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                  PART TWO
     
   The Franco-German Declaration of December 6th,
                        1938
                              
       (October 19-December 22, 1938)
                              
                   No. 17
                              
M. FRAN€OIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                               Berlin,
October 19, 1938.

     THE Chancellor of the Reich gave me a farewell audience
yesterday  afternoon,  not  at  Berchtesgaden,  but  in  the
eagle's  eyrie which he has had built on a rocky spur  6,000
feet  high  with  a view extending over the  vast  arena  of
mountains  which  surround Salzburg.  The  conversation,  at
which  the  Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs  was  present,
soon assumed an interesting and important character.
     Referring   to  the  Munich  Agreement,   Herr   Hitler
expressed  his regret that subsequent events had  allowed  a
dangerous  state  of tension to continue between  the  Great
Powers,  and  had not fulfilled his hopes.  With  regard  to
France, he took a rather indulgent attitude but on the other
hand  he insisted bitterly on the fact that he could, so  he
said,  discern in the British attitude the expression  of  a
fundamental antagonism.
     Endeavouring to moderate and correct his views, I tried
more  especially  to  explain to him  the  reasons  for  the
currents of opinion in France and in England as a result  of
the  speech at Saarbrucken, and after the conclusion  of  an
agreement which had saved peace, but at the price  of  heavy
sacrifices.
     The  Chancellor declared in a general way that  he  was
prepared  to  seek  ways  and means  of  improving  existing
conditions  and to develop the potentialities of appeasement
and  conciliation  which  the  Munich  Agreement  seemed  to
contain.
     (1)  Herr Hitler would consent to sign an agreement  by
which  France and Germany would reciprocally recognize their
existing  frontiers and express their determination  not  to
attempt to change them.
     
[19]
                              
     (2)  For his part he believed that this text should  be
accompanied  by an undertaking to hold mutual  consultations
on  all  questions  likely  to  have  repercussions  on  the
relations between the two countries.
     (3)  Alluding  to  the  problem of  the  limitation  of
armaments,  Herr  Hitler  seemed  extremely  irritated   and
greatly  impressed  by  the military measures  announced  in
Great Britain and in the United States. He is of the opinion
that,  owing to the practical difficulties which would arise
if  a  programme  of disarmament were to be set  up  without
further  preliminaries, it would be wiser and more opportune
to  begin  with  a  programme for the  humanization  of  war
(bombardment of open cities, etc.).
     (4)   Speaking  of  economic  questions  such  as,  for
instance,  the  possibility of stabilizing  the  currencies,
Herr  Hitler  recognizes  both  their  importance  and   the
difficulties  they  present. But he  declared  that,  having
little knowledge of these matters, he would gladly, if  need
be, have recourse to the services of experts.
     At the end of this conversation, and in conclusion, the
Chancellor  asked the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs  to
cause  the  different suggestions that had been examined  in
the  course of the interview to be studied, and more or less
detailed plans on their execution to be prepared. The  texts
thus  drawn up would then be communicated to us for  careful
consideration and eventual correction and criticism.
     In  view  of  the conversations I have  had  with  Your
Excellency, I took it upon myself to give the assurance that
the  French  Government  would consider  with  the  greatest
sympathy all proposals or suggestions favourably received by
the  Chancellor  or  initiated by him. We  agreed  that  the
preliminary   study   of  these  questions   should   remain
confidential until further notice, it being understood  that
we  would  for our part ascertain the views of  the  British
Government  while Germany reserves the right to  inform  the
Italian Government.
     


FRAN€OIS-PONCET.

                   No. 18
                              
M. FRAN€OIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                               Berlin,
October 20, 1938.

     WHEN on the evening of October 17, the German
Chancellor asked me to see him as quickly as possible, he
placed one of his private planes at my disposal. I therefore
left by air for Berchtesgaden on the
     
[20]

next day accompanied by Captain Stehlin. I arrived there
towards three in the afternoon. From there a car took me not
to the Obersalzberg villa where the Fhrer lives, but to an
extraordinary place where he likes to spend his days when
the weather is fine.
     From  a  distance,  the  place looks  like  a  kind  of
observatory  or small hermitage perched up at  a  height  of
6,000  feet  on the highest point of a ridge  of  rock.  The
approach is by a winding road about nine miles long,  boldly
cut  out of the rock; the boldness of its construction  does
as much credit to the ability of the engineer Todt as to the
unremitting toll of the workmen who in three years completed
this  gigantic task. The road comes to an end in front of  a
long  underground  passage leading into  the  mountain,  and
closed  by a heavy double door of bronze. At the far end  of
the underground passage a wide lift, paneled with sheets  of
copper, awaits the visitor. Through a vertical shaft of  330
feet cut right through the rock, it rises up to the level of
the   Chancellor's  dwelling-place.  Here  is  reached   the
astonishing  climax. The visitor finds himself in  a  strong
and   massive  building  containing  a  gallery  with  Roman
pillars, an immense circular hall with windows all round and
a  vast  open fireplace where enormous logs are  burning,  a
table surrounded by about thirty chairs, and opening out  at
the  sides, several sitting-rooms, pleasantly furnished with
comfortable  arm-chairs. On every  side,  through  the  bay-
windows, one can look as from a plane high in the air, on to
an  immense panorama of mountains. At the far end of a  vast
amphitheatre  one can make out Salzburg and the  surrounding
villages,  dominated, as far as the  eye  can  reach,  by  a
horizon of mountain ranges and peaks, by meadows and forests
clinging  to  the slopes. In the immediate vicinity  of  the
house,  which  gives  the impression of being  suspended  in
space,  an  almost overhanging wall of bare  rock  rises  up
abruptly.  The whole, bathed in the twilight  of  an  autumn
evening,  is  grandiose,  wild,  almost  hallucinating.  The
visitor  wonders whether he is awake or dreaming.  He  would
like  to  know  where he is-whether this is  the  Castle  of
Monsalvat  where lived the Knights of the  Graal  or  a  new
Mount Athos sheltering the meditations of a cenobite, or the
palace  of  Antinea  rising up in the  heart  of  the  Atlas
Mountains.  Is  it  the  materialization  of  one  of  those
fantastic  drawings  with  which  Victor  Hugo  adorned  the
margins of his manuscript of Les Burgraves, the fantasy of a
millionaire, or merely the refuge where brigands take  their
leisure and hoard their treasures? Is it the conception of a
normal mind, or that of a man tormented by megalomania,
     
[21]
                              
by a haunting desire for domination and solitude, or merely
that of a being in the grip of fear?
     One  detail  cannot  pass unnoticed,  and  is  no  less
valuable  than the rest for someone who tries to assess  the
psychology of Adolf Hitler: the approaches, the openings  of
the  underground  passage and the access to  the  house  are
manned by soldiers and protected by nests of machineguns....
     
