740.00/1416: Telegram

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


920. Bonnet informed me today that the Papal Secretary of State Maglione had said last night to Charles Roux, French Ambassador to the Vatican, that in view of the replies the Pope had received which seemed to indicate that there was no immediate danger of war the Pope had decided to withdraw his suggestion. Bonnet said that Roux had added that the Vatican now desired to let the proposal die quietly and preferred to have the Pope’s action described not as a proposal but as a mere inquiry to test the ground.

The Papal Nuncio in Paris this afternoon confirmed to me that this was the attitude of the Vatican saying that the Pope would take no further action and that after all he had been merely taking soundings.

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

Both Bonnet and the British Ambassador are optimistic with regard to the future. They both believe that the inclusion of the Soviet Union, Turkey, Rumania and Poland in the front against German aggression, plus the increasing in military strength of England and France, plus the growing economic and financial difficulties in Germany and Italy, will make it evident in another 2 months that the balance of force is definitely against Germany and Italy. They believe that Germany and Italy are already so uncertain about the balance of force that they will not dare to make war. They both expect a number of crises in the coming month; but believe that in the end Germany and Italy will be compelled to negotiate on approximately the basis proposed by the President in his message to Hitler and Mussolini.

Incidentally the British Ambassador said to me today, as he has said to me twice recently, that his Government had only one fear at the present moment.

[Page 185]

Ribbentrop, to the certain knowledge of the British Government, was engaged in attempting to prove to Hitler that Germany could make war on France and England with impunity since it was certain that England and France could not even obtain military supplies from the United States. The recent debates on the Neutrality Act94 were being cited [by] Ribbentrop as proof that the United States in case of war would sell no military supplies or airplanes to France and England. The British Government therefore considered it of the highest importance that the modification of the Neutrality Act should if possible be brought about in the near future. Such a modification of the Neutrality Act would end all chance that Ribbentrop might persuade Hitler to risk immediate war. Bonnet said the same thing to me last night.

  1. See pp. 656 ff.