America’s China Policy Is Not Working
The Dangers of a Broad Decoupling
THE world is divided into three schools of thought about the Versailles Treaty. The first comprises most of the people in the European nations on whose territories the World War was actually fought. They are determined to enforce the peace settlement as it stands as the safest way of maintaining peace. The second group is made up of those who lost territory as a result of the war. They claim that the treaty is unjust and clamor for its revision. The third comprises considerable sections of public opinion in countries whose territories suffered comparatively little, or not at all, from actual fighting. Many of this group are in England and the United States. They advocate a revision of the European territorial settlement in the hope of bringing about a more secure peace. They neglect the obvious fact, however, that territorial revision in Europe at the present time could only be brought about as a result of another war.
The Versailles Treaty, embodying in its first section the Covenant of the League of Nations, had been planned as a new departure in statesmanship. There were to be no victors or vanquished at the end of this most bitter war in history. Self-determination was to preclude the unjust appropriation of territories. The League of Nations was gradually to develop international solidarity and insure the peaceful settlement of all international problems.
In the course of the Peace Conference it soon became evident that it had been easier to form a united war front than it was to create a united peace front. Much of the nationalism that it was necessary to encourage during the war had survived and had to be taken into account. National policies, as well as internal political considerations, had in many cases been temporarily disregarded during the war so as to allow the formation of partnerships between nations. With the restoration of peace these national policies reasserted themselves and could not be ignored. Their revival precluded the continuance of at least some of the temporary war partnerships. Thus the peace settlement lost the invaluable backing of the United States, and with it its most powerful promise of security, due to the refusal of the United States and Great Britain to ratify the treaty guaranteeing the newly created European status quo. The Treaty of Versailles was stunted in its very infancy.
This initial weakening of the treaty did much to arouse the revisionist school to activity. And the partial success of attempts at revision, particularly in ending control of German armaments, bringing about the earlier evacuation of occupied territory, and revising economic clauses and scaling down reparations, further encouraged the Germans to propagate the idea that only a revision of the territorial clauses could satisfy them and insure a lasting peace.
Of all the territorial arrangements made at Paris few have acquired such importance in the eyes of the advocates of revision as that of Polish Pomerania, better known as the Polish Corridor. It was taken by the Germans as their test case, and as the result of continuous propaganda has by now been promoted in some sections of public opinion in Europe and America to the rank of a problem of the gravest importance as regards the maintenance of peace. It has been made to appear that on Poland's sacrifice of the Polish Corridor hinges Germany's acceptance of all the other clauses of the Versailles Treaty. From this standpoint it is Poland who holds the key to a better peace, and her generous gift of Polish Pomerania to Germany would accomplish the miracle of reconciling Germany with the present settlement and insuring permanent tranquillity in Europe.
Since this point of view has come to be accepted in some circles, and has been crystallized in recent statements of Senator William E. Borah, it seems appropriate and indeed necessary to analyze the question from a general European angle.
The thirteenth of President Wilson's Fourteen Points reads as follows: "An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant."
The restoration of an independent Poland within her ethnographic limits was generally welcomed after the World War as an indispensable reparation of one of the most flagrant crimes in history -- the forcible partition of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century. It was accepted as inevitable that a nation which had not lost its national consciousness after a century and a half of ruthless oppression at the hands of imperial Germany and Tsarist Russia should be restored to independence.
In the case of Poland's western frontiers, which alone were fixed by the Treaty of Versailles, the ethnographic principle was strictly applied. As a result, only part of Pomerania owned by
Poland before the partitions was reincorporated in the Polish state (see map).
Once Poland's right to renewed independence had been admitted (and up to now no one appears to have placed this right in doubt), once the world had called the forcible partitions of Poland a crime, then any discussion as to how much of unmistakably Polish territory seized at the time of the partitions should be restored to her became academic. It was only necessary to prove that the territory so restored was ethnographically predominantly Polish.
How did the territory of the so-called Polish Corridor conform to this condition?
