Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

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Tilea, Memel & the Anglo-Polish treaty 1939

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:45

Here is some American diplomatic correspondence on the subject, for interested readers, from Foreign Relations of the United States 1939, vol. 1:
72 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

740.00/827: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, March 17, 1939-6 p. m.
[Received March 17-5:23 p. m.]

353. The Rumanian Minister [18] just called to see me. He is on his way to the Foreign Office with instructions from his Government to try and get some idea of what England proposes to do. He is going to ask them three questions : (1) Does England propose to do anything at all? If not Rumania will make the best deal she can. (2) Are they going to draw a line somewhere in Europe beyond which Hitler must not go that will just include Turkey, or will it possibly include Rumania and Yugoslavia? (3) If the Rumanians fight, will England give them any support? He said that the German demands, made about a week or 10 days ago, were economic and really meant the end of Rumania, and have been turned down by the Rumanians. The Germans ordered them (1) to stop certain industries, (2) to give them oil concessions and (3) to become nothing but an agricultural country. Germany in turn would take all their exports. He said this is an impossible situation for them and they will not agree. He also said that all their orders for armament were with the Czechs and they have all been stopped, with the result that they find themselves with practically no armaments and they are asking England to sell them some of theirs, even if they are antiquated.

I imagine you get most of the information direct from Rumania but I have asked him to keep in touch with me.

KENNEDY

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:46

762.71/43a : Telegram
The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Rumania (Gunther)
WASHINGTON, March 18, 1939-3 p. m.

29. The New York Times this morning carries an article from London that "a virtual ultimatum had been issued by Germany to Rumania to the effect that (1) Rumania should give up certain industries and (2) should agree that her entire exports of grain, oil, lumber, cattle and foodstuffs should go exclusively to Germany, in return for which Germany would be ready to guarantee Rumanian territorial integrity."
_________________________________________________
[18] Viorel Virgil Tilea.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 73

Kennedy quotes the Rumanian Minister in London as confirming the general substance but as saying that the demands were made a week or 10 days ago when Wohlthat [19] was in Bucharest.

The Rumanian Minister here[20] informs the Department that knowledge of these demands has reunited all elements in Rumania and that Maniu [21] and others are now subordinating politics to national unity.

Please telegraph such information as you can gain and analytic comments.

WELLES

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:47

more from p. 73:
140.00/706
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of
European Affairs (Moffat)
[WASHINGTON,] March 18, 1939.

The Soviet Charge d'Affaires [22] in the course of a conversation said that bad as the situation in Europe was, he felt there were some bright spots. The first was the statement of Mr. Welles,[23] and the second, the changed attitude of Mr. Chamberlain. [24] None the less, he did not see any possibility of ultimate pacification until certain Western Powers gave up their wish thinking that Hitler's idea was ultimately to move against Soviet Russia. Such was not the case.

The Charge felt that the next move of Germany would be in the direction of Rumania, with a view to making certain of basic raw supplies. Thereupon he believed that Germany would turn west, chiefly against France, realizing that never again would she have as good an opportunity to strike as at present. He attached considerable importance to the fact that France was now effectively surrounded by hostile countries on three sides and that there could be no repetition of 1870 or 1914, when the Government chose to move to Bordeaux.

He repeated Litvinov's [25] dictum that peace was indivisible, and said that ever since the fall of Barcelona [26] his Government had been anticipating a heavy German-Italian drive.

PIERREPONT MOFFAT
_________________________________________________
[19] Helmuth Wohlthat, Economic Adviser to Marshal Goering.
[20] Radu Irimescu.
[21] Julius Maniu, founder of Rumanian National Peasant Party ; Premier, 1928-31.
[22] Constantine A. Oumansky.
[23] See statement issued to the press by the Acting Secretary of State, March 17, 1939, p. 49.
[24] British Prime Minister.
[25] Maxim Litvinov, Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
[26] For information concerning collapse of Spanish Loyalist resistance in Catalan area, see telegram No. 1206, February 5, 1939, 8 p. m., from the Counselor of Embassy in Spain, printed in vol. II, section entitled "The Spanish Civil War : I. International Political Aspects."

