therefore weigh carefully the effect which their actions may have on the Paris Bourse, on the City and on Wall Street.  Poland’s position as the bulwark of Catholicism in Eastern Europe and the hold which the Catholic religion has upon the vast majority of her population make the bond between Warsaw and the Vatican particularly close.  Upon these permanent foundations Poland’s post-war policy has been built.  Poland owes her rebirth to the Treaty of Versailles, which is her Magna Charta, the source of her liberty and sovereignty.  Her frontiers extend far beyond her racial boundaries.  It follows thus that Poland is one of the group of satiated states and that the guiding factor in her foreign policy is the maintenance of the status quo.  The consolidation of peace and the integrity of her present frontiers are two aims which determine her attitude towards the League of Nations and its individual members.  According to the Polish conception, the task of the League should be to organise peaceful collaboration between its members and to stabilise in a judicious manner existing arrangements.  For this reason Poland has enthusiastically supported the Geneva Protocol and has associated herself with M. Briand’s projected European Union. 

Poland’s interest in the maintenance of the status quo and her search for security determine her two main alliances.  In February 1921 France signed an alliance with Poland which was followed in March of the same year by a defensive alliance between Poland and Rumania.  In 1926, under the Eastern Locarno Pact, France signed a treaty of mutual guarantees with Poland.  The two countries pledged themselves to come to each other’s assistance in the event of German aggression.  There have recently been signs of a growing apprehension in France as to the wisdom of backing Poland too vigorously.  This cooling off in the relations of the two countries has been attributed partly to France’s disapproval of the violence of the election campaign and of the treatment of minorities in Poland, and partly to her fear of being involved in any adventures in the East of Europe.  The close alliance between Poland and her southern neighbour, Rumania, which was renewed and enlarged in 1926, was again renewed in January 1931.  In the event of unprovoked aggression each country undertakes to give the other immediate assistance. 

Whereas Poland’s southern frontiers are guaranteed by the alliance with Rumania, her attempts to stabilise her northern and north-eastern frontiers and to achieve security by forming a Baltic bloc have been hindered by the continued dispute with Lithuania.  Poland has closely collaborated with Esthonia, and the exchange of visits between the Esthonian Chief of State and the President of the Polish Republic in 1930 showed the cordial friendship existing between the two countries.  The dreams of a Baltic alliance uniting Poland, Esthonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have, however, never been realised.  Political relations with Latvia have been less warm than with Esthonia, and the Polish-Lithuanian quarrel over Vilna, which is still an obstacle to communications across the frontier, shows little sign of settlement.  Recent events have increased the anxiety for security which Poland’s geographical position and her past inspire in her citizens.  The rush of extreme nationalism in Germany, the Nazi cry for a strong conscript Army and the revolt of the German youth against Versailles, have made the Poles guard their security more tenaciously than ever.  No Pole, with the threats of Herr Treviranus still ringing in his ears, can regard the Kellogg Pact as the guardian angel of his peace.  The trade war which began in 1925 has also embittered Poland’s relations with Germany.  

On her western frontier, therefore, Poland feels no security.  Neither have her relations with Soviet Russia inspired her with great faith in her eastern neighbour, in spite of the signing of the Litvinov Protocol (1929) for the Renunciation of War.  Poland has a propaganda value to the Communist Party. Soviet organs and theatres never cease vilifying the Poles in caricatures and plays, in order to provide an outlet for popular dissatisfaction and to unite the peoples of the Union in the face of the so-called menace of intervention from Poland.  It is the belief in Moscow that war between the capitalist states and Communist Russia is inevitable and that Poland is destined to be the catspaw of France, America and Britain.  In the Soviet Union propaganda banners blare out the slogans “The Imperialists of the West are preparing war on Soviet Russia.”  Great stress is laid on the war industry and everything is done to inculcate a military spirit into the masses.  The Soviet child is taught that Bessarabia is Soviet territory temporarily in the possession of Rumania and that it was snatched away from the socialist fatherland by the capitalists. Poland cannot remain unperturbed by these developments in Russia, especially since most Poles remember that ten years ago the Soviet troops came within sight of Warsaw.  Nevertheless, there is more fear of Germany than of Russia in Poland. 

