Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 01:20

740.00/724: Telegram
The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State
WARSAW, April 3, 1939—noon.
[Received 5: 40 p. m.]

61. For the President and the Secretary. Judging from my observations on various aspects discernible from this angle Chamberlain's timely declaration [77] (a) is aimed to serve as an interim commitment somewhat as if Britain had taken out a "binder" on Poland pending Beck's London arrival to work out the details of a definite insurance policy, (b) marks a prelude to intended formation of an anti-aggression front, and (c) means that Britain and France have decided their front lines of defense east of Berlin lie not only at the Dardanelles (see my 39, March 22,[78] paragraph 1) but also definitely in Poland, possibly in Rumania if the military convention of the Polish-Rumanian alliance can be applied against a Western as well as an Eastern invasion.

2. Refer by telegram No. 51, March 26,[78] moreover signs indicate Chamberlain now pursuing a policy combining contentions of both camps, eliminating however idea that dealings with Rome should exclude efforts to enlist Moscow in anti-aggression front in capacity of a potential support for Poland's, Turkey's and possibly Rumania's positions.

3. Signs indicate moreover that London and Paris envisage Yugoslavia serving tactically as axis preferably in a play to cause a potential Rome-Berlin split. This would not necessarily mean, however, Paris and London would abandon Yugoslavia to eventual aggression. Accordingly it would seem that while leaving door open to Rome's possible change of heart, London and Paris may conceivably let Rome temporarily "stew in her own juice".

Section Two.

1. Referring paragraph 2, section one of this telegram, French Ambassador imparts that in order to overcome Poland's potential ob-
________________________________________________
[77] House of Commons, March 31, 1939.
[78] Not printed.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 107

jections to France's efforts to enlist Russia's support of Poland against German aggression, France offered formula conditioning extent and character of Russia's potential assistance upon Poland's specified requirements. Ambassador believed this would serve to allay suspicion such as was aroused here by Barthou's [79] Eastern Locarno proposal of April 1934 [80] that France would insist upon Poland's granting passage to Russian troops. Moreover Ambassador gained distinct impression in conversation with Marshal Smigly-Rydz that latter and his associates would consider aforementioned formula acceptable.

2. French Ambassador concurred in my profound impression of Poland's admirable demonstration of united courage and patriotism as illustrated by costly mobilization and eagerness of masses to subscribe at great sacrifice to national defense loan. Moreover he stated Paris and London were likewise favorably impressed, a fact which together with French General Staff's highly favorable impression gained from recent inspection both of Poland's industrial area and military establishment would likely lead to material assistance from Paris and London.

3. According to Belgian Minister, Brussels recently received report from Belgian Legation, Moscow, indicating current signs of a Rome—Moscow flirtation apparently initiated by Moscow. This in my opinion might mean either that an Axis-imprisoned Rome was seeking friends outside or acting as Berlin's agent towards inveigling Moscow into political conversations with Axis.

4. Accordingly yesterday's report of Stockholm conversations of political character between Berlin and Moscow diplomats is significant. Pending further verification thereof, however, I am inclined to interpret report to mean either (a) Berlin's earnest intention to circumvent by a Berlin—Moscow rapprochement London's and Paris' reported efforts to align Moscow with anti-aggression front and/or (b) that Berlin deliberately inspired report to divert the course of London—Paris diplomatic maneuvers from Rome to Moscow or (c) that Moscow deliberately inspired report in order to worry Warsaw into an agreement to line up with Moscow against Berlin and to hasten a London—Paris commitment of definite character to Moscow.

5. In my opinion the vital importance in enlisting Moscow in anti-aggression front would be to preclude a possible Berlin—Moscow rapprochement and to enlist at least Moscow's air and material support for other Eastern and Central European participants of an anti-aggression front.

BIDDLE
__________________________________________________
[79] Louis Barthou, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[80] Presumably reference to plan contained in enclosure 1 to despatch No. 1067, July 24, 1934, from the Ambassador in Germany, Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 498.

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:26

Here is the remainder of this section of Foreign Relations of the United States 1939 vol. 1:
108 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

702.001276
The Chargé in Germany (Geist) to the Secretary of State
No. 677 BERLIN, April 3, 1939.
[Received April 17.]

SIR: I have the honor to continue the comments on apparent trends in German foreign policy which have from time to time been supplied by this Mission.

The immense vitality of the German nation has given the development of National Socialist Germany something of the elemental quality of a natural force. As such, the energies aroused in this country seem liable to expand in a fashion not wholly predictable by logic or reason, but rather as forces determined to develop through seeking an outlet of least resistance. Accordingly, German political activity sometimes gives the impression of testing resistances on all sides with a view to discovering, by actual trial, the point or points where expansion may most readily be undertaken. This elemental force of expansion, coupled with the elusive character of the people's leader, renders political forecasting a hazardous undertaking.

However, the events of the latter half of March indicate the direction in which Germany's powers are being turned today. The armed absorption of Bohemia and Moravia, with the reduction of Slovakia to a position of complete dependency on the Reich, can best be explained on the ground that these areas must be controlled in a military, in addition to a diplomatic, sense prior to initiation of pressure to the east by German power, civil or, if need be, military. The sudden descent on Memelland, by similar means, points to the same objective. At the same time, it should not be overlooked that the spectacular display of might gratifies German delight in a feeling of power, so that dramatic measures may be employed, as in Austria a year ago, when a similar result might be gained by indirect means and without giving unnecessary offense to public sentiment abroad. The importance of consideration of foreign opinion, though, appears not sufficiently to impress itself on the mind of those in power in this country. Hence, use of the army in a startling manner may at times be for the very sake of exhibiting authority and not for any definitely purposeful objective.

Nevertheless, the recent moves to the north and south of Poland make it seem reasonably certain that Germany, at the present time, looks to the east of Europe as its first field of expansion into non-Germanic areas, unless interference on the part of the Western Powers should so exacerbate those in control of German policy as to induce them to try conclusions with the West as a condition precedent to oriental expansion. However, such a development seems improbable since, at least for the time being, Germany does not wish to risk a

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 109

"show-down" with the Great Powers of the West. (It is conceivable that opposition from the West might induce Germany to attempt a joint adventure in the company of Poland at the expense of their common neighbors.)

It is hardly to be believed, though, that the German expansive urge is motivated solely by economic considerations, powerful though such may be, and indeed undoubtedly are. The German possesses so much of mysticism as to cause a search for satisfaction of his material requirements to be supplemented by a powerful sense of mission and a desire to play a conspicuous part in the world. This missionary, or even messianic, impulse, joined to his love of displays of might for their own sake, renders it difficult to give full faith and credit to assurances by persons conspicuous in the official life of present day Germany to the effect that this country merely and understandably seeks a "Lebensraum" or area capable of providing its population with the bases for a good life in a material sense.

It is widely believed by foreign observers in Berlin that concessions to Germany merely serve to whet its appetite and that some pretext will be found to explain, if not to justify, seizures of neighboring real estate. The bland and unapologetic imperturbability with which the principle of self determination has been cast aside on ceasing to serve German interests, as in the case of Czechoslovakia, is an instance of this. A principle is merely a convenient tool so that when one tool is no longer serviceable, as that of self-determination, the "principles" of historical association or of geographical propinquity or of bald self interest lie comfortably at hand.

Accordingly, it is not easy to hold that Germany, which has readmitted Austria into the fold, and is apparently now engaged in reconstituting the former Austro-Hungarian empire under new management, will remain content even with very considerable territorial gains in neighboring areas, however adequate these may be from the economic standpoint.

It may be of interest in this connection to record a remark recently made to an officer of the Embassy by a diplomatic colleague concerning a conversation which the latter had had with a Party member occupying an important position. The Nazi official had explained Germany's eastward moves as being occasioned by the need of raw materials and finally observed that what Germany could not find elsewhere it might take in Italy. That this remark showed a disbelief in the fixity of the "axis" was indicated by the German's subsequent confusion.

On the other hand, it is possible to argue that, if German forces are given scope to expand toward the East, where at least they will affect no civilization superior to their own, and where they can find

110 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

economic satiety, they will gradually dissipate themselves, or will be neutralized by the emergence of the internal problems of a hastily organized empire of alien peoples.

At the moment of writing, the possible effect on the immediate future of Germany's external policy of Prime Minister Chamberlain's pronouncement of March 30 [31], by which British power was related to the independence of Poland, is obscure. The essentially landlocked situation of Poland, coupled with Italy's position athwart the Mediterranean may cause British and French proffers of assistance to be regarded with scant respect so long as the "axis" holds and thus prevents an approach to Germany through the Black Sea. It is such an attitude toward German aspirations on the part of the Western Powers, however, which might induce Germany suddenly to face west instead of east.

Respectfully yours,
RAYMOND H. GEIST

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:27

741.60e/58: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, April 5, 1939-10 p. m.
[Received April 5-6:47 p. m.]

447. Just had a conference with Beck. He told me that the situation tonight in relation to the negotiations is much better than this morning when the British were dissatisfied, as they felt he was not giving the cooperation they felt they must have. Beck's answer was : "There is no sense in getting the cheers in London and sweat blood tomorrow or when I get back to Poland; I shall not promise you anything I am not sure that I can deliver". However, after contacting Poland today and after further negotiations this afternoon they have come to a reciprocal agreement : England fights for Poland and Poland fights for England. The Prime Minister will give out a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow afternoon which will be their common statement. It will not contain full details as they are to be worked out in the course of the next 2 weeks. One of the most important points which will not be made public at this time is the agreement of Poland to fight to protect the sovereignty of its neighbors. Tonight Beck has agreed to this. Beck also agreed to use method at his command to work out an agreement with Germany contingent of course on (1) not losing national respect and (2) not being forced to accept a unilateral agreement with Germany. He feels that England's handling of Germany so far has been too much concession in fact and too little in theory. He realizes that some method must be found whereby if Hitler is to back down he is given an opportunity to do so gracefully and Beck says if he sees the slight-

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 113

est chance of that he will notify his old friend America and his new friend Britain at once. He made the point of old and new very decidedly.

