793.94/10783: Telegram (part air)

The Chargé in Germany ( Gilbert ) to the Secretary of State

250. I conversed today with the individual described in my 209, August 30, 5 p.m.44 who informed me that in line with the second paragraph of that telegram he had paid a visit to Berchtesgaden.

He said that he had impressed his views concerning Germany’s Far Eastern policy on Hitler’s entourage and had prepared a memorandum on this subject which Hitler had read. He had learned authoritatively in Berchtesgaden that Hitler’s policy respecting the Far East was “to remain friendly to Japan but not be against China”. In view of this he had not urged a definitely pro-Chinese policy but rather that Germany adopt a more strictly neutral position. He told me that he had become still more convinced after his conversations in Berchtesgaden that the underlying factor in Germany’s sympathy with Japan was Hitler’s belief that communism existed to a menacing extent in China.

My informant stated that there is a hidden but definite strife now in progress between the pro-Chinese and the pro-Japanese elements in Germany—the Foreign Office, the Economics Ministry and the War Ministry being pro-Chinese together with the majority of German editors and journalists; while the map-toying influence of Ribbentrop45 and largely on a purely ideological basis is pro-Japanese.

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He stated, however, that the party was not solid in this matter as the idea was becoming increasingly current that not only is there no real communism in China but that Japan’s assault on China would be advantageous to bolshevism by throwing China into the arms of Russia. Rosenberg, for example, he said, was now convinced that the German pro-Japanese policy was a mistake.

He felt that it was at present hard to say what result these conflicting ideas might have in respect of Germany’s ultimate Far Eastern policy.

My informant added that from his examination of this question he believed that Italy’s favoring Japan was due in part to Mussolini’s remembrance that China imposed sanctions on Italy in the Ethiopian affair while Japan did not. I stated that I believed that the chief reason for the sudden exhibition of Italy’s favoring Japan was based on the desire to strike at Great Britain wherever the chance afforded. He agreed with this saying that Italy’s Far Eastern policy was undoubtedly governed largely by European considerations.

I myself am inclined to feel that despite the views expressed above European considerations should be assessed in respect of Germany’s policy as well toward the Far East. My present general belief is that Germany is holding herself in a position of relative neutrality and will continue to do so in order to take advantage of any future developments.

My informant told me that Germany was continuing her military mission in China on an active basis as evidenced by the circumstance that three additional officers were proceeding to China this month and that one would go next month. He also believes that German munitions are being moved to China possibly in part by the Richmer line of ships although as shipments are also probably being made through Antwerp, Rotterdam, or other ports, movements of munitions are almost impossible to trace.

Copy by mail to Rome and to Brussels for American Nine Power Treaty delegation.

  1. Not printed. The informant was a leader in the “German-Chinese Society for Economic Cooperation” who had been on two missions to China.
  2. German Ambassador in the United Kingdom.