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:48

74 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

* * * * *

762.71/44: Telegram
The Minister in Rumania (Gunther) to the Secretary of State
BUCHAREST, March 20, 1939-6 p. m.
[Received March 21-6: 30 a. m.]

50. You will by now have received my telegram No. 46, March 17, 8 p. m.,[31] sent via London radio for usual reasons of economy. German trade negotiations here are secret and it has been difficult to obtain reliable detailed information thereon but we have no reason to believe, from subsequent inquiries, that the telegram referred to does not give an accurate picture. My despatch No. 798,[32] mailed March 16th, which should reach you early next week, gives our analytical comment and comparison with German demands at the time of the Treaty of Bucharest.

Upon receipt by wireless of your telegram 29, March 18, 3 p. m., I sought out the Minister for Foreign Affairs at his house. It appears that Tilea, the Anglophile Rumanian Minister at London, aided and abetted by Dimancesco who handles press relations for the London Legation, was guilty of excessive zeal. When taken to task Foreign
______________________________________________________________
[31] Not printed.
[32] Dated March 13, not printed.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 75

Minister Gafencu says Tilea replied that he was merely trying to be helpful. Gafencu re-asseverated that there had been nothing in the nature of a German ultimatum and that though Germany asked for more than could be given this was to be expected and that bargaining was now proceeding in a normal [apparent omission]. He said that the false report had been seized upon by the Jewish controlled sections of the western press. He maintains that there is room for all in Rumania and that concessions had better be made now to Germany rather than give reasons for wresting them by force later. The Germans offer to loan technicians. It is maintained, and this seems reasonable, that Rumanian agricultural production could be doubled or tripled with use of modern methods. Germany offers a steady market for Rumania's present and any general agricultural surpluses. It will be difficult for Rumania to accept German economic collaboration and guidance and still avoid later political dictation after German investments have increased especially in view of the lack of any restraint on the policy of expansion. In making peace with Rumania in 1918 German ambitions were held in check by the counter claims and caution of Austria.

The Minister said that he would cable Irimescu to explain the situation to you and mentioned the flood of inquiries and queries which had reached him after the London radio rumor. I have remarked that this showed the interest of the West in Rumania. He replied that both the King and himself were gratified to note that the Western powers were not indifferent. He referred again to the concentration of troops, about 200,000 men, on the northern frontier and assured me that the Rumanian forces would avoid any provocation and that they were there solely to show that Rumania, at least, would go down fighting if needs must. The Minister referring [referred?"' to his efforts for Hungarian appeasement.

My conjecture is that this particular storm will blow over. The danger for Rumania will come later, probably when least expected, unless meanwhile Germany becomes convinced that a repetition of recent events would bring down upon her the whole might and force of arms of the democratic powers. Barring such a development I feel that Hitler's plan will continue to be pursued as opportunities present themselves. Apart from higher considerations may I again mention here that as reported in our survey of American interests in Rumania dated May 26, 1938,[33] the total American stake in Rumania is well over $200 million.

GUNTHER
___________________________________________________________
[33] Not printed.

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:49

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 79

762.71/43: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Extracts]
PARIS, March 20, 1939-7 p. m. [Received 7:19 p. m.]

522. I called on Bonnet [88] this afternoon and asked for his view of the situation in Rumania.

He replied that Gafencu, the Rumanian Foreign Minister, had sent for the French Minister this morning and had said to him that there was no question of an ultimatum and that the Germans yesterday had talked much more reasonably and he expected that the commercial negotiations now in progress between Germany and Rumania would result in an agreement.

* * * * *

Bonnet went on to say that he had in [seen ?] the Soviet Ambassador and had asked him what support the Soviet Union would give to Rumania in case Rumania should resist with force German aggression or demands incompatible with her independence. The Russian Ambassador had communicated at once with his Government and had come in this morning to say to him that the Soviet Union proposed an immediate conference to take place in Bucharest between representatives of the Soviet Union, Poland, France, England, and Yugoslavia to arrange methods of mutual protection.

