How Russia Decides to Go Nuclear
Deciphering the Way Moscow Handles Its Ultimate Weapon
YOU may read today in the newspapers and magazines that what is called the Polish Corridor was taken away from Germany. This is not correct. In dealing with serious international problems proper terms should be used -- proper formally, historically and logically.
Germany, formally and as a whole, took no active part and found no direct advantage in the dismemberment of Poland. Historically, our territory now called the Corridor was wrested from Poland by Prussia and remained a realm of the Prussian Kings for 99 years. Only in 1871, and still as a part of a Prussian province, was it incorporated into the new German Empire. Is it then logical to draw the whole of Germany into a conflict and controversy arising from an act of violence perpetrated, as everybody knows, by Prussia, Austria and Russia? We do not harbor any hostile feelings in regard to Württemberg or Bavaria, Hanover or Saxony, though from the latter we got two very poor kings. We have no grudge against any grand duchy or any other member of the former German Federation or German Empire. We sincerely desire to establish peaceful, normal, friendly relations with Germany and preserve them in secula seculorum, forever.
The Germans are a very great nation. Their contributions to our modern civilization are of the very highest order. Their achievements in all domains of human activity and thought -- in industry and commerce, in science whether speculative or practical, in philosophy, poetry, literature, in the arts and above all in music -- are positively immense. A nation that has produced men like Gutenberg and Reuchlin, like Albrecht Dürer and Holbein, Kepler and Leibnitz, Immanuel Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Bach, Handel, Gluck, Beethoven, Schumann, Wagner and so many others -- such a nation deserves not only respect but admiration from the civilized world.
There are a great many Germans outside of their densely populated fatherland. The surplus German population has always endeavored to improve their material conditions of life through emigration to foreign countries. And wherever the Germans by their own will establish their homes, there the inborn qualities and virtues of the race make them good, faithful, loyal and model citizens. This may be seen in the United States as we see it in Poland. We have quite a large number of true and loyal Poles with German names. Good German blood flowed in the veins of some of our most ardent patriots.
In 1848, the year known as "the spring of nations," Germany was our friend. In August of that year Karl Marx published in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung a series of strong articles in favor of Poland and against the Prussian Government. In one of those articles he said: "The partitions of Poland before 1815 were acts of brigandage; what followed after was a theft. Honest German, learn how you have been deceived!" And the Germans, even in Berlin, were on our side during that short-lived revolution. Today many of them are against us. We deeply regret that fact, but we understand it very well. The Prussian successes of 1866, of 1870 and 1871, the proclamation of a new German Empire under Prussian hegemony, placed the control of the entire German nation in the hands of the ruling class of Prussia. Two generations have been educated under that influence, two generations have been brought up in the spirit of implacable hatred for Poland.
The iniquitous partitioning of Poland was solely due to the initiative of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Rarely, if ever, has a single person done so much wrong to a country as that sovereign did to Poland. Real military genius, remarkable administrator, far-seeing statesman, endowed with many rare gifts, a highly cultured man, he pursued but one object in his life: the aggrandizement of his kingdom, and he accomplished it almost exclusively at Poland's expense. The military character given to the little ancestral domain, Brandenburg, by his grandfather the Great Elector, developed and strengthened by his father, Frederick William I, King in Prussia, was extended by him to all the conquered territories and was brought to such a magnitude and perfection as to provoke Mirabeau's sarcastic remark: "War is the national industry of Prussia."
Frederick II believed that the force of arms is supreme, and used to say: "God is always with the stronger battalions." That peculiar conception of God led him to write to his brother Henry, at the time of Poland's first partition, a letter in which, referring to that act and to his accomplices, he said: "We are going to partake of the same eucharistic body which is Poland and if it is not for the good of our souls, it will surely be for the good of our states." While preparing the partition, he wrote to Domhart, Governor of East Prussia: "I know that the inhabitants of the Palatinate of Pomerania are of Polish nationality." Notwithstanding that acknowledgment, he seized and annexed the territory, because his credo, repeatedly enunciated before his counsellors and confirmed by his political testaments, was: "Whoever possesses the estuary of the Vistula and the city of Danzig will be more of a master in Poland than her own Government."
