740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Eastern Locarno)/9: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Bingham) to the Secretary of State

398. From Davis. At his request I called upon Barthou this afternoon. In a talk limited by the brief time remaining before his departure he outlined the results of his talks in London.

Not only was he pleased with the reception accorded him both in Bucharest and Belgrade but also was most enthusiastic over what he said had been accomplished here. He explained that the conversations with the British had been marked by real cordiality and frankness and had cleared up any misunderstanding which might have arisen between the two countries. The talks had resulted in clarifying the respective Anglo-French policies and in reaching an understanding as to a common approach to the problem of general European appeasement and to a solution of the question of German rearmament. Both nations now realized that their common interest lay in facing together a Germany no longer under the control of Hitler but under the domination of the Reichswehr.

In the talks at the Foreign Office here which had lasted all day yesterday and throughout the morning today, Barthou said he had explained, and he thought to the British satisfaction, the reasons for France’s policy towards Russia which had had to be either one of reaching an understanding on the basis of an Eastern Locarno or of refusing to discuss security with Russia which would have driven the [Page 495] latter into the German camp. He said that France’s support of the Russian idea of an Eastern Locarno has been given with the definite understanding that there was to be no military alliance and that the pact would be European in its scope and exclude the Far East. In their discussions of the Eastern Locarno Simon19 had asked Barthou if France would also guarantee Germany against Russian aggression. This Barthou said his Government would be willing to do but thought it better not to insert mention of it in the present draft of the pact but to add it later if Germany so stipulates. Barthou said that Simon had accepted this explanation as satisfactory and had agreed that the British Government should recommend to Germany and Poland that they join the Eastern Locarno. When Simon proposed that as a condition to the discussion of this pact there should be a prior discussion of German rearmament Barthou replied that Germany’s security would be so enhanced by its acceptance of the pact that it would subsequently be easier to discuss rearmament. At the British suggestion, however, a formula had been agreed upon to permit of simultaneous consideration of the two. He did not have time to explain this more fully. Barthou summarized the results of his talks in London as having reached the following specific agreements:

Great Britain accepts the idea of an Eastern Locarno as a contribution to European peace.
Great Britain agrees to recommend to both Germany and Poland that they adhere to this pact.
Great Britain will explain to Italy the significance and importance of the Eastern Locarno, and,
Great Britain will agree to Russia’s entry into the League upon condition that it will abide strictly by the stipulations of the Covenant.

Barthou said that the atmosphere which had made possible such a satisfactory exchange of views with the British was due to three things. First, the valuable assistance of the Americans in Geneva, second, his outburst at Geneva and third, the revelations of the recent German revolution which had accentuated the common interest of England and France.

Although he himself was compelled to return to France today Barthou explained that he was leaving Piétri20 here for several more days to continue his conversations with the Admiralty which up to the present time had resulted in agreement in principle on certain points. He said that Piétri was anxious to call upon me at the earliest opportunity and would then explain and discuss fully with me the substance of his talks with the British.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Sir John Simon, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. François Piétri, French Minister of Marine.