     The Chancellor received me amiably and courteously.  He
looks  pale and tired. It is not one of his excitable  days,
he  is  rather  in  a period of relaxation. Immediately,  he
draws me towards the bay-windows of the great hall, shows me
the landscape and enjoys the surprise and admiration that  I
make no effort to conceal. We exchange some compliments  and
a few polite phrases. At his order, the tea is served in one
of  the adjoining sitting-rooms. When the servants have left
and  the  doors are closed, the conversation begins  between
the three of us; Herr von Ribbentrop intervenes only at rare
intervals,  and always to stress and emphasize the  Fhrer's
remarks.
     Adolf  Hitler is disappointed with the sequels  of  the
Munich  Agreement. He had believed that the meeting  of  the
Four,  which banished the spectre of war, would have  marked
the  beginning  of  an  era  of  conciliation  and  improved
relations  between nations. He cannot see that  anything  of
the kind has occurred. The crisis is not over; it threatens,
if the situation does not improve, to become worse within  a
short time. Great Britain is sonorous with threats and calls
to arms. For the Chancellor this is an opportunity to utter,
against  that  country,  against  her  selfishness  and  her
childish belief in the superiority of her rights over  those
of  others,  one  of  those tirades  which  he  has  already
delivered several times in public.
The  Chancellor's  irritation calms down fairly  quickly.  I
point  out to him that after the joy at the preservation  of
peace,  a  reaction was inevitable; the realization  of  the
sacrifices exacted from Czecho-slovakia, the harsh treatment
meted  out to that country could not fail to stir the hearts
and  even  to  disturb the conscience of  many  people;  and
especially, the Saarbrucken speech had spread the impression
that  all these sacrifices had been made in vain, that their
only  effect had been to increase the appetite of the  Third
Reich.   This  speech  had  considerably  strengthened   the
position of the adversaries of the Munich Agreement.
     The Fhrer protests; he had not started the present
trouble; the

[22]
     
English  had  done  so;  he had not uttered  a  single  word
against  France; and as to Czechoslovakia, it was  not  true
that  he  had ill-treated her; all that he had done  was  to
insist upon the rights of the German people, which had  been
trodden underfoot!
     I  interrupt his self-justification; we must not linger
over  the past, the future is more important; after the  joy
at  the  preservation of peace and the subsequent bitterness
aroused by the sacrifices it exacted, a third stage  is  now
reached.  The  statesmen  must now  with  more  self-control
consider  whether  the Munich Agreement  is  only  to  be  a
fruitless episode or whether now that experience has  proved
that  the  democracies  and  the  totalitarian  states   can
cooperate  in  promoting  general  appeasement,  they   will
attempt to develop this first successful experiment  into  a
larger  enterprise  and gradually lead back  Europe  towards
more normal and enduring conditions.
     Herr  Hitler does not raise any objection. He  declares
that,  as far as he is concerned he is quite prepared to  do
this, and that he had asked me to visit him as much in order
to  be able to discuss this matter with me as to allow me to
take my leave of him.
     In   my  telegram  of  yesterday,  I  indicated  in   a
sufficiently  explicit  manner the course  the  conversation
then took. On the three points that were raised in turn, and
which,  taken as a whole, form a complete programme starting
from  Franco-German relations and widening to  questions  of
importance  to  all the Powers, the Chancellor  is  full  of
arguments,  objections and suggestions, like a man  who  has
already  considered  the  matter and  is  not  being  caught
unaware.
     As  regards the suggestion of a written recognition  by
France and Germany of their common frontier and an agreement
to  hold  consultations in all cases which might affect  the
relations of the two countries, Herr Hitler declares that he
is ready to accept it immediately; actually, this appears to
be  the  point which makes the greatest appeal  to  him.  He
stresses  the difficulties which might arise from a  formula
of  non-aggression  if it were accompanied  by  reservations
relating to the Covenant of the League of Nations, or to the
existence  of pacts with a third party. He hopes that  these
difficulties may be removed, and he does not ask  once  that
France should renounce her pact with Soviet Russia.
     As  to the problem of a limitation of armaments, he  is
undecided;  he  is not opposed to the principle  of  such  a
limitation, but he does not see by what means it can be  put
into  practice;  he outlines, without dwelling  on  it,  the
theory according to which Germany, situated in
     
[23]
     
the centre of Europe and exposed to simultaneous attacks  on
several fronts, has no true equality of armaments unless she
is  superior in that respect to any of the States that could
attack  her; he also fears that if he were to speak  of  the
limitation  of  armaments, the opposition in  Great  Britain
would say that he was retreating before a display of British
energy; his thoughts remain uncertain. On the other hand, he
is  ready to approach without hesitation the problem of  the
humanization of war and to go fairly far in this matter.  He
sees  here  a good introduction, a happy preface from  which
might  arise  a more favourable atmosphere for the  ultimate
examination of the disarmament question.
     As  to the monetary and economic problems, he obviously
leaves to others the task of dealing with them. That  is  no
business  of  his. He understands nevertheless  that  it  is
important  not  to leave these matters in abeyance,  but  to
invite  experts to take up again the work already begun  and
to examine the possibilities offered by present conditions.
     Concluding   the  conversation,  he  gives   Herr   von
Ribbentrop  the order, as I have already said,  to  set  his
department  to  work and to make them study the  suggestions
arising  out  of  our interview with a view  to  formulating
concrete  proposals. Paris will then study  the  drafts  and
state  its  own views. I promise that we shall  receive  his
suggestions with earnest sympathy and study them  carefully,
being  moved by the same peaceful intentions that appear  to
animate  the Fhrer. In the meantime, Germany will  approach
Italy.  France, on her side, can investigate British  views.
We  are  not committed, on either side, to anything  precise
but both sides are agreed to proceed in all good faith to an
investigation.
     Therefore  the  utmost discretion should be  maintained
towards the public until further notice; public opinion must
not be informed until the assurance of a positive result has
been obtained.
     On  two other subjects I attempt to persuade the Fhrer
to  reveal his views: the claims of Hungary and the  war  in
Spain.
     He  admits frankly that he considers the pretensions of
the Hungarians excessive, although he adds that the cessions
and  concessions of the Slovaks are insufficient.  For  him,
the  only criterion is the ethnographical one, the race;  it
was  the  only one on which he based his claims towards  the
Czechs in tracing the new frontiers; the Hungarians and  the
Poles had better keep to these principles as well; obviously
he  has  no  sympathy with the efforts they  are  making  to
obtain a common frontier. The Chancellor boasts that he  has
brought
     
[24]
     
about  the failure of the appeal which Hungary had  intended
to  make to the four Munich Powers. He believes that  in  so
doing, he has avoided a definite danger.
     "Such  a  conference," he says, "would have  placed  us
before  two conflicting theses. I should have been  obliged,
regardless  of  my  personal  opinion,  to  side  with   the
Hungarians  and  Poles, because of the political  ties  that
unite  them  to us; Mussolini would have acted in  the  same
manner.  You, however, and the English, for similar reasons,
would  have  defended the Czechs. Thus,  three  weeks  after
Munich, we should again have had a conflict, which this time
could  not have been settled. I rendered a service to Europe
in  avoiding  it.  I preferred to exercise pressure  on  the
Hungarians and the Czechs and persuade them to take  up  the
interrupted  negotiations, with less intransigence  on  both
sides.  Mussolini helped me. I hope that a  compromise  will
take  place.  But  the  whole business  is  dangerous.  This
occasion shows how wrong France and England were to  promise
Czechoslovakia to guarantee her frontiers, even  before  the
latter  were  clearly defined. This may still lead  to  most
unpleasant complications."
     With  regard to Spain, the Chancellor repeats  that  he
never  had  any  intention  of  establishing  himself  there
permanently. He had secured some economic advantages, but he
would  have  obtained them in any case. It is far  from  his
thoughts,  so  he assures me, to use Spain  as  a  perpetual
menace against France. Spain herself needs to maintain  good
relations with France. General Franco's attitude during  the
September  crisis proved this plainly. Let all  the  foreign
volunteers  be  withdrawn and let the two  Spanish  factions
remain  face  to  face with each other; in these  conditions
Franco  will  win in the end, and France will  be  none  the
worse for it.
     For  nearly  two  hours Herr Hitler  has  been  readily
listening to my questions; he has answered them without  any
embarrassment,  with simplicity and-at least apparently-with
candour.  But  the time has come to release  him.  Antinea's
Castle is now submerged in the shadow that spreads over  the
valley  and  the  mountains. I take  my  leave.  The  Fhrer
expresses the wish that I might later return to Germany  and
come  to visit him in a private capacity. He shakes both  my
hands  several  times.  After going down  in  the  lift  and
through the underground passage, I find the car waiting  for
me;  passing through Berchtesgaden it takes me back  to  the
airport,  from  where our plane starts  immediately  on  its
night flight to Berlin.
     