Speaking about this in his memoirs, Count Hertzberg, Frederick's famous minister for foreign affairs, says that some of the King's advisers, when acquainted with the plan, expressed the opinion that it would be more profitable to take the fertile and rich province of Poznania. This made the King so furious that he even threatened with his stick the confused dignitaries, who were unable to understand that by annexing that part of Poland he would be in a commanding position and could obtain the rest at any time later.
Frederick was unquestionably a great personality. Even his cynical frankness does not lack a certain greatness. For nearly six generations now he has been the guiding spirit of the ruling class of Prussia. His testament holds its own. His political ideas prevail. His instructions regarding Poland are still strictly obeyed and followed. For it is in order to restore to Prussia that commanding position, so that she may regain at any time later the Polish territories, it is in order to annul an act of historical justice and replace it by a ratified and sanctioned offense, that this nefarious propaganda concerning the so-called "Corridor" has been started and goes on without respite.
To completely undo the pernicious work of Frederick II, Danzig ought to have been given to Poland without any reserve. It was the opinion of no lesser a man than the great American president, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1917 and 1918, in my conversations with one of the most distinguished American statesmen, a man with vast knowledge of history and of international affairs, Senator Lodge, I heard him repeatedly and emphatically declare that Danzig should be unconditionally assigned to the Polish state. But the ethnographical considerations which guided the Peace Conference in its most conscientious and scrupulous territorial readjustments decided differently.
The problem of Danzig was solved by a halfway measure only, and halfway measures cannot but lead to entire failures. Under a Polish régime Danzig could have been an object of paramount importance to our country and a chief factor in international trade. However, we have not got it. We have been granted, in addition to some theoretical and euphonious privileges, the so-called free and secure use of the harbor in common with the Free City. Unfortunately, from the beginning of that precarious association we have been considered by the Senate of the Free City as intruders, as enemies. Instead of a harmonious coöperation for the mutual advantage of both parties we found only friction, quarrels and conflicts of a most vexatious character.
Have the inhabitants of the Free City any just reasons for complaint?
From 1454 to 1793 Danzig was uninterruptedly united with Poland, and during this time was one of the chief ports of the old continent, one of the most prosperous and most populous cities of Central Europe. As far back as the seventeenth century its population reached 77,000, while it took Hamburg a full one hundred years more to reach that, for the time, imposing figure. After the first partition of Poland and the incorporation of Danzig into the Kingdom of Prussia, the population of Danzig, on account of its long and constant hostility to Prussia (as we read in the royal proclamation of February 24, 1793), was reduced in 1813 to only 16,000 souls. In spite of Prussia's phenomenal and formidable growth in prosperity and power following the victory over France in 1871, the progress of the city was extremely slow. Separated as it was politically and economically from Poland, the harbor took on a rather local, provincial character and ranked as tenth (or sometimes lower still) among the Baltic ports. Before the Great War the registered yearly tonnage of ships entering and leaving Danzig rarely exceeded 2,000,000 tons.
Today things are quite different. Danzig ranks no longer tenth, but fourth among the harbors of the Baltic Sea. The net registered tonnage of ships entering and leaving the harbor in 1930 was 8,213,000. Similarly, the volume of imports and exports passing through Danzig has quadrupled since before the war.
The progress of the city could be much faster. Certainly its prosperity would increase much more steadily if the political atmosphere had not been poisoned, if the mutual confidence which is the primordial condition of all collective efforts had not been destroyed by the continuous agitation from outside. For it is obvious that the anti-Polish propaganda about Danzig, and now carried on in Danzig itself, while serving the designs of Prussia, is contrary to the interests and well-being of the Free City and its inhabitants.
