862.20/1102: Telegram

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

40. Mayer20 had a long talk with Dieckhoff yesterday evening when the latter discussed at length the question of apprehension toward Germany in England, France and elsewhere in Europe as well as the recent discussions in London and Paris.

Taking up first the question of German rearmament, Dieckhoff stated that while there was every intention of carrying out the announced program of 36 divisions which he did not feel could be considered excessive for a country of Germany’s size, position and strength there was also every intention of keeping within it; that the German army would not reach 32 divisions until this fall and the full 36 divisions until next year; furthermore, the air armament was still quite behind schedule. It was inevitable that the magnitude and speed of German rearmament, although within the declared limit, should create an impression of super armament. This was unfortunate but could not be helped. Furthermore, those who stated that Germany would have to super arm in order to maintain employment in war industries and war construction did not realize that this had all been planned for and that the slack would be taken up to a great amount by the new requirements of dwelling places and new building construction which the Government was holding in reserve for the time when rearmament would be completed. As announced in Hitler’s speech of May 2121 Germany was ready to go below the March rearmament program if others would act accordingly.

Discussing at some length the groundlessness of alleged British apprehension and mistrust of Germany, Dieckhoff said, “At least King Edward does not distrust us. Neurath22 had a long talk with him and felt he understood the situation thoroughly.” Dieckhoff then turned to the broader aspects of the question and stated that in the last analysis, and with the best will in the world on Germany’s part, he felt that the whole question reduces itself to the choice of two alternatives. Either Germany was to be treated on terms of real equality as had not been the case except in rare instances where such treatment had proven its success as, for example, the Anglo-German [Page 189] Naval Accord23 or the nature of events would bring about an explosion which would be disastrous for all concerned. Dieckhoff emphasized the irritation and repugnance aroused by the method of beginning negotiations among several nations with Germany only being invited at the conclusion.

Passing to the question of the demilitarized zone,24 and after giving the usual reasons for Germany’s distaste for this arrangement, he stated firmly, as he had said on previous occasions, that Germany had every intention of keeping to Locarno provided the others did so. Referring to recent rumor on this subject, Dieckhoff said that while the British and French had given most solemn assurances that their recent staff discussions referred only to the Mediterranean, he must state frankly that the value of those assurances was somewhat diminished by the fact that similar assurances given in 1913 and 1914, with regard to staff discussions, had proven valueless. Furthermore, these present assurances were weakened by the rather naive and amazing question Phipps had asked Hitler last December when he requested what would Germany’s attitude be if England established air bases in northern France and Belgium.

Finally, at the end of the talk, Mayer recalled Dieckhoff’s statement, based on Hitler’s May 21st speech, that Germany was willing to reduce her armament if others did so and asked point-blank whether if arms limitation were proposed to Germany would she fall in with the idea? Dieckhoff replied most emphatically in the affirmative that Germany would be glad to do so “since she still stood exactly as Hitler had stated in this regard on May 21st”. This appears contradictory to the attitude I have reported previously in my letters.

Copies to Paris, London, Geneva, Rome, Davis.24a

  1. Ferdinand L. Mayer, Counselor of the American Embassy in Germany.
  2. Before the Reichstag, May 21, 1935; for extract, see British Cmd. 5143, Miscellaneous No. 3 (1936): Correspondence showing the course of certain Diplomatic Discussions directed toward securing an European Settlement, June 1934 to March 1936, p. 32.
  3. Konstantin von Neurath, German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Embodied in an exchange of notes, June 18, 1935; for correspondence concerning the accord, see Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. i, pp. 162 ff., and for texts of notes, see British Treaty Series No. 22 (1935).
  5. See article 180 of the treaty of peace signed at Versailles, June 28, 1919, Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, p. 333.
  6. Norman Davis, Chairman of the American delegation to the London Naval Conference.