EUROPE: Last Words

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At midnight Wednesday, Sir Nevile carried Britain's formal answer to Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop reputedly lost his temper, gave the British Ambassador a lecture that lasted three-quarters of an hour: the condition upon which Germany had agreed to negotiate had not been fulfilled; no envoy had appeared; the time limit had expired. Then (according to the British) Ribbentrop produced and read rapidly in German a long document: Hitler's final offer to the Poles. Sir Nevile asked for the text; Ribbentrop declined to furnish it because "it could no longer be considered an official order," insisted that a Polish negotiator with plenary powers (i. e., full authority to accept Nazi demands) must appear by next day.

In mid-morning in Warsaw, President Moscicki proclaimed: "There is danger of war," ordered a final mobilization. In Berlin at 9 a. m. Polish Ambassador Josef Lipski telephoned for an interview with Ribbentrop. He was given no appointment. At noon Sir Nevile called and suggested that the German Government confer with Lipski. Ribbentrop thereupon asked Lipski whether he had power to negotiate as a plenipotentiary or merely as an ambassador. "As ambassador," said Lipski. He heard no more until 8 o'clock that night, when Ribbentrop saw him for a few minutes, said it was too late for discussions. The Foreign Office then gave the text of Hitler's expired offer to the heads of embassies in Berlin, released it simultaneously to press and radio. In 16 points it provided that:

Danzig was to become German at once; Poland should evacuate the Corridor which would be administered by an international commission representing Italy, the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain; at the end of a year a plebiscite would give the Corridor to Germany or Poland; only natives of the Corridor born before 1918 and people living there at that time would be eligible to vote; Gdynia in any case would remain a Polish port; the nation losing the plebiscite was to have a sovereignty over a highway one kilometer (five-eighths of a mile) wideplace, and therefore the Fndicated that the German war machine had received its marching orders the previous afternoon, before Hitler's 16 points were published.)

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