January 4. President Roosevelt told Congress: "We stand on our historic offer to take counsel with all other nations of the world to the end that aggression among them be terminated, that the race of armaments cease and that commerce be renewed. But the world has grown so small and weapons of attack so swift that no nation can be safe in its will to peace so long as any other single powerful nation refuses to settle its grievances at the council table." The President added: "At the very least, we can and should avoid any action, or any lack of action, which will encourage, assist, or build up an aggressor. We have learned that when we deliberately try to legislate neutrality, our neutrality laws may operate unevenly and unfairly–may actually give aid to an aggressor and deny it to the victim. The instinct of self preservation should warn us that we ought not to let that happen any more." Congressional Record [Bound], Vol. 84, pt. 1, Jan. 4, 1939, p. 75.)
January 6. Baron Kiichiro Hiranuma became Premier of Japan. (Prince Konoye resigned Jan. 4. Simonds, Emeny, p. 687.)
Chancellor Hitler told Foreign Minister Joseph Beck of Poland Danzig should return to Germany politically but remain with Poland economically (". . . economically Danzig could not exist without a hinterland: . . . Danzig was German, would always remain German and sooner or later would return to Germany;" the Corridor presented a grave psychological problem for Germany ". . . the connection with the sea was for Poland." Germany would give Poland a definite guarantee of her frontiers on a treaty basis, "if means, could be found to bring about a final settlement of all separate questions on such a common sense footing, . . ." German, No. 200, p. 206.)
January 6. Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop again proposed reunion of Danzig, guarantee of Polish economic interests, extraterritorial connections with East Prussia, and guarantee of all Poland's present possessions. ("As the Führer had already said Germany's prime and unqualified desire was for a final, comprehensive, and generous consolidation of our mutual relations." Ibid., No. 201, p. 208. Cf. offer of Oct. 24, 1938, supra.)
January 14. Prime Minister Chamberlain emphasized to France that Premier Mussolini had promised to withdraw his forces from Spanish territory after a final Franco victory. (France had less faith than the British in promises of Italy. Lee, p. 367.)
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January 15. French Radical Socialist party urged the government to consider the grave danger to France of Italian intervention in Spain. (Premier Blum had urged the necessity of sending food and armaments to Republican Spain. Ibid., p 367.)
Lord Halifax, British Foreign Minister, urged Georges Bonnet, French Foreign Minister, to satisfy some of Italy's claims: port facilities at Djibouti, Suez tolls, status of Italians in Tunis. (Appeasement. Ibid., p. 366.)
January 23. Prime Minister Chamberlain explained British scheme of voluntary national service. ("It is a scheme to make us ready for war . . . we might be forced to take part in a war begun by others, or we might be attacked ourselves if the government of some other country were to think we could not defend ourselves effectively . . . if we wish to protect our civilian population in time of war, we must prepare necessary organization in time of peace." London Times, Jan. 24, 1939, p. 12.)
January 26. Foreign Minister Bonnet announced France would continue her policy of nonintervention in Spain. Cf. Jan. 15, supra. Lee, p. 367.)
Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop again told Foreign Minister Beck of German desires for "the reunion of Danzig with the Reich in return for a guarantee of Poland's economic interests there, and the building of an extra territorial motor road and railway connection between Germany and her province of East Prussia, for which Germany would make compensation by guaranteeing the German Polish frontier." (". . . the allocation of exceedingly valuable sections of severed German territory to Poland, in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles, is regarded by every German, as a great injustice, which only Germany's extreme importance made possible at the time." German, No. 202, p. 209. Cf. Jan. 5, supra.)
January 27. President Roosevelt approved the sale of military plane to France. (Simonds, Emeny, p. 687. Cf. Lee, p. 387.)
German Minister of Agriculture, Walther Darré, said. Germany was ready to risk war if necessary to realize her aims: (After dissolution of Reich League of German Officers as too conservatives aristocratic, and non Nazi. Ibid., p. 369.)
January 28. Prime Minister Chamberlain explained pursuit of rearmament. ("We cannot forget that though it takes at least two to make a peace, one can make a war. And until we have come to clear understandings in which all political tension is swept away we must put ourselves in a position to defend ourselves against attack, whether upon our land, our people, or the principles of freedom with which our existence as a democracy is bound up and which to us seems to enshrine the highest attributes of human life and spirit." London Times, Jan. 30, 1939, p. 8. Cf. Lee, p. 369. Cf. Jan. 23, supra.)
