862.20/740a: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Straus )42

The following is a digest of American editorial reaction to Hitler’s announcement that the German Government would increase its national defense forces:

New York Times bitterly assails Germany’s action. Hitler’s account of motives leading to repudiation of treaty obligations is termed “a series of fictions” and his desire for a general and just place [peace?] is labelled “a pure myth”. Times maintains that Germany’s claim that she is putting forward merely measures of defense is grotesque since nobody intends to attack her. Germany’s action regarded as “most reckless repudiation of an international obligation and worst threat to the cause of peace which has ever come even out of Berlin.”

New York Herald Tribune regards “Hitler’s martial madness” as surely leading to war. Most of editorial is devoted to speculation regarding present state of Germany’s armaments and which powers may side with Germany once the die has been cast.

Baltimore Sun yesterday opined that Hitler’s decision “trumpets to the world the final and complete collapse of the system of collective security.” While Sun asserts “Hitler and his Germany bear the responsibility for the tremendous acceleration in recent months of Europe’s return to international anarchy and to peril” it expresses belief that it is not all Hitler’s fault and that the Allies and the world created a situation against which Germany, “led by a madman”, was bound to rise. Today the Sun editorially ascribes Hitler’s action to the rapid development of the internal economic crisis in Germany which it feels is much more serious than is generally believed. In choosing between a possible internal explosion and a foreign military diversion, the Sun fears that Hitler will choose the latter.

Washington Post states that no well informed person can feel surprised at what has happened and that Hitler’s action is “the most honest fulfillment of a definite pledge to the German people.” It maintains that before the bar of international justice “the German case for rearmament is very strong”. The Post feels that “soon or late, by concession of the victors or by assertion of the vanquished, the [Page 302] intolerable stigmas of the treaty of Versailles were due for obliteration” and points out that the only ultimate alternative to acceptance of German equality is another war completely to destroy and dismember that nation, which would involve collapse of the remainder of European civilization.

Philadelphia Inquirer editorial vehemently attacks Germany accusing her of seeking to regain by force what she lost in the World War and of making of the Versailles treaty another scrap of paper. Hitler’s explanation of the reasons for his action is described as “hypocrisy” since every effort at reconciliation has “been received with little more than surly acquiescence”.

The Inquirer insists that Germany has learned nothing since the war and that her dream of dominating Europe has not been dissipated: as such she is the “Pariah of Nations”.

Philadelphia Record, after stating that an effective army in the hands of Hitler is more dangerous than dynamite in the hands of a fool, urges that the United States keep out of Europe, and above all that there be no more high flown talk about saving Europe from herself. The Record recommends in the event of war no political or economic entanglements, adoption of a policy of real neutrality, no business transactions with any of the belligerents and nationalization of munitions.

Kansas City Star: “Germany finds itself virtually alone in Europe and Hitler may discover that after all more is to be gained by cooperative policy than by a program of bluster”.

Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Most civilized men and women still believe that war is not more than a remote possibility. But everyone knows that from now on every nation will strain every nerve to prepare for the possibility, no matter how remote.”

The Portland Oregonian says that the Allies failed to keep their promise to disarm and continues: “France could have led the other nations to fulfillment of the disarmament. Instead she took advantage of the interim of German helplessness to build her own defenses. It could not but lead to the rise of a Hitler or of someone else equally pledged to disavow the Treaty restrictions.”

At press conference this morning, the Secretary refused to make any comment in regard to the European situation. Asked whether any communication or enquiries had been addressed to him by European powers or whether Germany had notified the United States of the decision to increase the strength of her army, the Secretary replied in the negative.

Repeat to London, Berlin, Rome, Geneva.

  1. See last paragraph for instructions to repeat to London, Berlin, Rome, and Geneva.