760C.62/1941: Telegram

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

1561. Bonnet said to me tonight that he wished to say something which he had never said throughout the crisis of September of last year. He believed that there was no longer the slightest hope of preserving peace.

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Hitler, he thought, had decided to attack Poland on Friday evening41 and he thought that nothing could turn Hitler from this course. The only narrow avenue of hope seemed to him the reluctance of Italy to become engaged in war. It might be possible at the last moment to get the Italians to propose some sort of a conference which Hitler would feel obliged to accept because he would be afraid of losing Italian support if he should refuse. He feared, however, that Italy would not make such an appeal. He was convinced that Mussolini was a sick man who had embarked so far on a course of action contrary to the interests of his country that he felt he could not withdraw.

Since the Japanese had been profoundly shocked by the action of the Germans in agreeing to make a pact with the Russians he could not help feeling that if there was some one who could enter into contact with the Emperor of Japan it might be possible to influence the Japanese seriously at the present time.

His information from Moscow indicated that the agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union had not been signed today and in spite of the negative attitude of Molotov to the French and British Ambassadors he was still hoping that there would be another theatrical turn in the situation and that the Russians in the end would refuse to sign the pact.

He did not really believe, however, that any of these avenues to possible peace was real. There were only 2 days left, he believed, before the date that Hitler had fixed for the outbreak of war and he thought that this time was too short for preventive action. Hitler’s reply to Henderson today had been decisive.42

His judgment of the situation was the following: Hitler desired to crush Poland and have France and England stand aside but Hitler knew that France and England would fight and had decided that he would risk war with France, England and Poland.

Bonnet added that he had received this evening a telegram from the French Military Attaché in Warsaw stating that Beck had said to Noel, French Ambassador to Poland, late this afternoon that Poland was now prepared to permit the entry on Polish soil of the Soviet armies to combat Germany. I questioned the accuracy of this information and Bonnet said that indeed he did not know whether the report was true or not. He had repeated it to the Polish Ambassador tonight and the Polish Ambassador had replied that he was convinced that the report could not be true. If it should prove to be true, the Russians would be placed in an exceedingly embarrassing position if they had not already signed their agreement with Germany.

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Bonnet said that he hoped that the President of the United States would attempt in some way to preserve peace. He had no suggestion to make because his imagination had stopped working on peace since he considered war certain. It would, however, be of immense benefit if the President should point out to the world that no question involved in the present dispute could possibly justify the sacrifice of 30,000,000 soldiers and the devastation of the whole of Europe.

The British Chargé d’Affaires called on me again tonight and said that Hitler’s flouting rejection of the message which Chamberlain had sent him through Henderson had made the remarks the officials had made to me this afternoon (see my telegram No. 1560, August 23, 8 p.m.) an academic question and past history. It seemed clear to him that Hitler had decided to make war and he could not imagine what influence could turn Hitler from this course.

  1. August 25.
  2. British Cmd. 6106, Misc. No. 9 (1939), doc. No. 60, p. 102.