My own impression after a very friendly conference is that he is more than happy to have England's support given in the way that it was, i. e., that Poland is the one to determine when England is to come to her rescue. He said the method by which Britain had handled this matter made it three times as easy to get Poland to agree to almost anything Britain wanted.

He tends to be most reasonable about Russian cooperation but had nothing definite to say on that. He does not want to be a tool for either Russia or for Germany. At the same time he does not want to be the direct cause of plunging the world into war and hence his willingness to do everything in reason to try and work out some plan with Germany.

Will wire you details of plans when I see Halifax tomorrow.

KENNEDY

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:28

740.00/741: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, April 6, 1939-3 p. m.
{Received 3: 30 p. m.]

448. I have just seen Halifax. You will probably get Chamberlain's speech on the Polish situation from the newspapers before our despatch arrives, but we are sending it to you for the record. The things that do not appear in the speech are as follows :

1. Beck is definitely against making any tie-up with Russia beyond their normal trade commitments of the day. Halifax says Beck's strategy all along has been to stay friendly with both Germany and Russia without making any definite commitments and Beck is hopeful that while Hitler will be roaring mad at Poland's action in tying up with Great Britain, he will not be as mad as if Russia were in with Poland too. Halifax said he pressed Beck as to whether he would not want tanks, aeroplanes and ammunition, at least, from Russia if Poland were attacked and, even with that as a bait, Beck said no; that he has no confidence that conditions in Russia would permit any help that would be worth while.

2. As to Poland's helping Rumania, Beck said that if the Hungarian situation remains as it is, he would be averse to making any public commitment to help Rumania, but, if the Germans finally moved

114 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

into Hungary, then of course it would be a different matter. He is perfectly willing to say, without making any commitment except to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State, that he would go to the aid of Rumania if she were attacked.

Halifax told me today that Beck told him he considered Biddle one of his best friends and a very great help to him in Poland. Beck told me practically the same thing last night.

Halifax, in summing up the Russian situation, said that their own political situation here makes it difficult to do anything with them, but the general feeling is that Russia cannot be of any help at all outside of her own borders. They are going to try and go along with them. But are not very hopeful of any results.

As to the Italian situation, Halifax is convinced that Ciano was lying when he told Lord Perth that they were called into the Albania situation [84] in a more or less friendly manner; that Italian interests had been threatened there and that King Zog was not averse to the Italian moves, because the information the British Government gets from Albania is that King Zog has appealed to the Balkan Entente for help. The British Government is not at all sure what the move means or what it portends, but they definitely do not like the situation and it becomes all the more peculiar because, Halifax said, Ciano had dropped the suggestion that if the French representative would care to come around to the Italian Foreign Office to discuss the points of difference between their two countries, they would be glad to start discussions.

I asked Halifax what he thought of the Czech situation. He said he was inclined to believe still that neither Hitler nor Mussolini wanted to go to war. He thought they would do everything however to keep England in a state of jitters at least for a few months. He imagines the strategy of Hitler to be "I never wanted Poland and never had any intention of attacking her. This is merely an excuse for Great Britain to wreak vengeance on Germany; therefore I call on all our people to arm and prepare for the next 3 to 6 months." In that way he can maintain a state of jitters in the world; he can save his own house and keep up his armament rumpus, without being obliged to find an economic alternative. After Halifax finished this statement he said "and by night fall I may be proved to be wrong."

The Prime Minister is leaving for Scotland tonight for the next 4 days. Halifax is remaining in town until tomorrow night and hopes to get away then. I am remaining here to get whatever information there is.

KENNEDY
_______________________________________
[84] see vol. II, Albania.

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:29

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 115

440.00/742: Telegram
The Chargé in Germany (Geist) to the Secretary of State
BERLIN, April 6, 1939-4 p. m.
[Received April 6-3:10 p. m.]

237. According to reports from Paris and London informed circles there consider that war may break out in a week or ten days. No such indications exist here. Hitler returned to Berlin Tuesday and after a few hours' conference with Ribbentrop departed for Berchtesgaden. He was in a cheerful state of mind, saw a private movie and busied himself chiefly with plans concerning his birthday.

The opinion is held here in governmental circles that Beck will most likely sign a defensive alliance with England. If so, the severest pressure will be placed upon Poland for a voluntary solution of the Danzig, Corridor and Upper Silesian questions with the aim of finally choking Poland to death by eventually surrounding and cutting her off from access to the sea. The Germans are confident England will not guarantee the status quo of the territorial differences between Germany and Poland.