[25]
     
     During the whole of our conversation, except for a  few
outbursts of violence when referring to England, the  Fhrer
was  calm,  moderate,  conciliatory.  One  would  have  been
justified in thinking that one was in the presence of a  man
with  a  well-balanced mind, rich in experience and  wisdom,
and wishing above all things to establish the reign of peace
among nations. There were moments when Herr Hitler spoke  of
Europe,  of  his  feelings  as a  European,  which  are,  he
asserts, more genuine than those expressed so loudly by many
people.
     He  spoke  of  our "white civilization" as  of  a  very
precious  possession  common  to  us  all,  which  must   be
defended.  He  appeared sincerely shocked at the  persistent
antagonism  which  has remained after the Munich  Agreement,
and  which  the British attitude revealed to his  mind  with
great  clearness.  Obviously, the possibility  of  a  coming
crisis  and the eventual outbreak of a general war are  ever
present  in  his  mind.  Perhaps  at  heart  he  himself  is
skeptical  as to his chances of preventing this tragedy?  In
any  case, he seems willing to attempt to do so or he wishes
to feel he has made the attempt so as to calm if not his own
conscience, at least the conscience of his people. And it is
through France that he thinks this attempt must be made.
     I  have  no  illusions  whatever about  Adolf  Hitler's
character.  I know that he is changeable, dissembling,  full
of contradictions, uncertain. The same man with the debonair
aspect, with a real fondness for the beauties of nature, who
discussed  reasonable ideas on European politics  round  the
tea-table,  is  also capable of the worst frenzies,  of  the
wildest exaltations and the most delirious ambitions.  There
are days when, standing before a globe of the world, he will
overthrow nations, continents, geography and history, like a
demiurge stricken with madness. At other moments, he  dreams
of being the hero of an everlasting peace, in which he would
devote  himself  to  the erection of  the  most  magnificent
monuments.  The  advances that he is  prepared  to  make  to
France are dictated by a sentiment which he shares, at least
intermittently, with the majority of his countrymen,  namely
the  weariness of an age-long contest, and the desire to see
it  end  at  last; this feeling is now strengthened  by  the
memories of the Munich interviews, by the sympathy that  the
person of President Daladier aroused in him, and also by the
idea  that  our country's evolution tends to make it  easier
for  her to understand the Third Reich. But at the same time
we  may be certain that the Fhrer remains true to his  wish
to  disintegrate the Franco-British bloc, and  to  stabilize
peace in the west, so as to have a free
     
[26]
     
hand in the east. What plans may be revolving already in his
mind? Is it Poland, Russia, the Baltic States which, in his
thoughts, will be called upon to pay the cost? Does he
himself even know?
     Be that as it may, Hitler is one of those men with whom
one  must  never relax one's utmost vigilance, and whom  one
can  only trust with reservations. Personally, I do not draw
the conclusion that we should not listen to his suggestions.
In  these circumstances, as in many other previous  ones,  I
hold  that  the  main thing is that we should  know  exactly
where we stand and with whom we are dealing. But it does not
follow  that an attitude of abstention and negation  is  the
right  one.  Dr.  Goebbels said recently,  and  not  without
reason,  that  one cannot win in a lottery if one  does  not
take at least the risk of buying a ticket. It is our bounder
duty  not to neglect a single one of the ways that  lead  to
peace. If it so happens that Herr Hitler, either as a  feint
or  as a deliberate plan, engages himself far enough on that
path,  it is possible that he will end by not being able  to
turn back again, even if he wished.
     Besides,  who could predict the astounding  changes  of
front  of  which this dictator, impressionable, mutable  and
abnormal, may be capable, and what will his personal destiny
and that of Germany be tomorrow ?
     After   the  Munich  conference,  it  was  normal   and
necessary that one should think of expanding the results  of
an  agreement on which public opinion had pinned  such  high
hopes.
     As  matters stand to-day, Germany is expressing a  wish
to  take  the initiative; Germany is trying to  work  out  a
formula and a plan.
     If  we  were  to  turn a deaf ear,  we  would,  to  our
detriment, be providing her with the alibi which she  wishes
for perhaps in order to cover her future enterprises.
     Besides, the contracts she appears ready to enter  into
have only a limited scope.
     If  these promises are kept, they will contribute in  a
large measure to the lessening of tension in Europe.
     If  they  are  broken, the guilty party will  assume  a
moral  responsibility which will weigh heavily on his future
position.
     France  should,  therefore, undertake to  consider  the
proposals  without fear. Perhaps it is not  unreasonable  to
think that the events France has now lived through may  have
finally  convinced  her  people of  the  pressing  need  for
national order and cohesion, for a certain moral
     
[27]
     
reform and for rapid and thorough overhauling and
improvement of our military organization.
     
                   No. 19
     
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. FRAN€OIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Berlin.
                                                Paris,
October 21, 1938.


     THE  suggestions which you have conveyed to me in  your
telegram of October 19 arising out of your conversation with
Herr Hitler have been the subject of attentive scrutiny  and
have  in  principle been favourably received by  the  French
Government.  I  should like you to inform the Chancellor  of
this personally. The Government of the Republic are disposed
for  their part to devote their utmost care to the study  of
the  plans announced as soon as they are submitted to  them.
For  this  purpose they will not fail to make the  necessary
contacts   with   the  British  Government  while   strictly
maintaining the utmost discretion, as agreed.
     Moreover,  referring  to the two  specifically  Franco-
German questions of a mutual agreement to hold consultations
and a reciprocal recognition of existing frontiers, you will
add that the French Government declares itself prepared from
now  on to take part with the Government of the Reich  in  a
preliminary  exchange of views opening the negotiations,  as
soon as the precise details of which you have been told  are
submitted  to  them.  Indeed, as you do,  I  look  upon  the
initiative  taken by Herr Hitler with all  the  interest  it
deserves,  and  I agree with you that we must  endeavour  to
reach concrete results as quickly as possible.
     


GEORGES BONNET.

     
                   No. 20
     
FRAN€OIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                                Berlin,
October 22,1938.

     THIS morning, in the absence of Herr von Ribbentrop,  I
have  conveyed the communication prescribed by your telegram
of  October 21 to Baron von Weizs„cker. He will pass  it  on
without delay, to the Chancellor of the Reich.
     

FRAN€OIS-PONCET.

[28]
     
                   No. 21
     

FRAN€OIS-PONCET, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                               Berlin,
October 24, 1938.

     IN  the  course  of a conversation, during  a  farewell
luncheon  which he was giving for me, Field-Marshal  Goering
declared  that  he was very much in favour of the  projected
plans;  he appeared very optimistic as to their realization,
and  it seems that he himself will see that they are carried
out  without  delay. Herr von Ribbentrop,  so  Field-Marshal
Goering  assured  me, was also, as well as  the  Chancellor,
favourably disposed and would use all his efforts to further
the projects.
     I have also had a conversation on the subject with Herr
Gauss,  to  whom  the  preparation of the  drafts  has  been
entrusted; he had been summoned to Berchtesgaden,  after  my
visit to the Chancellor.