As far back as the tenth century this province, under its proper name of Pomerania, constituted an integral part of Poland. It had been joined to Poland by Mieszko I, the first Christian Polish sovereign, in 968. Later it was held by Poland as a feudal duchy, governed locally for a time by a separate dynasty. The last representative of that line, Mestwin II, transferred his succession on February 15, 1292, to Przemyslaw II, Duke of Poland, who became King of Poland in 1295. It was then finally incorporated in Poland no longer as a feudal possession but as an integral part of the Kingdom. Christianity was introduced into Pomerania by Poland, and the first period of organized administration dates back to the reign of King Boleslas III (1102-1138). In that same period Western Pomerania (or the region of Stettin) detached itself from Eastern (or Polish) Pomerania. In 1308 Polish Pomerania was seized by the Teutonic Knights, who had been established in the district of Chelmno (Culm) by the Polish Duke Conrad of Mazovia to protect that part of Poland from the incursions of the Prussians, a pagan tribe inhabiting territories to the east of Pomerania. Poland waged several wars against the Knights and obtained decrees from the Papal Tribunal ordering them to return Pomerania to Poland. These orders were disregarded, however, and it was only after the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466) that Poland finally recovered the province. The treaty recording this act is called the Second Treaty of Torun. From 1466 until the first partition in 1772, Polish Pomerania remained without interruption an integral part of Poland.
In the first partition the province with the exception of Danzig and Torun (Thorn) was taken by Prussia. These two towns were seized at the time of the second partition in 1793, and it is worthy of note that the Danzigers put up an energetic defense against the Prussian invaders. Polish Pomerania never ceased to struggle against Prussian rule and took part in Napoleon's attempts to restore the Polish state. German domination lasted from 1793 till 1920, when Poland took over the Province of Pomerania by virtue of the Versailles Treaty.
A century and a half of German rule, ruthless measures of Germanization, and the expulsion of Polish patriots did not succeed in changing the Polish character of the province or of its population. In 1871 the deputies from Polish Pomerania in the German Reichstag protested loudly against incorporation into the newly constituted German Reich.
The Germans contend that at the time of the restoration of the province to Poland it was inhabited by three distinct racial groups -- Germans, Poles and Kashoubs, and that the Polish element did not constitute the majority. But the common origins of Poles and Kashoubs were proved by the inter-Allied commissions of experts who investigated the character of the population at the time of the Paris Peace Conference. Moreover, the Kashoubs sent a delegation to President Wilson while he was in Paris in 1919 to state that they considered themselves Poles and that they insisted on being incorporated into the reëstablished Polish Republic.
The Polish origins of the Kashoubs, whose language is a Polish dialect understood by Poles, is admitted by many German scholars. Heinrich Berghans, the geographer, described them as "a people of Polish origin whose language differs but slightly from Polish."[i] Franz Tetzner, a German author from Danzig, said: "Kashoubian and Polish are the same language with but small differences of pronunciation."[ii] H. Geffchen, speaking of the Kashoub population, stated that "the Kashoubs used to tear up German catechisms brought home from school by their children and demand that religious instruction should be given in Polish."[iii] M. Hellmuth von Gerlach, a prominent German Democrat, wrote in Die Friedenswarte in July 1927: "It is impossible to contest the Polish nationality of the Kashoubs." This list could be extended almost indefinitely.
Similarly, statistics from authoritative German sources prove that the Corridor was inhabited by a clear Polish majority. So generally recognized an authority as Hermann Rauschning says: "In the territory now called the Corridor the population was composed in 1910 of about 42.5 percent Germans and 57.5 percent Poles and Kashoubs."[iv] The Polish census of 1921 shows that the population of 935,679 was composed of 175,329 Germans, or 18.7 percent, and 760,350 Poles, or 81.3 percent. The provisional figures for the Polish census taken at the end of 1931 show that Poles constitute at present over 90 percent of the total population in the district of Pomorze (the Corridor).
