The "Belgium of the East"
From a Catholic Herald Special Correspondent The Polish government's decision to place an embargo upon the free export of gold and foreign currency has come as no surprise to those who had been watching the increasing difficulties of Poland's economic and financial situation.
A rigid policy of deflation has had disastrous effects upon Poland. Of late unemployment and poverty have been increasing noticeably, almost incredible as this must seem to those who know Poland, and communist activity has attained alarming proportions. Widespread unrest in White Russia and the Ukraine, coupled with monster communist trials, savage and frequent outbreaks of anti-Semitism, and grave riots in Cracow and Lemberg, involving loss of life and several thousand arrests, are but a few of the more obvious symptoms that have caused widespread anxiety and, when it is realised that there are many inhabitants of the frontier districts in White Russia and the Ukraine who actually believe conditions to be better in soviet Russia, it can be seen ho,v desperate things have become in many Polish homes.
Only a few days ago the government was forced officially to deny any intention of devaluating the zloty, but it remains to be seen whether this can really be avoided.
Cardinal Protects Jews
As regards the increase of anti-Semitism in the country, the government has taken stern measures to prevent the pogroms which have recently disgraced Poland, while Cardinal Hlond, Primate of Poland, has issued a pastoral letter condemning such excesses and reminding Catholics of their duty toward the Jews as neighbours.
Pro-German Government In the realm of foreign affairs, however, Polish activity has been most noteworthy of late. M. Koscialkowski, the Prime Minister, has just concluded a visit to Budapest, where he was received by General Goemboes and the entire Cabinet, and negotiated a tourist traffic agreement, as well as legal and Consular conventions and a protocol to the Trade Agreement, in an atmosphere of complete cordiality.
It is difficult to assess the political motives behind this visit, but it is clear that Poland is determined to take a hand in the Danubian problem. Both countries pursue a pro-German policy at present and it may be that nazi expansionist aims were on the agenda, while Czechoslovakia, the bugbear of Poland and Hungary, most certainly was.
It looks, at any rate, as if Colonel Beck was endeavouring to strengthen a proGerman and anti-soviet bloc in Central Europe and at the same time to organise the smaller League nations as opposed to the great Powers, for there is bitter feeling in Poland that the great Powers have treated Poland with scant respect-7--a not altogether unjustifiable complaint.
Belgian Premier's Visit
This tendency is confirmed, too, by the arrival of the Belgian premier in Warsaw. Poland has always, again not unjustifiably, regarded itself as the Belgium of Eastern Europe, and it will be interesting to see, as may well prove the case, whether this visit may not entail a departure from the rigidly pro-French line of Belgian foreign policy. Hitler may perhaps find Colonel Beck a useful link with Belgium, and many Belgians have for some time considered that such a new departure was possible.
Anti-German People Thus it can be seen that the pro-German tendency of the Polish government is not weakening as yet, and the only outstanding cause of friction—the Corridor rail traffic debt—between the two countries has now been settled. But, as a leading Polish diplomat recently confirmed to your correspondent, it would be idle to imagine that this means an increased affection for Germany among the Polish people, of whom the government is in reality not representative. On the contrary, feeling is perhaps more anti-German than ever, and correspondingly more pro-Russian. indeed, Russian songs, music, plays, etc., were enjoying so great a vogue that action had recently to be taken, as it was considered dangerous, and this is a not uninteresting fact in view of present developments.
But the internal situation remains very grave and such grim shadows as deepening hunger and unemployment, large-scale riots and anti-Semitic outbreaks, varying brands of separatism, the grave financial crisis and communism continue to haunt Poland.
A May Consistory
It is reported that the Pope, at the Consistory of May 25 next, will raise four European nuncios to the Cardinalate. At the time of going to press, the C.H. is unable to confirm this.