FRAN€OIS-PONCET.

                   No. 22
     
            Note by the Minister
     

                                               Paris,
November 22, 1938.

     
     THE Polish Ambassador was informed, on November 22,  by
M.  Georges Bonnet, of the French Government's intention  of
signing, with the German Government, a declaration about the
frontiers  and  an  undertaking to hold consultations.  This
declaration,  reserving in principle the  relations  of  the
contracting  parties with third countries, and  consequently
those  of  France with Poland, does not in any way interfere
with France's commitments towards the latter country.
     M.  Lukasiewicz showed himself very favourably disposed
towards this project.
     
                   No. 23
     
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                              Berlin,
November 23, 1938.

     YESTERDAY, at Berchtesgaden, I presented my credentials
to the Chancellor of the Reich.
     The  Fhrer  received  me affably  in  his  simple  and
elegant dwelling of the Berghof.
     
[29]
     
     After we had exchanged the usual speeches, he conversed
with  me  for  half an hour, and, contrary to his  habit-for
usually he does not mention politics in the course of  these
formal visits-he almost immediately attacked the problem  of
Franco-German relations.
     "These  relations," the Fhrer said,  "I  wish  to  see
peaceable and pleasant, and I see no reason why they  should
not  be  so. There is no cause for conflict between  Germany
and  France." He then looked at me insistently, but  without
trace  of harshness, and added, "I hope, in any case, should
difficulties arise, that you will do your utmost  to  smooth
them  out, in the same spirit as your predecessor  and  with
the same sincerity."
     The  substance of my reply was that I was bringing with
me  a  certainty and a hope. The certainty of  the  absolute
sincerity  dictated  by  my conscience  and  by  my  fervent
patriotism.  (Here  Herr Hitler signified  his  approval  by
nodding his head with vivacity.)
     I  continued:  "The hope is that of  an  effective  and
enduring  rapprochement  between the  two  nations.  I  have
gained  this  hope  both from your speeches,  which  I  have
recently  read  over  again,  and  through  which  the  word
'reconciliation' seemed to shine as a gleam of light as well
as  in  the dispositions evident in France. During  my  last
stay  in my country, when I returned from Moscow, I gathered
in  the  most varied circles precise indications  that  have
convinced  me  of  the fact that the vast  majority  of  the
French  nation  wishes  for  a rapprochement  with  Germany.
France was profoundly stirred by the September crisis;  like
the  German nation, she touched the fringe of war, and  like
the German people, our people have expressed their gratitude
to  the  leader who preserved them from war. They look  upon
the  Munich Agreement as a possibility for opening up a path
for  a  policy  of  reconciliation and they  wonder  whether
France  and  Germany  might not in the end  reach  a  mutual
understanding,  once and for all time, so as  to  avoid  the
possibility of a repetition of such a menace."
     I  concluded that it was the task of the Governments to
answer this question, and I alluded to the last conversation
of M. Fran‡ois-Poncet with the Fhrer.
     Herr  Hitler assured me that he shared these  feelings,
that he, on his side, was anxious without delay to translate
into  action  the  good intentions he had  expressed  to  my
predecessor,  and  he repeated that no territorial  question
remained in suspense between France and Germany.
     I  then stressed the importance, in order to start  the
two countries
     
[30]
     
on  the  path  of reconciliation and collaboration,  of  not
delaying  too  long the first manifestation  of  the  mutual
goodwill  of  the  two Governments, otherwise  we  ran  this
danger,  that the effects of the psychological shock  caused
by  the  September crisis would fade out like  a  photograph
which had not been fixed.
     The  Fhrer  smiled  and agreed, then  he  became  more
animated,  his  tone warmed up and he said:  "I  am  an  ex-
Serviceman,  I know what war is. I want to spare  my  people
these trials; even an alteration of the frontier between our
two  countries would not be sufficient justification for the
sacrifices it would entail. That is my opinion, and  I  know
it is also that of President Daladier."
     Herr  Hitler  then bade me good-bye after adding  while
shaking   hands:  "We  are  both  ex-Servicemen;   if   ever
difficulties  should arise, we will find a  way  of  solving
them peacefully."
     It  is in that spirit, with which the mysticism of  the
National-Socialist regime is so largely permeated,  that  as
soon as I got back to Berlin, I laid a wreath on the tomb of
the Unknown Warrior of Germany.
     At  the luncheon which after I had been received by the
Chancellor  was offered to me by Herr Meissner, Minister  of
the  Reich  Chancellery,  Herr  Hitler's  intimates  evinced
satisfaction at the progress of the conversations which  had
gone  far  beyond  a  mere expression of  courtesy.  A  high
official  whom  I have known for twenty years  said  to  me:
"From this you can infer the Fhrer's state of mind."
     The  Counselor and the Military Attach‚ of this Embassy
had  accompanied  me  to  Berchtesgaden.  During  the  whole
journey  we were the guests of the Government of the  Reich,
and  the  German  authorities did their utmost  to  show  us
attentions and courtesy.
     


COULONDRE.

                   No. 24
     
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                              Berlin,
November 24, 1938.

     THE  D.N.B.  agency publishes the following  communiqu‚
for its foreign service:
     We   have   had  the  following  information  from   an
authoritative source concerning Franco-German relations:
     In  the  course  of  recent years, the  Chancellor  and
Fhrer has repeat-
     
[31]
     
edly seized opportunities of declaring that no problems
exist between France and Germany which could form a
fundamental obstacle to friendly and neighbourly relations.
After the meeting at Munich, both parties found they had the
wish to give concrete expression to this attitude. During
the last few weeks, the possibilities of a Franco-German
agreement on the lines of the Anglo-German declaration of
Munich have appeared in a very favourable light. This is the
reason why the French and German Governments are both
considering a declaration that would be prepared jointly
concerning the friendly relations between the two States,
and it is to be expected that Herr von Ribbentrop, Minister
for Foreign Affairs of the Reich, will visit Paris very soon
in order to settle the agreement with M. Bonnet


COULONDRE.

                   No. 25
     
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin.
                                               Paris,
November 25, 1938.
       ON November 22 I saw Count von Welczeck, who informed
me   that  his  Government  accepts  the  draft  which   was
communicated to you  before your departure from  Paris,  the
final text of which will be sent to you without delay.
     The German Ambassador added that Herr von Ribbentrop is
ready to come to Paris for the exchange of signatures, which
could take place between November 28 and December 3. Perhaps
we  shall have to postpone the date by two or three days;  I
shall inform you as soon as it is fixed.



GEORGES BONNET.

     
                   No. 26
     
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     M. DE SAINT-QUENTIN. French Ambassador in Washington.
                                               Paris,
November 27, 1938.

     IN  my  communication or October 3, [1] I  called  your
attention  to the possibilities of an international  d‚tente
contained  in  the  Munich Agreement;  it  would  have  been
inconsistent  not to attempt to translate such possibilities
into actual facts in so far as this action was
     
[1] See Document 15.