The unsatisfactory relations with both Germany and Russia do not lead Poland to envisage disarmament proposals with enthusiasm.  It is true that many observers in Warsaw consider that the present Soviet Union is weak and would never wage war, and that only a Bolshevik Russia would allow Poland to retain territories with a non-Polish population.  Nevertheless the existence of two hostile neighbours makes Poland insist on there being no reduction of armaments which might menace by one jot national security.  This condition of security could, in the Polish view, be best realised by the creation of an organisation of peace based on three principles - arbitration, mutual assistance, and finally disarmament such as was provided by the Geneva protocol.  Present guarantees of security are not considered sufficient to permit Poland to make any considerable reduction in her armed forces.  She will thus not be able to play a helpful part in the Disarmament Conference of 1932.  Poland’s attitude, which can well be understood in view of her geographical situation and of Germany’s growing claims for revision of the frontiers, may be a serious stumbling-block in that critical assembly. 

The thirties of this century have heralded in the campaign for the revision of the Treaty of Versailles.  Last August a speech was made by Herr Treviranus, German Minister for Occupied Territories, in which he uttered the veiled threat that “the future of our Polish neighbours can only be secured if Germany and Poland are not kept in a state of unrest as a result of the unjust demarcation of frontiers.”  This seriously troubled the Polish nation.  The Poles saw that the areas which Germany claimed corresponded almost exactly with territory lost in the First and Second Partitions.  That did not augur well for the future and the coincidence made a deep impression upon the Polish people, who still tend to be superstitious; revision strikes the Pole as the first step towards a new partition, as the beginning of the end.  The possession of the Polish Corridor is far more a matter of life and death to Poland than it is to Germany.  One half of Poland’s trade goes through Gdynia and Danzig.  To lose the Corridor would mean the loss of political, economic and military independence.  The refusal of the dockworkers in Danzig to unload munitions destined for the Polish Army when it was repelling the Bolshevik attack in 1921 drew attention to Poland’s weakness in the Baltic, should she have no outlet to the sea under her own control.  The eternal fear of a German-Russian Alliance makes the Poles cling more tenaciously than ever to the Corridor.  “If Germany regains her pre-war territory,” said a politician in Warsaw, “ then she will be able to join with Russia through Lithuania and we will be like a nut in a nutcracker, surrounded on almost all sides by hostile neighbours.  We are willing to do anything to have good relations with Germany except commit suicide.” 

There is complete unity in Poland on the question of her frontiers.  Whenever Revision is mentioned, Socialists, National-Democrats, followers of Korfanty, followers of Pilsudski, all drop their differences and form a united national front.  In Germany the unity of opinion that Germany must change her eastern frontiers is equally striking.  No one demands, however, that the entire pre-war territory be returned.  Responsible German circles have abandoned their claim to Posen and to the surrounding district as irrevocably as they have to Alsace-Lorraine.  Upon the Polish Corridor and Upper Silesia, however, even moderate leaders will hear of no compromise.  The threat to the life of Danzig caused by the creation within a few miles of the new cheap port, Gdynia, fostered by State aid, and the large measure of Polish control over this old and proud German city, gall the Reich and make compromise still more difficult.  The points of view of the two neighbours seem absolutely irreconcilable and the conviction is spreading that the frontiers can only be revised by war.  The Germans invoke Article 19 of the Covenant of the League of Nations as a method by which they can bring about Revision, namely: “The Assembly may from time to time advise the reconsideration by Members of the League of treaties which have become inapplicable.”  The Poles retort that the League has a prior duty to guarantee their frontiers and quote Article 10: “The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. "Revision of the frontiers by Article 19 seems out of the question.  Any decision by the Assembly would need unanimity, and even a Conference or a discussion upon Revision would probably be rendered impossible by the refusal of the satiated state to take part in it. 

Meanwhile, Germany’s internal situation and the distress of her eastern provinces force the Wilhelmstrasse to press their claims for Revision.  It is difficult to see by what practical peaceful method they wish to gain this object.  It is probable that at the back of the German’s mind is the hope that one day Poland will get into difficulties on her eastern frontiers.  In such an event, some Germans state, the price for the Reich’s neutrality would be the return of the Corridor and of Danzig.  The present Revision campaign is to prepare the public opinion of the world for this possible course of action.  In the meantime extreme Nationalist feeling is getting red-hot on each side of the frontier.  Revision propaganda is one of the factors which tend to damage Polish credit and to shake the belief in Poland’s stability as a state.  Any attempt at changing the frontiers at the present moment would cause chaos in Eastern Europe into which France and Rumania would inevitably be drawn.  The Poles would fight to a man rather than yield one inch of land.  At the same time Germany will never be reconciled to her present frontiers.  Will that throw her into closer relations with Russia and Italy?  The stabilisation of the status quo contains elements of future strife, because it will make more clear-cut than ever the division of Europe into two camps, one seeking to revise the Treaty of Versailles and the other aiming at the crystallisation of the present frontiers.  Revision is still more dangerous.  The future is dark and can only be brightened by economic co-operation between the two countries and by such steps as the recent ratification by the Sejm of the German-Polish Commercial Treaty and the Liquidation Agreement. 

