811.04418/555: Telegram

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


2075. For the President and Secretary.

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The general situation appears to be as follows: The French Government made, as you know, intense appeals to the Belgian Government to permit the French forces to cross Belgian territory to attack Germany as soon as Germany attacked Poland. It was the conviction of the French Government and the General Staff that a French attack by way of Belgium could have drawn sufficient German troops away [Page 445] from Poland to have made it impossible for Germany to overrun Poland. The Belgian Government refused.

Further urgent appeals to the Belgian Government have been made by the French Government for permission for French troops to cross Belgium in case of a German attack on the Netherlands. The French Government has been informed that the Queen of the Netherlands also has appealed personally to the King of the Belgians in this sense. The King of the Belgians has refused flatly to consider any such proposal.

It is believed here that Germany may now take any one of three courses of action.

(1) An attack may be made on Rumania in conjunction with the Soviet Union. It is believed that the cringing subservience of Rumania to Germany, exhibited by the Rumanian Government’s acquiescence in the German demand that the officials of the Polish Government should be interned, may make the Germans conclude that they can have all the resources of Rumania at their disposal without war.

Furthermore, it is considered unlikely that the Russians, in spite of their desire to acquire Bessarabia, would acquiesce in the German occupation of the Rumanian portion of the Black Sea coast. It is therefore thought that while an attack on Rumania is possible it is not by any means certain.

(2) It is believed that Germany may attack and seize the Netherlands in order to obtain a perfect base from which to bomb London and British merchant shipping. It is thought that if such an attack should be made on Holland the portion of Belgium lying to the east of the Albert Canal would be seized.

(3) It is also believed to be possible that Germany will attempt a direct attack on France launching all her bombardment planes on the communications of the French Army and then attempting a sweep through Belgium or a direct assault on the Maginot Line.

The French are confident that they can withstand any direct attack on France.

Since the French certainly will not violate Belgian neutrality the only opening for attack against Germany remains the Siegfried Line. To break that line will require vastly more heavy guns, munitions, and airplanes than the French and British now have. It is therefore the general opinion that no successful attack against Germany can be envisaged until the spring of 1942 and that successful attack at that time will be dependent on airplanes, cannons, and munitions from the United States.