The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 24, 1939



Site Ed. Note: Not a half-bad prediction this, substituting for the all-inclusive "French" instead the Free French and Resistance, in "Cause to Weep": "If [the British and French] go into this war, they will almost certainly do it with the grand determination to see it through to the finish, or until Germany is smashed and partitioned, and Hitler and all of his gang are hanged."

Several documents retrieved after the war from the German Foreign Office, archived by the State Department in 1948, provide insight into the Soviet-Nazi non-aggression pact and why it was ultimately broken.

The pact read as follows, the date referring to final signing and ratification, though actually concluded on August 21:

Treaty of Non-aggression Between Germany and the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

August 23, 1939

The Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics desirous of strengthening the cause of peace between Germany and the U.S.S.R., and proceeding from the fundamental provisions of the Neutrality Agreement concluded in April 1926 between Germany and the U.S.S.R., have reached the following agreement:


Both High Contracting Parties obligate themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other, either individually or jointly with other powers.


Should one of the High Contracting Parties become the object of belligerent action by a third power, the other High Contracting Party shall in no manner lend its support to this third power.


The Governments of the two High Contracting Parties shall in the future maintain continual contact with one another for the purpose of consultation in order to exchange information on problems affecting their common interests.


Neither of the two High Contracting Parties shall participate in any grouping of powers whatsoever that is directly or indirectly aimed at the other party.


Should disputes or conflicts arise between the High Contracting Parties over problems of one kind or another, both parties shall settle these disputes or conflicts exclusively through friendly exchange of opinion or, if necessary, through the establishment of arbitration commissions.


The present treaty is concluded for a period of ten years, with the proviso that, in so far as one of the High Contracting Parties does not denounce it one year prior to the expiration of this period, the validity of this treaty shall automatically be extended for another five years.


The present treaty shall be ratified within the shortest possible time. The ratifications shall be exchanged in Berlin. The agreement shall enter into force as soon as it is signed.

Done in duplicate, in the German and Russian languages.

Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government of the German Reich:


With full power of the Government of the U.S.S.R.:


Secret Additional Protocol

On the occasion of the signature of the Non-aggression Pact between the German Reich and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics the undersigned plenipotentiaries of each of the two parties discussed in strictly confidential conversations the question of the boundary of their respective spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. These conversations led to the following conclusions:

1. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party.

2. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narew, Vistula, and San.

The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish state and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.

In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

3. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinterestedness in these areas.*

4. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.

Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government of the German Reich:


Plenipotentiary of the Government of the U.S.S.R.:


*The German text of this article of the Protocol is as follows: "Hinsichtlich des Südostens Europas wird von sowjetischer Seite das Interesse an Bessarabien betont. Von deutscher Seite wird das völlige politische Desinteressement an diesen Gebieten erklärt."

Memorandum. by the Reich Foreign Minister for Hitler

June 24, 1940:

As far as I can remember the following took place at that time [August 23, 1939]:

At the time of the delimitation of the mutual spheres of interest in Eastern Europe, the Soviets stressed their interest in Bessarabia when the Southeast of Europe was mentioned. On this occasion I stated orally our disinterestedness in the Bessarabian question. However, in order not to put down explicitly in written form the recognition of the Russian claim to Bessarabia because of the possibility of indiscretions, with which we had to count in view of the then still very vague German-Russian relationship, I chose a formulation of a general nature for the Protocol. This was done in such a way that when the Southeastern European problems were discussed I declared very generally that Germany was politically disinterested in "these areas," i. e., in the Southeast of Europe. The economic interest of Germany in these Southeastern European territories was duly stressed by me. This was in accordance with the general instructions given by the Führer for Southeastern Europe and also, as I recall it, with a special directive of the Führer which I received before my departure for Moscow, in which the Führer authorized me to declare German disinterestedness in the territories of Southeastern Europe, even, if necessary, as far as Constantinople and the Straits. However, the latter were not discussed.


The following letter from the German Finance Minister, Schwerin-Krosigk, to von Ribbentrop provides insight to the more realistic reaction of Britain and France predicted by Galeazzo Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister (and Il Duce's son-in-law), to the invasion of Poland than that expected by Hitler. (Ciano, incidentally, who was one of the prinicipal architects of the German-Italian Axis, voted against Mussolini when the king removed him from power in 1943; the Germans arrested Ciano for high treason and executed him in 1944.)

ROME, August 23, 1939.

MY DEAR HERR VON RIBBENTROP: First, my cordial and sincere congratulations on the great success attained with the Russian pact.

This morning at 10 o'clock I had a conversation with Count Ciano and in accordance with our agreement I herewith report the contents.