[32]
     
compatible  with  the execution of the  policy  of  national
defence undertaken in France as well as in England.
     The  communiqu‚ which was published after an  interview
between Mr. Neville Chamberlain and Herr Hitler on October 1
on the day immediately following the signature of the Munich
Agreement,  showed that both parties were at  one  in  their
desire for appeasement.
     The  Chancellor  of  the Reich,  when  he  received  M.
Fran‡ois-Poncet  for  a  farewell audience  on  October  19,
declared  himself  ready to seek means  to  improve  Franco-
German  relations and to further the elements tending  to  a
rapprochement  which  are  contained  in  the  agreement  of
September  29. At the same time, he made various suggestions
to  this effect; the French Government, after examining them
carefully, informed Berlin as early as October 21 that  they
were  prepared  to exchange views on this subject  with  the
authorities of the Reich without delay.
     The two Governments soon arrived at an agreement on the
text  of  a  declaration  to  be signed  by  the  respective
Ministers  for  Foreign  Affairs,  which  would  stress  the
following main points:
     (1)  That  pacific relations and a neighbourly attitude
between  the two countries constitute an essential condition
for  the preservation of peace; that efforts should be  made
on both sides to develop their relations in this direction;
     (2) That no problem of a territorial nature remains  in
suspense  between France and Germany, the existing  frontier
being solemnly recognized as permanent;
     (3)  That  the  two  Governments are determined,  while
reserving  their  special relations with  third  Powers,  to
remain  in  contact on all questions of importance  to  both
countries   and   to   enter  into  consultation   in   case
developments arising out of these questions should  threaten
to lead to international difficulties.
     This document is to be signed in Paris, at a date which
is   to  be  fixed  shortly,  and  will  then  be  published
immediately.
     I  do  not  consider  it  necessary  to  emphasize  the
importance  of  this declaration: it will  not  escape  your
notice  that  not only does it demonstrate  the  desire  for
appeasement  and reconciliation common to both  Governments,
but  also recognizes by means of a diplomatic instrument the
German  intention,  already expressed  unilaterally  by  the
Chancellor  in some of his speeches, of regarding  the  mere
possibility   of  territorial  disputes  between   the   two
countries as excluded, and of
     
[33]
     
recognizing the existing frontier between France and Germany
as permanent.
     The  procedure of mutual consultation foreseen in  case
of  international  difficulties  can,  moreover,  provide  a
valuable  means  of  avoiding,  in  future,  certain  sudden
initiatives likely to endanger the preservation of peace.
     Finally, the text that has been adopted leaves  us  our
entire freedom of action regarding third parties to whom  we
are bound.
     Mr.  Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax,  during  the
conversations  which  took place in  Paris  yesterday,  have
clearly  expressed  their satisfaction with  a  declaration,
which,   in   their  opinion,  is,  like  the   Anglo-German
declaration,  an  immediate  contribution  to  the  task  of
international appeasement.
     You should be guided by the above considerations during
your  conversations  on the subject with  the  Secretary  of
State,  asking him also to treat them as confidential  until
the document has been published.


GEORGES BONNET.
     
                   No. 27
     
  Note by the Minister for Foreign Affairs
     
                                               Paris,
November 28, 1938.

     I  RECEIVED  M.  Souritz  on Tuesday,  November  22.  I
explained  to him the main points of the plan for a  Franco-
German declaration, emphasizing that this declaration made a
reservation  about the special relations of the  contracting
Powers with third Powers, and consequently about the Franco-
Russian pact.
     M.  Souritz  took note of the information which  I  had
conveyed to him. He has informed his Government. He made  no
special comment.
     On  the  evening  of  the  following  day,  M.  Souritz
telephoned  to  ask  me for the text  of  the  agreement.  I
answered  that, as I had not yet communicated it to  anyone,
it  would  be  impossible for me to give it to  him  in  its
entirety.  Nevertheless, I informed  him  of  the  essential
points of the document over the telephone.
     M.  Souritz come to see me again on Saturday the  26th.
On  that occasion I asked him whether he had any comment  to
make with regard to the agreement.
     He  replied that he had received no communication  from
his Gov-
     
[34]
     
ernment, and that, moreover, the agreement in its present
form could not be modified.
     I  drew  his attention to the fact that before  putting
the  agreement  before  the  Council  of  Ministers,  I  had
informed  him  of  its main contents.  M.  Souritz  made  no
further comment.
     
                   No. 28
     
         Franco-German Declaration
     
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the
French Republic
   and M. JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP, Minister for Foreign
Affairs of the
   German Reich,
     
     ACTING  in  the  name and by order of their  respective
Governments,  have agreed on the following points  at  their
meeting in Paris on December 6, 1938:
     (1)  The  French  Government and the German  Government
fully  share  the  conviction that pacific  and  neighbourly
relations between France and Germany constitute one  of  the
essential elements of the consolidation of the situation  in
Europe   and   of   the  preservation  of   general   peace.
Consequently both Governments will endeavour with all  their
might  to  assure  the development of the relations  between
their countries in this direction.
     (2)  Both  Governments  agree that  no  question  of  a
territorial   nature  remains  in  suspense  between   their
countries  and solemnly recognize as permanent the  frontier
between their countries as it is actually drawn.
     (3) Both Governments are resolved, without prejudice to
their  special  relations with third Powers,  to  remain  in
contact  on  all  questions  of  importance  to  both  their
countries  and  to have recourse to mutual  consultation  in
case any complications arising out of these questions should
threaten to lead to international difficulties.
     In  witness  whereof  the Representatives  of  the  two
Government have signed the present Declaration, which  comes
into force immediately.
     Executed   in  duplicate  in  the  French  and   German
languages at Paris, on December 6, 1938.
     

                                      Signed: GEORGES
BONNET,
                                              JOACHIM VON
RIBBENTROP.

     
[35]
     
                   No. 29
     
Communiqu‚ published at the conclusion of the Franco-
                German conversations
     

                                                Paris,
December 6, 1938.

       THE visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of  the
Reich  to  Paris on December 6, has provided the opportunity
for  a Franco-German exchange of views over a wide range  of
questions.  In  the  course of the conversations  that  have
taken  place,  the  principal European  problems  have  been
examined, most especially those which have a direct  bearing
on  the political and economic relations between France  and
Germany.  It  has  been recognized on both  sides  that  the
development  of the relations between the two  countries  on
the  basis of the unequivocal recognition of their frontiers
would  not  only  serve  their mutual  interests,  but  also
constitute an essential contribution towards the maintenance
of peace.
     In  this  spirit the Ministers for Foreign  Affairs  of
both  countries  have  signed  a  declaration  which,  while
reserving  the  special relations of both  Governments  with
third Powers, expresses their determination to cooperate  in
a  peaceful  spirit on a basis of mutual respect,  and  thus
marks an important step on the way to general appeasement.
     
   Declaration of M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for
                  Foreign Affairs
     
     I  WISH  first  of all to greet H. E. the Minister  for
Foreign  Affairs of the German Reich, whom we are  happy  to
welcome and whose presence here emphasizes the importance of
the documents we have just signed.
     The   efforts   of   the  present  French   Government,
continuing those of all its predecessors, have been directed
with  unswerving sincerity towards the maintenance  and  the
organization of peace.
     The  furtherance of good neighbourly relations  between
France  and  Germany,  as well as the  expression  of  their
mutual desire to develop peaceable relations, constitute  an
essential element in this enterprise.
     For this reason I feel gratified at the signing of this
Franco-German  declaration, which, by  solemnly  recognizing
the  existing  frontiers, puts an end to a  long  historical
contest  and opens the way to a collaboration which is  made
easier  by  the  conviction that no difference  which  might
endanger  the peaceful basis of their relations  now  exists
between the two countries.
     
[36]
     
     This  conviction is further reinforced  by  the  mutual
appreciation  of  the  value of the  intellectual  exchanges
which  have always existed between the two nations,  and  by
the esteem rightly felt for each other by two peoples which,
after  fighting heroically during the Great War, now  desire
to work in an atmosphere of understanding and peace.
     Furthermore,   I   have  no  doubt  that   this   joint
declaration will bring to the cause of general appeasement a
contribution  the  value of which will be confirmed  in  the
future; it marks a particularly important stage in the  task
of  reconciliation and cooperation in which France  ardently
desires to see all nations participate.
     
