The Ambassador in Poland (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: As of possible interest and for your information, I am forwarding you, hereto attached, a memorandum, summarizing my observations, from the Warsaw angle, on the far-reaching [Page 731] repercussions of this Munich Conference and its immediate sequel.

This memorandum is a copy of the substance of a letter I have sent the President—and pressure of work in this office prevents my making a separate and “clean” copy for you at this moment. I therefore do hope that you will forgive me, under the circumstances.

With every good wish and renewed congratulations on the wonderful work you are doing I am,

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Biddle, Jr.

Memorandum by the Ambassador in Poland (Biddle)

Many signs point to the Munich Conference and its immediate sequel’s having already had far reaching repercussions throughout the whole extent of the European continent. As in effect pointed out in my previous letter, in view of the apparent check suffered by the western powers, the smaller countries, such as those of the Oslo group, which had already decided upon neutrality and upon repudiation of the compulsory sanctions clauses of the League Covenant, are already congratulating themselves on their foresight and wisdom. Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and the Scandinavians are more than ever determined not to be drawn into any conflict between the major powers.

States east and southeast of Berlin, though rapidly falling in line with Berlin’s orientation in an economic sense, are in many cases, still groping for some “out” (a) from eventual German political hegemony, and (b) from becoming the potential victims of “peaceful settlements” between the major powers. Poland is in this category.

The Chanceries of eastern and central Europe are now apparently practicing a “balancing policy”, characterized by a search for the orientation whereby they may be the safest (at least temporarily so) and wherefrom they may acquire the most benefits.

Having interpreted recent events to mean Britain’s and France’s “evacuation” of eastern and central Europe, certain states, such as Poland, Yugoslavia and Hungary, have recently been evidencing an inclination to look to Rome in their pursuance of a post-Munich course of “balance diplomacy” between Berlin and Rome. Due to Italy’s politico-economic position in central Europe, these smaller states looked for Italy to adopt measures towards preventing German penetration and domination in a region which Italy had hitherto regarded as her natural and legitimate sphere of interest. Moreover, the smaller states felt Italy might be tempted by the prospect of acquiring for herself in these parts, the leadership which France had apparently abandoned.

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For the second time however, since the Anschluss, and in this instance, at the recent Italo-German arbitration conference in Vienna, Mussolini succumbed to Hitler, and this blasted the hopes of statesmen of the smaller countries to Berlin’s east for Italian support.

Though Italy may desire to resist the German drive down the Danube valley by diplomatic and economic means, and by domestic intrigues, she would not at this date, in my opinion, dare to challenge Germany by force of arms. Indeed, I find it difficult to believe either in the will or ability of Italy (unbacked by the western powers) to stand up to Germany.

I find it equally difficult at this writing to foresee any development which in final resort will not imply a variable degree of German hegemony over the various individual states east and southeast of Berlin—a hegemony which certain economic and political arrangements between these states may mitigate, but not prevent. Moreover, as Germany’s trade offensive effectively advances, the states in its path can hardly afford to quarrel with their best customer, from a trade standpoint.

As regards Germany’s post-Munich position, it is interesting to note that as Germany emerges from the “have not” to the “have” category, Nazi inner circles are manifesting concern over the renewed vigor with which the western powers are arming.

Signs at the moment point to Germany’s planning on the one hand, a period of territorial reconsolidation and digestion, and continuance of her eastward trade offensive, on the other. Funk’s recent southeastern tour brought to light Germany’s new form of approach to the various trade goals envisaged in Berlin’s program. In brief, these bilateral negotiations may be characterized as an approach to meet the special circumstances prevailing in each country with which Berlin aims to do business. In cases where states are under-industrialized and thus unable to participate in the exchange of items of the character suitable to German requirements, Germany proposes to take in hand the organizing of an industrial structure within such states, providing them with technicians and materials—receiving in return food commodities and other products.

In connection with this eastward drive, Berlin’s present mood was characterized in effect, by the following statement recently imparted to me by an experienced observer who enjoys close contact with inner Nazi circles: Germany was not building a ramshackle road, such as that which Napoleon built. The road which present-day Germany was constructing would not tumble. While Napoleon was a great General, he had lacked the opportunity to learn many things present-day Germany had learned, and which only the modern world understood—such as, economics and the regularized expansion of population. I interpret [Page 733] this to mean that an almost “power drunk” and superconfident Germany intends to have no unsympathetic or undigested portions along the way towards its eastward goal.

My informant furthermore stated that inner Nazi circles were now looking to Mr. Chamberlain to see what he would propose. Accordingly, they expect great efforts to bring about European appeasement and understandings to characterize the next three to six months. Moreover, these circles did not anticipate at the moment a Four-Power Pact, rather they looked for conferences of several or more powers directly interested in any particular settlement.

As for Poland’s current position in light of Germany’s eastward politico-economic ascendency, I am aware that while Poland has already given evidence of “playing ball” with Germany economically, as a temporary expedient, she realizes it is a risky game at the best, and is seriously apprehensive in terms of the long-range political outlook. Indeed, Warsaw deeply regrets increasing evidences of Britain’s and France’s eastern and central European evacuation—for, although Warsaw has for long ceased to expect British and French military intervention in affairs of this section of Europe, nevertheless, Warsaw regarded evidences of their active interest in the light of a healthy balance.

As regards near future policies of the present British and French Governments, current signs indicate that France, like Britain, will exert efforts towards making peace with the dictators, and that France will try to secure from Hitler a statement of peaceful intentions somewhat along the lines of that which he made to Mr. Chamberlain.

Just how far the demands of Hitler and his Nazi “colony-mongers” will impede understandings of durable character between Germany, Britain and France respectively, remains to be seen.

With every good wish [etc.]