760F.62/739: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bullitt ) to the Secretary of State

[Extract]

1425.…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Bonnet said he felt the situation had been improved somewhat yesterday afternoon by the declaration of the British Government.19 Hitler must now know that if he should march into Czechoslovakia he would have immediate war with both France and England. The question remained whether or not Hitler was so confident of the overwhelming superiority of his air force that he would risk war now.

The negotiations between the Czech Government and the Sudeten leaders were progressing fairly satisfactorily as the Sudeten had been obliged to recognize that the concessions offered by the Czech Government constituted at least a 70 percent concession of their demands.

Bonnet added that he was intensely apprehensive with regard to what Hitler might say tonight. He asked if I thought it might be possible for the Government of the United States to instruct our Ambassador in Berlin to say to the German Foreign Office that in our opinion the negotiations now engaged in between the Czech Government and the Sudeten offered great possibilities of a peaceful settlement of the dispute and that we would regard the use of force at this moment as contrary to the interests of humanity.

I replied that I was extremely doubtful that our Government would wish to make any such démarche and still more doubtful that our Ambassador in Berlin could see anyone of sufficient importance before this evening to have any influence on Hitler’s speech.

In conclusion Bonnet said that in spite of the dark features of the present situation which made it impossible to predict what the outcome would be he found it difficult to believe that Hitler would make the deliberate decision to plunge Europe into a war which could end only in the destruction of the Continent.

Bullitt
  1. Presumably the warning that the British Ambassador had been Instructed to deliver to Hitler on September 11, but which was not delivered; see telegram No. 897, September 11, 5 p.m., from the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, supra.