This considerable increase in the proportion of Poles inhabiting the Polish Corridor is partly due to the exodus of Germans since the restoration of that province to Poland. According to Rauschning, 69 percent of the total German population of the territory restored to Poland returned to Germany between 1919 and 1926. He says that in 1926 the Germans constituted but 11.8 percent of the population of the Polish Corridor.
Germans frequently charge that this exodus was caused by harsh treatment or discrimination on the part of the Polish authorities against the German population. Such statements have no foundation in fact. The German population in that district was mostly composed of German government officials and employees (police, military, and railway) and business men, who were either recalled to Germany or chose to leave Poland of their own free will. This German exodus from the Polish Corridor is one of the most striking proofs of the district's fundamentally Polish character. It speaks more convincingly than almost any other argument in support of the fact that the energetic German colonization carried on during more than a century and a quarter had lamentably failed. It shows that the bulk of the Germans resident in the Polish Corridor did not consider themselves permanently settled there. The indigenous Polish population remained on its home soil notwithstanding the prolonged attempts at Germanization and the many efforts put forth between 1772 and 1920 to make it leave. Not so with the Germans. There was a similar emigration of Germans after the war from Alsace and Lorraine, from Polish Upper Silesia and from Poznania (Posen). It all was but a natural sequel to the ending of a temporary German occupation.
Before we turn to other aspects of the Polish Corridor problem we should cite the impartial opinion of some non-German authorities as to the Polish character of the Corridor.
For example, two distinguished Harvard professors, Charles H. Haskins and Robert H. Lord, who were territorial experts on the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, wrote: "Poland needs territorial access to the sea -- of that there can be no question. But the Peace Conference would probably not have granted her this wish, had it not been justified in doing so on ethnographic grounds. The Conference did not invent the couloir: that already existed and is written plain on every honest linguistic map of this region." [v] Dr. Isaiah Bowman, the American geographer, wrote in "The New World" that the population of the Corridor is Polish in spite of the Germanization movement. The late Archibald Cary Coolidge, an eminent and extremely careful American historian, refers to the Corridor as follows: "Supposing even that the economic arguments balance each other, the guiding principle should be that of self-determination, and the large majority of the population of the Corridor are and wish to remain Poles." [vi]
Thirteen years have elapsed since the restoration of Polish Pomerania to Poland. How well does the Corridor fulfil its function of providing Poland's "free access to the sea?" The following tables, compiled on the basis of shipping figures published by the Danzig Harbor Board, are enlightening on the subject of Poland's utilization of that port.
STATISTICS OF SHIPS ENTERING DANZIG
It will be seen that the movement of ships in the port of Danzig has more than quadrupled as compared to the figures for 1913, when Danzig was still in German hands. Although an increase in the number of ships entering and leaving a port does not necessarily mean an increase in the traffic of goods, this has been true of Danzig, as the following table shows.
MOVEMENT OF GOODS IN THE PORT OF DANZIG
(in metric tons)
The disproportion between the imports and exports in the preceding table is considerable. This is due to the fact that Poland exports mostly bulky goods such as coal and timber, whereas (apart from iron ore and fertilizers) she for the most part imports less bulky manufactured goods.
In 1913 Danzig occupied thirteenth place among all the Baltic ports in the movement of shipping tonnage. Today it has risen to third place, standing after Copenhagen and Stockholm. And in merchandise traffic it occupies first place among all Baltic ports, having handled 8.6 millions of tons in 1928 while Copenhagen handled only 5.6 millions and Stockholm 1.8 millions. These figures prove that Poland has used the port of Danzig for its overseas trade more extensively than Germany had need to utilize it before the war.
The idea prevails in some quarters that Poland undertook to build the new port of Gdynia in retaliation for not having received Danzig. Undoubtedly, after Danzig raised difficulties in 1920 by refusing to allow the unloading of munitions indispensable to Polish defense against the invading Soviet troops, Poland realized that in emergencies she could not rely on Danzig, and this influenced her decision to build a national port at Gdynia. But primarily the decision to develop the port was based on economic considerations.