After the usual words of salutation Count Ciano immediately talked about foreign policy and stressed the importance of your trip to Russia. Nevertheless, in case of Germany's intervention in Poland, England and France would, in his opinion, immediately participate in the war. The Ambassadors of both powers had just confirmed this to him expressly and very seriously. This created a very serious situation. For actually the Axis was not yet sufficiently prepared, above all, economically. Only in three to four years--Count Ciano corrected himself and said with strong emphasis "in three years"--would it be ready for war. We would certainly have initial military successes; but the enemy would recover and would wage a war of attrition of long duration along economic lines. Upon my objection that the Führer was of a different opinion and did not believe in a war with England and France, Count Ciano replied that he was aware of that, but that he was afraid that the Führer would not be proved right this time. Upon my reply that it was completely intolerable for a great nation to look on passively any longer at the systematic [mis?] treatment of Germans by Poles, and that therefore a solution of the Polish problem was absolutely necessary and that the whole German people was of one mind on that score, Count Ciano replied that a great deal would depend upon the attitude of the Axis peoples. For it would be necessary to fight with utmost tenacity, since in case of a defeat we would have to count on a peace which would practically mean the end of the Axis Powers. Count Ciano concluded the conversation by stating that despite the great diplomatic success of the Russian pact he considered the situation as very serious.

My audience with the Duce will take place tomorrow at 7 p. m. On Friday morning I shall return to Berlin.

Heil Hitler

Sincerely yours,


[In handwriting]

MY DEAR HERR von WEIZSÄCKER: In view of the absence of Herr von Ribbentrop, I am sending, you directly a copy of my letter addressed to him.


Hitler explains to Il Duce on August 25, 1939 the reasons for the pact with Russia and the Big Lie reasons for his having no choice soon but to put down the "border incursions", the blockade of Danzig, and the supposed mistreatment of Germans in Poland by the Poles--the old Nazi stratagem, accuse the adversary, the intended victim, of the very behavior of which the Nazi is the initiator:

DUCE: For some time Germany and Russia have been engaged in an exchange of views about a new attitude on both sides in regard to their political relations.

The necessity of arriving at some conclusions of this sort was increased by:

(1) The general situation of world politics as it affected both of the Axis Powers.

(2) The necessity of securing a clear statement of position from the Japanese Cabinet. Japan would probably agree to an alliance against Russia, which would have only a secondary interest, under the prevailing circumstances, for Germany, and in my opinion, for Italy also. She would not, however, undertake such definite obligations against England, and this, from the standpoint not only of Germany, but also of Italy, was of decisive importance. The intention of the military to force the Japanese Government in a short time to take a similarly clear position with respect to England had been stated months ago, but had never been realized in practice.

(3) The relation of Germany to Poland, not through the blame of the Reich, but as a result of the activity of England, has become considerably more unsatisfactory since spring and in the last few weeks the position has become simply unbearable. The reports about the persecution of the Germans in the border areas are not invented press reports but represent only a fraction of the terrible truth. The customs policy of Poland, resulting in the throttling of Danzig, has brought about a complete standstill in Danzig's entire economic life for the past several weeks and would if it were continued for only a brief length of time, destroy the city.

These grounds led me to hasten the conclusion of the German-Russian conversations. I have not kept you informed in detail, Duce, since I did not have an idea of the possible extent of these conversations, or any assurance of the possibility of their success.

The readiness on the part of the Kremlin to arrive at a reorientation of its relations with Germany, which became apparent after the departure of Litvinov, has become ever stronger in the last few weeks and has made it possible for me, after successful preparation, to send my Foreign Minister to Moscow for the conclusion of a treaty which is the most extensive non-aggression pact in existence and whose text will be made public. The pact is unconditional and includes also the obligation for consultation about all questions affecting Russia and Germany. I may tell you, Duce, that through these arrangements the favorable attitude of Russia in case of any conflict is assured, and that the possibility of the entry of Rumania into such a conflict no longer exists!

Even Turkey under these circumstances can only envisage a revision of her previous position. But I repeat once more, that Rumania is no longer in a situation to take part in a conflict against the Axis! I believe I may say to you, Duce, that through the negotiations with Soviet Russia a completely new situation in world politics has been produced which must be regarded as the greatest possible gain for the Axis.

About the situation on the German-Polish frontier, I can only inform Your Excellency that we have been for weeks in a state of alarm, that as a result of the Polish mobilization German preparations have naturally also been increased, and that in case of an intolerable Polish action, I will act immediately. The assertion of the Polish Government that it is not responsible for these inhuman proceedings, for the numerous border incidents (last night alone there were twenty-one Polish border violations), and for the firing on the German airplanes, which had already received orders to travel to East Prussia over the sea in order to avoid incidents, shows only that the Polish Government has its excitable soldiery [Soldateska] no longer under control. Since yesterday Danzig has been blockaded by Polish troops, a situation which is unendurable. Under these circumstances no one can say what the next hour may bring. I can only assure you there is a limit beyond which I will not be pushed under any circumstances.

