The Ambassador in Germany (Dodd) to the Secretary of State

No. 1845

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 46 of March 12, 6 p.m. concerning the interview which General Göring had with a representative of the Daily Mail, and now to report that to all intents and purposes the Nazi Government has publicly announced the establishment of a military air corps, regardless of the provisions of the Treaty30 in regard to armaments, on the grounds that “it is indispensable that Germany, in the development of her national security, should take into consideration the matter of aerial defense.”

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The complete report of the interview referred to was carried in the edition of the Daily Mail of March 10, and the same report in digested form was carried in a semi-official Deutsehes Naohnchtenbüro release of March 11.

It is, of course, a matter of general knowledge that air armament activities, begun immediately after Germany left the League,31 have been given special attention under various guises, and it seemed inevitable that a statement on the subject would be made when an opportunity presented itself. This opportunity apparently appeared after the proposals of Great Britain and France were made to Germany to join other powers in entering on a new air pact with a view to common action against aggressive countries, and general peace in Europe.

While it might seem that the announcement made by Göring was in some measure a retaliatory step against Great Britain following the release, on March 4, of the British White Paper, there does not appear to be any direct connection between the two incidents. The British Military Attaché for Air, Colonel Don, informed the Embassy yesterday that, in conversation with Colonel Wenniger of the Reich Air Ministry at the newly arrived Japanese Ambassador’s reception on the afternoon of March 4, he had been told that Wenniger would have some interesting information for him the latter part of the week. On Saturday, March 9, Colonel Don was informally informed of the development embodied in Göring’s statement, as were various other Air Attachés. While the White Paper was apparently released in London on March 4, the plan for the announcement of a German military air force was undoubtedly made long before Wenniger first spoke to Colonel Don of the matter. The announcement simply coincided with the White Paper incident, and marks the completion of the first portion of a military program on the part of the Nazi Government.

It may therefore now be assumed, if there were any doubts on the point previously, that this Government is taking no practical cognizance of the provisions of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles. Full advantage is taken of the suggestion made as a foundation for a future agreement to promote the peace of the world by the French and British Ministers in London, which, inter alia, was that “simultaneously, in conformity with the declaration of December 11, 1932,32 regarding equality of rights in a system of security, this settlement would establish agreements regarding armaments generally which, in the case of Germany, would replace the provisions of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles at present limiting the arms and armed forces of Germany.”

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Apparently the orders converting the German Flying Union (Luftsport Verband) into a military unit will become effective April 1, and the unit will be called the Deutsche Luftstreitkraft. One of the first steps in the “conversion” is that military titles and insignia will be given to the corps personnel. The gradual approach towards military uniforms in the dress of the unit has been noted for considerable time and the actual insignia has been seen on the streets for several days. Furthermore, the American Assistant Military Attaché was informed that a Major Schultheiss has been appointed as Military Attaché for Air to the German Embassy in Rome and will arrive at his post on April 1. Other appointments have not been announced.

The British Military Attaché for Air, together with other similar officers (the American has not yet received an invitation) will be called to the Ministry on March 23, at which time an explanation of Germany’s air organization, following the announcement, will be made.

As Air Minister, Göring will be at the head of the Air Force, his rank, newly created, to be that of “General der Flieger.”

The Nazi Government were probably grateful to the French and British Ministers in London for such expressions in their peace proposal as “it is suggested that the signatories would undertake immediately to give the assistance of their Air Forces to whichever of them might be the victim of unprovoked aerial aggression by one of the contracting parties”, for it gave them the argument that unless they had the “defensive” air force with which to assist against aerial aggression there would be no point to entering an agreement.

There is enclosed herewith, in copy and translation, an article33 on German air defence, which appeared in the semi-official Deutsches Nachrichtenbüro, of March 11, 1935.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Part V of Treaty of Peace between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany, signed at Versailles, June 28, 1919, Treaties, Conventions, etc., Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1910–1923 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923), vol. iii, pp. 3329, 3398.
  2. October 14, 1933.
  3. Five Power Declaration, Foreign Relations, 1932, vol. i, p. 527.
  4. Not printed.