  Declaration of Herr von Ribbentrop, Minister for
            Foreign Affairs of the Reich
     
     WITH  to-day's declarations, France and Germany, taking
into  consideration the solid foundation constituted by  the
friendship uniting them to other States, have agreed to  put
an  end to the age-long conflicts concerning their frontier,
and,  by  mutually  recognizing their territories,  hope  to
facilitate  the course of reciprocal understanding,  and  of
consideration  for  the  vital  national  interest  of  both
countries.
     As  partners  with  equal  rights,  two  great  nations
declare  themselves prepared, after serious  differences  in
the  past,  to establish good neighbourly relations  in  the
future. With this declaration of good will, they express the
conviction  that  no  opposition of a  vital  nature  exists
between  them,  which could justify a serious conflict.  The
economic  interests  of  the two countries  complement  each
other.  German  art and the spiritual life  of  Germany  owe
valuable  inspirations to France, just as  Germany,  on  her
side, has often enriched French art.
     The mutual esteem which arose from the courage shown by
the  French and the German peoples during the World War  can
find  its  natural complement in peace, and still  increase,
thanks to the courageous effort of each nation in its  daily
work.
     I   am   therefore  convinced  that  the  Franco-German
declaration   of  today  will  help  to  remove   historical
prejudices and that the d‚tente in our neighbourly relations
which  finds expression in this declaration will  meet  with
unanimous approval not only from the leaders, but also  from
the peoples of our States.
     The  feelings  of  the  German  people  towards  a  new
orientation  the  relations  between  the  two  States  were
manifested by the warm welcome given at Munich to the French
Prime Minister, M. Edouard
     
[37]
     
Daladier. The marks of sympathy which I have received during
the  few  hours of my stay in Paris prove how these feelings
are also shared by the French population.
     I  hope  and trust that the declaration of to-day  will
initiate a new era in the relations between our two peoples.
     
                   No. 30
     
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
     to M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London.
                                               Paris,
December 11, 1938.

     I  HAVE fully informed Sir Eric Phipps of the substance
of  my  conversations  with the Reich Minister  for  Foreign
Affairs. Nevertheless I should be glad if you would call the
particular attention of the Secretary of State to  the  fact
that, in my conversation with Herr von Ribbentrop, I made  a
point  of  taking  the initiative to state in  the  clearest
manner  the character and scope of Franco-British solidarity
and its fundamental importance for the orientation of French
policy.
     During  my  conversations with the German  Minister,  I
left  him in no doubt of the impossibility of Germany  being
able  at any time to speculate on any dissociation of France
and Great Britain.
     On  the  other  hand,  when  examining  with  Herr  von
Ribbentrop the means of translating into fact an  easing  of
Franco-German  relations, I indicated very  clearly  that  I
could not conceive such an effort except in the framework of
a  general adjustment of European relations; any attempt  at
developing  Franco-German relations appeared  to  me  futile
without  a  corresponding effort to  improve  the  relations
between  the  Reich  and  Great Britain.  Pointing  out  the
bitterness  of  the polemics against England in  the  German
Press, I remarked that they could only harm our efforts.
     


GEORGES BONNET.

                   No. 31
     
M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                              London,
December 12, 1938.

     IN  answer  to a question put by Mr. Arthur  Henderson,
the  Prime  Minister declared in the House of  Commons  this
afternoon:
     "His Majesty's Government welcome the conclusion of the
Franco-
     
[38]
     
German  agreement with great satisfaction,  and  the  French
Government was so informed when it communicated, on November
24,   the   terms  of  the  declaration  to  His   Majesty's
Government."
     A member of the Labour Party then asked Mr. Chamberlain
whether the Franco-German declaration, in its bearing on the
frontiers  of France and the Reich, would in any way  affect
the  obligations  of  Great  Britain  under  the  Treaty  of
Locarno. Mr. Chamberlain answered in the negative.
     


CORBIN.

M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the
French
     Ambassadors in London, Berlin, Brussels, Rome and
Barcelona, and to
     the French Minister in Prague.
                                               Paris,
December 14, 1938.

     
     HERR VON RIBBENTROP'S visit to Paris was undertaken for
the  express  and sufficient object of signing  the  Franco-
German   declaration.  Nevertheless,  it  has  provided   an
opportunity for a wide exchange of views between the Foreign
Ministers of the two countries. Although these conversations
on  the  whole retained a very general character, they  have
made  it  possible  to obtain definite  information  on  the
German   attitude  regarding  some  particularly   important
international questions.
     The  anti-French incidents that have recently  occurred
in  Italy  naturally  gave rise to the question  of  Franco-
Italian  and  German-Italian relations, and I expressed  the
wish to see every element incompatible with the pursuance of
a  policy  of Franco-German appeasement disappear  from  the
relations between Paris, Berlin and Rome. Referring  to  the
solidarity between Germany and Italy, similar, he  said,  to
that  uniting France and Great Britain, Herr von  Ribbentrop
was  at pains to assure me that nothing in the existence  of
these two groups appeared to him to prejudice any attempt to
bring  into  harmony the relations between the four  Powers,
which   might  eventually  extend  to  an  arrangement   for
cooperation  between  the two Axes. By indicating  that  the
struggle  against  Bolshevism is the  basis  of  the  common
political  views of the German and Italian Governments,  but
without  saying  so  openly, Herr von Ribbentrop  wished  to
convey  to  us  the impression that no other  aim  could  be
attributed  to it. The recent demonstration in  the  Italian
Chamber  of  Deputies,  which in  his  opinion  involved  no
government   responsibility,  appears  to   have   made   no
particular impression on
     
[39]
     
the  German  Minister, who affects in the  circumstances  to
consider the Mediterranean questions involved as outside the
scope  of  German  interests; in any  case  he  persists  in
declaring himself convinced that the improvement of  Franco-
German  relations  is  of a nature  to  exert  a  favourable
influence on future Franco-Italian relations.
     Concerning  Spain, he gave us to understand that  there
again  the  action  of Germany had from the  beginning  been
inspired  solely  by  the struggle against  Bolshevism.  The
German  Minister continues to desire the victory of  General
Franco, as, in his opinion, it would be a guarantee for  the
re-establishment  in Spain of a national order  which  would
favour  a  general resumption of commercial  relations  with
that  country, without prejudice to the interests of France.
Moreover,  he  does  not  believe  in  the  possibility   of
mediation.  He  did not then dispute the  propriety  of  the
position  maintained by France as well as by  Great  Britain
regarding  the  application of the  decisions  of  the  Non-
Intervention Committee.
     These   considerations  incidentally  led  the  Foreign
Minister of the Reich to raise the question of French policy
toward  the  U.S.S.R., without however laying any particular
stress upon it and only with a view to informing himself  of
the  position. This policy appeared to him to be a  survival
of  the  encirclement policy of Versailles. I had to  remind
him that the Franco-Russian pact was not originally meant to
remain  only  bilateral,  that it had  been  and  still  was
conceived  as an element of collective agreement,  in  which
Germany  and  other Powers had been invited to  participate,
and  that  it  was the fault neither of France  nor  of  the
U.S.S.R.,  if  it had actually developed into an  apparently
purely Franco-Soviet affair.
     With  regard to Great Britain, I stressed to  Herr  von
Ribbentrop  the  part that the improvement  of  Anglo-German
relations  must  play in any development in  the  policy  of
European  appeasement,  which  was  considered  to  be   the
essential  object of any Franco-German action. The  Minister
was at pains to throw all the blame for the present state of
affairs  on the British Government. He said that the British
Government  and especially the British Press, which  in  the
days  following the Munich Agreement had appeared to show  a
certain degree of understanding, had now adopted an attitude
that  was most disappointing for Berlin; the emphasis placed
in  London  on  the  urgency  of  rearmament,  the  repeated
demonstrations  in Parliament, under the  influence  of  Mr.
Duff  Cooper,  Mr.  Winston  Churchill,  Mr.  Eden  and  Mr.
Morrison,  and  the  articles in the  newspapers,  had  been
strongly resented
     
