"The Pope is unwilling to abandon hope that pending negotiations may lead to a just pacific solution, such as the whole world continues to pray for."I think it is unnecessary to read the remainder of that. If the Pope had realized that those negotiations to which he referred as the "pending negotiations" in the last days of August, which we are about to deal with now, were completely bogus negotiations, bogus insofar as Germany was concerned, and put forward, as indeed they were and as I hope to illustrate to the Tribunal in a moment simply as an endeavor to dissuade England either by threat or by bribe from meeting her obligations to Poland, then perhaps he would have saved himself the trouble in ever addressing that last appeal.
It will be seen quite clearly that those final German offers, to which I now turn, were no offers in the accepted sense of the word at all; that there was never any intention behind them of entering into discussions, negotiation, arbitration, or any other form of peaceful settlement with Poland. They were just an attempt to make it rather easier to seize and conquer Poland than appeared likely if England and France observed the obligations that they had undertaken.
Perhaps I might, before dealing with the documents, summarize in a word those last negotiations.
On the 22d of August, as we have seen, the German-Soviet Pact was signed. On the 24th of August, orders were given to his armies to march the following morning. After those orders had been given, the news apparently reached the German Government that the British and Polish Governments had actually signed a formal pact of non-aggression and of mutual assistance. Until that time, it will be remembered, the position was that the Prime Minister had made a statement in the House and a joint communiqué had been issued I think on the 6th of April that they would in fact assist one another if either were attacked, but no formal agreement had been signed.
Now, on the 24th of August after those orders had been given by him, the news came that such a formal document had been signed; and the invasion was postponed for the sole purpose of making one last effort to keep England and France out of the war not to end the war, not to cancel the war, but to keep them out.
And to do that, on the 25th of August, having postponed the invasion, Hitler issued a verbal communiqué to Sir Nevile Henderson which, as the Tribunal will see, was a mixture of bribe and threat with which he hoped to persuade England to keep out.
On the 28th of August Sir Nevile Henderson handed the British Government's reply to that communiqué to Hitler. That reply
Last modified: October 10, 1998