760C.62/680

The Chargé in France ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

No. 4573

Sir: I have the impression that a second Munich, this time at the expense of Poland, may be in the making. The position of Daladier and the official position of the French Government remain, of course, that France will support Poland if the latter resists aggression against Polish vital interests. It is, furthermore, possible that Germany will try to settle the Danzig question with such a heavy hand as to leave no way open for the French and British to attempt further “appeasement.” Nevertheless my impression grows that many of the influences which were at work in France and England last September are coming to life again, and have determined that a trial of strength with Germany must again be avoided, and that if necessary Danzig must go the way the Sudetenland went.

Among the factors which contribute to the foregoing impression are:

(1)
The appearance of a sense of weariness over the continued tension in Europe. This comes out at times in conversation with French people. Recently inquiries were made of Daladier by members of parliament, who had received complaints from constituents, as to how much longer reservists who had been called to the colors would be kept on active duty. Daladier has announced that he intends to liberate by September 1st the reservists serving in the Maginot Line, and by October 1st other reservists, adding that if the situation permitted he might advance these dates.
(2)
One hears it said at times by French people that France must not allow itself to be dragged into war over Danzig. Such opinions were not expressed a few weeks ago. There is criticism that Poland intends to force France into war.
(3)
A feeling, probably widespread, that after all the present set-up of Danzig and the Corridor is unsound and not worth a war in order to perpetuate it.
(4)
A deep-seated dislike and distrust of Beck in French governmental circles.
(5)
Failure of the British and French Governments, after weeks of discussion, to give any effective financial assistance or to furnish arms to Poland. Failure of the British and French Governments to conclude the definitive political accords with Poland.
(6)
The possibility that the Anglo-French negotiations with the Soviet Union will fail. Failure to reach agreement with the Soviet Union would give a further argument to the “appeasers”, namely, that France and Britain cannot go to war for Poland unless the Soviet Union comes in.
(7)
Impossibility, in the case of war, of rendering effective military assistance to Poland. France would be obliged alone to attempt [Page 194] to break through the Siegfried Line. It is doubtful whether the British could get ships into the Baltic. Of course, in the long run France and Britain would win—but would it be worth it? (One hears such statements).
(8)
Concern in France over the role which Spain might play in case of a general war.
(9)
The terrible cost of continuing rearmament and the burden of financing the rearmament of Poland, Rumania, Turkey, Greece, etc.
(10)
Demoralizing effect of developments in the Far East: weakening of British prestige; realization that if war breaks out France’s Far Eastern Empire would, for the time being at least, be lost. If British fears over the Far East should limit British assistance to Poland in case of war to economic measures, such as an attempted blockade of Germany, that would strengthen the “appeasers” in France.
(11)
Persistence of the feeling in influential circles that after all France should abandon central and eastern Europe to Germany, trusting that eventually Germany will come into conflict with the Soviet Union, and that France can remain secure behind the Maginot Line. This feeling went under cover on March 15th last. It continues to exist, however.

Yours respectfully,

Edwin C. Wilson