862.34/141: Telegram

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

515. My 511, June 18, 6 p.m. While the French reply to the British memorandum on the naval understanding with Germany was as reported measured in tone the comment of the French press expresses indignation that Great Britain should have faced France with what is to all intents and purposes a fait accompli.

The objections voiced by Massigli to Marriner (my 511, June 18, 6 p.m.) and further emphasized to him last evening by Leger,7 are analyzed in the press point by point and at considerable length. There is a feeling of resentment that Germany has finally been able to drive an effective wedge into the allied front achieved with such difficulty and labor at London, Stresa and Geneva.

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Jean Paul-Boncour8 who collaborated in preparing the French reply expressed as his personal opinion to Tuck9 that Craigie was primarily responsible for the idea and had let the French Government down badly. He stated further that the Quai d’Orsay from the start of the British negotiations with Germany had been kept in the dark as to the details of the understanding.

He likewise expressed the opinion that Craigie, who, according to French official sources, has been kept rather in the background of late had been able to “sell” the idea to his Government which had accepted it without sufficient consideration of the numerous and intricate complications which were bound to arise therefrom particularly in conjunction with the other principal naval powers. He stressed his belief that the result of German construction to 35 percent (approximately 400,000 tons) would inevitably cause the Soviet Government to embark upon a vast program. Were this to occur Germany would in all probability consider herself free to proceed to construction in excess of 35 percent in accordance with the provisions of paragraph C part 2 of the text of the White Paper.10

The Matin today carries a short dépêche radio announcement dated Washington, June 18, a translation of which follows:

“In official American circles it is understood that the United States Government approves in principle of the naval accord concluded today between Great Britain and Germany.

“In such circles the hope is gratified that this Anglo-German accord will contribute to render possible a new limitation or new reduction in armaments amongst the principal naval powers in accordance with the principle of the naval treaties of Washington and London.”

It would be most helpful to have the Department’s reaction to the situation even though it be solely for strictly confidential guidance.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Alexis Léger, Secretary General of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Permanent delegate of France to the League of Nations.
  4. S. Pinckney Tuck, First Secretary of Embassy in France.
  5. British Cmd. 4953 (1935): Exchange of Notes between His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the German Government regarding the Limitation of Naval Armaments, London, June 18, 1985, p. 3.