740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Locarno)/375: Telegram

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

61. As Hitler’s speech was sent textually by the Associated Press to be published in full by the New York Times62 I assumed this would satisfy your requirements in this respect. I shall discuss the speech on this basis.

Local diplomatic representatives are naturally reticent awaiting their cue from their respective Foreign Offices although I understand [Page 215] the British and French Ambassadors protested yesterday at the Wilhelmstrasse. It is, however, too soon to give any important local foreign or German reaction.

The speech was impressive. Its principal theme purported to express the desire of Germany to contribute toward international cooperation for world peace. Secondly there was the usual severe attack on Bolshevism but apparently there was a desire to divorce this from “Russia.” Thirdly the speech developed to the climax of the final restoration to Germany, by the reoccupation of the demilitarized zone, of her “equality” and the achievement of Hitler’s aim in this regard. There was tremendous cheering by the Reichstag and galleries at Hitler’s dramatic declarations in favor of Germany’s participation in international cooperation for peace. There was equal demonstration following Hitler’s statement respecting the regaining of German equality and the dangers of Bolshevism. Interestingly enough there was also great spontaneous applause for Hitler’s about-face with regard to the League of Nations.

The Department will have remarked the contradiction between the position of the German Government as expressed to us and to others a short while ago (see our No. 48, February 15, 6 p.m.) and to the precipitate action taken yesterday. It is too soon to be able definitely to interpret this change of policy. On the one hand there was the evident appeal to world cooperation in Hitler’s speech, his concessions to this end in the memorandum. On the other was the drastic action in reoccupying the demilitarized zone and the belligerent tone of the speech at times. This would seem to indicate a sort of compromise resulting from the efforts of the Foreign Office to have Hitler depart from the policy of “mutism” and so bring Germany back into the European diplomatic arena, i. e., a constructive attitude by Germany and contrariwise the necessity which Hitler is believed to have granted for some form of splitting popular radical feeling here, both as a sop to it and a device for permitting the change of policy respecting the League, etc.

Two of the best informed American newspapermen here also feel as we do that the immediate nature of yesterday’s action resulted partly at least from Flandin’s efforts to get the British to guarantee to support France with regard to Germany in return for French support vis-à-vis Italy and the oil sanctions; that Hitler felt it necessary to forestall such an Anglo-French arrangement respecting Locarno by a fait accompli. Incidentally these newspapermen have the same suspicions we have that Hitler’s move may not have been unwelcome to the British particularly as it made such striking concession with regard to international cooperation and the League.

So much for the hopeful aspect of the action.

[Page 216]

On the other side is the belligerent attitude which Hitler occasionally struck at the Reichstag meeting and his references to the Soviet Government and to Czechoslovakia which were interpreted in some quarters as alarming. Furthermore, despite the statement made by Dieckhoff yesterday morning of “several battalions” making a “symbolic entry” into the Rhineland, our Military Attaché63 states, according to reliable information, that by tomorrow morning, March 9, there will be some forty to forty-five thousand German soldiers in the demilitarized zone, say about three full divisions with appropriate corps troops. This is composed of the Rhineland “police” who are being incorporated into the army amounting to employment of one full division and two regular army divisions from outside the demilitarized zone with artillery etc. for the transformed “police” division. Major Smith believes the following cities have been garrisoned to date: Dusseldorf, Cologne, Aachen, Coblenz, Mainz, Saarbrucken, Trier, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Karlsruhe. He considers that the military reoccupation of the zone has greatly strengthened Germany’s military position in Europe. I received your No. 20, Mar. 7, 3 p.m.63a and will act accordingly.

Repeated by telegraph to Davis, Paris, London, Geneva, Rome, Moscow, Brussels, The Hague, Vienna, Budapest, Warsaw, Praha, by air mail to Constantinople, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Riga.

  1. March 8, 1936, p. 32.
  2. Maj. Truman Smith.
  3. See footnote 51, p. 207.