Bonnet commented that as usual the Russians had put their feet in the platter. They must know that the Rumanians could not accept any such conference in Bucharest and this might be merely Litvinov's easy way of getting around the question he had put to the Soviet Ambassador. He added that this proposal was most secret and asked me to keep it entirely private.

Bonnet said that he had talked with the Yugoslav Minister and had been in constant contact with the British who were also in contact with the Soviet Union, Poland, Rumania, and Yugoslavia.

(Both Wilson [37] and I talked today on different occasions with the Rumanian Ambassador here and with the Rumanian Counselor of Embassy. The Counselor of Embassy assured Wilson that Germany's economic demands on Rumania had taken the form of a virtual ultimatum. The Rumanian Ambassador said to me that what Germany had demanded was all the grain of Rumania for 4 years and
_______________________________________________________
[36] Georges Bonnet, French Minister for Foreign Affairs,
[37] Edwin C. Wilson, Counselor of Embassy in France.

80 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

all her oil production, the turning over to Germany of plants connected with the oil production which were now in the hands of foreigners, some of them Americans, and the right to Germany to develop and exploit new oil fields in Rumania without that Rumanian Government having any control over the German development and exploitation of those.

He said that this demand had been considered incompatible with the maintenance of Rumanian independence and that Rumania had refused it. He added that the Germans had not pushed this demand and that the negotiations now in progress were proceeding in a polite manner and that he believed they would reach a successful conclusion. It was in Rumania's interest to sell her oil and wheat to Germany and the only point to be guarded was the point of Rumanian independence and sovereignty.

* * * * *

I then asked if Rumania would be prepared to receive assistance from the Soviet Union. The Rumanian Ambassador replied to this question in exactly the same words that the Polish Ambassador had used to me when I put the same question to him with regard to Poland 2 days ago.

Both Ambassadors said, "In time of peace we cannot make any agreement whatsoever to permit Russian troops to enter our territory or to receive assistance in the form of munitions, guns, tanks, or airplanes from the Soviet Union; but in time of war we would be ready to take help from the devil himself."

I believe that these identical replies of the two Ambassadors represent accurately the prevailing opinion in Poland and Rumania. Neither country will dare to make a deal with the Soviet Union for fear of too greatly offending Germany; but both countries in case of necessity will welcome the Soviet Union's aid.)

Bonnet concluded our conversation by saying that he and all members of the Government were deeply grateful for the attitude which the Government of the United States had taken during the past few days.[38] The acts and words of the American Government had given all the support to the democracies that anyone could conceivably have hoped for.

BULLITT
_________________________________________________
[38] Presumably with reference to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia; see pp. 34 ff.

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:50

82 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

740.00/641: Telegram
The Minister in Yugoslavia (Lane) to the Secretary of State
BELGRADE, March 20, 1939—midnight.
[Received March 21--2:47 a. m.]

35. Prince Paul [40] expressed himself to me this evening as being very pessimistic regarding outlook for peace, stating that apparently only means by which France and Great Britain can stop Hitler is by force of arms. Speaking of popular resentment in Italy against Germany he said that democracies place undue importance on popular feeling in dictatorships; but that only question of importance in Italy is what Mussolini thinks.

As to Croatia the Prince said it has been most difficult to deal with Macek [41] who never lives up to his promises and who has time and again agreed on certain points only to repudiate his agreement the following day. Negotiations are nevertheless proceeding for a settlement. He expressed pessimism as to satisfactory and permanent nature of settlement due to idiosyncrasies of Slays "who have intelligence but no character", whether they be in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia or Russia. He expressed doubt that Croatia would be taken by Germany but remarked cynically that Italy, which had always fomented trouble in Croatia, was now endeavoring to bring the Serbs and Croats together.

