by Herman Bernstein Contributing Editor
In commenting on Poland’s repudiation of her treaty for the protection of the rights of minorities, The London Observer recalls that it was Austria’s misgovernment of her minorities that brought Austria to the ground and drenched Europe in blood. When the map of Europe was redrawn after the Great War, many units of population were perforce committed to an alien allegiance. The Peace Conference recognized that newly created and heavily aggrandized nations could not be trusted implicitly with the welfare of races with whom they had been so recently at strife, and with whom, in some instances, they had almost a perennial blood-feud. Aggrieved minorities were given the right to put their case before the League.
The Observer points out that the British representative, Mr. Eden, reminded the League Assembly that the Peace Conference recognized that the transferred minorities under the peace settlement were in no ordinary case, that they were being coupled in citizenship with those in whom the resentments of warfare were not yet extinguished or the enmities of traditions assuaged, and that it would have been closing the eyes to plain responsibilities if special precautions had not been applied to such a situation, in which racial ties, stretching across political frontiers, involved a constant menace to stability.
The liberal English weekly rightly emphasizes the fact that “the main safeguard against the maltreatment of minorities throughout the world is the store that civilized rulers set upon their reputation and on the repercussions of illrepute upon their status, economic interests and general intercourse” and concludes that while Poland claims to rank henceforth among the Powers for whom such moral restraint is held adequate, Poland scarcely gives herself good credentials in the announcement that her treaties are “scraps of paper.”
Old Austria collapsed because of her unwise and unfair treatment of certain minorities within the empire. The present Austria, depending more than ever before upon the sympathy and goodwill of other nations, is committing new blunders with regard to the minorities, jeopardizing her very existence. Poland has opened the door for treaty repudiations by her own unwise example. And Poland, too (will be the chief sufferer ###a result of this move, unless ### revises completely and immediately her attitude toward the minorities and accords them full rights.
Poland’s economic prosperity and stability as a State depend upon the elimination of friction among the various elements constituting her population, not by means of dividing her citizenry into different categories but by treating all the elements upon terms of equality. It would be in the interests of Poland to realize, before it is too late, that to follow the policies and designs of Hitler in internal and international affairs would be suicidal. Marshal Pilsudski should not permit Poland to be used by Hitler to pull the Nazi chestnuts out of the fire.