Whatever might have been the relations between the Free City and the Polish Government, it was not out of rancor or revenge that Poland decided to build another harbor at Gdynia. "Necessity knows no law," somebody said in 1914. Well, necessity of business knows law; it ignores petty sentiments. The development of business resulting from the growth of our state, which now contains over 32,000,000 people, made the construction of a second harbor imperative. We have every reason to be proud of Gdynia. With truly American energy and courage, we have within five years transformed a tiny fishing-village of some fifteen or twenty cabins into a seaport, a maritime city, that counts today 45,000 inhabitants. Nor has the new port of Gdynia proved in the least detrimental to the activity of the old port of Danzig.
The masterpiece of the propaganda to which I have referred has been achieved by giving to an absolutely Polish territory the name of "corridor." The word implies the idea of a narrow passage through a solid and more or less homogeneous structure. Applied as it is to this particular case, it serves its purpose most admirably: it misrepresents and perverts the fact to such a perfection as to convey the impression that, in order to satisfy the pretentious Polish demands for an access to the sea, the Peace Conference mercilessly split the national territorial structure of a great state and separated a valuable province from the rest of the Empire. The separation has been performed -- it is true. But it was by no means a new idea, a new operation, an act of violence. It simply was an act of historical justice, the restoration of a property to its former and legitimate owner.
Poland has not received one inch of German national territory, not one single district where the Prussians or Germans would be or would have been in a majority. The ethnographical considerations which guided the Peace Conference were most rigorously observed, and were prejudicial to our economic and political interests, as in the case of Danzig, rather than favorable to our national aspirations.
The disputed province, at first baptized West Prussia and now called "the Corridor," has never been a national German territory. Its name in German is Pommern, in Latin and in English Pomerania. Both words are but adaptations of the original Polish name, which is Pomorze. In Polish, "morze" is "the sea," while the prefix "po" (which does not exist in non-Slavonic languages) means either "along" or "after." In the particular case, both meanings are correct, because they designate the topographical situation and the origin of that land which, in a remote past, had emerged from the sea. Since time immemorial it was inhabited by Polish-speaking people, governed by their own Polish rulers. Towards the end of the tenth century Boleslav the Brave made it a realm of the Polish Crown. The first Polish diocese for Pomerania was established by him at Kolobrzeg (Kolberg) in the year one thousand -- that is to say, 933 years ago. From 1308 to 1454 it was under the domination of the famous Teutonic Knights; but from that last date until the first partition of 1772 it formed uninterruptedly an integral part of Poland. Considerably reduced and contracted when restored by the Treaty of Versailles to our state, it contains at the present time 90 percent of Poles as against 10 percent of German-speaking inhabitants. About 110,000 to 120,000 people known under the name of Kashubes live along our small seacoast. They are our kin. They speak a dialect which is as close to our speech as any other of the several dialects we have in Poland. The ingenious Prussian statistics try to make them out as a separate ethnic unit, as they do also in regard to the several hundred thousands of Mazurians living in East Prussia. This is just as logical as it would be to call non-English all those who speak the Yorkshire dialect. The best evidence of the Polish sentiment of these people is to be found in the fact that during the entire existence of the new German Empire, from 1871 on, the Kashubes, as well as the whole of Polish Pomerania, never sent one single Prussian deputy to represent them in Parliament; all their representatives were Poles, and very militant Poles too.[i] Even German school atlas maps, approved for use in the German schools, which I still have in my possession, show our historical rights to the contested territory. They are apparent on each map except that which shows the spoliation performed by Frederick the Great.
The latest map is our Magna Charta, as it is also one of the triumphs of the American people. For verily, without the generous gesture of President Wilson, without the mighty support of American public opinion, the noblest achievement in modern history, the almost complete restoration of the old Polish state, would not have so easily taken place.
