740.0011 European War 1939/9702: Telegram

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

1305. I have just had an hour’s conversation with Mr. Rangabé, the Greek Minister. At 5:20 a.m. he was awakened by an official of the Protocol Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs who said that he had been sent to accompany the Minister to see Von Ribbentrop1 at the Ministry. Rangabé was received at 6:15 by Ribbentrop who handed him a note to read addressed to the Greek Legation. This was more properly a memorandum than a note as it was unsigned. It recited for seven pages the errors of Greece in associating herself with Great Britain and France before the war and of not heeding the friendly overtures of Germany and Italy thereafter. It accused the Greek Cabinet of having come to power by English aid and concluded by stating that Germany had no quarrel with Greek people and would “free” them quickly by driving the English “intruder” into the sea.

Ribbentrop recalled that on last August 26 he had told the Minister documents were in German hands proving the complicity of the Greek Government in aiding England’s war efforts. Rangabé reminded Ribbentrop that he had asked at that conversation to see those documents which were never produced to him. The interview ended without further discussion. The Argentine Embassy has taken over Greek interests. The Greek consular staffs have been told to join the Legation staff at the Swiss frontier to which the Legation staff has been ordered to proceed in a special train leaving at noon tomorrow. The Minister and his family will leave for Switzerland the next day by ordinary train.1a A telegram from the Greek Prime Minister was received [Page 716] by the Minister in my presence which I read. It was en clair in French. It said that at 5:30 a.m. Athens time the German Minister had handed Mr. Korizis a copy of the note or memorandum which Ribbentrop gave to Rangabé.

At the same time the German troops attacked the Greek forces. It instructed the Minister to ask for his passports as the Reich had thus committed an act of war by striking Greece in the back at the moment she was defending herself against Italian aggression and that history would judge this act. It added that Greece had maintained neutrality and denied all assertions to the contrary in the German note. It said that British troops had not landed in Greece until after the Germans had invaded Bulgaria and massed troops on the Greek frontier. The Minister was directed to deliver this communication to the Reich Government.

  1. Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. The Greek Minister was interned in Germany until the end of the war.