I have never seen the Prince in such a depressed state of mind; Government officials likewise show their pessimism, one official of the Foreign Office having today told us that his Government does not now consider that war is avoidable. Even in the darkest days of last September there was some optimism which now seems entirely lacking.
Meily [42] reports that Kosutic, Macek's first lieutenant, has gone to Praha "for personal reasons". There is local apprehension that his trip is for purpose of implementing himself with the technique of becoming a German protectorate. Apprehension is increased by establishment of German Consulate at Maribor, increased German political activity in Slovenia and Croatia and by reports that airplane landing field and military barracks are now being constructed between Villach and Klagenfurt.

A responsible Italian official expressed to me yesterday his fear lest Germany would take Croatia and thus gain access to the Adriatic. He likewise said that Hitler, in incorporating non-Germans from
_____________________________________________________________
[40] Regent of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II.
[41] Dr. Machek, Croat leader.
[42] John J. Meily, Consul at Zagreb.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 83

Czechoslovakia into the Reich, "had at last taken off his mask" and shown that his policy is not one of Germanization but of imperialism. Despatch follows [43]
_______________________________________________
[43] Not printed.

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:51

More from p. 83:
740.00/707
Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)
[WASHINGTON,] March 21, 1939.

The Soviet Charge d'Affaires telephoned me this morning and read me the text of a telegram he had just received from his Government. According to this telegram, the foreign press was spreading rumors to the effect that the Soviet Government had recently offered help to Poland and Rumania in the event that these two countries were the victims of aggression.

This is not in accordance with the facts. Neither Poland nor Rumania has asked for assistance, nor has either informed the Soviet Union of any danger threatening them.

What actually happened was as follows : On March 18th the British Government informed the Soviet Government that it had weighty reasons to fear that a German coup was impending against Rumania, and asked what the Soviet Union would do. In answer the Soviet Union suggested an immediate conference of the six most interested countries, namely, Great Britain, France, Poland, Rumania, Turkey, and the U. S. S. R. The Soviet Government felt that such a conference would afford the best opportunity for elucidating the real situation and the position of all participants. The only reply the Soviet Government has had to date is that the British Government found this suggestion premature.

PIERREPONT MOFFAT

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:52

740.00/649: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, March 21, 1939-9 p. m. [Received March 22----9: 54 a. m.]

533. I called on Leger [44] who is in charge of the Foreign Office in the absence of Bonnet. He said that the British had sent this morning a proposal to Poland, France, the Soviet Union, Rumania, Turkey,
________________________________________
[43] No. 523, March 22, not printed.
[44] Alexis Léger, Secretary General, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

84 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

Greece and Yugoslavia asking them if they were prepared to take concerted action with Great Britain in case of further German aggression against any one of them.[45] No replies had as yet been received.

The news had reached Paris of German troop concentrations on the Lithuanian border and it seemed possible that the Germans would soon take Memel. He did not believe that this would produce general European war.

We then discussed the relations between Poland and France which have been extremely turbulent today. The Polish Ambassador called on me this afternoon in great excitement to say that he had had a terrible fight with Leger and he wanted my advice and assistance.

Two days ago Bonnet had stated to him that France and Great Britain in reply to a Rumanian inquiry had stated that they were ready to go to war to protect Rumania if Rumania should be attacked. Bonnet had inquired if Poland would do the same.

This morning he, Lukasiewicz, had received from Beck [46] a telegram instructing him to state in reply to this inquiry that Poland did not desire to discuss at the present time any such hypothetical question. It was the opinion of the Polish Government that there was no danger of an attack by either Germany or Hungary against Rumania at the present time. The Polish Government was doing everything that it could to bring about a reconciliation between Hungary and Rumania on the basis of mutual concessions. The Polish Government did not wish to interfere with this attempt to obtain mutual concessions by guaranteeing the present frontiers of Rumania. Furthermore, the Polish Government had a military alliance with Rumania directed against the Soviet Union and it could not discuss with France the affairs of its ally unless at the request of its ally.

According to the Polish Ambassador, Leger replied in the most malevolent manner "That means that Poland refuses to join France and England in protecting Rumania". There were then hot words and almost a fist fight according to the Polish Ambassador.