But historical rights would produce only rhetorical results were they not supported by stronger claims -- claims based upon actuality, upon life, upon economic conditions. Somebody who could irrefutably prove to be a direct, legitimate descendant of Hannibal Barca, the greatest Carthaginian, would still have very little chance of taking possession today of Carthage. Carthage is no more. But Poland is alive and very much so. In his "Eighteenth Decisive Battle of the World," Lord D'Abernon, a keen observer, an eminent diplomat, former British Ambassador in Berlin, says: "The victory before the walls of Warsaw in 1920 was no less vital than the historical contests in which Poland in earlier years acted as a bulwark to the West. . . . Had the Soviet forces overcome Polish resistance and captured Warsaw, Bolshevism would have spread throughout Central Europe and might well have penetrated the whole continent. In every large city of Germany secret preparations had been made by communist agents -- a definite program had been prepared -- leaders had been chosen -- lists of victims had been drawn up -- undermining intrigue would have been followed by ruthless assassination and murder."
German propaganda overlooks this service in the same way that it forgets the Polish victory near Vienna in 1683, when Central Europe (and in the first line Germany) was saved from the Turkish invasion. Delenda Polonia seems to be its watchword. Defying or disregarding history, they pretend to dwell upon actuality, upon life, upon economic conditions and interests. Their arguments are based on the following contentions: 1. The German character of the territory taken away from Prussia. 2. The unparalleled monstrosity of the Corridor, which prevents normal communications with East Prussia and causes heavy losses to the entire Reich. 3. The unfair treatment of the German minorities under Polish rule. 4. The moral injury inflicted upon the entire nation by the separation of East Prussia from the rest of Germany.
Let us examine these arguments. From a long list of Germans bearing witness as to the national character of the disputed territory, I shall quote only a few names. The first in rank and in chronological order is the august person of Frederick the Great, who himself frankly admitted that the territory, seized by him, was inhabited by Poles. We know already the vituperative opinion of Karl Marx, the apostle of modern socialism. Both men are dead. But there are still, thank God, plenty of honest Germans living, whose testimony in that respect is not less conclusive.
Mr. Loebe, President of the Reichstag, said in a speech addressed to the Germans inhabiting Lodz, in Poland: "In Germany we protest against the Corridor, yet everyone agrees that its population is Polish . . ." A German professor, the well-known pacifist, Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster, said in July 1927 that the sudden appearance of the Corridor means much more than the decision of the Treaty of Versailles, because it proceeds from historical causes infinitely more deeply motivated than the victories of the Allied armies: the Treaty of Versailles merely gave a formula to a de facto status. Another eminent German, Hellmut von Gerlach, wrote in Die Friedenswarte, in July 1927: "It is not permitted to contest the Polish nationality of the Kashubes." He added: "The treaties ratified by Germany should be absolutely respected." A learned German priest, Father Frederic Muckermann, wrote in the Berlin weekly Das Tagebuch on September 11, 1927: "We ought not to forget that our frontiers of 1914 were not the result of a just evolution but of three violations, each of them a crime. When we look at our present eastern frontier, should we not think about the vengeance of history?" Heinz Kraschutzki, a former officer in the German Navy, writes in the weekly, Das Andere Deutschland, on December 1, 1928: "The policy that aims at the isolation of Poland from the Allies, in order to recover Polish Pomerania, is most dangerous because it is based upon bad faith. Are there really in Germany people naïve enough to believe that Poland would be inclined voluntarily to cede a province inhabited by 90 percent of Poles to a neighbor who unceasingly oppressed it during a century and a half? Why should we try to recover a territory that is not part of our vital needs? It is an illusory policy, which infallibly leads to a new world war." Significant words. Not less significant are the opinions of other prominent members of Parliament, high officers, journalists, poets; but it would take volumes to print them all.
