760C.62/942: Telegram

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

1221. Personal for the Secretary. I have just had a talk with the Prime Minister. His 2 weeks’ vacation has evidently not done him much good. He said the spectre of the impending catastrophe was over him all the time. He looks very bad and is terribly depressed. I said to him, “How does it look?” and he said, “Very bad but I have done everything that I can think of and it seems as if all my work has come to naught.” He showed me his message to Hitler which was sent today through Ambassador Henderson and has been telegraphed to Lindsay38 for communication to you. It has likewise been telegraphed to Paris and Warsaw and a shortened version to Rome. I asked him if he thought that the guarantee of the countries might not be looked at in the same light as the guarantee to Czechoslovakia and he said he was afraid it would be but there was nothing pleasant he could offer. He said there was nothing definite he could do in getting the Poles to make any concessions because to attempt that at this time would probably prove more disastrous than accomplish any good. He says the futility of it all is the thing that is frightful; after all they cannot save the Poles; they can merely carry on a war of revenge that will mean the destruction of the whole of Europe. I asked him if he thought the Pope could do any good and he said no; that they had been working along with him but were convinced he was not able or did not feel he could be of any service in the problem at all.

He reiterated to me that the Far Eastern situation was in a pretty bad mess although he felt the Japanese were stunned by the German-Russian [Page 356] agreement and that since he knew the Chinese were fed up too the time might have arrived when a broad plan of peace might be worked out in Japan but again he said the whole question is time; that if Britain becomes involved in a European situation the situation in the Far East will become progressively worse.

I left with the feeling that the situation was dark and much worse than it was a year ago and that the only hope is for some action of the Poles in negotiating with the Germans which will make another delay possible. Although I talked with him for almost an hour the sum and substance of it all was sheer discouragement with the picture as it stands. He is not giving this impression at all outside because for the most part his associates feel that he is very stiff and in low spirits.

If the President is contemplating any action for peace it seems to me the place to work is on Beck39 in Poland and to make this effective it must happen quickly. I see no other possibility.

  1. Sir Ronald Lindsay, British Ambassador in the United States.
  2. Józef Beck, Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs.