The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 18—5:07 p.m.]
775. I asked Léger55 today if Gafencu56 had proposed to Beck57 an alliance between Rumania and Poland directed against Germany. He replied that Gafencu had made this proposal and had made it in the form which seemed most easy of acceptance by Poland. He had suggested that since Poland and Rumania already had an alliance which was general in terms, but the additional military clauses of which indicated that it was to be operative only against the Soviet Union, no new alliance should be concluded, but there should simply be an exchange of notes between the Polish and Rumanian Governments, stating that this alliance was to apply against attack by Germany.
Léger stated that Beck had refused this proposal and said that he desired to negotiate a new alliance directed against Germany provided the Rumanians would give certain concessions to the Hungarians [Page 237] with regard to the rights of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania.
Léger went on to say that he considered that this meant that Beck was attempting once again to escape from making an alliance with Rumania and that he would take any good opportunity to avoid concluding this alliance.
Léger then stated that the British yesterday had made a most terrible diplomatic blunder. The French Government had proposed to the Soviet Union that if France should become involved in war because of a German attack on Rumania the Soviet Union should give immediately all possible assistance to France—it being clearly understood though not stated that this assistance would in reality be given in the form of military support of Rumania. The French had taken this form of approach to the question because of their desire not to give the Rumanians or Poles any excuse to say that France was arranging for the Red Army to walk into Rumania or Poland.
The British yesterday without consulting the French had proposed to the Soviet Government that Stalin should make a public statement to the effect that if either Poland or Rumania should be invaded by German troops and if either Poland or Rumania should ask for help from the Soviet Union that help would be accorded at once.
Phipps58 had informed Bonnet of this British move last night. Bonnet had expressed his horror and had predicted that such a statement by Stalin might give Beck an excellent excuse to refuse to include [conclude?] the alliance between Poland and Rumania. The British Ambassador had replied that this might be the case; but that it was too late to withdraw the proposal which had been made by Halifax59 to Maisky and was to be repeated by the British Ambassador in Moscow60 to Litvinov. He had insisted that the French Envoy61 in the name of French-British solidarity should be instructed to go with the British Ambassador to make this démarche in Moscow. Bonnet weakly had consented.
Léger said that it seemed to be too late to do anything to avoid the consequences of this blunder; but intimated that he would make last minute efforts to hold up any such declaration by Stalin until after the conclusion of Polish-Rumanian alliance.
I asked Léger if he felt certain that Stalin would agree to make such a statement and he replied that the British Government was confident that Stalin would agree.
- Alexis Léger, Secretary General of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Grigore Gafencu, Rumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Józef Beck, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Sir Eric Phipps, British Ambassador in France.↩
- Viscount Halifax, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.↩
- Sir William Seeds, British Ambassador in the Soviet Union.↩
- Paul Emile Naggiar, French Ambassador in the Soviet Union.↩