740.0011 European War 1939/1911: Telegram

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

778. Personal for the Secretary. I have just seen Halifax.91 Regarding the meeting yesterday of the Supreme War Council, he said that they had quite a session. He said he found no unanimity among them on all questions. First of all it was very apparent that Daladier did not have to resign; that nobody expected he would, and that the Chamber were more shocked than anybody else when he took the step.

Some of the French want action, but when asked what kind of action they have not a very satisfactory reply. The French strangely enough do not want universal bombing to start as they do not want to have it in their own backyard. They advocate some action against the Russians particularly in Baku, but Halifax said he told them that Maisky had come to him 2 days ago with direct instructions from Stalin to tell him that he would like to make some trade arrangements with England and might possibly entertain a trade agreement. Halifax said he told Maisky that sounded very strange, but since England was now dedicated to licking Germany, the only kind of an agreement they could enter into with Russia would be one that had the defeat of Germany in the background and one of the first things they would have to have before taking action would be an understanding and agreement that their ships could be stopped for contraband that might be going to Germany. When Maisky admitted that this did not shock him Halifax said, “Well, at any rate, let’s see what suggestions you have.” Halifax said he was stalled 6 months by Maisky and the Russians and did not want to be stalled again. However, some of the French were therefore anxious that England pursue this policy with Russia because they felt that if Russia could be won away that would be the end of Germany. Others of the French regarded it all as eye-wash and did not think there was anything to it. I think that Halifax feels that Russia does not want to be on the side of Germany and that there is better than an even chance that they might work out something with them. I asked him if the French action in sending the Soviet Ambassador home indicated that they were dedicated to a policy that might mean [Page 598] trouble between the two countries and he said that now the French would not do anything unless the British came along.

As to the Balkan situation both they and the French have made up their minds that they do not want any fighting in the Balkans.92 Halifax thinks that all the Balkan States have made up their minds to the same thing.

He said one place where things are going very much better for the British is in Japan. They still hope to work out the silver agreement in a manner that will not be unsatisfactory to the United States.93

The Allied Supreme Council is convinced that Germany will start a much more energetic campaign of bombing ships, but that she will not bomb London or any important cities. They think that Hitler’s94 advisers, who are on top at the moment, are saying, “Keep on irritating the neutrals and spreading propaganda, which you do much better than the democracies, and it will get you much better results.”

He sensed some difficulty for the Reynaud95 government on the ground that they had pledged a more aggressive war policy, but Halifax does not see just where the issue is to be joined up.

It really looks to me like the real complaint the British have against Hitler is that he is not cooperating with them in helping the British win the war.

  1. Edward Wood, Viscount Halifax, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. For correspondence concerning the activities of the Soviet Union in the Balkans, see pp. 444 ff.
  3. For correspondence regarding this negotiation, see vol. iv, pp. 840 ff.
  4. Adolf Hitler, Führer and Chancellor of the German Reich from January 30, 1933; Chief of State from August 2, 1934.
  5. Paul Reynaud, President of the French Council of Ministers from March 21, 1940.