The Nazis consider relations with England have practically ceased to exist. The slogan is "Gott strafe England" and leaders are confident here that by playing on the words "encirclement" and "hunger blockade" a war spirit could be worked up which would be vocative enough to impress the world with the public approval back of Hitler in his campaign against England. It is not the intention however to precipitate a general struggle in Europe but to continue sapping and undermining the foundations of potential victims and enemies.

The Albanian Minister, formerly his country's Foreign Minister and considered well informed, states that despite denials of his own Government he has reason to fear imminent Italian attack on Albania as move to distract world from German contemplated aggression against Poland which he believes should shortly follow this Italian action.

While I cannot vouch for accuracy of story a reputable American just returned from Prague reports arrival there of German soldier casualties said to have been incurred in border fighting against Poles in Teschen area.

From available information there have been to date no troop concentrations along the Polish frontier although there is evidence of prior arrangements having been made for such an eventuality. Owners of various private cars were notified that they were to be commandeered this week and a new restricted area in southwestern Germany and east Prussia on the Polish border has been announced by the Foreign Office.

116 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

Military furloughs over Easter are being freely granted and leading officials of various Ministries are planning to leave Berlin for the holidays.

Presumably because of the concentration of the press against England and Poland less space is devoted to press criticism of the United States. In regard to the American attitude toward Germany a curious incident occurred yesterday when General Milch, Chief of the German Air Corps, asserted to the Military Attaché that it would be impossible for the United States ever again to send troops to Europe because 8,000 out of every 10,000 would be lost. Similar statements are understood to have been made by air officers to other individuals.

It is believed locally that the publicly announced meeting of the German commanding general and the Italian chief of staff at Innsbruck is intended as a demonstration of military solidarity and it is possible the meeting will be followed by a public affirmation in this sense.

GEIST

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:29

741.00c/62 : Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
Palos, April 6, 1939-9 p. m.
[Received April 6--8:55 p. m.]

665. Leger read to me this evening a telegram which he received today from Corbin, French Ambassador in London, giving the exact position of the Polish-British negotiations in London.

Beck promised that Poland would go to war on the side of Great Britain in case of an attack by any power on Great Britain in return for the similar promise by Great Britain.

Lord Halifax then said to Beck that Great Britain was pledged to go to the support not only of France but also of Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands in case of a German or other attack on those powers. Thus Great Britain might be drawn into war with Germany through an attack that was not in the first instance directed against Great Britain but touched vital neighboring countries. Halifax then asked Beck if the Polish promise to go to war on the side of Great Britain would cover a war provoked by invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium or Switzerland.

Beck said that he could not make any such promise without most careful thought, and has not yet replied. Beck will have a further talk with Halifax tonight and will presumably give an answer of one sort or another.

Beck also was most embarrassed when Halifax said to him that both France and England had made offers of mutual assistance agree-

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 117

ments to Rumania and that 4 days ago the Government of Rumania had replied that it would be glad to enter into such agreements.

Halifax requested Poland to enter into a similar agreement with Rumania.

Beck replied that, inasmuch as Poland had what amounted to a defensive alliance with Hungary, Poland would be most embarrassed if it were necessary to enter into a defensive alliance with Rumania that included defense against Hungary. Halifax continued to argue this point but Beck said he must reserve judgment.

The two undecided points mentioned above were those which prevented the signature of a pact of mutual assistance between Great Britain and Poland and supplementary agreements.

Leger asserted that if Poland should refuse to make a pact of mutual assistance with Rumania both France and England were prepared to withdraw their promises of assistance to Poland.

Corbin reported that Halifax still felt confident that he could obtain complete satisfaction from Beck on both these points.

Leger on the other hand said he believed that while Beck might accept the obligation vis-á-vis the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland he would refuse to accept the obligation vis-á-vis Rumania. Thus he could return to Warsaw and say to Moscicki [85] and Smigly-Rydz, "I did everything I could but the demands of the British were impossible" and could thus continue his old policy of working on the German side.

Inasmuch as Beck and Leger are mortal enemies I feel that Leger's opinion is not to be taken too seriously; but that the truth probably lies somewhere between Halifax's optimism and Leger's pessimism.

Beck has indicated that he would like to see me while his train is passing through France. I shall therefore spend an hour and a half with him tomorrow while traveling from Calais to Lille.

BULLITT

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:38

741.60064: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 7, 1939-11 p. m.
[Received April 8-11: 10 a. m.]

678. I rode with Beck from Calais to Lille today. He was immensely pleased and flattered by his reception in England and repeated modestly that the British had been very "elegant elegant" in their attitude toward him.

Beck said that the discussions that he had had in London had been so detailed and exhaustive that he felt there was now complete under-
___________________________________________
[85] Ignace Moscicki, President of Poland.

118 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

standing between the British and Polish Governments and that future collaboration between those countries would be easy and confident. It is difficult to exaggerate the impression that his reception by the British made on Beck. He was as pleased as a climber who for the first time has met a lord, and I feel that, at least for the present, British influence in Poland will be very great.