I talked with Leger later about this episode and found out the Polish Ambassador had given me various explanations which he had not given to Leger which I repeated to Leger and attempted to do what I could to smooth out the matter. The Polish Ambassador said to me that he believed that Beck's refusal to discuss the question at the present moment would last only 2 or 3 days. He did not believe that Beck's efforts to reconcile Hungary and Rumania would be successful and he believed that Poland would be ready to give the guarantee for Rumania after those efforts necessarily prove unsuccessful.
_________________________________________________________
[45] Apparently refers to the draft declaration sent to France, the Soviet Union, and Poland, March 20,1939; see Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919 1959, Third Series, vol. iv, doe. No. 446, p. 400.
[46] Józef Beck, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 85

He felt that the entire question would be raised by the British invitation to Poland to participate in a general guarantee in such imperative form that Beck would prefer to make his answer to the British inquiry rather than to the French.

As I seem to have been able to restore somewhat the sense of humor of both men, I do not believe that the incident reported above will have any very harmful effects.

Leger stated that it was his belief that Beck could not possibly respect [sic] the British proposal but added that he felt that Beck while assenting verbally would prove to be a very bad ally for the British as he had proved to be for the French.

Incidentally, after my return to my house, Leger telephoned to me to say that he had just received a telegram from the French Ambassador in Warsaw saying that he had talked with Beck last night and that Beck was most apprehensive with regard to the possibility that Hungary would attack Rumania immediately. He pointed out that within a few minutes of the time when Beck had said this to the French Ambassador in Warsaw he had telegraphed the Polish Ambassador in Paris that he felt certain that no attack on Hungary by Rumania was imminent.

BULLITT

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:53

740.00/661: Telegram
The Minister in Hungary (Montgomery) to the Secretary of State
BUDAPEST, March 21, 1939—midnight. [Received March 22--7: 49 a. m.]

59. The Regent [47] received me most affably today but he was more restrained in speech than in any previous conversations and particularly guarded with respect to Hungarian activities.

He felt that Hitler would take no action anywhere producing resistance because this might provoke a war which would be disastrous for Germany. It was noticeable in Budapest that Germany was frightened by the reaction to its last coup which had been made because of Germany's economic need and Hitler felt he could make one last stroke before France and Great Britain were prepared to resist him. He felt that Hitler had finished his territorial expansion in Europe although he still would demand colonies and make demands upon Poland concerning Danzig but he would attempt a solution of the latter by adjustment because of the fear of war and of removing Poland as a buffer state against Russia. Through diplomacy, intrigue, economic penetration and other means Germany would attempt more
________________________________________
[47] Admiral Horthy.

86 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

assiduously to obtain advantages other than territorial by gaining control over other countries.

Hitler's success, he said, was due entirely to the credulity of France and Great Britain who had become so accustomed since the war to having their will obeyed internationally that they were unable to cope with Hitler who disobeyed this rule.

The Regent said Hungary was not committed to Germany in any way and under any circumstance it would play a strictly Hungarian political game refraining from rushing headlong into situations which in the past had cost it so much. In war it would remain neutral if possible and await the turn of the tide to join the side which ultimately would win. He and the majority of Hungarians detested the Germans and sympathized with Great Britain but the democratic powers since the war had remained inattentive to the pleas of Hungary who had achieved something only with the aid of Germany and Italy. Consequently Hungary would continue to accept what it could providing this did not call for extreme commitments but the Regent had told Hitler personally that Hungary would meet German military aggression with resistance to the last shepherd. Consequently he felt Germany would make no antagonistic move, and Hungary would afford no opportunity for peaceful penetration.

Transylvania he asserted like Croatia was a political danger spot because its people had suffered unfair treatment for 17 years and their discontent produced a fertile field for trouble. This problem demanded solution. In response to my question he said the present Hungarian military preparations were for any eventuality.