January 30. Chancellor Hitler in conciliatory speech said: "Germany has no territorial claims on England and France except the return of her colonies." German, No. 241, p. 257; Germany must export or die. Lee, p. 370.)
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January 31. Prime Minister Chamberlain said British wanted evidence of desire for peace, such as willingness to negotiate arms limitation. (In answer to Chancellor Hitler's speech. Commons, Vol. 343, col. 81.)
February 3. President Roosevelt said American foreign policy was:
"1: We are against any entangling alliances, obviously.
"2. We are in favor of the maintenance of world trade for everybody–all nations–including ourselves.
"3. We are in complete sympathy with any and every effort made to reduce or limit armaments.
"4. As a nation–as American people–we are sympathetic with the peaceful maintenance of political, economic, and social independence of all nations in the world." ("The [foreign] policy has not changed and it is not going to change." State Release 1939, No. 489, p. 99.)
February 4. Dragisha Cvetkovich became Premier of Yugoslavia replacing Milan Stoyadinovich. (The latter was believed to favor the Nazis; the former sought to strengthen the country by solving the Serb Croat conflict. Lee, p. 358.)
February 6. Prime Minister Chamberlain stated: ". . . the solidarity of interest by which France and this country are, united is such that, any threat to the vital interests of France . . . must evoke the immediate cooperation of this country," (Confirming French statement of Jan. 26 that all forces of Britain would be at disposal of France. Commons, Vol. 343, col. 623. German, No. 267, p. 291.)
February 7. Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop said German foreign policy was to fight bolshevism through the anti Comintern Pact and to regain their colonies. (". . . the struggle we have started is merciless. Towards the Soviets, we will remain adamant. We never will come to an understanding with Bolshevist Russia . . . we cannot admit that the riches of the world should be divided between great powers, and even small ones like Belgium or Holland, and that Germany should be completely deprived of them." French, No. 46, p. 55.)
February 10. Poland absolutely refused "to accept the establishment of `a corridor through the Corridor'; neither will she hear of the construction of a railway line which would be the property of Germany or of a motor road with extra territorial rights." ("Measures are being planned, which, according to the words of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, are meant to ease and simplify German transit through Pomerania." Ibid., No. 43, p. 52. Cf. Jan. 5, 26, supra.)
February 16. Britain and France qualified renewed adherence to the General Act of Geneva, requiring, obligation to arbitrate disputes, to except those "relating to incidents which may occur in the course of a war in which they are involved." (". . . both Governments desire to ensure themselves a completely free hand in dealing with neutral countries in the event of war, and refuse
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to submit to arbitrating any dispute's arising out of the interpretation of the neutrality laws in general, and out of the regulations governing the conduct of maritime warfare in particular. This attitude of the British and French governments can also be interpreted as a measure directed against the withdrawal of neutral states from the policy of sanctions, and in any case will seriously weaken the position of the neutral states in the event of war." German, No. 244, p. 260.)
February 18. M. V. de Lacroix, French Minister in Prague, wrote to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs that the conditions Germany required to precede their effective guarantee of Czechoslovak frontiers were:
" (1) Complete neutrality of Czechoslovakia.
"(2) The foreign policy of Czechoslovakia must be brought into line with that of the Reich; adhesion to the Anti Comintern Pact is deemed advisable.
"(3) Czechoslovakia must immediately leave the League of Nations.
"(4) Drastic reduction of military effectives.
"(5) A part of the gold reserve of Czechoslovakia must be ceded to Germany. A part of the Czechoslovak industries having been ceded, a part of the gold reserve must accordingly pass into the hands of Germany.
"(6) The Czechoslovak currency from the Sudeten countries must be exchanged for Czechoslovak raw materials.
"(7) The Czechoslovak markets must be open to the German industries of the Sudeten countries. No new industry may be created in Czechoslovakia if it competes with an industry already existing in Sudetenland.
"(8) Promulgation of anti Semitic laws analogous to those of Nuremberg.