The treatment of minorities in Poland adds fuel to the Revision agitation.  The oppression of minorities reached its height during the recent election campaign in November 1930 and was thus closely connected with the present régime in Poland.  Not only the non-Poles but all opponents of the Pilsudski Government have been treated with the utmost rigour and brutality.  Since the coup d’etat of May 1926 Poland has been governed by a hooded dictatorship and Pilsudski has been the real force behind the scenes.  His Government, formed mainly of military men, rests not on any philosophical foundation or practical programme but on the appeal which this historical figure makes to the Army and to a section of the people.  “Brest-Litovsk” and the election campaign have aroused protests from all those who look towards the West for their political ideals.  “Brest-Litovsk” has become a household word in Poland, for it was in the military fortress of that town that some of the leading deputies were imprisoned and submitted to physical and mental torture.  They included Liebermann, the distinguished Socialist leader, Korfanty, the national hero of the Silesian Insurrections of 1921, and Witos, the peasant leader and former prime minister.  The outburst of moral indignation which the revelations of the treatment of the prisoners caused shows how strong liberal and humanitarian feelings are in Poland.  The Brest-Litovsk imprisonment, however, had no direct effect upon the minorities.  It was the election campaign which caused the minority question to flare up.  Marshal Pilsudski was determined to have a working majority in the Sejm behind his Government, in order to introduce by legal means a new constitution which would strengthen the hands of the President and increase the stability and authority of government.  There is no doubt that the election was an absolute sham.  All the machinery of the administration worked at full speed to ensure the victory of the Government supporters.  Candidates were disqualified and threats and illegal practices were not scorned.  The election has given the Government a subservient bloc in the Sejm which will carry out its orders and vote as it is told. 

The election campaign brought matters to a head in those parts of Poland inhabited by Germans and Ukrainians.  For many years a policy of Polonisation has been hitting the Germans hard.  German schools have often been closed and parents who send their children to these schools are liable to lose their posts or be submitted to administrative chicanery.  German-speaking people are placed under a disadvantage in the use of their language.  By the Agrarian Reform the Polish authorities have been able to Polonise the former German districts and to divide the estates of German landowners among Polish peasants.  Moreover, Germans are submitted to petty persecution from small officials and from police methods.  They suffer from a feeling of legal insecurity and have not that protection of their liberty which is accorded them by the Geneva Convention.  This Convention lapses in 1937.  During the election campaign party lists in some places were confiscated and there were thus no candidates.  In many towns and villages each voter had to show openly for which party he was voting.  An ex-Servicemen’s organisation called the “Insurgents” numbering 40,000 fought vigorously for the Pilsudski Bloc and was guilty of many violent acts.  One of their election slogans was “Not a single deputy of the national minority shall enter Parliament.”  The whole attitude of this nationalist organisation was calculated to embitter the feelings against the Germans. The “Insurgents were presided over by none other than the Woievode himself, Dr. Grazinski.  The efforts to secure a victory for the Government Bloc at all costs and the methods used by the “Insurgents “ led to a considerable fall in the German vote. 

In January the League Council considered a petition from the German Volksbund and notes from the German Government on the incidents in Polish Upper Silesia.  It was a test of the sincerity and justice of the League of Nations in its handling of minority problems.  If the League had failed, all Germany would have been justified in calling it, as it is often called in Germany, a “joint-stock company for the preservation of the booty won in the War.”  The League Council was pre-eminently successful in dealing with the case.  It concluded that there had been in numerous cases an infringement of Articles 75 and 83 of the Geneva Convention.  It asked the Polish Government to furnish before May a detailed statement of the results of the inquiries into these different cases.  It expressed the hope that the Polish Government would abolish all special links existing between the authorities and such associations as the “ Insurgents.”  The decision of the Council was a definite rebuke to the Polish Government, but satisfaction was expressed in Warsaw that no international commission of inquiry was to be set up, that there was no demand for the resignation of any person and that no special guarantees for the future were to be introduced. Many of the inquiries recommended by the League Council had already been undertaken by the Polish authorities.  There is every sign that the Warsaw Government is carrying out the recommendations in a generous way.  If it does so, it will be able to count upon the sympathetic support of many states such as Great Britain, which believe that the liberal treatment of minorities is essential for the establishment of peace in Europe. 