The following tables for the port of Gdynia published by the State Statistical Office in Warsaw show the growth of incoming shipping at Gdynia since 1924, and the growth in the amount of goods handled at that port.
STATISTICS OF SHIPS ENTERING GDYNIA
|Years||Number of ships||Tonnage|
MOVEMENT OF GOODS IN THE PORT OF GDYNIA
(in metric tons)
Contrary to the fears expressed in some quarters, the port of Gdynia has not hitherto caused any serious prejudice to the port of Danzig. This is apparent from the preceding table, which shows the prosperous state of Danzig's seaborne trade despite the growth in traffic through Gdynia.
Let us now pass to the question of transit between East Prussia and Germany, across the Polish Corridor. This traffic is regulated, in conformity with Articles 89 and 98 of the Versailles Treaty, by a Polish-German convention containing 114 articles. In order to eliminate any undue delay in the settlement of questions arising out of this transit traffic, a special German-Polish Tribunal was set up in Danzig. In the course of the first eight years of its existence this tribunal was called upon to give a decision in only two cases.
That communication across the Polish Corridor functions smoothly is proved by the following authoritative opinion of Dr. Holz, a high official of the German State Railways in Königsberg: "One can state with satisfaction that, thanks to the negotiations conducted between the management of the railways of the Reich and the management of the Polish State Railways, difficulties relating to transit have been settled. East Prussia, as far as her transit traffic is concerned, is no longer an enclave. The Reich Railways have thrown a bridge across Polish territory. Transit goes on without hindrance, in fact as if the management of the railways of the Reich was still active on Polish territory. Prices of transport fixed in accordance with German internal tariffs are applied as if the territory between East Prussia and the rest of Germany were still German. One has to admit that the management of the Polish Railways keeps its engagements." [vii]
Germany has ample means of communication with East Prussia through the Corridor, as well as through other parts of Poland. Six direct railway lines are open to her transit traffic, as follows:
1. Stettin-Gross Boschpol-Strzebielin-Danzig-Tczew-Königsberg. 4 trains daily.
2. Berlin-Firchau-Chojnice-Konitz-Tczew-Königsberg. 8 trains daily.
3. Berlin-Schneidemühl-Bydgoszcz (Bromberg)-Torun (Thorn)-Jamielnik-Deutsch Eylau-Insterburg. 4 trains daily.
4. Berlin-Bentschen-Poznan-Torun-Insterburg. 4 trains daily.
5. Breslau-Trachenberg-Rawicz-Poznan-Torun-Insterburg. 2 trains daily.
6. Breslau-Poznan-Bydgoszcz-Tczew-Königsberg. 2 trains daily.
In all, therefore, 24 trains run daily in both directions, with seats for 4,246 passengers, using the so-called "privileged" or direct transit, free from all passport and customs formalities. These trains provide for the transit of 1,549,796 passengers yearly. All these trains are listed in the German railway timetable, with the following note: "No control of passports or customs for transit traffic."
The figures for actual passenger traffic in both directions making use of these "privileged" trains are as follows: [viii]
|Year||Fast trains||Slow trains||Totals|
|From Germany to||1928||142,453||304,045||446,498|
|From East Prussia||1928||126,608||273,867||400,475|
In addition to this so-called "privileged" traffic, there are a number of ordinary trains on which passengers have to conform to normal passport and customs control. In 1930 a total of 349,100 German passengers traveled by these trains.
Similar facilities of transit through the Polish Corridor are accorded German goods traffic, which naturally is free from Polish customs duties. In 1924 an average of 581 German railway trucks passed over Polish territory daily; in 1929 the average had risen to 948. In 1924 German goods traffic over Polish territory amounted to 2,000,000 tons; in 1929, to 4.6 millions. In 1913 the traffic over these same lines amounted to only 2.3 millions.[ix]
Poland likewise undertakes to carry German troops and war material in transit between Germany and East Prussia. In the Reichstagsdrucksache (No. 2191, p. 106) appeared the following comment: "We must state that the stipulations correspond fully to the needs of the military transports which in normal times take place between the Reich and East Prussia. Do not let us forget that Germany has the right to transport in both directions up to 1,400 soldiers and 800 tons of war material weekly." Actually, when army manœuvres are going on in East Prussia these limits are greatly increased and special trains are placed at the disposal of the German General Staff. No difficulty has ever yet been raised by the Polish Railway Management in such cases.
