740.0011 European War 1939/8637: Telegram

The Minister in Rumania ( Gunther ) to the Secretary of State

181. My 166, February 20, 11 a.m. I have had another long conversation with General Antonescu this time informal at his Predeal villa where he is recovering from grippe. He revealed himself in this as in other conversations completely convinced of the military invincibility of the German Army and that Germany can only be defeated by international causes not the least of which he pointed out would be economic.

The General made clear to me that he is still strongly in favor of a peace by compromise and is hoping that the United States will take the lead. Here I finally had an opportunity of pointing out at length that we would probably not be interested as long as the leaders of Germany are still dominated by ideas of world conquest and in this connection I expounded to him Germany’s apparent evil intentions toward us and some of our sister republics as exemplified by vast expenditures upon subversive organizations and propaganda.

He again used the familiar argument that a long war would only spell triumph for Russia and I countered by observing that if Germany felt there was eventual danger on that score from Russia why did it not do something about it too.

I found that the General is in favor of a new economic group or block of Balkan countries but within the German orbit. However, his ideas are nebulous and were expressed in vague gent48 comings of barter and the ultimate need for real money in any lasting economy. I also reminded him of the inability so far of the Balkan countries to make a reality even of the Little and Balkan Ententes.

The General railed a good deal about the methods that the British have employed in the past to build up the Empire as well as their latter-day tendency to meddle in the countries of southeastern Europe. Nevertheless, it has always been my impression—one which has recently been confirmed by the General’s pro-German as well as his anti-British feelings are not dictated by sentiment but solely by what he considered to be national interests and date from Russia’s incursion into Rumania and the collapse of France.49

The General also said he could not understand why the United States was so opposed to Germany only, when Soviet Russia had acted in a [Page 292] much worse manner towards small countries such as Finland,50 the Baltic States,51 and Rumania. Nevertheless, he seemed very friendly disposed towards us and referred good-naturedly to our blocking of Rumania’s funds. I told him that perhaps Rumanians would be very grateful to us one day for having saved their money for them but he observed laughingly that they could put some of it to good purposes right now.

The mutual friend referred to in a previous paragraph has told me that a few days ago the General expressed himself as very confident that Rumania would get back Bessarabia, Bukowina and Transylvania with the aid of the Germans, that Germany was preparing to attack Russia and as proof of this intention had pointed to the large concentrations of German troops in Moldavia. One of my Rumanian military friends put this number at a half million men which may be somewhat [exaggerated?] (The mutual friend also said that the General had admitted that the Germans had expressed regret over the Vienna Dictat52 which they said was actuated solely by the necessity of pleasing Italy and they had promised that Transylvania would be returned to Rumania later and that Bessarabia and Bukowina would be restored.)

  1. Obvious garble.
  2. For correspondence regarding the German invasion of France, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 217 ff.
  3. For correspondence regarding relations between the Soviet Union and Finland, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. For correspondence regarding relations between the Soviet Union and the Baltic States, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 357 ff.
  5. For translation of the text of the Vienna arbitral award, see telegram No. 3826, August 30, 1940, from the Chargé in Germany, ibid., p. 501; or Department of State, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, Series D, vol. x, doc. No. 413, p. 581.