Bruno Roy-Henry a écrit:Il me semble (dans mon souvenir) que l'ambassadeur d'Angleterre a remis un ultimatum à Ribbentrop le 2 septembre et que le nôtre s'y est associé... C'est un point à vérifier.
Certe, une communication avait été faite dès le premier septembre, par l'intermédiaire de l'ambassadeur anglais à Berlin Sir N. Henderson, mais le fait est qu'il ne s'agissait pas à proprement parler d'un « ultimatum » (appelé ainsi par les Allemands) mais de la (énième) communication à l'Allemagne que la France et la Grande Bretagne étaient déterminées à venir en aide à la Pologne, en vertu des traités d'assistance existants si l'agression contre ce pays continuait (cf N°109 & 110 ci-dessous). L'ambassadeur français à Berlin, M. Coulondre, s'y était associé sur l'instruction de son Ministre G. Bonnet (N°337).
Pour finir, les deux gouvernements notifièrent séparemment l'Allemagne de « l'état de guerre » existant le 3 septembre en conséquence de « l'agression menée par l'Allemagne contre la Pologne » ; la notification française se fit officiellement auprès de tous les ambassadeurs présents à Paris.
La différence entre une « déclaration de guerre » et la notification d'un « état de guerre existant » peut sembler mince mais il s'agissait avant tout de montrer que l'Allemagne portait l'entière responsabilité de l'ouverture des hostilités alors que les alliés ne faisaient que faire jouer les traités internationaux en vigueur qu'elle brisait en toute connaissance de cause. De son côté, l'Allemagne tenait, bien évidemment, à présenter les choses autrement à son opinion publique en parlant d'ultimatum, d'agression, etc.
Cependant, si l'on se reporte aux textes des traités d'assistance en vigueur entre la France et la Pologne, on peut y lire que rien n'obligeait la France à entrer en guerre contre l'Allemagne. Elle aurait tout aussi bien pu se contenter de mobiliser son armée pour fixer un maximum de forces à sa frontière tout en envoyant des armes à la Pologne.
Les différents télégrammes :
(voir http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/20th.htm - French Yellow Book & The British War Blue Book)
Viscount Halifax to Sir N. Henderson (Berlin).
(Telegraphic.) Foreign Office, September 1, 1939, 4:45 p. m.
MY immediately following telegram contains the text of a communication that you should, in conjunction with your French colleague, make at once to the German Government.
2. You should ask for immediate reply and report result of your interview. I shall then send you further instructions.
3. In reply to any question you may explain that the present communication is in the nature of warning and is not to be considered as an ultimatum.
4. For your own information. If the German reply is unsatisfactory the next stage will be either an ultimatum with time limit or an immediate declaration of war.
Viscount Halifax to Sir N. Henderson (Berlin).
(Telegraphic.) Foreign Office, September 1, 1939, 5:45 p. m.
FOLLOWING is text referred to in my immediately preceding telegram:-
On the instructions of His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I have the honour to make the following communication:-
Early this morning the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German army which indicated clearly that he was about to attack Poland.
Information which has reached His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the French Government indicates that German troops have crossed the Polish frontier and that attacks upon Polish towns are proceeding.
In these circumstances, it appears to the Governments of the United Kingdom and France that by their action the German Government have created conditions (viz., an aggressive act of force against Poland threatening the independence of Poland) which call for the implementation by the Governments of the United Kingdom and France of the undertaking to Poland to come to her assistance.
I am accordingly to inform your Excellency that unless the German Government are prepared to give His Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation fulfil their obligations to Poland.
No. 337 :
M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, September 1, 1939. 5.55 p.m.
THE following is in confirmation of my telephone call:
The British Government have instructed your colleague to present to the German Government an urgent communication of which Sir Nevile Henderson will himself inform you. You should associate yourself with this step.
You should confine yourself, if a reply is given, to stating that you will refer the matter to your Government.