Beck said he knew that Hitler and all the other German leaders were furious with him. He had no exact idea what Hitler would do. Ribbentrop he considered a "dangerous imbecile". Ribbentrop unfortunately had acquired the complete confidence of Hitler because last September he had taken the position that in the end neither the Czechs nor the British nor the French would fight whereas almost all other advisers of Hitler had taken the position that the British, French and Czechs would fight.

Beck said he believed that Ribbentrop had been urging Hitler to take a menacing attitude toward Poland. It should be obvious now to Hitler that threats to Poland would get Germany nowhere. There was an area of negotiation which had definite frontiers. Within these frontiers Poland could negotiate but if Germany should step across one of them it would mean war and now Hitler should understand that.

Beck added that I should not be surprised if within the next 3 or 4 days he should receive with every appearance of amity the gentleman he had just described as a "dangerous imbecile." He would rather negotiate with Germany than fight Germany. He called my attention to the fact that up to date Hitler had taken no action against a strong state that was courageous enough to defend itself. He did not believe that in the end Hitler would decide to attack Poland.

Beck said that Halifax, Chamberlain and some of the other men in the British Foreign Office had attempted to persuade him to form at once a military alliance with Rumania to take effect in case of an attack on Rumania by Germany or Hungary.

He had refused flatly to do this for two reasons. In the first place although the Rumanians had asked the British and French to persuade the Poles to accord them such an alliance they had never asked Poland directly to make such an alliance. I asked Beck whether if Rumania should request such an alliance directly, he would accord it. He replied that he would discuss the matter but added that he felt that conclusion of an alliance between Poland and Rumania so long as Rumania and Hungary should remain unreconciled would thrust Hungary instantly into the hands of Germany. This was his second reason for refusing to sign an alliance with Rumania directed against Germany and Hungary. So long as there was one chance in a hundred of keeping Hungary out of the hands of Germany he would continue to struggle to keep Hungary out of German hands. He still

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 119

had hopes that he might be able to work out a reconciliation between Rumania and Hungary, and that the two states in close collaboration with Poland might form a real barrier to German advance.

Beck insisted that Halifax and Chamberlain understood fully his policy vis-á-vis Rumania and Hungary and approved it heartily.

I asked Beck whether if Germany should attack the Netherlands, Belgium or Switzerland, and Great Britain should enter war on that account Poland would march. He replied that the answer was to be found in the statement made by Lord Plymouth [86] in the House of Lords in which he had indicated that Poland was to be the sole judge of the question of whether or not her vital interests were involved. Great Britain likewise could judge in any given case whether or not her vital interests were involved and Poland would be faithful to her promises.

Beck said that he did not believe that Yugoslavia would give any support to Albania. He felt that Daladier's [87] recent speech dealing with Italy's claims had been a mistake. Mussolini before that speech had in his opinion been ready to draw away from Germany and Daladier had eliminated this possibility. I replied that I do not agree in the least as I felt certain there was no chance of breaking the Rome—Berlin Axis at the present time.

In connection with our discussion of this question and others I derived the impression that Beck is still most hostile toward France. His attitude in alluding to all French leaders is one of contemptuous superiority.

In conclusion Beck said with intense emphasis that he had made it clear to the British, who understood and approved entirely, that he was no more ready today than he had ever been to make Poland an instrument of either German or Russian policy. He believed that there was a chance still of preserving peace. Collective security had ceased to mean anything. Peace could only be preserved if every step from now on should be based on the real strength of nations which were ready to fight. His impression [of] Hitler, whom he had seen many times, was that at bottom the Fuehrer was a timid Austrian who would not risk war against determined and strong opponents.

BULLITT

[On April 8, 1939, the British Ambassador confidentially supplied the Secretary of State with copies of the summary of conclusions reached during the conversations held in London, April 4 to April 6, between the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs and the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (740.00/1533) . It was requested
________________________________________________
[86] British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
[87] President of the French Council of Ministers and Minister for National Defense.

120 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

that the document be forwarded to the President. For text, see Documents on British, Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, Third Series, volume V, page 47.]

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:39

From FRUS 1939, vol. 1, p. 120:
740.00/764: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 9, 1939-10 p. m. [Received April 10-9: 25 a. m.]

686. I talked with Bonnet briefly tonight. He asked me to inform my Government that "it was five minutes before twelve". There might be war at any moment.

He could not predict where the first blow would be struck. Poland, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Greece or the French and British possessions in North Africa might be the scene of the first attack. It was clear, however, that Germany and Italy had decided to rush their attacks and it was now merely a question of where and when general war would begin.

Today's consultations between the French and British Governments as well as the meeting of the French Permanent Committee of National Defense had been concerned with the question of Albania and the Italian threat to Greece. The French and British had anticipated an Italian attack on Corfu and both the French and British Admiralties had given orders to their fleets with a view to meeting this eventuality.

He had just heard from Rome that Ciano had assured Lord Perth that Italy would not attempt to seize Corfu and would not attack Greece.