A year ago an important German coal mine owner, a rich ironmaster as well, came to the United States to preach before influential American audiences against the "unparalleled," unique "Corridor." I do not think he carried great weight. He tried to appeal to the imagination of his listeners by asking how they would feel if Mexico, for instance, were powerful enough to split their country in two and establish a wide corridor leading up through the center of the United States to the Canadian border. What a fantastic figure of speech! It is hard to imagine Mexico, with the Atlantic on one side and the Pacific on the other, as so ambitious as to pretend to establish direct communication with Lake Erie or Lake Michigan. To compare the tremendous and glorious eastern seaboard of the United States, one of the most populous, prosperous, active, civilized and peaceful parts of the world -- to compare it to the small, arid, poor, thinly populated, but very bellicose East Prussia -- is almost a sacrilege, certainly sheer cheek.
Americans do not need to be informed about corridors by such hyperbolic arguments. They know corridors and even have experience with some. The first one, and a very big one too, is between the United States and Alaska. Those who go to Alaska to look for gold, or sealskins or other furs, those who are fond of hunting or fishing, go by steamers and never dream of asking for the annexation of British Columbia. The second, a very small corridor, this time a Mexican one, has to be crossed on the railway between Yuma and San Diego. Again, an American going from Buffalo to Detroit, if he wants to save time, has to travel by the Michigan Central through the Province of Ontario, which at that place is many times wider than Polish Pomerania. On the other hand, a Canadian going from St. John to Ottawa has to travel for over two hundred miles through the state of Maine; and if he continues his journey from Ottawa to Winnipeg he cannot avoid crossing the state of Minnesota, south of the Lake of the Woods. There are quite a few other corridors abroad, but I shall cite only one of them: the German corridor running between the two Swiss cities of Schaffhausen and Basel. Swiss citizens traveling that way have to present their passports. But no such formality is imposed upon Germans traveling in direct cars through our territory to and from East Prussia. If there is any monstrosity about the so-called Polish Corridor it is only the monstrosity of the assertion that it is unparalleled and unique.
But what about the difficulties of communication and the abnormal conditions of traffic, and what about the heavy losses alleged to be sustained by the entire Reich? A positive answer to that question can be found in an official report of the administration of the Reich's railways in Königsberg. We read there: "From the transit point of view, East Prussia is no longer an enclave. Transit takes place without any obstacle. It is effected as if the handling of passengers over the Polish lines were still under the control of the German railway administration. Transportation rates, established according to the German tariffs, are maintained as if the territory between East Prussia and the rest of Germany were still a German territory. It must be equally recognized that the administration of the Polish railways is doing its utmost to fulfil all its engagements."
The statistics concerning the traffic of goods show that in 1913 47 percent of the merchandise transported went by sea and 53 percent went by land. In 1923 only 32 percent was transported by sea and 68 percent across the mischievous "Corridor." The number of persons traveling between the Reich and East Prussia (in both directions) by railway in 1925 was 590,000; only 5,000 traveled by steamers. These figures demonstrate how unfounded are the German arguments regarding abnormal conditions, traffic difficulties and heavy losses caused to the entire Reich.
Similarly the argument concerning the alleged unfair treatment of German minorities under Polish rule may well be examined in the light of figures. Mathematics may be dry, but it is persuasive.
According to Prussian statistics, which really cannot be accused of favoring the Poles, in 1925 there were 985,283 Poles in Prussia. At the same time there were 884,105 Germans in Poland. These 884,105 Germans actually have to represent them, and to defend their interests if necessary, 5 members in our Diet and 3 members in our Senate. And how many representatives do those 985,283 Poles have either in the Prussian Diet or in the Reichstag? They have none.
There are 105,861 German children of school age in Poland; they have at their disposal 811 German schools. There are 115,000 Polish children of school age in Prussia; they have at their disposal a total of 81 Polish schools. Consequently 72 percent of German children in Poland receive school instruction in their mother tongue, while not quite 5 percent of all Polish children in Prussia can attend schools where their native language is taught. Which of the two nations has a right to complain about unfair treatment?