No. 345 :
Text of the communication handed over on September 1, 1939, at 10 p.m. by M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to Herr von Ribbentrop
According to instructions from the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have the honour to submit the following statement:
Early this morning, the German Chancellor issued a proclamation to the German army which gave clear evidence that he was just about to attack Poland.
Information which has reached the French Government and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom goes to show that troops have crossed the Polish frontier and that attacks are now being made on Polish towns.
This being so, it would seem to the French and British Governments that by its action, (that is to say, an act of force of an aggressive character against Poland, threatening that country's independence), the German Government has brought about those conditions which call for the carrying out by the Governments of France and of the United Kingdom of their undertaking to Poland to come to her help.
As a consequence, I have to inform Your Excellency that, unless the German Government is prepared to give the French Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government has suspended all aggressive action against Poland and is ready promptly to withdraw its forces from Polish territory, the French Government will unhesitatingly fulfill its obligations towards Poland.
I am, Sir, etc.
Viscount Halifax to Sir N. Henderson (Berlin)
(Telegraphic.) Foreign Office, September 3, 1939, 5 a. m.
PLEASE seek interview with Minister for Foreign Affairs at 9 a. m. to-day, Sunday or, if he cannot see you then, arrange to convey at that time to representative of German Government the following communication:-
"In the communication which I had the honour to make to you on 1st September I informed you, on the instructions of His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that, unless the German Government were prepared to give His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom satisfactory assurances that the German Government had suspended all aggressive action against Poland and were prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom would, without hesitation, fulfil their obligations to Poland.
"Although this communication was made more than twenty-four hours ago, no reply has been received but German attacks upon Poland have been continued and intensified. I have accordingly the honour to inform you that, unless not later than 11 a. m., British Summer Time, to-day 3rd September, satisfactory assurances to the above effect have been given by the German Government and have reached His Majesty's Government in London, a state of war will exist between the two countries as from that hour."
If the assurance referred to in the above communication is received, you should inform me by any means at your disposal before 11 a. m. to-day, 3rd September. If no such assurance is received here by 11 a. m. , we shall inform the German representative that a state of war exists as from that hour.
No. 365 :
M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, September 3, 1939. 10.20 a.m.
LAST night, following a communication made to us by the British Government, and following the meeting of the French Chamber of Deputies, the French Government at a Cabinet meeting took the following decisions, which I have been charged to transmit to you.
You should present yourself today, September 3, at noon, at the Wilhelmstrasse and ask for the German Government's reply to the communication which you handed in at 10 p. m. on September 1.
If the reply to the questions contained in that communication is in the negative, you should recall the responsibility of Germany which you evoked during your last interview, and you should notify to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich or to his representative that the French Government find themselves, by reason of the German reply, compelled to fulfill as from today, September 3, at 5 p. m., the engagements which France entered into towards Poland, and which are known to the German Government.
As from that moment you may ask for your passports.
No. 368 :
M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to all the Heads of Diplomatic Missions accredited to Paris. Paris, September 3, 1939.
In conformity with Article 2 of Convention III of The Hague, dated October 18, 1907, I have the honour to send you herewith the notification relative to the State of War existing between France and Germany.
The aggression which the German Government, scorning the methods of peaceful settlement of differences to which it had bound itself to have recourse, and the appeals to free discussion or to mediation addressed to it by the most authoritative voices, committed against Poland on September 1, in violation of engagements most freely accepted both towards Poland herself as well as towards all the signatory States of the Pact of renunciation of war of August 27, 1928, has confronted the French Republic with its obligations to assist Poland, obligations resulting from public treaties and known to the Government of the Reich.
The supreme effort, attempted by the Government of the French Republic and by the British Government with a view to maintain peace by the cessation of aggression, was frustrated by the refusal of the German Government.
In consequence, as a result of the aggression aimed by Germany against Poland, a state of war exists between France and Germany as from September 3, 1939, at 5 p.m.
The present notification is made in conformity with Article 2 of Convention III of The Hague, dated October 18, 1907, relating to the outbreak of hostilities.