The Manchester Guardian has done a great service in calling the attention of the world to the treatment of the Ukrainians.  It omitted, however, to give sufficient space to the provocations which led to the Polish pacification.  During centuries the hatred between Ukrainian and Pole has flared up from time to time.  Gogol in his Tarass Bulba describes vividly the wars between the Cossacks in the Ukraine and the Catholic Poles.  The antagonism is not only that between two nations, it is also the jealousy of one social class for another.  In Eastern Galicia the Pole has been the conqueror, the landowner, the administrator, and the Ukrainian peasant has always looked upon him as the oppressor; the peasant wants more land and the land is in the possession of the Poles.  Added to these sources of grievance are the clashes and jealousies of the Catholics and the Uniates.  And so the movement for Independence flourishes. In September, 1930, after a series of fires, caused according to some by Ukrainian revolutionaries and according to others by peasants anxious to receive insurance money, a pacification began.  Troops were sent to villages in Eastern Galicia.  Peasants were flayed; there were burnings and searchings, and deeds of cruelty and brutality were committed.  The oppression of the Ukrainians takes on a more serious aspect when we remember that in that remote corner is the frontier line between Soviet Russia and the rest of Europe.  The five to seven million Ukrainians in Poland have twenty-five to thirty million fellow-countrymen across the border.  On the Soviet side of the frontier, although any anti-Communist independence movement is instantly crushed, every effort is made to encourage the Ukrainian language, literature, schools and art.  The Soviet Press knows how to describe in lurid terms the fate of the oppressed peasants in Poland.  A dissatisfied Ukraine smarting under the memory of the Polish pacification can be no source of strength to Poland.  The recent events have put more barriers than ever in the way of those who support the policy once advocated by Marshal Pilsudski of a Polish-Ukrainian-Lithuanian Federation.  To describe the oppression of the minorities and to go no further does not give a true picture of the situation.  There have been serious provocations.  In the Ukraine the U.M.O., or the Ukrainian Military Organisation, is working by illegal means for independence.  It is accused of receiving funds from Berlin.  Last autumn it started on a campaign which led to the burning of Polish cottages and barns.  The final aim of the other main Ukrainian party, the U.N.D.O., is also an independent Ukrainian national state. 

The provocation in the German areas was the German propaganda for revision which excited the Polish population.  Another factor which has made conciliation difficult is the psychological attitude of the German towards the Pole.  Until Germany realises that Poland is a nation which has come to stay and until the Germans modify their attitude of cultural superiority, which is so insulting to a sensitive self-conscious people like the Poles, an understanding will be difficult to reach. 

It is a pleasure to turn from the gloom of Poland’s relations with Russia and Germany to the far brighter prospects of her relations with the agricultural states of Eastern Europe.  The depression among the agrarian countries has speeded up co-operation between them.  As a result largely of Polish initiative a series of conferences was held last year of which the most important were those of Bucharest and Warsaw.  Delegates from Rumania and Yugoslavia rubbed shoulders with their former enemies, Hungary and Bulgaria; Latvia and Esthonia were also present.  The recommendations of the Warsaw Conference included concerted-selling organisations and export institutions in each country. The questions which caused the greatest difficulty to this agrarian bloc were agricultural credits and the disposal of surplus grain stocks.  Agricultural credits have been discussed this year by the League of Nations Financial Committee of grain experts, and surplus grain stocks have been the subject of conferences held under the auspices of the European Commission.  It is significant that agricultural countries stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea should have come together and this has been to no small degree facilitated by the wise and far-sighted efforts of the Polish Government. 

The Polish Republic is now in its second decade.  Certain events in the storm and stress of last year have not been calculated to strengthen the position of its friends abroad.  The treatment of minorities has been a valuable weapon in the hands of those who wish to change Poland’s frontiers.  The internal methods of the régime have disturbed many of the keenest supporters of Poland.  A recurrence of Brest-Litovsk or of the pacification in the Ukraine or of the mishandling of Germans in Upper Silesia would deal a serious blow to her prestige.  A policy of tolerance towards minorities and towards political opponents would be a powerful argument against Revision, and would restore the confidence of all those millions who rejoice in Poland’s rebirth and who look to her as a Western nation with a vital part to play in the future of Europe. 








Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany.


Top of Page




Original Research, Content & Site Design by Nigel Linsan Colley. Copyright © 2001-17 All Rights Reserved Original document transcriptions by M.S. Colley.Click here for Legal Notices.  For all further details email:  Nigel Colley or Tel: (+44)  0796 303  8888