In conclusion I can assure you, Duce, that in a similar situation I would have complete understanding for Italy and that in any such case you can be sure of my attitude.


Il Duce responds on August 25, 1939, indicating that he does not have the military wherewithal to initiate action should France and Britain retaliate for any invasion by Germany of Poland, though he promises support if the conflict remains localized to Poland. Most interestingly, betraying his stance on war as aptly predicating Cash's "Silent Man" of August 27, Mussolini subtly expresses surprise at the turn of events with Poland: "At our meetings the war was envisaged for after 1942 and at such time I would have been ready on land, on sea, and in the air according to the plans which had been arranged."

FÜHRER: I am replying to your letter which has just been delivered to me by Ambassador won Mackensen.

(1) Concerning the agreement with Russia, I approve of that completely. His Excellency Marshal Goring will tell you that in the discussion which I had with him last April I stated that a rapprochement between Germany and Russia was necessary to prevent encirclement by the democracies.

(2) I consider it desirable to try to avoid a break or any deterioration in relations with Japan, since that would result in Japan's return to a position close to the democratic powers. With this in mind, I have telegraphed to Tokyo and it appears that after the first surprise of public opinion passed, a better psychological attitude prevails.

(3) The Moscow treaty blockades Rumania and can alter the position of Turkey, which accepted the English loan, but which has not yet signed the treaty of alliance. A new attitude on the part of Turkey would upset all the strategic plans of the French and English in the Eastern Mediterranean.

(4) As regards Poland I have complete understanding for the German position and for the fact that such strained relations cannot continue permanently.

(5) As for the practical position of Italy, in case of a military collision, my point of view is as follows:

If Germany attacks Poland and the conflict remains localized, Italy will afford Germany every form of political and economic assistance which is requested.

If Germany attacks, and Poland's allies open a counterattack against Germany, I want to let you know in advance that it would be better if I did not take the initiative in military activities in view of the present situation of Italian war preparations, which we have repeatedly previously explained to you, Führer, and to Herr von Ribbentrop.

Our intervention can, therefore, take place at once if Germany delivers to us immediately the military supplies and the raw materials to resist the attack which the French and English especially would direct against us.

At our meetings the war was envisaged for after 1942 and at such time I would have been ready on land, on sea, and in the air according to the plans which had been arranged.

[Translated from German Foreign Office's translation of Italian original.]

I am also of the opinion that the purely military preparations which have already been undertaken and the others which will be entered upon in Europe and Africa will serve to immobilize important French and British forces.

I consider it my implicit duty as a true friend to tell you the whole truth and inform you about the actual situation in advance. Not to do so might have unpleasant consequences for us all. This is my point of view and since within a short time I must summon the highest governmental bodies of the realm, I ask you to let me know yours as well.


The following memorandum of a conversation between Hitler and German Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., Count von der Schulenburg, on April 28, 1941, from 5:15 p. m. to 5:45 p. m., provides a great deal of insight as to what brought the Nazis finally to break the pact and attack Russia on June 22, 1941:


The Führer commenced with the question whether I would be back in Moscow by May 1, which I answered in the affirmative since I wanted to be present at the review.

The Führer then mentioned that I had been present in Moscow during the visit of Matsuoka, and asked what was the opinion of the Russians of the Russo-Japanese agreement. I replied that the Russians had been very pleased at concluding it, even though they had to make concessions.

The Führer thereupon asked me what devil had possessed the Russians to conclude the Friendship Pact with Yugoslavia. I expressed the opinion that it was solely a matter of the declaration of Russian interests in the Balkans. Russia had done something each time that we undertook anything in the Balkans. Then, too, we had probably been obligated by the consultative pact to consult the Russians. Russia, to be sure, had no special interest in Yugoslavia, but certainly had in the Balkans, in principle. The Führer said that upon conclusion of the Russo-Yugoslav Friendship Pact he had had the feeling that Russia had wanted to frighten us off. I denied this and repeated that the Russians had only intended to serve notice of their interest, but had nevertheless behaved correctly by informing us of their intention.

The Führer then said that it was not yet clear who had pulled the strings in the overthrow of the Yugoslav Government. England or Russia? In his opinion it had been the British, while the Balkan peoples all had the impression that Russia had been behind it. I replied that, as seen from Moscow, there was nothing to support the theory that Russia had had a finger in the pie. As an example, I cited the lack of success of the Yugoslav Minister in Moscow, Gavrilovitch, whose attempts to interest the Soviet Union in the Yugoslav cause were abortive until the last moment. The Yugoslav-Russian agreement had only become a reality when Yugoslavia seized the initiative after the Putsch and sent officers to request the agreement. Russia had then concluded the agreement on the principle that an instrument of peace was involved. Now, Russia was very apprehensive at the rumors predicting a German attack on Russia. The Führer insisted that the Russians had been the first to move, since they had concentrated needlessly large numbers of divisions in the Baltic States. I replied that this was a matter of the well-known Russian urge for 300 percent security. If for any reason we sent one German division, they would send 10 for the same purpose in order to be completely safe. I could not believe that Russia would ever attack Germany. The Führer said that he had been forewarned by events in Serbia. What had happened there was to him an example of the political unreliability of states.

