740.00/417: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State


598. I saw Mr. Chamberlain last night. He told me that the situation had been very troublesome here, more particularly as concerns [Page 57] politics internally than external conditions but that there is no prospect of any such thing as new election or change of Government.

As to the Czechoslovak situation he says they are still devoid of any real information; the Czechs tell him they are making real concessions to the Sudetens and the Germans tell him the Czechs are doing practically nothing. However, he is convinced that nothing is going to happen unless some unfriendly incident occurs such as the shooting of a couple of Germans or Czechs at the borders. Regarding the political negotiations he now feels that there is no real prospect of difficulty for some time at least.

The Spanish situation gives him a great deal more concern. He feels that while the bombing of British ships has been slowed down he anticipates it may start again any time and of course if people continue to read in their papers every day that British ships are being bombed his hand may be forced. He says the French front is closed and is hopeful that, if the Non-intervention Committee can work fast, some kind of an armistice may be worked out, but is not very encouraged. He said Mussolini is in a very bad mood; he is constantly baiting the French and when the English ask him to do business with the French he resents the British attitude. Chamberlain of course is inwardly very sore that he has to take all this nonsense from Mussolini but he reiterates again and again, “my job is to try to keep England out of war if I possibly can; therefore I am doing a lot of things that are difficult for me to do.” He is hopeful that Mussolini’s attitude may change and that he can exert some pressure to help on the Spanish settlement. He said that Mussolini assures him that since the English agreement he has not shipped any men or ammunition to Spain. Chamberlain has no reason to disbelieve this although he would not bet his life on it.

He is deeply appreciative of the reports I gave him of my talks with you and the President and said that he needs a moral uplift now more than at any time before. I was impressed by his seeming cheerfulness but underneath there is great concern over the pressure that is being brought to bear on him.

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