In view of the assurances that Ciano had given Perth during the past week this assurance reassures Perth but no one in Paris.

I venture to suggest that in your calculations for the future you should not exclude the possibility that decay in resistance to Germany and Italy among the smaller states of Europe may continue and that England, France and Poland may in the near future face war under desperate circumstances.

BULLITT

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:39

741.80e/63: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 9, 1939--11 p. m. [Received April 10-9 : 44 a. m.]

687. The Polish Ambassador, who traveled as far as Brussels with Beck, asked to see me urgently as soon as he returned to Paris.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 121

He said that Beck had asked him to say to me that the shortness of the period that I was on his train had made it impossible to explain his views to me in as detailed a manner as he had wished.

Beck had been embarrassed by my questions with regard to the obligation of Poland to go to the assistance of England in case of a German attack on Holland, Belgium or Switzerland, for the simple reason that his plenipotentiary powers gave him the right to agree to an alliance in case of direct attack on Great Britain but not in case of an indirect attack. He had been obliged therefore when in England to take the personal responsibility for saying that he was certain that his Government would agree to fight in case Great Britain should judge an attack against the Netherlands, Belgium or Switzerland, to be an attack against the vital interests of Great Britain. He had not wished to make any statement to any one on this subject until he had seen Moscicki and Smigly-Rydz and had received full authority to make this premise officially on behalf of the Polish Government.

The Polish Ambassador added that Beck was certain that the Polish Government would approve his action and would promise officially and at once to go to war on the side of Great Britain in case of any conflict which Great Britain judged should menace its vital interests.

The Polish Ambassador said that Beck also wanted him to explain further to me his thoughts with regard to Rumania. When the Rumanian Minister in 'London had called on him he had asked the Rumanian Minister flatly for an explanation of the Rumanian Government's request to the Governments of France and England to arrange for Rumania a defensive alliance with Poland directed against Hungary and Germany. The Rumanian Minister had replied evasively and had said that his Government had given him no explanation of its failure to approach Poland directly. Beck's own opinion was that the demarche which he had made in Budapest in which he had indicated that if Hungary should attack Rumania, Poland would be obliged to assist Rumania, to which the Hungarian Government had replied in most reassuring terms that Hungary had no intention whatsoever of attacking Rumania, had convinced the Rumanians that they were today enjoying all the benefits of an alliance with Poland without any of the burdens. If the Rumanians should ask Poland for a defensive alliance against Hungary and Germany the Poles certainly would ask Rumania to agree to go to war in case of a German attack on Poland. Beck felt therefore that the reason why the Rumanians had not approached Poland directly was because they desired to avoid giving any promise to go to war at once on the side of Poland in case of a German attack on Poland.

The Polish Ambassador was extremely depressed and apprehensive with regard to the entire situation. He said that his most recent in-

122 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

formation indicated that there were German troop movements which might be interpreted as preparation for an immediate German attack on Poland. The position of Poland if war should not break out at once would be greatly strengthened by the British-Polish alliance but if war should break out at once no real assistance from England could be given. The British had no army and Poland would be cut off from British supplies. The Polish Army was in desperate need of airplanes, tanks and heavy artillery.

Beck had instructed him to see Bonnet yesterday and he had done so. He had requested the shipment immediately of military supplies from France to Poland and especially airplanes. I said to him that he must know that France had so few airplanes today that it would be impossible to send any to Poland. He said that unfortunately this was true. He hoped however that a similar request which his colleague in London had made to the British Government might result in the shipment of planes to Poland.

The Polish Ambassador said. that Beck had instructed him to say to Bonnet also that he felt it was time for the Polish-French alliance to be placed on the same basis as the British-Polish alliance, that is to say each country should be the sole judge of the moment when its vital interests were attacked and declarations of war should be automatic. The Polish Ambassador went on to say that unless the French Army could retain on the French frontier at least two-thirds of the German Army the position of Poland would be hopeless, I called his attention to the fact that the highest military circles here estimate that the Germans on the Siegfried line could hold up the entire French Army with one-third of the German Army. The Polish Ambassador said that he feared this was true; therefore the position of Holland, Belgium and Switzerland would become most important.

Unless the French Army should be able to attack Germany by way of Belgium it would be possible for Germany to throw an overwhelming mass of troops against Poland.

The Polish Ambassador asked me if it might not be possible for Poland to obtain financial help and aeroplanes from the United States. I replied that I believed that the Johnson Act [88] would forbid any loans from the United States to Poland but added that it might be possible for England to purchase planes for cash in the United States and turn them over to Poland.

Lukasiewicz, throughout our conversation, was laboring under the burden of the thought that within a very few weeks his country might be removed from the map of Europe by German invasion.

BULLITT
___________________________________________
[88] Approved April 13, 1934; 48 Stat. 574.

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:40

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 123

740.00/758: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 10, 1939--7 p. m. [Received April 10-7 p. m.]

