740.00/1684: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State

807. I had a talk with the Prime Minister last night. He said he does not regard the situation in a favorable light at all; that he would not be surprised if some time between now and the first of August Hitler would make a move. He regards the most important thing that could be done would be for the French to make some gesture to the Italians on the question of their demands. He said he is very much surprised that Daladier is so definitely opposed to even a discussion and thinks that the failure of the French to make some gesture may be the determining point in trouble starting. He is [Page 272] contemplating writing a personal letter, after Monday, urging Daladier to do something.

In answer to the critics who say that Mussolini is so tied up with the Germans that any gesture by the French could not possibly aid the democracies in their desire for peace, he says he does not feel it any stranger for him to think that Mussolini would be anxious to have some sort of deal with the French than was his prediction that the Italians would be withdrawn from Spain during the month of May. He said that his idea that the Italians would evacuate was not at all supported by most of his associates and the idea that Mussolini would welcome in his heart an agreement with the French is also not supported by most of his associates. The gesture that he and Halifax made to Germany yesterday in their statements to Parliament5 was Chamberlain’s answer to German accusation of encirclement and the charge that the British, once having attained a strong political position, would be averse to making any concessions whatsoever, and at the same time a hint to the French to get busy and help defense.

The Russian situation is most annoying to him. He is not at all sure that the Russians have the slightest idea of concluding the pact and if they do not accept the latest proposition, he on the other hand, is not at all sure that he will not call the whole thing off.

He is overwhelmingly delighted with the reception of the King and Queen in America6 and again paid tribute to the President in saying that, no matter how history is written, the President’s attempt to save the world from war can never be forgotten.

Summing up my talk with him last night: he felt he was doing everything that could be done to put him in a position of strength to condemn Hitler, but he is not confident that Hitler, in the back of his mind, has not decided to take England on. When I asked him when he thought the time would come, he said “Probably just in time to spoil our vacations—in August.” His apprehension is not based on any new information but rather on his inability to get anything out of Germany that indicates the slightest cooperation.

  1. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 348, p. 400, and ibid., House of Lords, 5th series, vol. 113, pp. 335 and 358.
  2. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the United States, June 7–12, 1939.