German river traffic in transit is admitted without hindrance over Polish territorial waters on the lower Vistula, the canalized part of the Brda, the Bromberg Canal, and the canalized part of the Notec. German postal traffic takes place over Polish territory either in German postal cars attached to transit trains or is carried by the Polish postal authorities. Certain telegraph and telephone lines through the Corridor are set aside exclusively for German communications. Similar facilities are granted by Poland to German motor car traffic in transit at the frontier towns on the five main roads: Jeziorki (Bydgoszcz-Berlin); Czarnikow (Poznan-Stettin); Gorzycko (Poznan-Berlin); Debno Polokie (Poznan-Breslau); Slupia (Lodz-Breslau). Poland's repeated suggestion to Germany that an additional motor transit route between Königsberg and Berlin might be opened by way of Tczew and Chojnice has so far elicited no reply.
It has been necessary to deal at some length with the facilities provided for German transit over Polish territory in order to disprove the accusations repeatedly advanced from German sources concerning the inadequacy of these facilities or concerning alleged difficulties created by the Polish authorities. It must be evident to all impartial observers who are conversant with the facts that the Polish Corridor does not in any way prevent normal communication between the Reich and East Prussia. If the political aspect did not overshadow all others in the minds of most Germans, they could not fail to admit that the Corridor has not hindered any German economic need, and that every German suggestion regarding transit matters has been satisfactorily settled by Poland in a spirit of fairness and good will.
Let us now turn from statistics and summarize the fundamental aspects of the so-called "Corridor question."
The Polish Corridor was not a new creation of the Treaty of Versailles. It had existed on a much larger scale until the partitions. The historical rights of Poland to that territory are indisputable. It is ethnographically Polish today, as it has been in the past. Economically it is indispensable to Poland, as it insures her only free access to the sea. Moreover, reliable statistics prove that Poland has made full use of her access to the sea in developing her overseas trade. The right of Germany to unfettered transit across the Corridor is not disputed; and full facilities of communication are in fact provided.
The Corridor's vital importance to Poland's independence could not be expressed more emphatically than in the words of Frederick the Great, who said: "Whoever holds the course of the Vistula and Danzig is more fully master of that country (Poland) than the King who reigns over it."[x] The crux of the problem is contained in that historic statement.
To the Germans the Polish Corridor is the hated symbol of their shattered dreams of imperialism, the visible symbol of the failure of the Drang nach Osten which has always been the foundation of German imperialism. It marks the end of their greatest colonial venture which was based on the now generally bankrupt theory of a super-race conquering and holding inferior races. That explains why there was a general exodus of Germans from the Corridor as soon as it had been restored to Poland. They had been the exploiting colonists, not natives; and their venture had come to an end.
But Germany is by no means resigned to this defeat of her plans. A trained American observer has written recently, "The program of the German Republic, in the matter of the Polish Corridor, is that of Frederick the Great."[xi] Proof that the Germans have not changed their traditional attitude towards Poland resounds through almost every German patriotic speech that refers to Poland or the Corridor -- and most of them do. It is manifest in the methods followed by German propagandists abroad, who aim to create an atmosphere in which a revision of Germany's eastern frontier may seem necessary and possible.