693. Personal for the President and the Secretary. At this moment words no matter how wise have small effect on Hitler and Mussolini. They are still sensitive to acts. I realize fully that public opinion in the United States is not yet acutely aware of the ultimate menace to the American continents involved in the present activities of Germany, Italy and Japan. I venture to suggest for your consideration nevertheless the following unless this—with the full realization that at this distance I cannot judge whether or not they are within the realm of political possibility [88a]

1. I trust that you will put into effect immediately the measure designed to prevent all payments to Italy which we discussed in draft form when last I was in Washington.

2. I believe that in considering the question of the defense of the United States and the Americas it would be extremely unwise to eliminate from consideration the possibility that Germany, Italy, and Japan may win a comparatively speedy victory over France and England. Under those circumstances the British and French fleets might fall into the hands of our enemies. If in view of this possibility you are thinking of asking Congress to increase either the army or the navy, or both, I believe that such a request at this moment would have an immediate chilling effect on Hitler and Mussolini.

3. I am entirely uninformed as to your strategic plans for our fleet but I venture to suggest that if the fleet should be sent now either to Honolulu or the Philippines the Japanese would not dare to send an expedition against Singapore.

4. The influence of the United States in Bulgaria is I believe still strong. I believe it might be most important if you should instruct Atherton [89] to say to the Bulgarian Government, and keep on saying, that we, as friends of the Bulgarian people, hope that the Bulgarian Government will not again choose the side of early victories and ultimate defeat in a great international conflict.

5. I believe the British are digging their own grave by refusing to introduce conscription and by continuing to count on the good faith of Mussolini. If you agree with this opinion I think it might be most helpful if you should ask the British Ambassador in Washington why the British Government has not introduced conscription and why it has not sent ships to Corfu.

BULLITT
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[88a] This sentence apparently garbled.
[89] Ray Atherton, Minister in Bulgaria.

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:41

124 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

751.60C/138: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 11, 1939-4 p. m.
[Received April 11--2:49 p. m.]

699. Daladier said to me this morning that the Polish Ambassador had stated to him that he would leave for Warsaw tomorrow evening and had asked to see him before departure to talk about putting the French-Polish alliance on the same basis as the British-Polish alliance. Daladier said that he had not the slightest idea what this meant and asked me if I could inform him. Since the Polish Ambassador had told me that Beck had instructed him to make this démarche, I was able to do so.

You will recall that under the agreement between Poland and Great Britain each country is to be the sole judge of what constitutes its own vital interests. If in defense of what it considers its vital interests it goes to war, the other party to the alliance is obligated to go to war at once without question.

The Polish Ambassador in Paris will propose to Daladier that the French-Polish alliance should be placed on this basis. The Poles are anxious to have this promise from France because they feel that if Germany should attack Poland or if Poland should be compelled to enter the Danzig area and Germany should then march against Poland a French declaration of war against Germany might be delayed for some time while the French Parliament was discussing the question.

When I had explained the proposal which the Polish Ambassador will make, Daladier after considering the matter said that he believed the Polish position was sound. He thought it would be to the advantage of France and Poland to know that the other party to the French-Polish alliance would be obliged to go to war automatically.

Daladier said that he would therefore tell the Polish Ambassador this evening that France would agree to let Poland be the sole judge of its vital interests and would go to war by the side of Poland immediately if Poland should fight in defense of its vital interests—in return of course for a promise from Poland to France of the same nature.

BULLITT

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:41

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 125

740.00/774: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, April 11, 1939--8 p. m.
[Received April 11-5: 55 p. m.]

462. My 459, April 10, 9 p. m. [90] I have just seen Halifax. The Prime Minister on Thursday will strongly state that if Italy touches Greece in any manner, England will fight. They are attempting by cable to get Turkey interested in fighting if either Italy touches Greece or Germany touches Rumania and they hope to have a favorable reply before Thursday with an agreement to fight at least for Greece. The Foreign Office is also urging Turkey to enter into a reciprocal agreement with Great Britain [91] on the ground that, in the event of war between Great Britain and the dictators, and if Great Britain and France are beaten, Turkey's number is up. They are also urging Turkey to use her influence with the Bulgarians to come into a like agreement. Halifax heard this morning that Rumania proposes to fight if she is attacked. This comes from Tilea, the Rumanian Minister, who may or may not have it authoritatively.

In the meantime the Government is urging Beck to work as fast as he can with the Rumanians in order to get their position stated. Halifax saw Maisky [92] this morning and still completely distrusts him. He found Maisky cynical about the whole situation and rather of the opinion that the fat is in the fire as far as everybody is concerned with Russia sitting on the sidelines. Halifax hesitates to tell Maisky very much, because he is convinced that what he tells him is given over to the enemies.

I asked Halifax if there were any probability of postponing the visit of the King and Queen to America. [93] He said he was firmly of the opinion that they should go because if the King had to declare war, he could declare it in Canada as well as in England, so I judge that, unless there is an absolute war situation, they propose to send the King and Queen. I thought the President might be interested in this.