From the Regent's guarded remarks I inferred that there at least is entertained the possibility of some Hungarian collusion with Germany with a view to retrieving Transylvania or, more immediately probable, to effecting its autonomy. Germany for whatever ends it may wish to gain from Hungary also has to offer the enticement of returning Slovakia. Without defining a purely Hungarian policy to which he referred repeatedly I concluded that the Regent meant a policy of expediency to be developed by any possible means to retrieve lost territory and to maintain Hungarian independence. In this situation I do not think Germany as yet presents the predominant permanent coloring and that the democratic powers could exert a large influence if they were to offer some tangible and practical positive solution of Hungary's problems. He dismissed discussion of Italy's possible future course by professing ignorance thereof. In any event I feel that the conduct of Hungary's affairs in future will be held firmly and singularly in the hands of the Regent and of his Prime Minister.

Since my audience was had without the knowledge of the Foreign Office I should appreciate the maintenance of its secrecy.

MONTGOMERY

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:54

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 87

86013.01 Memel/677: Telegram
The Minister in Lithuania (Norem) to the Secretary of State
KAUNAS, March 22, 1939-10 a. m.
[Received 10:10 a. m.]

10. Lithuanian Foreign Minister [48] returned Tuesday with German unwritten ultimatum regarding the voluntary surrender of Memel territory within 60 days. According to the plan, Lithuania will receive use of port.

While accepting the ultimatum in principle, the Lithuanian Government is employing the method of appeal to the signatory powers [49] The orderly transfer of the territory this week is foreseen. The Germans are preparing for a triumphal entry. The treatment of the Lithuanian Minister for Foreign Affairs in Berlin was typically German—brutal and discourteous. Slight disturbances noted in country.

A delegation, most likely headed by Minister for Foreign Affairs, will leave for Berlin tonight to discuss methods of transfer and other questions involved.

NOREM
______________________________________________
[48] Juozas Urbsys.

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:55

86013.01 Meme1/693
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)
[WASHINGTON,] March 22, 1939.

The Lithuanian Minister [50] came in to inform this Government that Lithuania had decided last night to cede back Memel to the German Reich. Lithuania had been confronted by an alternative, given by von Ribbentrop [51] to the Foreign Minister of Lithuania in Berlin a day or two ago, either to make this cession or to risk invasion. In the circumstances, the government decided to make the cession and its decision was ratified by the Parliament in secret session.

I asked what form it took. In reply the Minister said that a short note announcing the decision was handed to the German Minister at Kaunas.[52] Thus he explained at least Lithuania ceded Memel to the Reich and it was not Memel which had seceded from Lithuania. I asked the Minister whether press reports that Lithuania had obtained special rights in Memel or even a guarantee of territorial integrity from Hitler were true. He said he had no official knowledge on either point.
______________________________________________
[48] Juozas Urbsys.
[49] i. e., of the Memel Convention signed May 8, 1924; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. XXIX, p. 86.
[50] Povilas Zadeikis.
[51] Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[52] Erich Zechlin.

88 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

From unofficial sources the Minister had learned that the transfer was effected this morning without incident and that Hitler had reached Memel at 11 a. m. Memel time.
I thanked the Minister for his courtesy in informing this Government without delay and said that I would report it at once to the Acting Secretary of State.

PIERREPONT MOFFAT

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:56

More from p. 88:
740.00/6411 : Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, March 22, 1939—noon.
[Received March 22---8: 25 a. m.]

383. Personal for the Secretary. My 370, March 20, 5 p. m.[53] Halifax told me last night that he understands the Germans are mobilizing 20 divisions on the western front. He also said that Poland's answer to France is very unsatisfactory. The British have not yet received an answer. The British feel that Russia may go along with them, not to serve the general cause but to serve whatever purpose they have in mind and if they do agree to go along with the French and the English, and if Rumania and Turkey and the Balkan States are prepared to fight, then England is advising France that they should both go along regardless of Poland.

The plan is that the fleet would start an immediate blockade. The French would start to attack on their own borders and England would send over as many planes as they could to help France. Lebrun[54] told Halifax that the language Mussolini used to a very close friend of his regarding Hitler was not fit to repeat.

