860M.01 Memel/169

The Ambassador in Germany (Sackett) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 1644

Sir: Relative to the Memel conflict, I have the honor to quote herewith, for such interest as it may present, the text in translation of editorial comment from the Angriff of April 11, 1932. The Angriff, which is edited by Dr. Goebbels, has become the foremost Nazi organ not only of Berlin but of the Reich itself:

“The incompetency of the Brüning-Hindenburg system in matters of foreign politics has once more been clearly demonstrated in the Memel question.

“The Diet of the Memel districts has been dissolved by the Lithuanians. The new elections are taking place under the pressure of Lithuanians’ bayonets. Lithuanian nationals are hastily naturalized in the Memel districts by the Lithuanian, quite unlawful, Directorate of the country so that they can vote in the Diet elections. As all German parties, including the Communists, rejected the Directorate, the Lithuanians are venting their furious hatred on the German deputies. A number of the latter have already been arrested, others are threatened with the same fate. To any other political leader, with the exception of Herr Brüning, this would be a propitious time for enforcing the righting of wrong. Instead of that, Germany exhausts herself in quite futile protests.

“Protests are utterly unavailing. We are compelled to repeat our demand that the illegal conditions in the Memel country must be stopped, in case of need by means of German military force. The Lithuanian Government must be informed that Germany considers all of Herr Merkys’ measures regarding the Directorate and the Diet as illegal. At the same time, the Baltic fleet must go to Memel and if the imprisoned Germans are not liberated within a specified number of hours, the Reichswehr and the Navy will take possession of the Memel country and will see that a plebiscite is held there, under the supervision of a neutral delegation, on the question of whether the Memel country shall belong to Germany or to Lithuania, or whether it wants to belong to some other country.

“We are certain that an overwhelming majority of the inhabitants would opt for Germany.

“Why doesn’t the Reich Government take some step of that kind? Because it fears to strengthen the National Socialists by stressing German rights.”

In private conversation, Ministerialdirektor Dr. Meyer, head of the Eastern Division of the Foreign Office, stated that the aforesaid article reflected not only National-Socialist thought but reflected the temper of the nation as well. He described the situation at Memel as becoming progressively worse. He remarked that every time he [Page 482] came to his office it was with a feeling of anxiety that he would find a telegram on his desk with the news that the situation had got out of hand. It had, he explained, many of the elements of Sarajevo. He permitted a member of the Embassy to read a telegram which had just been received from Herrn Mohrat, the German Minister at Kovno. The text read in translation substantially as follows: “Am informed by the British Chargé d’Affaires that on April 8 he made urgent representations to the Lithuanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Zaunius, in the interest of electoral freedom for the forthcoming elections to the Memel Diet. He was informed by Dr. Zaunius that ‘we will provide for the security of the elections just as we deem appropriate.’ The French and Italian representatives did not join the British Chargé d’Affaires in his démarche as they were lacking instructions from their respective governments.”

Ministerialdirektor Dr. Meyer described the attitude of the Lithuanian Government as unparalleled effrontery to the signatory Powers as well as to Germany. The various points of issue have now been submitted to The Hague. Assuming that a decision unfavorable to Lithuania would be handed down, Ministerialdirektor Dr. Meyer wondered what would then happen. Presumably Lithuania would then again show entire indifference to outside pressure. Dr. Meyer professed to be at a loss to foresee what would happen. The situation was an impossible one. The German Government had done everything in its power to restrain German public opinion; in fact it had put down several very menacing movements in East Prussia. What the final outcome would be, he could not foretell.

Respectfully yours,

Frederic M. Sackett