121.840 Welles, Sumner/108: Telegram

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

605. I saw the Prime Minister. Nothing much to report pending Mr. Welles’ arrival and departure. The Prime Minister said he was very much concerned at first with the thought of sending Mr. Welles to Europe but it had been made so clear by Washington that the trip was not for the purpose of “putting over a peace plan” that he was now completely happy. He also thought Mr. Welles had handled the [Page 15] trip in such a masterful fashion as to allay any suspicion or unrest that might be in the mind of anyone. He was well pleased with the whole situation regarding the visit as it stands today.

I gave Mr. Welles information I gathered in Rome, regarding the prospective visit of Von Ribbentrop22 which is made public today. I do not know whether Mr. Welles advised you at that time but, strangely enough, the real reason behind the visit is the request the German Government sent the Pope asking whether Von Ribbentrop could come there to talk over the whole situation with him. The Pope was rather upset about the request because usually a request of this kind has foreshadowed a series of disagreeable incidents on the part of the Germans and he did not know just what this meant. The visit purported to be a discussion of peace.

Chamberlain says he will be pleased if the Finns and Russians work out an armistice23 because he believes the Russians, instead of having more time to devote to the German cause, will not feel the need of toadying to the Germans to get their moral assistance if the Russians should run into a more disagreeable situation in the Scandinavian countries. Chamberlain feels that they have been obliged to do a great many things currying favor with the Germans which they would be glad to get away from and that he already has had 2 or 3 gestures from the Russians in which they indicate that they are not playing ball with the Germans as much as the Germans pretend. Of course Chamberlain always adds that he would not believe them on their oath, never had and never would, but nevertheless he feels that this is an interesting development on their part. He thinks that once the Russians do not need any assistance from the Germans in their fight with Finland they will then draw back and it will be much more difficult for the Germans to do business with them. Whether this is borne out is of course a question.

  1. Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister.
  2. See pp. 269 ff.