Memorandum by the Secretary of State

The German Ambassador during his call casually stated that he trusted there would be no misunderstanding about the true attitude of the German Government on political and peace questions. He showed no disposition to elaborate, and I then remarked that the German Government at this time had a greater opportunity than any within two generations to make a remarkable showing of leadership with a program that would gradually bring Western Europe to normal political, social and peace relations; that the nations could either take this course or they could continue more or less aloof from each other with more or less misunderstanding of each others true motives, purposes and objectives, with the result that each country would go forward and arm to the teeth and without limit and on an ever-increasing scale, so that at some stage some local incident perchance would ignite the spark that would start a conflagration which in its ultimate effects would not leave a vestige of Western civilization. The Ambassador hurriedly proceeded to disclaim any course on the part of his Government except that of peace. I repeated that of course we were simply speaking to each other as individuals interested in the peace and progress of the world, but that it would be wonderfully interesting to observe closely and to see whether the statesmanship of Europe went forward with these high purposes and this marvelous objective steadily in view and with a program and a spirit calculated gradually to approach and reach it,—or whether that statesmanship would become sufficiently bankrupt to break down and collapse without materially progressing in this direction, and instead proceed to swim with the tide in the direction of more friction, more fear, more suspicion, and increasing opportunities for war. I asked the Ambassador what about the news reports as to the alleged objective of the German Government with respect to the Polish Corridor. He instantly disclaimed and denied as to this. I then referred to the reported objectives, such as the economic union with Austria, the return of Memel, the restoration of certain portions of Czechoslovakia with 3½ million inhabitants, and certain other reported objectives. The Ambassador promptly disclaimed and denied as to each of these and insisted that his Government favored peace. I said, “What about disarmament?” He replied that his Government was and would be willing to disarm [Page 319] on relative equality with other governments. I continued at each stage to repeat as to the almost unprecedented opportunity of his Government for leadership with a program back to normal and peace conditions, and at the same time to emphasize how easy it would be for this opportunity to be lost or thrown away amidst the many difficult and chaotic things that were being said and done or threatened; that it would take a resolute person, strongly bent on the goal of stability in international affairs, political, economic, and peace, if such leadership were to succeed.

C[ordell] H[ull]