740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Locarno)/369: Telegram

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

60. Doctor Dieckhoff asked Mayer to come to the Foreign Office this morning in order that the Ambassador and the American Government could be informed of the situation which Hitler would outline in his Reichstag speech today. Dieckhoff gave Mayer for our information copy of a memorandum to the Locarno Powers which Hitler read at the conclusion of his dramatic hour and a half speech.

[Page 208]

In explanation of the memorandum, comprising part 2 of this message,53 Dieckhoff underlined the fact that Germany considers the Franco-Soviet pact in effect since not only had it been ratified by the Chamber and recommended for ratification in the Senate but the French Ambassador had informed Hitler on Monday that his Government considered itself bound by the pact.

Dieckhoff stated that the return of the demilitarized zone to full German sovereignty as a result of the invalidation of the Locarno pact by France would be by the symbolical act of the entry into the demilitarized zone this noon of several battalions of the regular army. This action, however, was devoid of any military significance and every effort would be made to demonstrate that its character was purely symbolical and in no way an offensive military measure.

Mayer inquired of Dieckhoff regarding reports of an Italo-German understanding with respect to the action to be taken today. Dieckhoff categorically denied any such understanding stating that Hitler’s action was as much of a surprise to Italy as to the other powers, that there was no agreement between Germany and Italy whatsoever, that indeed he felt that Italy would be of two minds with respect to today’s statement. On the one hand they would naturally be glad to see world interest shifted to Germany, but on the other hand Italy would doubtless not look with favor on certain aspects of Germany’s step.

Dieckhoff stated in strictest confidence that Eden had discussed the question of an air pact with Hoesch54 last night strongly favoring its negotiation.55

The greater part of the memorandum is devoted to an historical review of the new situation which Germany considers arises from the Franco-Soviet pact. It states the objections raised by Germany thereto and the conclusion to which Germany has come that the Locarno agreement has lost its intrinsic value and has practically ceased to exist. Furthermore, the situation is considered aggravated by the fact that the Franco-Soviet pact has been paralleled by the Czechoslovak-Soviet agreement.56 In the right of self-defense therefore the German Government has restored full and unrestricted sovereignty in the demilitarized zone. In conclusion the memorandum reads as follows:

“In order to forestall any misinterpretation of its intentions, however, and to place the purely defensive character of this measure beyond doubt, and also in order to lend expression to its unalterable liberal interpretation [longing] for a real pacification of Europe [Page 209] between equal and equally respected states, the German Government declares that it is willing to make new agreements for establishing a system of guaranteeing European peace on the basis of the following proposals:

The German Government declares itself ready to enter into negotiations immediately with France and Belgium relative to the formation of a demilitarized zone on both sides and to give its assent in advance to such a proposal in any depth and effect on condition of absolute parity.
The German Government proposes for the purpose of guaranteeing the inalienability and inviolability of the boundaries in the west to conclude a nonaggression pact between Germany and France and Belgium the duration of which it is ready to fix at 25 years.
The German Government desires to invite England and Italy to sign this treaty as guarantor powers.
The German Government agrees [that] in case the Royal Netherlands Government desires it and the other parties to the treaty consider it appropriate the Netherlands be included in this treaty system.
The German Government is ready to conclude an air pact for the purpose of further strengthening this security agreement between the western powers which is adapted automatically and effectively to prevent the danger of a sudden air attack.
The German Government repeats its offer to conclude nonaggression pacts with the countries bordering on Germany to the east similar to that concluded with Poland.57 Since the Lithuanian Government has revised its attitude toward the Memel District in the last few months to a certain extent the German Government withdraws the exception it was at one time forced to make with reference to Lithuania58 and declares that it is ready on condition that the guaranteed autonomy of the Memel district is effectively developed also to sign such a nonaggression pact with Lithuania.
Since the attainment at last of Germany’s equality and the restoration of full sovereignty over the entire German Reich territory the German Government regards the main reason for its former withdrawal from the League of Nations as removed. It is therefore ready to enter the League of Nations again. In doing so it expresses the expectation that in due time the question of colonial equality and the question of a separation of the Covenant of the League of Nations from its Versailles basis will be clarified by means of friendly negotiations.[”]

Full text of memorandum in pouch arriving Europa 16th.59

By telegraph to Geneva, to Rome, to Moscow, by air mail to Brussels, the Hague, London, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, Paris, Vienna, Belgrade, Riga, Sofia, Constantinople.

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. For full text, see British Cmd. 5118, Germany No. 1 (1936).
  3. Leopold von Hoeseh, German Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  4. See British Cmd. 5143, Miscellaneous No. 3 (1936), p. 72.
  5. Treaty of mutual assistance signed May 16, 1935, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clix, p. 347.
  6. Signed January 26, 1934, British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxxxvii, p. 495.
  7. See enclosure to despatch No. 113, April 17, 1935, from the Acting Chairman of the American delegation to the Disarmament Conference, Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. i, p. 248.
  8. Despatch No. 2714, March 9; not printed.