740.00119 European War 1939/2088

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The British Ambassador11 called at his request and handed me an aide-mémoire in regard to a peace feeler by the Germans, a copy of which is hereto attached. I thanked him. He said that of course he did not know what was in it, but that it was the most serious proposal from Germany his Government has thus far received.

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[Annex]

Text of a Telegram Dated December 25th, Sent by Mr. Eden to His Majesty’s Ambassadors at Moscow 12 and Washington

His Majesty’s Minister at Stockholm13 reported on December 17th that he had learnt through responsible Swedish channels that a Swedish pro-Nazi business man (Mr. X.) whose identity has not been revealed to us, had recently had talks at the German Foreign Office with certain officials including State Secretary Von Steengracht,14 who had expressed a general desire to contact British officials in Stockholm. This had been followed by a meeting on December 13th between Mr. X. and Himmler.15 According to Mr. X., Himmler had said that he had had consultations with Goering,16 Milch17 and Rommel18 [Page 486]and that he was now authorized by Hitler to seek personal contact clandestinely between representatives of Germany and Britain. Eibbentrop19 had not been consulted but Bormann20 was present during most of the interview with Mr. X. Himmler had proposed that Germany should send two representatives, one army and one party, to confer with two British representatives in order to clarify what was meant by the term “unconditional surrender”. Himmler added that though he and Hitler realised that the political system must be changed this could not be brought about at the present time before terms of surrender have been considered, since the whole country would fall into a state of anarchy and no responsible representatives would thus be available for negotiations. Himmler concluded by saying that he would nominate representatives from the two categories specified, if the British would agree to the meeting. His only conditions were that the party must be represented and he must be told clandestinely in advance whom they were to meet from the British side.

2.
Mr. X. was stated to be ready to return by air to Berlin at short notice in the event of some British message being forthcoming.
3.
The Cabinet considers our reply should be to the effect that we have nothing to say to Hitler or Himmler or those associated with him except that our terms are unconditional surrender.
4.
Please inform the Government to which you are accredited of this approach and enquire urgently whether they agree that a reply should be sent in terms proposed in paragraph 3 above.
  1. Viscount Halifax.
  2. Sir Archibald Clark Kerr.
  3. Sir Victor A. L. Mallet.
  4. G. A. von Steengracht, State Secretary of the German Foreign Office.
  5. Heinrich Himmler, German Minister of the Interior.
  6. Hermann Goering, German Minister for Aviation.
  7. Field Marshal Erhard Milch, German State Secretary for Air.
  8. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
  9. Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  10. Martin Bormann, Chief, Party Chancellery, National Socialist German Workers’ Party.