862.20/731: Telegram

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

116. Foreign Office informed me this evening they considered Hitler’s statement on conscription was made last Saturday not particularly in view of Simon’s forthcoming visit but for three outstanding reasons as follows:

Hitler has been rearming Germany since he withdrew from the League. With the announcement of the German air force last Monday and the estimates which he must shortly submit, this fact cannot longer be concealed from the world.
Hitler has been anxious not to make any move during the period since Germany’s withdrawal from the League that would unite Europe against him. He now sees with an understanding between France and Italy, close cooperation between England and France and the prospect of ever-improving relations between Russia and England, that in fact the isolation of Germany is practically complete.
“As a proof of the stupidity of the Germans” Hitler has just realized that in reality any time during the past 12 years Germany might have undertaken her complete rearmament without a preventive war being waged by the Allies.

Simon announced in the House of Commons this afternoon British Government had been in communication with the French and Italian Governments and the British Ambassador would deliver a note to the German Government this afternoon.

Following text given me in strictest confidence as it has not been given to press:

[Here follows text of note printed in British Cmd. 4848 (1935).]

The leader of the opposition asked in the House of Commons whether it was also proposed to discuss the situation with the United States Government and the other signatories of the peace treaty or to ask for a meeting of the Assembly of the League, to which Simon replied that “both these matters are under consideration.”

Eden41 answered “No sir” to the question whether Britain had given France an undertaking to enter a mutually protective arrangement with France alone if the wider scheme including Germany was not concluded.

  1. Anthony Eden, British Lord Privy Seal.