760F.62/1429: Telegram

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


1678. Daladier lunched with me today. He described in some detail the conversations in Munich saying that Hitler had commenced the meeting by a tremendous discourse: that he, Daladier, had then stated that after all the question before them was extremely simple: all four countries represented were prepared to make war at once; the question was whether Czechoslovakia was to be attacked and invaded and destroyed or whether there was to be a reasonable settlement. He suggested that they address themselves to that at once.

Daladier said that after this statement of his Hitler calmed down and that the discussion proceeded in an extremely orderly manner until he, Daladier, announced that certain terms of the German ultimatum were entirely inacceptable to him and that he was prepared to make war rather than accept them. I gathered that these terms concerned the demand that the Czechs should leave in the Sudeten regions all foodstuffs, cattle, et cetera, et cetera. He said that Hitler began to explode at this point and that he, Daladier, left the room and walked up and down in an anteroom smoking cigarettes until about an hour later when Hitler appeared and said to him “what you ask is entirely unjust and unfair; nevertheless in the interests of peace in Europe I shall concede it.”

Daladier said that after this the conversations were relatively amicable and that Goering especially had devoted a great deal of attention and personal flattery to him saying that he had given France her old warlike spirit. Goering had invited him to spend an extra 2 days in Munich to visit the “sausage sociology” which amused him intensely. Goering had embarrassed him by saying that he would like to make an immediate trip to Paris which he had never visited. Daladier said that this had been the only moment of embarrassment that he had had during the negotiations and that he had replied that he hoped to invite Goering later.

He said that Mussolini throughout had been most amicable with everyone and had tried to persuade him, Daladier, that Hitler would have no further territorial ambitions after the annexation of the Sudeten, arguing that Hitler’s entire interest now would be concentrated on the rebuilding of Germany.

Daladier said that he did not believe a word of this. He thought that within 6 months France and England would be face to face with new German demands probably in the colonial field and that there [Page 712] might also be most serious Italian demands supported by Germany for Tunis and Syria. Daladier said that in his opinion the single thing which counted today was not diplomatic negotiations but strengthening of the military forces of France especially in the field of air armament. He felt that if France could do something to strengthen her position in the field of aviation the discussions which inevitably would come during the next 12 months might be carried on in an atmosphere of give and take. Otherwise France would be confronted with ultimatums.

We then discussed for an hour and a half the aviation position and ways and means of remedying it. I believe that it is more discreet for me to report this portion of our discussion by word of mouth when I reach Washington at the end of this week rather than by cable.

In a final comment on the conversations in Munich Daladier said that he felt that Chamberlain had been taken in a bit by Hitler who had persuaded him to remain after the others had left and had convinced Chamberlain that Germany was ready for peace. He said that he felt that Chamberlain was an admirable old gentleman, like a high minded Quaker who had fallen among bandits, and he did not think that Chamberlain’s last conversations with Hitler had been helpful.

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Daladier sees the situation entirely, clearly, realizes fully that the meeting in Munich was an immense diplomatic defeat for France and England and recognizes that unless France can recover a united national spirit to confront the future a fatal situation will arise within the next year.

Inasmuch as it appears to be likely that there will be no general war in Europe in the immediate future I request your permission to leave France on Wednesday October 5 by the steamship Normandie for home leave.