740.00/371: Telegram

The Chargé in France ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

656. Daladier71 and Bonnet72 leave tomorrow afternoon by plane for London. They will be accompanied by Léger, Secretary General [Page 45] of the French Foreign Office and Rochat, former Chef de Cabinet of Delbos and now Chief of the European Section at the Foreign Office.

Rochat has just informed me that there is no set agenda for the London talks. He said that they will discuss the obvious questions: the Anglo-Italian agreement, the negotiation of a French agreement with Italy, and since future relations with Italy are conditioned on a satisfactory solution of various aspects of the Spanish problem, they will of course discuss Spain. “Above all” they will discuss Central Europe. He said that Henlein’s73 demands at Carlsbad74 were “very disquieting”. It seemed clear that what Hitler is aiming at for the moment at least is to “neutralize” Czechoslovakia; to render Czechoslovakia unable any longer to resist the expansion of German political and economic influence which would flow over Czechoslovakia into Eastern Europe. I asked whether it was not possible that the British might be prepared to sacrifice Czechoslovakia if by so doing they thought that they could obtain a general settlement with Hitler guaranteeing peace in Europe. Rochat said that he did not think the problem presented itself in just this way. It should be possible for the Czechoslovak Government to accept some of Henlein’s demands. There were others, however, which clearly could not be accepted. Rochat said that the Czechoslovak Government had prepared a far-reaching program of concessions which it was prepared to make to the Sudeten minority. (See my 637, April 22, 5 p.m.75) This program had been shown confidentially to the French and British but had not yet been submitted to the Sudetens. The question is likely to present itself to the British in the sense of whether in their judgment the concessions which Benes is prepared to make are reasonable and if so at what point Benes should be supported in declining to go any further in making concessions.

I said that I assumed there would be discussion in London regarding an approach to the matter of a general settlement with Germany. Rochat stated that the British Government had said nothing to the French Government on this subject as yet. He thought, however, that they would inevitably discuss this question but that the approach to it could open up only after a meeting of minds had been reached with the British concerning Czechoslovakia.

I asked if Blondel76 who arrived in Paris this morning had reported anything of interest regarding the negotiations with Ciano. Rochat said that he had not yet seen Blondel but that the reports received [Page 46] from him up to his departure from Rome indicated that no serious difficulty had arisen in the negotiations. There would be delay due to Ciano’s visit to Tirana so that the negotiations probably could not be concluded before Hitler’s visit to Rome but it was hoped that they could be concluded before May 9.

I spoke of the reports circulating in Paris to the effect that Daladier would discuss in London the question of a loan to the French Government for rearmament purposes or at least financial assistance in the purchase of airplanes in the United States. Rochat said that so far as he knew the Foreign Office had not been consulted on these points although it was possible that they had been discussed directly with Bonnet.

Repeated to London. Copies Berlin and Rome.

Wilson
  1. Edouard Daladier, President of the French Council of Ministers. The Ministry was formed April 10, 1938.
  2. Georges Bonnet, French Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Daladier Cabinet.
  3. Konrad Henlein, leader of the Sudetendeutsche Partei (Nazi Party) in Czechoslovakia.
  4. April 24, 1938; see British Documents, 3d ser., vol. i, doc. No. 157, pp. 182–186.
  5. Post, p. 488.
  6. French Chargé d’Affaires in Italy.