I found Halifax strangely optimistic with the reservation that "this may all change before nightfall". He told me today that he does not expect war. He said he hesitates always to tell me this because he feels I think he is "burying his head in the sand" and he admits that
_____________________________________
[90] Not printed.
[91] Treaty of mutual assistance between the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey, signed at Angora, October 19, 1939, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cc, p. 167.
[92] Ivan Maisky, Soviet Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
[93] King George VI and Queen Elizabeth left England May 6, 1939, for a tour through Canada. They included a short visit to the United States and returned June 22, 1939.

126 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

up to date he has been a little bit wrong. I do not know whether their judgment is based on facts that do not come to our attention or on Mussolini's notes to England regarding the Albanian situation, but he is convinced that Mussolini does not want to go to war with England and the English intend to ask Mussolini very soon, to test his attitude, why the Italians are not withdrawn from Spain, now that the war is over.

They are moving their soldiers out of Palestine back to Egypt to help make the Egyptians feel better and keep that situation a little more settled and he added smilingly to make more trouble for Malcolm MacDonald [95] in Palestine.

The Government here may be all wrong again, but Mussolini's attitude as expressed to the Government over the Albanian matter has not increased their concern. It has rather made them feel that the situation is not as hopeless as everybody else seems to think it is.

KENNEDY

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:42

740.90/797
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division
of European Affairs (Moffat)
[WASHINGTON,] April 12, 1939.

The French Ambassador [96] called this afternoon to talk over developments in Europe. He said that he had dined the previous evening at the White House with the President who had made no secret that the French Government was more alarmed than it had ever been. The tenor of his own telegrams this morning showed the same state of worry. He himself was unable to account for this and asked if I could throw any light. I did not desire to give him the substance of Mr. Bullitt's telegrams, as he undoubtedly wished, and contented myself with saying that I thought the French were very much upset that the British seemed to be attaching more value to Italian assurances with regard to the future than the French felt was justified.

The Ambassador then went on to say that he was very concerned over the debates on neutrality in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [97] He had spoken to the Secretary about this yesterday in an informal way, as should he take up the matter officially and it become known, it might react against French interests. Nevertheless, Paris was very concerned over the delay and although they had perfect
___________________________________________
[95] British Secretary of State for the Colonies.
[96] Rene Doynel, Count de Saint-Quentin.
[97] See Neutrality, Peace Legislation and Our Foreign Policy: Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 76th Cong., 1st sess., April 5—May 8, 1939 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1939).

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 127

confidence that ultimately matters would work out, any prolongation of the period of discussion and uncertainty was bound to have unfavorable repercussions.

PIERREPONT MOFFAT

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:43

From FRUS 1939, vol. 1, p. 127:
740.00/785 : Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 12, 1939-6 p. m.
[Received April 12---5 p. m.]

710. Rochat said this afternoon that in the past 24 hours the situation has certainly not become worse. The declaration which Chamberlain and Daladier will make tomorrow will mark the beginning of a new phase. There will be a guarantee of Greece and "perhaps" one of Rumania. The case of Turkey is not quite ripe yet and negotiations are continuing.

From the military point of view the Foreign Office's information indicates that there are no military movements of special significance in Germany but in Italy there is a greater concentration of troops at Brindisi and more troops and war material being transported to Albania than would seem warranted if it is merely a question of maintaining order in the latter country. What concerns the French particularly at present is the question of Italian forces in Spain.

The assertion that they are being maintained there to take part in the parade early in May is regarded as the flimsiest of pretexts. Moreover, the French Government has definite proof that, between April 1 and April 10, 5,000 additional Italian troops landed at Cadiz. Marshal Petain's efforts to obtain an explanation of this situation have proved entirely unsuccessful as have the efforts made by the British.

Rochat expresses the opinion that the British are unquestionably right in not denouncing the Anglo-Italian agreement,[98] admitting that any further "assurances" from the Italians are utterly worthless, nevertheless the agreement furnishes a lever which may prove of value in the effort to get the Italians out of Spain. In the meanwhile it is essential to take all necessary precautions of a military and naval character so as not to be caught unawares and this the French Government is doing discreetly and effectively.

BULLITT
___________________________________________________________
[98] Signed at Rome, April 16, 1938, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cxcv, p. 77.

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Re: Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 02 Jul 2012 00:43

128 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

751.60C/139: Telegram
The Ambassador in, France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, April 12,1939-9 p. m. [Received April 12-8:13 p. m.]

713. The Polish Ambassador informed me this afternoon that he had talked with Daladier on the subject reported in my No. 699, April 11, 4 p. m., and that Daladier had said to him that he would be glad to have the French-Polish alliance placed on the same basis as the British-Polish alliance; that is to say each nation would be exclusive judge of the moment when its vital interests were engaged and the partner to the alliance would be obliged to come to its assistance automatically. The Polish Ambassador added that he had as a matter of information found Daladier so calm and determined and that he felt that the general attitude of France today was far finer than it had ever been in his experience.

BULLITT

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