740.00/1840: Telegram

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

1232. Léger said to me today that he still believed there were eighty chances in a hundred that the negotiations between the Soviet Union and France and England would be concluded successfully in the near future.

He thought that the negotiations between the Soviet Government and Germany had broken down during the past week.

The Soviet Government had indicated that it would not seriously consider the political agreement with France and England being invalid [valid?] until the conclusion of a subsequent military agreement. The formula which had now been devised to cover the Baltic States, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland involved no direct guarantee of those states but only mutual assistance between France, England and the Soviet Union provided an attack directed against any of the three should be begun by a march through one of the small states named.

Léger said that relations between Poland and France had again become extraordinarily unpleasant. At a moment when it was absolutely essential for the French Government to know the exact thoughts of the Polish Government with regard to Danzig, the Polish Ambassador in Paris was so nervous and irritable that it was impossible to have any really intimate conversation with him. He had insulted both Daladier and Bonnet so grossly that Daladier would no longer see him and Bonnet could get nothing out of him. Similarly Beck in Warsaw had no relations of an intimate nature with the French Ambassador.16 [Page 280] As a result all the French Ministers from Daladier down were reluctant to do anything of a concrete nature for Poland. He, Léger, believed that both France and England should give loans to Poland and send airplanes to Poland at once in order to convince the Germans that France and England were determined to support Poland, if Poland should become involved in war with Germany. The Polish Ambassador was entirely right in his demands for such assistance; but his manner of presentation of his demands was such that he killed his own case.

Léger said that a crisis of the gravest nature at some time before the 15th of August was in his opinion inevitable. Such a crisis might develop any day. The news that the House of Representatives was about to pass the Bloom proposals for alterations in the Neutrality Act17 had just reached him. The passage of these changes undoubtedly would be a large factor in deterring Hitler from making war. The conclusion of the alliance with the Soviet Union would be another such factor.

Léger said that he hoped that the Government of the United States had made clear through diplomatic channels, the interest of the United States in a peaceful and reasonable settlement of the Tientsin incident18 and the opposition of the United States to the exclusion by Japan of all foreign interests from China. He added that he felt that it was much easier to prevent the Japanese from taking action than to get them to reverse action after it had once been taken. The moment the question of “face” was involved the Japanese were apt to become immovable.

In discussing the possibility that Hitler might risk war Léger expressed the opinion that the Reichswehr was now inclined to have war for the peculiar reason that the Reichswehr had become convinced that Hitler’s régime was intolerable and desired to establish its authority in the country and throw out Hitler. His own opinion was that in case of an early outbreak of war Hitler would soon be ousted by the Reichswehr which would then attempt to make peace. This might seem to be highly specious reasoning but he was convinced that the Reichswehr, which had been against war until recently, was now withdrawing its opposition to war.

I have received a peculiar but authoritative bit of information about Hitler’s present state of mind. To a man that he is in the habit of receiving once or twice a year, to whom last May he expressed the absolute conviction that war was not in his destiny, he said recently that now he realized that war was in his destiny.

  1. Léon Noël, French Ambassador in Poland.
  2. For correspondence regarding revision of United States neutrality legislation, see pp. 656 ff.
  3. See vol. iv, pp. 163 ff.