500.A15A4 General Committee (Arms)/85: Telegram

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

65. From Wilson. Interview today with Massigli18 and Aubert.19 I stated that I had been uneasy in America on receipt of telegrams from Geneva to the effect that there was indifference as to a treaty on manufacture and traffic, and added that beyond our real interest in the question one of the reasons which persuaded us to take the initiative was that we were convinced that France was with us. I wanted to know whether we could count on their cooperation.

Massigli replied that much of the discussion in the press regarding the disarmament situation has been fanciful. French information from Germany is to the effect that Germany will have 1,000 quasi-military [Page 7] planes by July, that they already have nearer 400,000 than 300,000 men in the Reichswehr. He added in the strictest confidence that a message had just been received from François Poncet20 in which the latter reports a conversation with Hitler. Poncet asked Hitler whether in the renewed armament discussions they could count on Germany’s being contented with the requirements set forth by that country to Eden and Poncet in January last year. Hitler, according to Poncet, replied in the negative, pointing out that since that time other nations had made further armament and especially Russia.

Massigli continued by stating that this made it apparent that armament discussions to be taken up again at the end of next week in London at the time of the visit of Flandin and Laval would have to be confined to the maintenance of the status quo of armaments, in other words, the Italian thesis during the past 2 years.

From the foregoing argument Massigli was persuaded that any arrangement regarding armament would take months of negotiation and that, therefore, it was highly advisable to formulate immediately a treaty such as we had in mind. The realization of such a treaty would give practical proof of the value of control and contribute to the realization of the larger question. Massigli could not pledge future French Governments to push for this end but stated that he and Aubert were convinced that every effort would be made to reach such a treaty.

We then discussed certain technical matters which will be analyzed and reported to you. In general I may say that the criticism of the French of our project is not of a nature to present insurmountable difficulties and except for the insistence which we expected for a wider application of control than is agreeable to us, I think our views can be readily harmonized. [Wilson.]

Straus
  1. René Massigli, French Assistant Director of Political and Commercial Affairs.
  2. Louis François Aubert, French representative on the Special Committee.
  3. French Ambassador to Germany.