740.0011 European War 1939/5120: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

1015. The following views advanced as personal opinions concerning German policy in eastern and southeastern Europe and Soviet-German relations have been received from the source well-known to the Department.

The informant reiterated the opinion reported in the Embassy’s 919, July 2722 concerning the basic alteration of Hitler’s policy in respect of eastward expansion and colonization and elaborated this opinion with the statement that Hitler had definitely abandoned any political interest in the Balkan States and that Germany’s only interest in these regions is practical and economic such as access to Rumanian oil. He stated in this connection that at Salzburg23 Hitler had refrained from taking any very active part in the negotiations in the [Page 561] sense of supporting the claims of one of the conferring Balkan countries against another and had refused to act as “broker”, his influence having been confined merely to an endeavor to arrange as practical and peaceful a solution as possible; that the Hungarians’ “disloyal” behavior in the period immediately following the occupation of Czechoslovakia24 had not been forgotten, will receive little territorial compensation but will have to be content with the transfer of populations. Bulgaria on the other hand will receive southern Dobrudja the exact delimitation of which had not been fixed. The informant emphasized again that Germany would not intervene even diplomatically in political questions in the Balkans except in the event of a conflict between Italian and Russian interests in that area, in which case Germany would probably attempt to act as mediator in order to prevent friction between those two countries. In accordance with the present policy he stated Germany would in no way oppose any Soviet demands on Turkey even should such demands include actual physical control of the Dardanelles. In regard to Soviet policy he said that it was clear that the Soviet Union intended at an appropriate moment to incorporate all of Finland into the Soviet Union and he supposed that this process would be attempted when the expected German attack on England had seriously begun.

He made a definite statement that Germany would not oppose any action which the Soviet Union might undertake against Finland but [expressed?] the belief that any attempt at penetration into Sweden would be regarded very seriously by Germany. Other Soviet aspirations which he believed would be fulfilled were the acquisition of the lost provinces of Turkish Armenia; at least a deciding voice in the Regime of the Straits; and in respect of Iran, the southern coast along the Caspian and possibly a strip running down to the Persian Gulf to include the Iranian oil fields. He concluded that while it was impossible to state categorically in which order these aims would be realized by the Soviet Government he was strongly of the opinion that the incorporation of Finland would precede any direct action in the Black Sea area although it was possible that informal discussions had already occurred between Molotov and the Turkish Ambassador here.25

While the permanence and sincerity of alleged reorientation of German policy in respect of southeastern Europe and the Balkans is open to strong doubt, it is of interest that Hitler appears to have convinced officials of the German Government of the reality of that policy, a policy which it is clear could at the present time only be predicated on a decision by Hitler to launch a large scale offensive against England this summer. The apparent motive of the disclaimers [Page 562] in advance of any intention to oppose the Soviet penetration in the Black Sea area would appear to be dictated by a desire to have no distracting controversies while the military operations against England are in progress.

  1. Not printed.
  2. See telegram No. 96, July 30, 7 p.m., from the Minister in Bulgaria, p. 496; also footnote 23, p. 517.
  3. For correspondence regarding the German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the subsequent tension in Europe, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. i, pp. 34 ff.
  4. All Haydar Aktay.