Halifax made one suggestion last night. He said that in 1936, when the trouble was on with Italy, Great Britain had promised Australia that, in the event of any trouble, they would send a fleet to Singapore. Under present conditions they do not feel they can spare a fleet for Singapore and they wonder if the United States would consider, at the psychological moment, transferring the American fleet back to the Pacific—to Honolulu—or some place else. This would be perfectly satisfactory to Australia and would permit the British Navy to function in the Mediterranean, where they plan to start operations. Lord Chatfield [55] saw me for a few minutes afterwards and also said that this was psychologically important if it was at all possible to be done.

KENNEDY
____________________________________________
[53] Not printed.
[54] Albert Lebrun, President of France.
[55] British Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence.

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:57

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 89

8601.01 Memel/680: Telegram
The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
Moscow, March 22, 1939-1 p. m.
[Received March 22-12:35 p. m.]

134. My 106, March 14, 6 p. m.,[56] second paragraph. The Lithuanian Minister [57] here received this morning a message from Kaunas stating that the Lithuanian Government had accepted the German ultimatum in regard to the transfer of Memel to the Reich and instructing him to communicate the foregoing to Litvinov. He has not yet had occasion to see Litvinov but expects to shortly.

The Minister states that, in recent conversations with Litvinov in regard to the threat to Memel, Litvinov had in no way minimized the gravity of the situation which would be created by a transfer of the territory to the Reich but had characterized it as another of the series of aggressive acts of Germany which had been made possible by the attitude adopted by the powers in the face of those acts; and restated the principle which he, Litvinov, had constantly advocated, namely, collective action and mutual assistance on the part of the powers against German aggression.

The Minister added that the transfer of Memel might be regarded as an initial step toward further German penetration into Lithuania on the basis of a menace to neighboring German territory resulting from what the Nazi Government might choose to call local disturbances within Lithuania. The Minister also referred to the consternation which this last move might well cause in Poland but offered the opinion that Germany is not for the moment inclined to precipitate open hostility on the part of Poland by action against the Corridor.

KIRK

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:57

860M.01 Memel/681 : Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
PARIS, March 22, 1939-5 p. m.
[Received March 22-2:45 p. m.]

541. Rochat [58] read to Wilson telegrams received by the Foreign Office last night and early this morning from which it appears that, in the interview between the Lithuanian Foreign Minister and Von Ribbentrop, on March 20 [the latter?] demanded that Lithuania abandon the Memel territory outright to the Reich; that if this demand were accepted the German Government would grant economic facil-
_________________________________________
[56] Not printed.
[57] Jurgis K. Baltrusaitis.
[58] Charles-Antoine Rochat, Assistant Director of Political and Commercial Affairs at the French Foreign Office.

90 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

ities and the use of the port to Lithuania and would be glad to receive a Lithuanian delegation in Berlin to work out details. If this demand were refused the German Army would immediately occupy the Memel territory and no guarantee could be given as to the limits which might be fixed for the advance of the German forces.

The German Government demanded a reply by March 24. Furthermore Von Ribbentrop warned the Lithuanian Foreign Minister not to appeal to any other Government in this matter.

The Lithuanian Government tried to obtain an extension of the time limit of the ultimatum but failed to do so. Under the circumstances it had no choice other than to accept the German terms and had so notified the German Government last night.

Rochat said that there was as yet no indication whether Germany after the annexation of the Memel territory intended to take further action against Lithuania designed to reduce this country to the status of a protectorate.

BULLITT

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

Post by David Thompson » 01 Jul 2012 00:59

740.00/655: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
LONDON, March 22, 1939-7 p. m.
[Received March 22-4: 40 p. m.]

