THE LAW OF NEUTRALITY AT SEA. THE BALTIC SEA 1939 (Neutralnosc w wojnie na morzu. Morze Baltyckie, rok 1939)
The law of neutrality defines the legal relationship between nations engaged in international armed conflicts (belligerents) and nations not taking part in such hostilities (neutrals). The law of neutrality serves to localize a war, to limit the conduct of a war on the sea and to lessen the impact of a conflict on international commerce. As a general rule of international law, all acts of hostility in a neutral territory, including neutral lands, waters and air space are prohibited. However, under XIII Hague Convention of 1907 belligerent warships may visit neutral ports and roadsteads that the neutral nation opens to them and remain not longer than 24-hours. Belligerent warships may be permitted to extend their stay on account of adverse of weather conditions or damage involving seaworthiness. At the beginning of the German aggression on Poland in 1939 the Polish submarine ORP 'Orzel' visited the port of Tallinn in neutral Estonia. At the insistence of Germany, the Estonian military authorities under the Declaration for the Purpose of establishing Similar Rules of Neutrality (Signed at Stockholm, May 27th, 1938 Between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) boarded the ship and interned the crew. On 17/18 September, the submarine's Estonian guards were overpowered and the 'Orzel' escaped.
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