The last argument, that regarding the moral injury inflicted upon the entire German nation by the separation of East Prussia from the rest of the Reich, is of a purely sentimental nature. Separation, moral injury! Who can understand the meaning of these words better than we Poles do? For 148 years we were separated and oppressed by three ruthless masters. In Prussia, on our own soil, we Poles could not enter public service unless we repudiated our nationality and our religion; our estates were expropriated; our peasants were forbidden to build even a miserable cabin on an acquired piece of land; our children were cruelly beaten not merely for talking with each other but even for praying in their native language. And when the terrible war broke out we were compelled to fight each other, to kill each other; because remember that for the Poles, forced to enlist in three opposing armies, every battle was a fratricidal combat. Nothing like that exists today in East Prussia or threatens to exist.
But in the last analysis, are the ties binding the German nation to East Prussia so strong, so intimate, so sacred? From its origin East Prussia used to be separated from Germany by a wide Polish territory. During the days of the Great Elector the distance between the borders of East Prussia and the Slavonic possessions of the Brandenburgs was very much larger than it is now. Frederick II, much to the indignation of Thomas Carlyle, had to travel a long way through Polish territory from the royal castle of Berlin to the princely residence of Königsberg. Only by the partition of the Polish Republic was he able to remove that majestic discomfort entirely to his royal satisfaction.
East Prussia never belonged to the Ancient German Empire which expired in 1806. It did not belong to the Deutscher Bund which existed from 1815 to 1866. The Peace Conference in 1919 in its "Reply of the Allied and Associated Powers" justly observed regarding East Prussia that, "it has always been recognized by German historians as being not an original German land, but a German colony." And colony it is today, nor on account only of the considerable Polish and some Lithuanian population living within its boundaries. The colonial character of the province is demonstrated by the fact that, of all the civilized countries of Europe, except the mountainous, arid parts of Spain and the rocky, arctic regions of Scandinavia and Finland, it is the least inhabited territory, its population being under 60 to the square kilometer. The colonial character of East Prussia and of all the present eastern borders of the Prussian Kingdom is still more strongly confirmed by the fact that a provision of over 1,700,000,000 gold marks was made in the German budget of 1930 to be spent during a period of five years for the Osthilfe -- for the strengthening of Germanism (or let us say more correctly, Prussianism) in the East. How weak, how frail, must be that pretended Germanism there if over $420,000,000 of borrowed money must be spent for its invigoration!
No wonder East Prussia is so dear to some German people, because it is so expensive. That it should be cherished by the Junker descendants of the Teutonic Knights is easily understandable. But these people, even if ethnically related to the real Germans and having a common language with them, are mentally and psychically quite different. Their ancestors, former Crusaders, were introduced into Poland as evangelists by the pious Polish Duke of Masovia, Conrad, in 1225, for the purpose of converting the original Prussians, a ferocious, aggressive Lithuanian tribe. They made considerable territorial conquests, they acquired a certain military not too enviable fame, for they were warring all the time. They were the principal trouble makers, the principal disturbers of the peace in that northeastern corner of Europe. Finally defeated and obliged to recognize the sovereignty of Poland, they could not forget the glory of the past nor forgive their humiliation; so, as a brilliant English writer says, "they trained themselves to live in a state of perpetual hate for Poland." Their offspring, a curious mixture of German, original Prussian, and even some Polish blood, inherited together with large land holdings that fierce hatred for Poland. That feeling grew from generation to generation. In Frederick the Great they found at last their Master Avenger as he found in them his most devout disciples and supporters. After the partitions of Poland they became, as a powerful aristocratic party, the ruling class in the absolute monarchy of Prussia and their hatred and contempt for the Polish nation, which they had partly devoured without being able to digest, were practised as fundamental articles of a political creed. After the beginning of the Prussian hegemony in the German Empire -- since 1871 -- they endeavored to impose that creed upon the whole of Germany.
They coined the word "Corridor" as they coined the preposterous motto: "We are a nation of Masters, the others are but fertilizers." Is it for their sake, for their comfort, for their political prestige, that we are requested to give up a precious part of our national body? Is it for the chimeric pleasure of a province the population of which does not exceed two and a quarter millions that we are summoned to sacrifice the real and vital interests of a state of over 32,000,000 people?
