Memorandum of Trans-Atlantic Telephone Conversation Between the Ambassador in France (Bullitt) and the Acting Secretary of State


Mr. Welles: What is happening today?

Mr. Bullitt: I have just seen Bonnet and the German Ambassador handed him half an hour ago a note from his Government saying that since everything which had happened had happened at the request of the Czech Government which was unable to preserve order, and since he had taken possession of the territory at the request of the Czech Government, there was no cause for France to get excited about anything. He said he received this note and made no comment of any kind. He saw him for just about two minutes because I was waiting to go in myself. In general the news of what had happened was not published until this afternoon because it happened too late for the early morning papers and the reaction is just beginning, but the people over here in general are completely stunned by these repeated blows. I do not know how pronounced the reaction will be, press reaction, I mean. There is the most intense and violent private feeling. I wanted to ask you if there was a possibility that we might have something to say.

Mr. Welles: I spoke with the President this morning and also gave him your telegram.72 He has decided that he is not going to say anything at this time; and with regard to neutrality legislation, since there is every prospect that that will be coming along satisfactorily in the immediate future,73 he does not want to tie that up with this.

Mr. Bullitt: Is the reaction of the country as intense as I have been led to believe?

Mr. Welles: The reaction is exactly what you could expect, but at the same time there is a very definite feeling, so far as I can see from the press, that there is nothing personal, intimately personal, about it. It is a reaction to something horrifying and shocking but not personally connected, and from the impressions I get—I was up two hours and a half with the Foreign Relations Committee this morning—the impressions that I get are that it would be very much better not to link this up with neutrality legislation since I think that will be coming along in very satisfactory form.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. Telegram No. 485, March 15, noon, not printed.
  2. See pp. 656 ff.