3 JULY 1936, Page 18

POLAND AND HER NEIGHBOURS Commonwealth and Foreign [To the Editor

of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—Since Marshal Pilsudski's death just over one year ago Poland's internal as well as foreign policy has undergone numerous changes, some of great importance. From a dicta- torship her form of government changed into " a military autocracy." With a subservient and impotent Parliament, and a Civil Service in which the majority of prominent posi- tions are still in the hands of Polish nobility or landed gentry, the Generals hold undisputed sway over Poland. The Army, with General Rydz-Smigly at its head, has become the sole determining factor. Whilst the new Constitution invests the President with almost omnipotent powers, an " unwritten constitution " gives all influence, strength and authority in Poland today to the Army, to the few generals and their leader, the Generalissimo. This change is of great importance. The strong will of Marshal Pilsudski has been replaced by the will of a group of his generals, and his single iron grip by that of a number of his former associates. What this change means to Poland internally can be seen from the large number of riots, some very grave, which occurred all over the country during the twelve months after Pilsudski's death. Its effects are also obvious from the long list of political proceedings taken, some against opposition organisations, and others against Nazis who lifted their heads; above all from the rapid, ominous growth of Communism in Poland.

In foreign policy some significant concessions to Germany must be placed first on the list of changes witnessed in Poland during the past year. The concessions were of a twofold nature—one tacit, the other express and deliberate. To Marshal Pilsudski the integrity and independence of Lithuania, despite the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries, was as important as the independence of Belgium is to England and France. Everyone knew, even the Lithua- nians, that if ever Germany or anyone else should attack Lithuania Marshal Pilsudski would immediately send his troops against the aggressor. To some extent this was a matter of sentiment with Marshal Pilsudski, who,, himself a Lithuanian by origin, always retained a great undying love for that country. But the true reason was that Pilsudski regarded any attack on Lithuania as a menace to Poland. To- day this view is no longer held in the Polish Foreign Office nor in the Army. Were Hitler to send his troops against Lithuania, the Polish Army would be the last on earth to go against him. It is a tacit concession to Germany that the independence of Lithuania is no longer the concern of Poland today as it was when Pilsudski was alive.

Another concession is Poland's attitude towards Czecho- slovakia. When Pilsudski controlled Polish foreign policy the temperature of Polish relations with Czechoslovakia varied between zero point and five degrees above. Since he died they have dropped to between five and ten points below zero, and all attempts to warm them up again have failed completely. Poland's grievances against Czechoslovakia are : first, that the Czechs took away a part of Teschen and secondly that they de-polonise the Polish population living there. But these grievances are not new. They were as familiar during Pilsudski's lifetime as they are today. The deterioration in Polish-Czech relations is a definite, if tacit, concession to Germany. In terms of political possibilities this new concession means that should Germany ever try to take a part of Czechoslovakia—as she very likely will— Poland would certainly not stand in her way. Such changes in Polish foreign policy has a single twelve-month wrought.

An open Polish concession to Germany is the transit debt. Soon after Pilsudski died, Germany ceased to pay for railway transit through the Polish Corridor. The result of Polish admonitions and threats was that instead of paying the £3,000,000 debt Dr. Schacht began to demand back Polish Upper Silesia. In the days of Marshal Pilsudski such a violent double provocation would have met with immediate and effective reprisals. But now that Pilsudski is no more, the Polish Government simply waits till Germany has " the grace " to send her something on account of the debt—and this at a time when the Polish Government has had to introduce all sorts of restrictions to balance the budget and keep the financial position firm. Many Poles find such an humiliation difficult to swallow.

Significant as these changes in the crystallisation process of Polish foreign policy are, they are not the only ones. In respect to Soviet Russia a certain hardening has become noticeable since Pilsudski died. No one in Poland fears a Russian attack on Polish territory. But except the 100,000 Communist party members and about half a million potential ones all Poles fear Russian Communism. The tendency, therefore, is to draw further and further apart from Russia and from Communism at the same time. There are, of course, a number of Poles, mainly those who had much of their land over the Russian border, who would welcome a war with Communist Russia. They would even join Germany in such a war. But their number, though it has increased in the last year, is not yet sufficient to win a proper hearing in the country.

What of the alliance with France ? This has now changed into a soulless affair whose significance has diminished greatly during the last twelve months. The alliance is now con- ditional. Poland does as France does, if it suits Polish interests. If not, Poland goes her own way. There are many well- informed people in Warsaw today who think, with justice, that the non-aggression Pact with Germany is far more vital to Poland than her alliance with France.

Whilst most of the internal changes are due to Pilsudski's death, not all those apparent in her foreign policy have the same origin. Some were forced on her by ominous events outside Poland. Marshal Pilsudski was essentially a man of the East. The methods he employed were secrecy and con- spiracy. Colonel Beck, to whom he entrusted the conduct of Polish foreign policy, follows his master, in form at -least. He, too, adopted silence and secrecy. Nevertheless, during the year in which he has been controlling the Polish Foreign Office, he has significantly crystallised it in such a way.as to show clearly that friendship and close relations with Germany have become the foundation-stone of his policy. Some sixteen- months before his death Marshal Pilsudski concluded a Pact with Hitler. He had two alternatives—Germany's friendship or her enmity. He preferred the friendship, but did not fear the enmity. Today the whole situation has altered fundamentally. The German army has grown immensely, whilst the Polish remains stationary. Enmity with Germany now would be a luxury which neither Poland nor any other. country could well afford. Hence the Polish concessions to Germany. And if a choice presents- itself between German friendship and war there are very few people in this country who would hesitate to admit that Poland would choase the former. There is no secret treaty between Poland and Germany. But circumstances may soon make such a possibility real.

In steering Polish foreign policy in that direction Colonel Beck has the support of Polish military circles and a good deal of public opinion. Military circles support him because they, like Pilsudski before, share a genuine admiration for the efficiency of the German mechanised army. At the same time they distrust the efficiency of the Soviet Russian army. In their opinion one can always be sure that a German knows how to handle -a machine, which is not always the +ease with a Russian."

With public opinion generally the support of -'C-olotitl Beck's policy springs from other reasons, Mainly from a hiek of faith in collective security. What little faith some- Poles had in collective security at the time Pilsudski died has been utterly dispelled by the- ItaloAbyssinian affair. Today it is very doubtful whether one can discover a hundred- Poles who, like the writer of this article, still believe in the effec- tiveness of Collective Security and in the League of Nations,.

I am,-Sir, 8ae., • Youn WsnsAw CORRESPONDENT.