The Chargé in Germany (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 13—9:25 a.m.]
355. Within the last few days I have held brief conversations with the representatives here of Argentina, France, Great Britain, Japan, Poland, Russia, Turkey, as well as of certain smaller countries. They all emphasize the critical state of affairs in Europe and manifest pessimism as to the possibility of avoiding a conflict but although they point to the element of surprise which is always present in the tactics of Germany they all appear to agree in professing a belief that immediate action on the part of Germany against Poland need not be expected.
In view of this state of uncertainty indications of possible manifestations of German policy in immediate prospect are sought in those concrete factors within the country which would be involved in any such manifestations and in this regard the present status of war preparations in Germany are considered of special importance. I therefore submit the following brief résumé of those preparations as of today which has been prepared from information available to the Military and Naval and Air Attachés to this Embassy:
The present status of the German Army gives no positive indication of a contemplated use of military force for the next few days. Under the system of training, however, which is now in progress in Germany, there are a minimum of 1,500,000 men under arms and in organized units. Both the size of this force and the location of the [Page 186] troops is such that a swift move to seize and hold Danzig and the Corridor could be made with no previous warning and could be followed by a general mobilization within a period of 4 days to a week. There have been within the last 2 days evidences of slightly more than usual military activity but these cannot be attributed directly to any concentration of troops. Furthermore there have been no indications to date of the assembling of civilian transportation in the quantities essential for active armed operations as was the case in September 1938 although this may be partially attributed to the large amount of military transport made available through the seizure of Czech equipment. The most significant feature of the present military situation is the fact that the S. S. Leibstandarten Adolf Hitler which normally does not form a part of the peace time army is now in the field in the vicinity of Neustettin in the German defensive line. There is no indication, however, of any troop concentration within 30 kilometers of the Polish border.
As regards aviation more air activity has been apparent since the beginning of May than at at any previous time since the German air force was restored and this activity apparently may be attributed in part at least to the intensive training with the latest types of combat air craft of reserve and commercial pilots as well as to military pilots of the regular air force.
As regards naval preparations there is no present indication of any special activities which may not be attributed to the maneuvers which usually take place at this time of year.
In conclusion it may be stated that insofar as may be ascertained the war preparations as of today have not in every respect reached the stage marked during the crisis of September last. The impression prevails, however, in foreign military circles here that a move by Germany against Poland could be undertaken at any moment and that any development which might be regarded by the German Government as indicating a weakening of the position of the non-aggression powers and especially of England would constitute an important factor in precipitating such a move.