740.0011 European War 1939/4765: Telegram

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

884. Secretary Thayer11 was present at a small dinner in the British officer’s residence last night during which Hitler’s speech to the Reichstag12 was listened to and commented on by the British Ambassador. In view of Sir Stafford Cripps’ political associations, it is believed that Mr. Thayer’s report may be of interest to the Department.

“After listening to Hitler’s speech, the Ambassador characterized it ‘excellent and very clever’ and said that it would undoubtedly cause much heart searching in England, even among Cabinet members confronted with the question of the advisability of coming to terms with Hitler. He said that he believes the chief difficulty in coming to terms would be the divergence of opinion in London as to British war aims—as among the members of the War Cabinet, two could not be found who would agree on the definition of these aims.

Commenting on Hitler’s statement that attempts to drive a wedge between Russia and Germany were doomed to failure, Sir Stafford said: ‘I cannot of course agree with that.’ He remarked subsequently that if Russia were willing to put 3000 tanks into action, the Red Army could be in Berlin within 3 weeks and expressed the opinion that the success of the Russian action in the Baltic13 was evidence of Germany’s high opinion of Russian military strength and added that there could be no doubt that Berlin was ‘incensed’ by the Soviet invasion of that area.”

While it is possible that the British Ambassador may have some justification for his implied optimism with respect to the vulnerability of the present German-Soviet association (both the British Embassy and the press department of the Soviet Foreign Office refuse to comment on a recent B. B. C.14 announcement of an extended interview between Sir Stafford and Stalin15) it may safely be asserted that he overestimates the might of the Soviet Army.

  1. Charles Wheeler Thayer, Vice Consul and Third Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union.
  2. Speech of July 19, 1940, offering peace proposals to Great Britain. See the New York Times, July 20, 1940, p. 5.
  3. For correspondence concerning the occupation of the Baltic States and their incorporation into the Soviet Union, see pp. 357 ff.
  4. British Broadcasting Corporation.
  5. This meeting occurred on July 1, 1940. For text of the memorandum of this conversation given by Molotov to the German Ambassador, Friedrich Werner, Count von der Schulenburg, see Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1939–1941, p. 166.