763.72119 Military Clauses/31: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Edge) to the Secretary of State


525. Herriot received Senator Reed and myself yesterday afternoon accompanied by Marriner.

At the opening of the conversation Herriot referred to the fact that the negotiations on the commercial treaty54 seemed to be proceeding smoothly. Reed told him that the conclusion of such a treaty at this time would be of great value to France in American public opinion.

Herriot was fully aware of the American lack of sympathy with German claim for rearmament and was extremely grateful for it. He [Page 430]said that since his coming into power he had done his utmost to promote disarmament which was a necessity for France as well as for the rest of the world and which was deeply ingrained in the mass of the French people especially the peasants. Nevertheless he said at the present moment, with the German mental state what it seems to be, he really was fearful of the situation. He said that all their reports indicated that the secret store of arms was very great; that there were depots of arms just across the Dutch frontier; that the Russians had manufactured for Germany forbidden categories of arms and that an order for periscopes had been received by a factory near Rotterdam thus indicating the possibility of the concealment of submarines. Furthermore, he said that any nation that could-on a Sunday produce a demonstration of disciplined men to the extent of 120,000, as the Stalheim demonstration at Tempelhof, only lacked the arms to make them a menace to Europe. He, therefore, said that France, in view of its closeness to Germany, was in a different position than the United States although he could and did appreciate our helpful attitude and intended in his speech at the American monument ceremony at Meaux on Sunday to thank America for her great impetus along the lines of disarmament as outlined in the Hoover proposal as well as for her contribution to the workings of the machinery of peace as set forth in Mr. Stimson’s speech of August 8th last.55

He said the note which he was to communicate to Germany in reply to their note to him asking for “confidential conversations” was merely a refusal to enter into such confidential conversations in view of the fact that France was not the sole country interested in the matter and could not undertake to give up the rights of others including those reserved by the United States to itself in its separate treaty with Germany without consultation with these other powers. He then proceeded to outline the note reading passages of it along the lines of Leger’s and Ray’s exposé to Marriner (see my 520 September 8, 4 p.m.)56

He said that France at the moment was more disturbed with reference to Germany’s activity and state of opinion than for many years and in examining his conscience he thought that these fears were justified. He said that Von Papen had proposed an arrangement or understanding between the general staffs of the two countries and when Marriner said that this was done at Lausanne the Prime Minister said yes and that the suggestion had been renewed more recently. He said, however, that he was opposed to this type of alliance and arrangement [Page 431]which had been the cause of many of the difficulties of Europe and possibly of the Great War and that he was all against secret diplomacy and in favor of upholding the peace machinery of the world in all its forms and of the League of Nations in particular.

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  1. For the extracted portions of the telegram, see vol. iv, p. 239.
  2. See vol. ii, pp. 195 ff.
  3. Post, p. 575.
  4. Not printed.