740.0011 European War 1939/9565: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany (Morris) to the Secretary of State

1239. I have just received a code message from Klieforth43 in Cologne stating that Hitler recently had an interview with certain leading industrialists of that region in which he first said that Germany had no intention of breaking down the entire British Empire. Hitler then indicated to his hearers that Russia would in the near future be forced to conclude a pact with Japan44 which would leave the latter country with its back free enabling it to fight the British. Hitler is reported to have said that, if Russia refused to conclude such an arrangement with Japan, then Germany would occupy a part of Russia including the Baku district thereby cutting off the Russian oil supply.

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The foregoing report of a possible German invasion of Russia is the only one I have heard which bears any stamp of authenticity, but a flood of rumors that German military action against Russia was imminent has recently been circulating not only in the Diplomatic Corps but in the German Ministries as well. These rumors are possibly based on the increase of German troops along the Russian border, and fanned by such incidents as Russia’s assurances of neutrality in case of Turkey’s involvement in the war,45 and more recently theories of Russian responsibility in the revolution in Yugoslavia.46 Many, if not indeed a majority, of the contacts who have repeated this rumor have remarked that it may have been deliberately circulated by Government officials here, either for its effect on Russia for purposes of mystification as to Germany’s real military intentions, or merely as a contribution to the war of nerves. Whatever its validity the rumor has had remarkable circulation.

  1. Alfred W. Klieforth, Consul General at Cologne.
  2. A neutrality pact between the Soviet Union and Japan was signed in Moscow on April 13, 1941; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, April 29, 1945, p. 812. See also Foreign Relations, Japan, 1931–1941, vol. ii, pp. 151186.
  3. See telegram No. 30, March 19, to the Ambassador in Turkey, p. 611.
  4. See vol. ii , section under Yugoslavia entitled “Efforts of the United States to encourage Yugoslav resistance to Nazi aggression; invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany.” See also post, pp. 272 ff.