760F.62/640: Telegram

The Ambassador in Germany ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

410. In a talk with Weizsäcker I said that I had noted the critical attitude of the German press towards Simon’s speech7 and asked him to explain it. He replied that in his view the British had continuously (a) urged the Czechs to be reasonable, and (b) sensible about it if they were not reasonable. He thought a further step was necessary, namely (c) that they should warn the Czechs that unless they were reasonable British patience with them would be exhausted. He went on to say that each week this thing endured made it more dangerous. They had no definite news here of how Runciman was progressing. It was probably wise of Runciman not to express opinions. They certainly hoped and wished for his success.

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Weizsäcker then asked me bluntly what I thought about the situation. I told him that certainly the Sudeten and Czech claims were widely divergent, so widely as to appear incompatible but that nevertheless with good will and real desire on both sides no problem is insoluble and that there was at least a certain comfort that the Sudeten Germans were willing to talk and to talk details with Runciman.

Weizsäcker then said that what he had chiefly in mind was that I would tell him how I felt about the whole situation. I replied that I would give him the view of a foreigner living in this country and that it was in effect as follows. That all counsels would prevent the Government from military action. There was apprehension throughout the world at the continuation of the German military maneuvers at what seemed to be a critical moment in the negotiations with Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless when patience would produce so many advantageous results I could not conceive that the leader of Germany would throw his country into a struggle with the grave risk entailed of provoking France and Great Britain. However strongly Germany regarded the Sudeten problem its importance was incomparably less than the enormous importance of a general war. Even if Germany emerged the victor they would have lost infinitely more than they could possibly think of gaining in the Sudeten German area. Weizsäcker did not comment on what I had said.

If you have any suggestions as to my attitude in any future eventuality please give me the benefit thereof.

  1. Address at Lanark, Scotland, August 27, 1938.