"(9) Dismissal of all Czechoslovak Government employees who may have given Germany any ground for complaint.
"(10) The German population of Czechoslovakia must have the right to carry Nazi badges and to fly the National Socialist flag." French, No. 48, p. 57. Hitler was planning to take over Bohemia and Moravia. Lee, p. 371.)
France reoccupied territory in East Africa ceded to Italy in 1935. (Because of Italy's denunciation of the Jan. 7, 1935, agreement. Cf. Dec. 17, 1938, supra. Ibid., pp. 364 370.)
February 19. Polish Russian trade agreement signed. (To strengthen Poland. Ibid., p. 359.)
February 22. Prime Minister Chamberlain said British policy was "a policy of peace through strength, which will neglect no opportunity of breaking down suspicions and antagonisms and at the same time will build up steadily and resolutely, with the help of our friends within and without the Empire, a strength so formidable as to maintain our rights and liberties against any who might be rash enough to attack them." (In justifying huge rearmament program. London Times, Feb. 23, 1939, p. 8. Cf. Jan. 28, supra.).
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February 23. Lord Halifax repeated British pledge of Feb. 6. (Because the Axis press cast doubts on its seriousness. Lee, p. 370.)
France and Britain began faint naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean. (Stiffening against Italian threats. Ibid., p. 370.)
February 24. Hungary and Manchukuo signed the Anti Comintern Pact. (Axis power politics. Ibid., p. 358.)
February 27. France and Britain recognized the Franco government in Spain. (Because they realized the Loyalist was a lost cause. Ibid., p. 368.)
February 28. Germany said, in answer to British and French query, it could not guarantee Czechoslovak frontiers. (Because conditions within the country and its relations with its neighbors were still far from satisfactory. Ibid., p. 371. Cf. Feb. 18, supra.)
March 4. Polish Rumanian defensive alliance renewed. (Against Russia. Ibid., p. 384.)
German Minister to Iran, Smend, reported growing anti-German sentiment in British circles and anti German activity: espionage and sabotage. ("The return of Austria to the Reich . . . the solution of the Sudeten German problem . . ." German, No. 245, p. 261.)
March 5. Anti Communist National Defense Council replaced the Negrin government in Loyalist Spain. (In belated effort to win honorable terms from General Franco. Lee, p. 368.)
March 6. President Emil Hacha ousted pro Nazi from Ruthenian Cabinet. (Because of agitation for greater independence from Czechoslovakia. Lee, p. 372.)
March 8. Leslie Hore-Belisha, British Secretary of War, said, the
Territorial Army was "by a recent Government decision, being prepared, trained and equipped to meet the event of war in a European theatre." ("Conversations between ourselves and the French have not committed us in this respect, but prudent minds should be ready fox any eventuality. If we are involved in war, our contribution and the ways in which we can best make it will not be half hearted, nor upon any theory of limited liability." Commons, Vol. 344, cols. 2171, 2181 2182.)
March 10. President Hacha dismissed President Joseph Tiso and the Slovak Cabinet, declared martial law in many towns, arrested certain leaders of the Separatist movement, disbanded the Hlinka Guards, an autonomist organization; entrusted the new government to Joseph Sivak. (Czechs rejected Slovak proposal for a confederation of states because it did not afford sufficient guarantees and involved serious risks for the future; the Slovaks declared for resistance; Czechs wished to be ready for any contingency. French, No. 52, 53, pp 61 f.) Tiso reported to have appealed to Germany for help. (Ibid., p. 62.)
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Joseph Stalin in Russian policy statement denounced nonintervention, announced maintenance of peace and furthering of business relations with all nations, good neighbor policy, support for victims of aggression, self defense. (Predicted second imperialist war. Lee, p. 395.)
March 11. M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, indicated in a note to the French Foreign Minister that Germany had responded to the Tiso appeal by military preparation for troop movements. (French, No. 55, p. 63. Cf. Mar. 10. supra.)
March 13. Germany presented ultimatum to Czechoslovakia. (To demand dismissal of several ministers suspected of being anti-Nazi. Ibid., No. 61, p. 67; No. 63, p. 68. Cf. Mar. 6, 10, supra.)
