740.0011 European War 1939/5456: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State 28

1144. The source referred to in the Embassy’s 1015, August 14, 10 a.m., has stated in strictest confidence that the German and Italian guaranty of Rumania29 following the cession of part of Transylvania to Hungary came as an unpleasant surprise to the German Embassy here consequently was contrary to what the Ambassador had been given to understand was Germany’s policy in southeastern Europe which was as set forth in the telegram referred to above. He said [Page 563] that the German Ambassador had been requested on the eve of the announcement of the guaranty to inform the Soviet Government that the German and Italian Governments had been forced to take this step somewhat precipitously in view of the threatening situation in the Balkans resulting from the breakdown of the Hungarian-Rumanian negotiations and that while Molotov accepted this explanation he was obviously displeased with the action taken by Germany without prior consultation with the Soviet Government. The informant expressed the personal opinion which however he intimated was shared by the German Ambassador that the guaranty of Rumania was a mistake and that while the Soviet Government would undoubtedly accept the fait accompli it might in the future have a harmful effect on Soviet-German relations. He added that in his opinion it constituted the first violation of the spirit of the Soviet-German pact of August 1939. He stated that the Ambassador had so reported in substance to his Government and that should suggestions as to possible steps to remedy the situation be requested by the German Foreign Office the Ambassador here would probably recommend that compensation with German support be offered Russia either in respect of Finland or of Turkey and Iran.

The informant went on to say that the German Embassy has not sufficient information as to the motives which prompted the German Government to extend this guaranty, to enable it to judge whether it justifies a basic reversal of the policy outlined in the telegram referred to above or merely an isolated departure resulting from the acute situation which developed between Hungary and Rumania.

In this connection he added that Italy had given vigorous support to the Hungarian claim to all of Transylvania and that a compromise had been reached, the cession of a part in return for the German-Italian guaranty which Rumania desired as a quid pro quo. He added, however, that among the German motives undoubtedly was a desire to prevent any disturbances in the Balkans which would impair the delivery of Rumanian oil to Germany and said that the guaranty had a significance for the internal affairs of Rumania in that it might be expected to stabilize the disordered situation which prevailed in that country and that Germany would now feel [free?] to intervene should any disorders occur which might endanger Rumanian oil wells. The informant offered the personal opinion that perhaps it would have been better for Germany to have exerted pressure on Italy and Hungary in order to bring about a modification of Hungarian demands which would be acceptable to Rumania rather than run the risk of an impairment of Soviet-German relations.

He offered the opinion that the precipitous nature of the guaranty [Page 564] bore the earmarks of Ribbentrop’s work who, he stated, has a singular lack of understanding of the Russian mentality and apparently does not realize that the guaranty of Rumania while not necessarily directly aimed at the Soviet Union would be so interpreted by Stalin.

Whatever may have been the motives which impelled the German decision to guarantee Rumania it is of considerable interest that the German Embassy here is openly apprehensive as to the possible effect on Soviet-German relations. It is the first instance which has come to this Embassy’s attention which might provide the grounds for friction between the two countries although it is apparent from the article appearing in Pravda yesterday on the reasons for King Carol’s [abdication]30 (see Embassy’s 1139, September 931) that the Soviet Government will for the time being at least acquiesce in the German-Italian action in guaranteeing the integrity of Rumania.

  1. The Department of State’s appreciation for the “valuable information” herein contained was expressed in its telegram No. 537, September 13, 4 p.m.
  2. See telegram No. 3827, August 30, 11 p.m., from the Chargé in Germany, p. 502.
  3. The abdication occurred on September 6, 1940.
  4. Not printed.