Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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The Western Guarantee of Polish Independence: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Statement in the House of Commons, 31 March 1939

The German assumption in March 1939 of a protectorate over the remainder of Czechoslovakia, a move that effectively amounted to annexation of that country and also contravened the agreement reached at Munich six months earlier, finally impelled the Western powers to take a decisive stand against Germany. Speaking in the House of Commons, the British prime minister announced that both Britain and France had undertaken to guarantee Poland's security against outside aggression. Since Poland was known to be Germany's next contemplated target, if neither side backed down, this pledge was likely to precipitate war.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain): The right hon. gentleman the leader of the Opposition asked me this morning whether I could make a statement as to the European situation. As I said this morning, His Majesty's Government have no official confirmation of the rumours of any projected attack on Poland and they must not, therefore, be taken as accepting them as true.

I am glad to take this opportunity of stating again the general policy of His Majesty's Government. They have constantly advocated the adjustment, by way of free negotiation between the parties concerned, of any differences that may arise between them. They consider that this is the natural and proper course where differences exist. In their opinion there should be no question incapable of solution by peaceful means, and they would see no justification for the substitution of force or threats of force for the method of negotiation.

As the House is aware, certain consultations are now proceeding with other Governments. In order to make perfectly clear the position of His Majesty's Government in the meantime before those consultations are concluded, I now have to inform the House that during that period, in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government.


Further Reading
Great Britain, Documents Concerning German-Polish Relations and the Outbreak of Hostilities between Great Britain and Germany on September 3, 1939. Presented by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, Misc. No. 9 (1939), Cmd. 6106 (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1939), 36. .
 

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