760C.62/969: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

887. My 882, Aug. 24, 11 a.m.44 I have just seen the British Ambassador and he gave me the following brief account of his representations [Page 359] to Hitler yesterday: Instructions from London reached the Ambassador during the night of August 22 and after communicating with a member of Hitler’s Secretariat and with Weizsaecker45 an appointment was made for yesterday at Berchtesgaden. In the conversation with Weizsaecker regarding the appointment the Ambassador was asked to indicate the nature of the representations which he proposed to make and he also gave assurances as to the secrecy surrounding the representations. The Ambassador left Berlin at 9 in the morning of the 23rd and as stated in my 882, August 24, 11 a.m. had two conversations with Hitler, one of which lasted about 45 minutes.

Henderson confirmed the statement contained in my telegram under reference as to the intensity and violence which Hitler displayed especially on the matter of alleged Polish outrages against Germans which he said had driven Germany to the final limit of patience. The Ambassador then outlined in brief the points in Chamberlain’s letter as to the restatement of the British position, the suggested discussion in an improved atmosphere of problems of interest to the two countries, and the matter of recommendation to the Polish Government on the minorities question in Poland. The Ambassador also outlined Hitler’s reply to the effect that he took cognizance of the statement of the British position but could not be influenced thereby, that certain subjects of conflict between Poland and Germany must be settled, of which Danzig and the Corridor were mentioned in the last instance, and that continued mobilization measures in England and France would be answered by a declaration of general mobilization in Germany. Henderson also stated that Hitler indicated that he was convinced that England intended to fight Germany eventually and that he preferred to have war now than 5 or 10 years hence. Hitler also said in reply to a suggestion by Henderson that Germany discuss matters with Poland that no good purpose could be served thereby in view of the support which England was giving to Polish intransigeance.

In conclusion Henderson stated that in his opinion a definite decision will be taken upon Ribbentrop’s46 return today, that an ultimatum will be delivered to the Poles accompanied or followed by some action in Danzig and that general mobilization will then be declared in Germany. He added that he understood that the Polish Ambassador had just received instructions to see Weizsaecker but that the State Secretary could not be located this morning and that he hoped Lipski47 [Page 360] or even Beck would see Hitler although he might refuse to see them and that in any event it was probably too late for such a démarche to have effect.

I should add that owing to the pressure under which Henderson is working his conversation with me was brief and in no way exhaustive.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Baron Ernst von Weizsaecker, State Secretary in the German Foreign Office.
  3. Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Polish Ambassador in Germany.