March 14. The autonomous Slovak and Ruthenian Diets proclaimed their independence and appealed to Germany and Italy for protection; Hungarian troops crossed Carpatho Ukraine [Ruthenian] frontier; Hungary sent ultimatum demanding withdrawal of Czech troops from Ruthenia; German troops concentrated around Bohemia and Moravia and occupied Moravská-Ostrava. (Outcome of pressure from Berlin. Ibid., Nos. 65, 66, pp. 69 75; No. 79, p. 90. Cf. Mar. 6, 10, 11, 13, supra.)
Prime Minister Chamberlain said British French Munich guarantee against aggression did not apply. (No aggression had yet taken place. Commons, Vol. 345., col. 223. Lee, p. 373.)
March 14 15. President Hacha signed agreement making Bohemia and Moravia a protectorate of Germany; Czech gold reserves and foreign currency were to be claimed by Reich; German troops occupied the Czech territory. ("The Führer made it known from the beginning that his decision had been taken, and that anyone who opposed it would be crushed." French, Nos. 67 69, pp. 75 77. ". . . the aim of all their efforts ought to be to ensure tranquility, order, and peace in this part of Central Europe. The President of the Czechoslovak State has declared that to serve this purpose, and with the object of securing a final appeasement, . . . whoever tried to resist would be `trodden underfoot.' " Ibid., No. 77, p. 88.)
March 15. Prime Minister Chamberlain said the Slovak declaration of independence absolved Britain from obligation to guarantee Czech frontiers. ("The effect of this declaration put an end by internal disruption to the state whose frontiers we had proposed to guarantee. . . ." Commons, Vol. 345, col. 437. German, No. 259, p. 279.)
March 16. Germany issued necessary decree establishing protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (State Release 1939, No. 495, pp. 220 f.)
Hungary formally annexed Ruthenia [Carpatho Ukraine]. (Lee, p. 373.)
Prune Minister Chamberlain said British French Munich guarantee was not in force. (It had not been ratified. Ibid., p. 373. Cf. Mar. 14, 15, supra.)
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Federation of British Industries signed cartel agreement with German firms. (Economic appeasement. Ibid., 371.)
Chancellor Hitler assumed protection of Slovakia. (Ibid., p. 373.) .
March 17. London Conference of Arabs and Jews on Palestine adjourned without agreement. (Rejected all British proposals. Ibid., p. 380.)
Prime Minister Chamberlain ended appeasement by denouncing Chancellor Hitler's broken fledges and warned against possible domination of the world by force. (". . . there is hardly anything I would not sacrifice for peace. But there, is one thing that I must except, and that is the liberty that we have enjoyed for hundreds of years, and which we will never surrender . . . no greater mistake could be made than to suppose that, because it believes war to be a senseless and cruel thug, this nation has so lost its fibre that it will not take part to the utmost of its power in resisting such a challenge if it ever were made." British,. No. 9, pp. 12 f. Cf. Mar. 14, 15, 16, supra.)
March 18. France and Britain and Russia protested illegality of German annexation of Bohemia and Moravia. (Breach of Munich agreement; Hitler had broken solemn pledge to Czechoslovakia to protect and respect its independence. French, No. 78, p. 89; Lee, p. 373. Cf. Sept, 29, 30, 1938, supra.)
Russia protested German annexation of Czechia and modification of statute of Slovakia. ("The Government of the U. S. S. R. cannot recognize the incorporation of Czechia in the Reich, nor that of Slovakia in one form or another, as legal or as in conformity with the generally accepted rules of international law, or with justice, or with the principle of self-determination. Not only does the German Government's action not avert any of the dangers threatening world peace taut it actually tends to multiply them, to disturb the political stability of Central Europe, to increase the causes of anxiety already existing in Europe, and, finally, to deal a new blow to the feeling of security of nations.' " French, No. 82, p. 97.)
March 19. French Senate adopted special powers bill authorizing the Cabinet to rule by decree until Nov. 30. (Because of general. state of uneasiness. Lee, p. 379.)
March 20. Lord Halifax confirmed change in. British policy. ("But if and when it becomes plain to States that there is no apparent guarantee against successive attacks directed in turn on all who might seem to stand in the way of ambitious schemes of domination, then at once the scale tips the other way; and in all quarters there is likely immediately to be found a very much greater readiness to consider whether the acceptance of wider mutual obligations, in the cause of mutual support, is not dictated, if for no other reason than by the necessity of self defense. His Majesty's Government have not failed to draw the moral from these events, and have lost no time in placing themselves in close and practical consultation, not only with the Dominions, but with other Governments concerned, upon the issues that have
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suddenly been made so plain." British, No. 10, p. 22; German, No. 271, pp. 293 f. Cf. Mar. 17, supra.)
The United States refused to recognize the legality of the de facto situation of the protectorate. ("The Government of the United States has on frequent occasions stated its conviction that only through international support of a program of order based upon law can world peace be assured." State Release 1939, No. 495, p. 221.)
March 21. Germany notified Poland German renunciation of the Corridor depended on the return of Danzig and the extraterritorial connections with East Prussia. ("Poland owed her present territorial expanse to Germany's greatest misfortune: namely, the fact that Germany had lost the World War. The decision regarding the Corridor, I [von Ribbentrop] said, was generally accepted as being the heaviest burden placed on Germany by the Peace Treaty of Versailles. . . . The existence of the Corridor was a thorn in the flesh of the German people, of which the sting could only be removed in this way." German, No. 203, pp. 211 f. Cf. Jan. 5, 26, Feb. 10, supra.)
March 22. Germany and Lithuania signed treaty providing for the cession of Memel to the former and including a nonaggression clause. (". . . thereby clarifying the questions pending between Germany and Lithuania and thus opening the way for the formation of friendly relations between the two countries." Ibid., No. 342, p. 363.)
March 23. The German Ambassador in Warsaw reported that Poland was calling up reserves. (". . . growing influence of military circles upon the conduct of Polish foreign policy." Ibid., No. 206, p. 213. Cf. Nos. 204, 205, pp. 212 f. Cf. also Mar. 21, supra.)
The United States terminated rates of duty in trade agreement with Czechoslovakia and suspended its operation. ("Whereas the occupation of the Czechoslovak Provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia by armed forces of Germany, and of the Province of Ruthenia by armed forces of Hungary and the assumption of de facto administrative control over these Provinces by Germany and Hungary renders impossible the present fulfillment by the Czechoslovak Republic of its obligations under the said Agreement;
"Whereas this condition will obtain so long as such occupation and administration continue; . . ." State Release 1939, No. 495; p. 242. Cf. Mar. 20, supra.)
Germany signed treaty guaranteeing the political independence and territorial integrity of Slovakia for 25 years. (To bring Slovakia almost as completely within German orbit as Bohemia-Moravia. Lee, p. 373. Cf. Mar. 16, supra.)
Germany signed a trade agreement providing for joint exploitation of Rumanian agricultural and mineral resources. (German pressure; to serve needs of the Reich. Ibid., pp. 375, 384.)
Prime Minister Chamberlain said Britain had no desire "to stand in the way of any reasonable, efforts on the part of Germany to expand her export trade." ("Nor is this Government anxious
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to set up in Europe opposing blocs of countries with different ideas about the forms of them internal administration." Commons, Vol. 345, col. 1462. British, No. 11, pp. 23 f.)
March 26. Italy demanded Djibouti, the Suez Canal, and Tunisia. (Lee, p. 375. Cf. Mar. 16, supra.)
Poland rejected demands on her sovereignty: i.e., extra territoriality proposal; presented counter technical suggestions; said "any further pursuance of these German plans, especially where the return of Danzig to the Reich was concerned, meant war with Poland." ("Today, as always, the Polish Government attach the greatest importance to the maintenance of neighborly relations with the (German Reich for the longest possible period of time. . . . All concessions on the part of Poland, however, can only be made within the scope of Polish sovereignty; . . ." German, No. 208, pp. 215 f.) Germany asked Poland to reconsider and repeated demands of unconditional return of Danzig, extraterritorial connection with East Prussia, 25 year nonaggression pact with frontier guarantees, joint protection of Slovakia; said Polish troop violation of Danzig would be the same as that of the Reich frontiers. (". . . the Polish proposals could not be regarded by the Fuehrer as satisfactory." Ibid., p. 215. Cf. Mar. 21, supra.)