740.00111 A.R./1152

The Minister in Guatemala (Des Portes) to the Secretary of State

No. 1268

Sir: With reference to my telegram No. 43, May 20, 1 p.m., and to the Department’s telegram No. 34, May 21, 4 p.m., I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy and translation of the memorandum which the German Minister handed to the Foreign Minister on May 20, with respect to the protest of the American Republics against the invasion of the Low Countries. The original memorandum, which was shown to me by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was written in Spanish; [Page 789] the original copy of it given me by the Foreign Minister was prepared in the Foreign Office.

The Foreign Minister informed me that the German Minister had stated to him that the memorandum was presented under instructions from the German Government. The wording of the memorandum would seem to confirm this statement. It is therefore peculiar that no similar memorandum seems to have been presented by [to?] any other American Republic.

The Department’s attention is particularly invited to the extraordinary wording of the penultimate paragraph of the memorandum.

Respectfully yours,

Fay Allen Des Portes

Memorandum by the German Minister in Central America (Reinebeck) to the Guatemalan Minister for Foreign Affairs (Salazar)

To its profound regret, the Government of the Reich has learned that the German preventative act in Holland and Belgium has given rise to the following acts in America:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Argentine Republic proposed that the American States should abandon the concept of neutrality maintained up to the present time, which had come to be a mere fiction, and that they should adopt a state of “non-belligerency”.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay suggested a common protest of the American Republics against the German act in Holland and Belgium.37 The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama, in turn, has transmitted the suggestion to all of the American Governments in order that the latter may state their respective positions; and among others, the High Government of Guatemala also by a Note on the fifteenth of the present month, addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, expressly adhered to this proposal.

The Government of Germany must refute as unfounded the (step of) protest suggested on the part of Uruguay, in as much as its action, against which this country is objecting, is fully justified by the reasons explained in detail in the German Memoranda of the tenth of May delivered to the Belgian and Dutch Governments as well as in the annexes to these.38 As explained in these two Memoranda, Germany had recognized and respected the sovereignty of Belgium and Holland as long as both countries observed the most strict neutrality. However, [Page 790] Belgium and Holland had not maintained this neutral position, but had unilaterally favored the adversaries of Germany and acquiesced in their intentions. The information of the German High Command, which was brought to the attention of the Government of the Reich, and which was added to the Memorandum, contained a resume of the violations of neutrality of both countries, the tenor of which may be inferred from No. 168 of the bulletins of information of the press section of the German Legation, which is enclosed with the present (Memorandum).39 In view of the situation explained above, the Government of the Reich was no longer able to doubt that Belgium and the Netherlands had not only resolved to tolerate an imminent Franco-British attack against the Basin of the Ruhr through their own territories but also actively to favor it. Additional and irrefutable documents proving such intention to attack of England and France, and the participation of the two supposedly neutral Governments, which had in the meantime come into the hands of German troops, will shortly be published.

The Government of Germany, being unable passively to await this planned attack, in consequence ordered its troops to ensure by all the military means in their power the neutrality of both countries. It has declared that the German troops have not come as enemies of the Belgian and Netherlands peoples, and that it would not infringe the sovereignty of these countries, either for the present or in the future.

In as much as it is consequently not a question of a German invasion, as the Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs alleges, but of the frustration of an invasion systematically prepared by England and France, the German Government must consider such steps of third governments against its action without object, and therefore consider the participation in such transactions a markedly unfriendly act for which there is no reason.40

The Government of the Reich has ample motives to suppose that the attitude of the Government of Uruguay is based upon certain foreign influences tending to create a feeling in the Latin American States that this Continent might be threatened by Germany. It is not necessary to go into details regarding this argument, the inconsistency and absurdity of which is patent. I wish only to confine myself to expressing the hope of the Government of the Reich that those States which maintain friendly relations with Germany will pay no attention to propaganda against the German Government which arises from personal motives of hatred of certain foreign politicians.

  1. See pp. 727 ff.
  2. See Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, Vol. ix, document No. 214, p. 301.
  3. Not attached to file copy of memorandum.
  4. Typewritten note on file translation reads, “The underlining in the penultimate paragraph did not appear in the original memorandum shown by the Foreign Minister to Mr. Des Portes.”