The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Bingham ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 4:37 p.m.]
680. During the course of a conversation at the Foreign Office yesterday, the German-Japanese anti-Soviet Pact was mentioned and in this connection the recent visit of Ribbentrop to Rome. The official asked if the Embassy had indication of how the United States Government viewed the German-Japanese anti-Soviet Pact and its possible effects and suggested that it would be useful if the Foreign Secretary when he was at Brussels might have an informal exchange of views on this matter with Mr. Norman Davis9 and possibly Mr. Hornbeck10 and Mr. Moffat.11 The official went on to say that according to the information of the Foreign Office, Germany was making an effort to secure an enlargement of the anti-Soviet Pact with Japan by securing the adhesion of other countries, this being with the view of establishing for herself a guarantee of hegemony over those countries. I did not gather that the Foreign Office views the anti-Soviet Pact with any particular concern merely as an indication of an alliance between Germany and Japan, but rather from the viewpoint that Germany is attempting to use it as a leverage to further her aims in Europe. According to the Foreign Office it is Germany rather than Japan that is taking the initiative in the efforts to enlarge the Pact. Poland, he said, had twice refused an invitation of Germany to adhere to the Pact. The Foreign Office is not sure what response has been given Germany by Portugal. Brazil, for some reason which is not clear, was approached by Japan in the matter and not Germany and returned an evasive answer.
The Foreign Office has what it believes reliable information that for some time prior to Ribbentrop’s visit to Rome independent talks [Page 610] went on between Japan and Italy with a view to negotiation between those two countries of a bilateral anti-Soviet Pact parallel to but independent of the German-Japanese Pact. To this Germany is said to have strenuously objected and to have insisted that the original German-Japanese Pact be enlarged by adhesions of other countries. The belief was expressed that an announcement of Italy’s accession to this pact would be forthcoming shortly.
The Foreign Office appears to see in these maneuvers of Germany something more than efforts motivated by fear of infiltration of Communist principles into Germany. The isolation of Russia, which the success of these efforts might lead Germany to hope for, would serve other purposes and at the same time Germany would have built up a group of nations under her leadership in which dislike of Russia would serve as the starting point of what might develop into a loose alliance. To state the matter simply, it appears from the Foreign Office’s statement that Germany is endeavoring through the anti-Soviet Pact to set up a bloc of nations under her own leadership in opposition to the Anglo-French and Franco-Soviet combinations.
I gather that Ribbentrop’s visit to Rome has puzzled the Foreign Office here; that they feel reorientations of policy are taking place on the continent; that they are somewhat puzzled and anxious and are trying to ascertain what direction these new moves are taking. No one seems to know exactly what Germany is driving at and it is of interest in this connection that, according to my Foreign Office informant, the Foreign Secretary was sufficiently puzzled and concerned by Ribbentrop’s visit to Rome to express to him on his return to London a vague surprise at such field of activity for the German Ambassador to Great Britain. It seems that the German Ambassador interpreted this, which was really a hint for information as to what he had been doing, as an expression of extreme regret on the part of the Foreign Secretary that he had not remained in London where his services were invaluable, and so reported to the German Foreign Office, giving them to understand that his position in London was so tremendous that he had been reproached for staying away so long.
I was also told that apropos of the invitation to Germany to attend the Nine Power Conference at Brussels Ribbentrop had stated somewhat obscurely to Eden12 that Mussolini “ought to win in the fight with China” for the sake of the whole world as it would be a valuable setback to communism. If this statement accurately represents the views of Hitler and the German Government it would seem to offer a sufficient explanation of why Germany has declined the invitation. A not illogical inference would be that Germany has not [got?] her [Page 611] own terms with Japan, for what they may be worth, for the safeguarding of her considerable interests in China.
A member of the staff has written a private letter to Moffat at Brussels conveying information of the Foreign Office’s expressed desire to exchange views with officials of the Department regarding the German-Japanese anti-Soviet Pact. The information outlined above in regard to German activities in this connection was given by the Foreign Office in the utmost confidence. It has not been detailed in the letter to Moffat at the express requests of the Foreign Office.