[40]
     
in  Germany, where he said it would have been impossible  to
restrain  the  action  of the Press. I  again  stressed  the
fundamental    and   solid   character   of   Franco-British
solidarity, and gave him very clearly to understand  that  a
genuine  easing  of  Franco-German relations  could  not  be
conceived  as  enduring without a corresponding  improvement
between Great Britain and Germany.
     With   regard   to  Czechoslovakia,  an   exchange   of
observations was necessary in order to leave no doubt as  to
the  implications of the international agreement of  Munich,
if  executed both in the letter and the spirit. The Minister
for  Foreign Affairs is to re-examine, as soon as he returns
to   Berlin,  the  question  of  the  setting  up   of   the
international guarantee, the principle of which was asserted
by Germany in protocol No. 1.
     Such  are  the principal political questions mentioned,
in  very  general terms, in the course of the  Franco-German
conversations of December 6, which never assumed the  formal
character  of a conference. Although they were not  embodied
in  detailed  heads of agreement or in any official  record,
they   shed   light  on  certain  important  points.   These
explanatory  talks  were essential at the  moment  when  the
Franco-German declaration was signed, which not only aims at
promoting peaceful cooperation between the two countries but
should  also  be conducive to a general appeasement  in  the
relations of the principal European Powers.
     


GEORGES BONNET.

                   No. 33
     
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                              Berlin,
December 15, 1938.

     THE  recent  conversations between Your Excellency  and
the  Foreign Minister of the Reich must have enabled you  to
ascertain  the  dispositions of  the  German  Government  as
regards the chief political problems of the moment.  It  is,
however,  not unimportant perhaps that I should  communicate
to  you, if only for purposes of comparison, the impressions
I have received from my first contacts with German circles.
     (1)  The  establishment of good relations  with  France
meets,  at  the  present moment, the general desire  of  the
German   people.  All  the  leading  personalities  I   have
approached have, without exception,
     
[41]
     
expressed  their views on this subject in the most  emphatic
manner  and  without the slightest reserve;  they  have  all
assured me that Germany desired an understanding with France
on  the  basis of the territorial status quo, and wished  to
make  an  end  of  the  age-long  quarrel  between  the  two
countries.
     This  sentiment,  the  sincerity  of  which  cannot  be
questioned,  also found expression in the satisfaction  with
which  the  signing  of  the  Franco-German  declaration  of
December 6 was received.
     This  feeling is explained by reasons which, no  doubt,
may  vary according to the different circles in which it can
be observed.
     The German people, which taken as a whole is peacefully
minded,  sees  in  the  better  understanding  of  the   two
countries  a guarantee of peace. Those who are disturbed  by
the  excesses of National-Socialist "dynamism"  and  by  the
political and economic tension brought about by the  regime,
are  hoping for some relaxation in the internal and external
situation,  which might help Germany to return gradually  to
more  normal  conditions of life. As to  the  Party,  it  is
evident   that   they  wanted  an  agreement   with   France
essentially because of the security it offers in  the  West,
if enterprises in other directions are contemplated.
     (2) The will for expansion in the East, as a matter  of
fact,  seems  to me as undeniable on the part of  the  Third
Reich,  as  its  disposition to put aside-at least  for  the
present-any  idea  of conquest in the West;  the  one  is  a
corollary  of  the  other. The first half of  Herr  Hitler's
programme-the integration of the Deutschtum into the  Reich-
has  been carried out more or less completely; now the  hour
of  the "Lebensraum" has come. The insistence with which  it
has  been explained to me that Germany has no claims in  the
direction of France would have been enough to enlighten  me.
But  I  received even more explicit information;  all  those
with  whom I held conversations, with the exception of  Herr
Hitler,  spoke  to me, in different ways,  and  always  with
intentional vagueness, of the necessity for German expansion
in  Eastern  Europe,  Herr  von  Ribbentrop  spoke  of  "the
creation  of zones of influence in the East and South-East";
Field-Marshal   Goering,   of   "an   essentially   economic
penetration in the South-East."
     I   have   not   personally  received   very   definite
confidential  information on this subject;  but  it  appears
that  little by little one can see the outlines of  a  great
German  enterprise  emerge from what is still  nebulous.  To
secure    mastery   over   Central   Europe   by    reducing
Czechoslovakia and Hungary to a state of vassalage and  then
to  create  a  Greater Ukraine under German control-this  is
what essentially
     
[42]
     
appears  to  be the leading idea now accepted  by  the  Nazi
leaders, and doubtless by Herr Hitler himself.
     Unfortunately the vassalage of Czechoslovakia is almost
complete by this time. "My country is now nothing more  than
a  province,"  my Czech colleague said only  yesterday.  The
German  Secret  Service is said to be already  only  working
there  with  Poland in mind and certain German  circles  are
reported to have gone so far as to declare that from now  on
the  Czech army will be called on to play the same  part  as
the  Bavarian  army under the Second Reich. The construction
of  the  motor road between Breslau and Vienna  and  of  the
canal  between  the  Oder and the Danube will  be  entrusted
exclusively  to  Czech labour. From two equally  trustworthy
sources I have learnt that in the near future a German-Czech
currency  agreement  will  be concluded  and  will  soon  be
followed by an economic and monetary union.
     In  Hungary,  where resistance will evidently  be  more
determined, they will first endeavour to establish a sort of
economic  vassalage, and to ensure for the German  Army  the
right  of transit, which has become indispensable for action
in  the  east,  since Hungarian territory  cuts  across  the
Slovak railway.
     With regard to the Ukraine, it has been talked about by
the whole staff of the National-Socialist Party for the past
ten  days. Dr. Rosenberg's Centre of Studies, Dr. Goebbels's
Services and the "Ost-Europa" organization under the  former
Minister, Herr Curtius, as well as the Intelligence  Service
of the German Army, are working on the question. It looks as
if the ways and means had not yet been decided upon, but the
aim  appears to be well defined: to create a Greater Ukraine
which  would become Germany's granary. In order  to  achieve
this  Rumania must be subdued, Poland won over,  and  Soviet
Russia dispossessed; German dynamism is not to be stopped by
any  of  these  obstacles,  and in  military  circles,  they
already talk of the advance to the Caucasus and to Baku.
     It is unlikely that Herr Hitler will attempt to achieve
his  plans concerning the Ukraine by direct military action.
It  would be contrary to the principles he has professed  at
different  times,  and according to which the  regime  wants
neither   an   ideological  war  nor   the   annexation   of
heterogeneous populations. It seems, moreover, that  he  has
not  yet  decided  on the means of action. Among  those  who
approach  him,  a  political operation is thought  of  which
would  repeat,  on  a  larger scale, that  of  the  Sudeten:
propaganda in Poland, in Rumania and in Soviet
     
[43]
     