388. As reported in my 360, March 18, 2 p. m.,[59] the British Government following the démarche of the Rumanian Minister with his information of an "ultimatum" having been served on Rumania by Germany, communicated with the Governments of Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia, Poland, Russia, France and Rumania to inquire what would be the position of those Governments in the face of a German attack on Rumania. [60] According to information given by the Foreign Office replies to these inquiries have been received and may be summarized as follows :

"(1) Turkey said that she had received no communication from Rumania. The reply was otherwise noncommittal, Turkey stating merely that she would abide by the obligation imposed on her by the Balkan Pact.[61]

(2) Greece would fulfill the obligations of the Balkan Pact. As regards any attack on the Rumanian frontiers beyond the limits of the Balkan Pact, Greece would examine the situation sympathetically with Turkey and Yugoslavia, taking into account the attitude of the
___________________________________________________
[59] Not printed.
[60] For texts of telegrams of March 17, 1939, see Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, Third Series, vol. IV, doc. Nos. 388-390, pp. 360-361.
[61] Signed at Athens, February 9, 1934, by Greece, Rumania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia ; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. CLIII, p. 153.

EVENTS LEADING TO WAR IN EUROPE 91

British and French Governments. The Greek Prime Minister remarked to the British Minister that everything would depend in that situation upon Yugoslavia as, without the concurrence and cooperation of Yugoslavia, Greece would not be in a position to bring any effective aid to Rumania.

(3) Yugoslavia. The Prince Regent's reply was to make a similar inquiry of the British Government. He likewise expressed surprise that Rumania had not approached him. The British Minister at Belgrade, Sir Ronald Campbell, thinks that Yugoslavia would make every effort to remain neutral, as in a conflict with Germany unless Italy were neutral or on her side she would be almost completely immobilized.

(4) Poland. Beck frankly said that he did not believe the Rumanian statement was correct. He said that his Government would examine the situation with the Rumanian Government before expressing any view on the British Government's inquiry. In a conversation yesterday afternoon between Lord Halifax and the French Foreign Minister now in London, M. Bonnet said that he had spoken to the Polish Ambassador in Paris on March 19 and inquired what assistance Poland was prepared to give to balk a German attack on Rumania. The Polish Ambassador replied that the Polish-Rumanian treaty covered aggression by Russia only. He further told M. Bonnet that he had been authorized by Colonel Beck to inform the French Government (a) that the Polish Government attached all importance to the Franco-Polish alliance but that it was only valid in the case of a German attack on France; (b) that the most useful assistance to Rumania would be not to bring in Russia but to support the present Polish representations at Budapest and Bucharest undertaken with a view to persuading Hungary and Rumania not to mobilize against each other on account of Hungarian occupations of Ruthenia. M. Bonnet further told Lord Halifax that since he left Paris the final Polish reply had been received, that he had not seen it but that he was informed it was unsatisfactory and full of reservations.

(5) Russia. M. Litvinoff in his reply proposed the now much publicized conference and inquired what the British Government would do in the circumstances. He expressed surprise that Rumania had not consulted with him.

(6) The French replied that they were prepared to collaborate in examination of possibilities of concerted action and that they felt it extremely important for the Western powers to take a stand on the line of Rumania.

(7) Rumania replied that she wished to avoid provoking Germany and therefore does not want to join any pact of mutual assistance. She thinks the Western powers should declare that they will not allow any further changes of frontiers in Europe and that they would support any state that defended itself with all its military forces."

The Foreign Office now realizes that the story brought by the Rumanian Minister of a German "ultimatum" to Rumania, which was the immediate cause of the inquiries to these Governments, cannot be substantiated. They feel, however, that even though the case had been over-stated by the Rumanians, the danger of further German

92 FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1939, VOLUME I

advance in Eastern Europe is nevertheless existent and that the Rumanian démarche had at least served the useful purpose of galvanizing the Western democratic powers into immediate examination of the new situation and the dangers it presented. It is perhaps needless to add that Foreign Office officials do not regard these vague and generalized replies as a serious contribution toward a solution of the immediate problems.

There has been some confusion among newspaper correspondents between the British inquiries at the capitals mentioned in this telegram and the draft declaration sent to France, Russia and Poland and reported in my 370, March 20, 5 p. m.[62] The two moves were separate undertakings.

KENNEDY
_______________________________________________________
[62] Telegram No. 370 not printed.

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