To cite but one instance, the term "Polish Corridor," as it is generally understood, comprises the Polish province of Pomerania (County of Pomorze) alone; that is to say, the Polish territory extending from the coast of the Baltic Sea southward to a line drawn roughly through the towns of Torun and Bydgoszcz. Yet on most German propaganda maps it is customary to give one color to the whole area restored to Poland by Germany by virtue of the Versailles Treaty and to term it the "Polish Corridor." This whole territory, according to the German thesis, should be returned to Germany. Thus, while implying that the return of the Polish Corridor might reconcile Germany with all other territorial clauses of the peace treaty, these German propagandists are in reality attempting to smuggle in a claim to all the territory seized by Germany at the time of the partitions. It is a novel way -- perhaps a republican way -- of pressing an old imperialist claim to foreign territory. It gives some justification to the impression that the Polish Corridor claim, instead of representing an aim in itself, is but a prelude to the more ambitious design of repartitioning Poland.
To the casual observer, unacquainted with the history of the Polish Corridor and with its past and present ethnographic character, this Polish territory wedged in between Germany and East Prussia may appear on the post-war map as an unnecessary and perhaps unfair obstacle placed by the Versailles Treaty in the way of German unity. It appears as one of the most "visual" territorial problems involved in the peace settlement. That is probably one of the reasons why the Germans have chosen the Corridor question as their starting point on the way to a more extensive revision of the peace treaty.
To the Polish nation, however, it is not merely a political or economic question. In Polish eyes the Corridor primarily is part of one of Poland's ancient provinces restored to her in the name of justice at the end of a heroic struggle for freedom and unity. For that reason alone there can be no reopening of the question as far as Poland is concerned. No nation will ever agree to barter away its nationals. No authority exists in the world today which could dictate such a course to any nation.
But apart from this national reason -- which is final, and which precludes any territorial compromise -- the economic independence of Poland likewise precludes any solution which would give to Germany, or for that matter to any foreign Power, the control of her access to the sea. Such control would reduce Poland to a degree of dependence equivalent to bondage.
In conclusion, it appears that two conceptions have been formed abroad: first, the immutable right of Poland to independence; and second, the equally unquestionable right of Germany to unity.
Outsiders are led to believe that there is some way of conciliating or combining justice to the Pole with satisfaction to the German. But examined at close range, the German conception of unity in this case, now, as 150 years ago, involves dividing up another country. Shorn of its propagandist embellishments, the German theory of the revision of the Corridor turns out to be nothing more than a twentieth century euphemism for the eighteenth century theory: the partition of Poland.
It should be clearly understood by all who advocate treaty revision on the theory of stabilizing peace that to satisfy the demands of the Germans regarding the Polish Corridor would inevitably be to involve the repetition of that supreme injustice to the Polish nation -- the partition of Poland. The political aspects of the Corridor are insoluble. The economic questions arising out of a Polish Corridor are insignificant. There remains the simple but portentous question: Peace as it stands -- or revision through war?
[i] "Physikalischer Atlas." Gotha: 1852, Vol. II, p. 15.
[ii] "Die Slaven in Deutschland." Braunschweig: 1902, p. 441.
[iii] "Preussen, Deutschland und die Polen." Berlin: 1906, p. 108.
[iv] "Die Entdeutschung West Preussens und Posens." Berlin: Hobbing, 1930, p. 340 ff.
[v] "Some Problems of the Peace Conference." Cambridge: 1920, p. 179.
[vi] "Ten Years of War and Peace." Cambridge: 1927, p. 173.
[vii] "Ost Preussens Wirtschaft und Verkehr vor und nach dem Kriege." Königsberg: 1923, p. 9.
[viii] Official figures compiled by State Statistical Office of the Polish Ministry of Transport.
[ix] Albert von Mühlenfels: "Ost Preussen, Danzig und der Polnische Korridor als Verkehrs-problem." Berlin: 1930, p. 18.
[x] Friedrich der Grosse: "Die Politischen Testamente." Vol. V of "Die Klassiker der Politik." Edited by Freidrich Meinecke and Hermann Oncken. Berlin: Hobbing, Vol. 5, p. 223.
[xi] Frank H. Simonds: "Can Europe Keep the Peace?" New York: Harper's, 1931, p. 128.