Russia   in   favour  of  Ukrainian  independence;   support
eventually given by diplomatic pressure and by the action of
armed  bands;  Ruthenia would be the focus of the  movement.
Thus  by  a curious turn of Fate, Czechoslovakia, which  had
been established as a bulwark to stem the German drive,  now
serves the Reich as a battering-ram to demolish the gates to
the East.
     (3) Nobody in Germany has mentioned the Colonies to me.
For  the  moment at least, only certain specialized  circles
are  occupied  with that question. When Herr von  Ribbentrop
alluded to the demonstrations in France following the German
claims  it  was only to declare that the question  might  be
discussed  in five or six years' time. He expressed  himself
in  precisely  similar  terms when speaking  to  one  of  my
colleagues, which points to the existence of instructions on
the  subject.  The  Fhrer gave the Belgian  Ambassador  the
definite  impression  that  he was  not  interested  in  the
question,  and that he only raised it from time to  time  to
prevent  the  "rights of ownership" of Germany from  falling
into abeyance. The Nazi leaders use the method of Descartes,
taking up each question in turn; above all, their appetites,
whetted  both  by their needs and by their ambitions,  drive
them towards the East, towards the "glorious adventure"  and
the great achievement of the regime, which they are eager to
undertake.
     (4)  It  would  appear  that the  difficulties  of  the
economic  situation contribute largely to  this  haste.  The
shortage  of  foreign  currency following  on  the  enormous
expenses  for armament entails ever increasing restrictions,
particularly  of  food  stuffs.  The  population  is   badly
nourished,    and   sometimes   probably   even    underfed.
Unemployment  has disappeared, in fact there is  actually  a
shortage  of  labour,  as  the  manufacture  of  substitutes
requires  much more labour than the preparation  of  natural
products,  but the working men, who are forced to  work  ten
hours  a  day, are showing signs of weariness,  and  I  have
heard  of recent cases of ca' canny strikes that were fairly
serious.  Competent authorities which do not belong  to  the
Party  hold that the financial and economic capacity of  the
country  is  strained to the limit. But most of the  leaders
refuse to admit this. In order to sustain and reinforce this
preparatory  war  economy, there is need of  a  granary,  of
mines,  and  of labour; the Ukraine is at the  door  of  the
Reich.
     (5)  The  situation  within the  Party  itself  appears
fairly  tense.  Well-informed people  think  that  they  can
detect  the  usual premonitory signs of internal convulsions
in  the Third Reich, namely: unrest among the population,  a
general feeling of uneasiness and anxiety, outbursts of
     
[44]
     
indignation and unexpectedly frank criticism of  the  regime
on  the  part  of  high functionaries,  officers  and  Party
members,  especially  after  the  pogroms-in  a  word,   the
atmosphere  of a thunderstorm. It is said that  the  tension
between  the  Fhrer's principal lieutenants has  increased:
Herr  Himmler, for instance, is supposed to have  made  vain
efforts  to  bring  about  a reconciliation  between  Field-
Marshal Goering and Herr von Ribbentrop.
     I  have  not been in Berlin long enough to be  able  to
reach  personal conclusions on this last point. It certainly
does not seem to me that the personal prestige of the Fhrer
has  suffered. He is above the clouds that pass over  public
opinion,  as  he  is  above  the quarrels  that  divide  his
entourage.  But  it  is  quite possible  that,  among  other
advantages,  he  will  see  in  a  Ukrainian  adventure   an
opportunity to divert the attention of his people  from  the
internal difficulties now increasing in a dangerous manner.
     


COULONDRE.

                   No. 34
     
M. RISTELHUEBER, French Minister in Sofia,
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                                Sofa,
December 16, 1938.

      IN the course of a recent conversation that I had with
the   Prime   Minister,  the  latter  mentioned  the   great
satisfaction  he felt in consequence of the  recent  Franco-
German  declaration.  He said that it  had  not  come  as  a
surprise to him. When Baron von Neurath passed through Sofia
nearly two years ago, he stressed the very ardent desire  of
his Government to arrive at an understanding with France, as
there  were  no  questions  at  issue  to  divide  the   two
countries. He had even confessed himself pained at the  lack
of  enthusiasm  with  which Paris  had  responded  to  these
advances.
     As   for   Germany,  while  her  desire  for  expansion
eastwards  was obvious, it was perhaps a mistake to  imagine
that  her first objective would be South-Eastern Europe.  It
appeared  to  him that Poland was most menaced. The  Polish-
Soviet  rapprochement  constituted a  defence  against  this
danger.  But  the  two  Slav peoples  hated  each  other  so
profoundly that their understanding could only be  ephemeral
and  artificial.  On the contrary, M. Kioss‚ivanov  did  not
consider as impossible an understanding between the U.S.S.R.
and  the  Reich, especially if the Comintern agreed to  tone
down its propaganda. Such had always been
     
[45]
     
the  dream of a section of the German General Staff. In that
event  a  fourth partition of Poland would allow Germany  to
proceed with her forceful drive eastwards.



RISTELHUBER.

                   No. 35
     
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin.
     to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
                                              Berlin,
December 22, 1938.

     THE   visit  I  paid  yesterday  morning  to  Herr  von
Weizs„cker  on  his  return  from  leave  afforded  me   the
opportunity  to  discuss  with the State  Secretary  various
political matters of a general character.
     Baron  von  Weizs„cker is an extremely  courteous,  but
also,  as  it seemed to me, a very cautious man,  proceeding
with  the  utmost care  whenever he ventures off the  beaten
track.
     Stressing the importance of Anglo-German relations  for
the  promotion  of a European d‚tente, as well  as  for  the
building up of Franco-German cooperation, I asked the  State
Secretary  how  he  explained the   tension  now  prevailing
between England and Germany. Was it merely a matter  of  the
Press, as Dr. Goebbels had told me ?
     "Dr.   Goebbels,"   he  answered,   "is   thinking   in
professional  terms  when he gives this  explanation.  As  a
matter of fact, it is largely true. There is, in my opinion,
no   serious  cause  of  misunderstanding  between  the  two
countries.   It  is  a  question of method  rather  than  of
fundamental differences."
     With regard to the international guarantee envisaged in
favour of Czechoslovakia, Baron von Weizs„cker was reticent.
When  I  reminded him that in Paris Herr von Ribbentrop  had
expressed  his  intention of re-examining the question,  and
asked  whether there were any new developments, he  answered
in  the  negative. "Could not this matter," he asked with  a
smile,  "be forgotten? Since Germany's predominance in  that
area  is  a  fact, would not the guarantee of the  Reich  be
sufficient?"  I  did  not  fail to remark  that  obligations
entered  into cannot be forgotten, and placed the matter  in
its  true  light.  But  I received the  impression  that  my
interlocutor had already made up his mind.
     "Besides,"   he   concluded,   "it   would    be    for
Czechoslovakia to claim that guarantee. In any case  we  are
in  no hurry to settle this question, and M. Chvalkovsky  is
not coming to Berlin until after the holidays."
     
[46]
     
     Actually,   the  visit  of  the  Czechoslovak   Foreign
Minister has already been postponed twice.
     As my conversation with the State Secretary was no more
than  an  exchange  of personal views in  the  course  of  a
courtesy visit I think that it would not be suitable to take
official  cognizance of it. Nevertheless, I  thought  it  my
duty  to  report his pronouncement on the last  question  to
Your Excellency, as it seems to me to confirm the misgivings
felt  in  Prague  concerning the conditions that  the  Reich
might intend to attach to the granting of its guarantee.
     


COULONDRE.

     

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