No! Partly yes. But chiefly it is for that commanding position of Frederick the Great, for that position which would permit Prussia to take the rest of the Polish territory at any time later.
And what would be the immediate meaning to us of that sacrifice?
The Corridor, that indisputable Polish land (proclaimed as such at the Peace Conference by American authorities on geography and history like Professors Bowman, Haskins and Lord), that Polish Pomerania is not merely the treasured heritage of over thirty Polish generations, it is also our only national seacoast. Its length is only 76 kilometers. For a state of 32,000,000 inhabitants that is not very much, especially when one thinks that our mighty neighbor firmly holds 498 kilometers along the North Sea and 990 kilometers along the Baltic. But to us those modest 76 kilometers are just as valuable as the 1,488 are to Germany, just as precious as its thousands of miles of seacoast are to the United States. They are indispensable to our independent life, materially and morally. They are our gateway to the wide world. And to give up that gateway is the small sacrifice to which the German propaganda requests or advises us to consent. What would it mean to us to consent?
It would paralyze the entire economic life of the sixth largest state in Europe. It would deprive our country of its only direct connection with the great civilized nations. It would reduce our free and sovereign state to an impotent and pitiable enclosure between Prussia and Russia. It would make Poland a cripple and a slave.
The sufferings of a crippled or enslaved individual and the sufferings of a crippled and enslaved nation are very much the same, only those of a nation are multiplied by millions. We do not wish to become crippled and enslaved again. We shall never voluntarily accept so horrible an injury, no matter by whom inflicted. The territory restored to us is justly ours and we are determined to stand by it with all our strength, to uphold it by all our means. For if that restoration is wrong, then the partitions of Poland were right, and nobody should expect us to subscribe to such an iniquitous verdict.
We are peace loving people. Striking proof of it is to be found in our history. Among our 43 kings there were several warriors of the highest calibre, victorious, famous, illustrious as any hero in the history of the world; but none of them appealed to the hearts of the people strongly enough to be called great by posterity. That flattering distinction was only granted to one King, the last of the Piast Dynasty, Casimir, who was a wise, just and tolerant ruler, endowed with real constructive genius, pacifist to the core.
We do not desire war. Everyone in Poland longs for peace. We need it more than any other country. But if by a formal declaration or by surprise war is imposed on us, we shall defend ourselves.
The fortunes of war are capricious. Horrible things may happen. It must be borne in mind that there are over 9 million confessed communists in Germany. An enormous figure! Ten years ago there were only 620,000 registered communists in Russia. In Poland we have our own communists too, and they are very lively. So far they have been well under the control of the government. But if war came and if it were disastrous, if the national government were overthrown and the people driven to despair, the communists, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain, might seize power and open the gates of the stronghold which has hitherto been protecting the center and the west of Europe.
Do not believe those fortune tellers who promise you the return of prosperity provided the Corridor be given back to Prussia. That is a tale for children. A new partition of Poland would accomplish no such miracle. It would not cure the general epidemic of overproduction, it would not provide work for the millions of unemployed, it would not restore to the industrial nations the huge Russian market which was demolished by the Revolution, it would not reopen to broad commerce the frontiers now everywhere closed. The new partition of Poland would be a new international offense, an offense against democracy, an offense against civilization, with possible catastrophic results. It would be an evil deed. And one of the noblest minds, the courageous man who refused to eulogize Frederick the Great after his death, the inspired German poet, Friedrich Schiller, says: "It is the curse of an evil deed that it continuously but evil must produce."
[i] Note that I am speaking here, not of the entire Corridor, including Danzig, as Dr. Curtius, laboring under a misapprehension, made it appear in a recent address in which he took issue with me on this point. By extending the territory covered to include the Danzig district, Dr. Curtius was able to produce Prussian delegates from constituencies which form no part of my argument.