760F.62/652: Telegram (part air)

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

413. Last night Heath9 met Captain Wiedemann whose special relationship to the Chancellor is known to the Department. Wiedemann discussed the Czechoslovak situation and said that he feared that the way the situation was developing Germany and other countries despite their desire for a peaceful solution might “slide” into war. He said that the danger of using a procedure of “bluff” was that one did not know at just what point a continuation of “bluff” would bring about a war. He said that the crying need of the moment was “clearness”. He further said by “clearness” he meant that Germany might state clearly the minimum terms which it would accept and what it would do if these terms were not agreed to; that Great Britain should set forth unequivocally what its actions and attitude would be; and third that Czechoslovakia should state what its maximum concessions would be. He avoided replying to an inquiry as to whether Germany had frankly made known to Great Britain just what minimum terms it would accept in the treatment of the Sudeten Deutsch. He spoke rather bitterly of the Simon’s [sic] speech and implied that his insignificant mission to Halifax had not been satisfactory. He indicated that in his last conversations with Halifax he had drawn a parallel between Great Britain’s failure to make clear its position at the beginning of the war and the present situation. He said that while he was alarmed over the way things were going he nevertheless had “the feeling [rather than?] the hope” that war would be avoided. He said that analysis of recent developments gave little justification for such a hope but that nevertheless he “felt” that war would be avoided. He said that he was voicing his personal views and impressions; that he had not seen Hitler for 8 days.

He then turned to the question of German-American relations which he said were “hopelessly bad” and indicated that he realized Germany’s faults in this connection.

He then said that it had been alleged that the leaders of the American Government actually desired a war because of the effect that it would have in solving the unemployment problem and enabling the President “under special war powers to put through various measures” which would be blocked or crippled in Congress during peace times. He inquired if this were true. Heath replied that such an allegation of irresponsibility on the part of the leaders of the American Government was utterly unfounded; that the President and other members of [Page 572] the Government had made it perfectly clear that America regarded war as disaster and not as a solution of any internal or other problems. Wiedemann then referred to a statement made to him by an American banker that if a general war should break out in Europe over the Sudeten question within 6 months America would inescapably take part. Heath said that no one could predict what if any action America would eventually take if such a catastrophe occurred.

He inquired as to the economic situation in America. To the statement that there had recently been some improvements in production he said it was a relief to hear it since in periods of increasing prosperity there was less likelihood of military action.

Wiedemann went on to say that while the German Government and the German people did not desire war yet, the generation which had come of age after the war in Germany had no faith in Germany’s obtaining reasonable objectives through a policy of conciliation and peaceful negotiations and was psychologically disposed to approve an aggressive policy of force. He said that this generation had seen Germany badly treated while she was following a conciliatory policy and on the other hand had seen National Socialism make gains for Germany by a policy of aggressiveness.

He went on to say that he thought National Socialism had reached “the turning point”. When asked whether the turn would be toward conservatism or extremism he laughingly replied that its policy could hardly be more “extremist” than it had been.

  1. Donald R. Heath, First Secretary of Embassy in Germany.