862.20/742: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Atherton) to the Secretary of State


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I am informed by the Foreign Office that when Hitler saw Ambassador Phipps11 on Saturday he stated in very general terms that Germany insisted upon equality with France on land, in the air and [Page 67] on the sea but that of England, Germany only sought 33 [35] percent of England’s effective naval strength. Foreign Office understands no reference was made to naval strengths in conversations with French and therefore asks the above be regarded as strictly confidential. Simon12 will raise this naval question on his Berlin visit and point out the futility of ratios and that international naval discussions should be based on programs. If Simon seems to get anywhere with this line of approach to Hitler he will carry further the idea of naval discussions with Germany in London, presumably to begin shortly after Easter.13 (See paragraph No. 2 of my 84, March 1, 4 p.m.)14 Craigie15 understands Tokyo hopes for a naval conference as early as June and Matsudaira had recently asked as to when the Foreign Office proposed opening further discussions. Great Britain pointed out no further steps were possible until the result of Yamamoto’s conversations on his return to Japan were known since the Foreign Office had gone so [as] far as it could without knowing how far Tokyo was prepared to meet British proposals of last autumn.16

Foreign Office considers this last German declaration may temporarily stiffen Japanese attitude.

  1. Sir Eric Phipps, British Ambassador in Germany.
  2. Sir John Simon, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. For correspondence concerning the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, June 18, 1935, see pp. 162 ff.
  4. Vol. iii, p. 544.
  5. Robert Leslie Craigie, British Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  6. See telegram No. 26, November 9, 1934, 6 p.m., from the Chairman of the American delegation, Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 326.