740.00/156: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bullitt ) to the Secretary of State

556–557. I lunched today with Delbos and Sir Eric Phipps, the new British Ambassador. Delbos admitted that he felt the ability of France to come to the assistance of Czechoslovakia or any other state of Central or Eastern Europe had been diminished greatly by the new policy of Belgium. He said that, in view of this diminution of France’s ability to come to the assistance of Czechoslovakia, he felt that it would be necessary in order to save Czechoslovakia from Germany to have the British Government make it clear that in case of a German attack on Czechoslovakia Great Britain would go to war for Czechoslovakia.

Reference was then made to the recent statement of the British Foreign Office to Beneš that Great Britain was not [dis]interested in the fate of Czechoslovakia. Delbos said that he considered this insufficient and urged Phipps to obtain from his Government a definite promise to support Czechoslovakia. Phipps replied that the British Government could not make any such promise in advance and could only act as it saw fit if a German invasion of Czechoslovakia should occur.

Phipps who has just been transferred to Paris from Berlin exhibited a hostility to Germany and the German Government surprising to me. I questioned him with regard to Germany’s colonial demands. He said that the German Government had informed him that it would be satisfied with nothing less than the return of all the colonies taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. He went on to say that he considered Hitler a fanatic who would be satisfied with nothing less than domination of Europe.

There was much conversation between Delbos and Phipps on the theme that peace might be preserved in Europe if England and France should show their teeth to Germany and have behind them the benevolent neutrality of the United States. Both Delbos and Phipps expressed themselves as extremely satisfied by our neutrality legislation.15 They agreed that it was now desirable to attempt to push conversations with regard to settlements in the matter of armaments not because they thought that any result would be achieved but because they felt it would be desirable to keep Germany talking about something while Britain rearmed.

I gathered that both the French and British Governments had encouraged Hitler to prepare proposals for Geneva with this end in view.

[Page 85]

Both Delbos and Phipps were of opinion that Hitler could now take Austria at any time he might choose without creating serious international complications.

Bullitt
  1. See pp. 868 ff.