The Führer went on at some length about the nations misled by England, particularly about the development of its political endeavors in Yugoslavia. England had hoped for a Yugoslav-Greek-Turko-Russian front in the southeast and had striven for this broad grouping of powers in memory of the Salonika front in the World War. He regretted exceedingly that--because of these efforts of England--he had now been forced to move against poor little Greece also. It had been repugnant to him to have to strike down, against his natural impulses, this small, plucky nation. The Yugoslav coup d'état had come suddenly out of the blue. When the news of it was brought to him on the morning of the 27th, he thought it was a joke. When one had gone through that sort of thing one was bound to be suspicious. Nations today allowed hatred and perhaps also financial interests to determine their policy rather than good sense and logic, and so it had happened that as a result of the promises and the lies of the British, one after another, the Poles, to whom he had offered the most favorable terms; France, which had not wanted the war at all; Holland and Belgium; Norway, and now Greece and Yugoslavia had plunged to disaster. It might be said that the masses could not help it, but he dealt not with the peoples but with the governments. And Greece had decidedly not been neutral! Its press had been impudent. Greece had always been sympathetic to England and had, above all, placed its shipping and its submarine bases at the disposal of England. Turkey, too, had very nearly taken the same road. He did not, it was true, believe that Russia could be bought to attack Germany, but strong instincts of hatred had survived, nevertheless, and, above all, Russian determination to approach closer to Finland and the Dardanelles was unchanged, as Molotov had allowed clearly to be seen on his visit. When he considered all this, he was obliged to be careful.

I pointed out that Cripps had not succeeded until 6 days after the conclusion of the Russo-Yugoslav Treaty in even speaking to Molotov's deputy, Vishinsky. I further reminded him that Stalin had told Matsuoka he was committed to the Axis and could not collaborate with England and France, as well as of the scene at the railroad station, which Stalin had purposely brought about in order to demonstrate publicly his intention to collaborate with the Axis. In 1939 England and France had taken all conceivable means to win Russia over to their side, and if Stalin had not been able to decide in favor of England and France at a time when England and France were both still strong, I believed that he would certainly not make such a decision today, when France was destroyed and England badly battered. On the contrary, I was convinced that Stalin was prepared to make even further concessions to us. It had already been intimated to our economic negotiators that (if we applied in due time) Russia could supply us up to 5 million tons of grain next year. Citing figures, the Führer said he thought that Russian deliveries were limited by transportation conditions. I pointed out that a more thorough utilization of Russian ports would obviate the difficulties of transportation.

The Führer then took leave of me.

The original of the enclosed memorandum with two carbon copies was sent to Vienna today at 3 p. m. via air courier.

Respectfully submitted to the State Secretary, for his information.


BERLIN, April 29, 1941.

Von der Schulenburg sent this telegram to the German Foreign Office a month and a half later indicating that the Soviet news agency was denying the existence of Nazi demands for Soviet territory--and other rumors of war. Schulenburg, meanwhile, attempted to allay fears that Soviet concentration of troops on the western border of the Soviet Union and the call-up of troops held any particular significance. All was quiet on the Eastern Front, June 14, 1941.


Sent Moscow, June 14, 1941--1:30 a. m.

Received June 14, 1941--8 a. m.

No. 1368 of June 13

People's Commissar Molotov has just given me the following text of a Tass despatch which will be broadcast tonight and published in the papers tomorrow:

Even before the return of the English Ambassador Cripps to London, but especially after his return, there have been widespread rumors of "an impending war between the U.S.S.R. and Germany" in the English and foreign press. These rumors allege:

1. That Germany supposedly has made various territorial and economic demands on the U.S.S.R. and that at present negotiations are impending between Germany and the U.S.S.R. for the conclusion of a new and closer agreement between them;

2. That the Soviet Union is supposed to have declined these demands and that as a result Germany has begun to concentrate her troops on the frontier of the Soviet Union in order to attack the Soviet Union;

3. That on its side the Soviet Union is supposed to have begun intensive preparations for war with Germany and to have concentrated its troops on the German border.

Despite the obvious absurdity of these rumors, responsible circles in Moscow have thought it necessary, in view of the persistent spread of these rumors, to authorize Tass to state that these rumors are a clumsy propaganda maneuver of the forces arrayed against the Soviet Union and Germany, which are interested in a spread and intensification of the war.

Tass declares that:

1. Germany has addressed no demands to the Soviet Union and has asked for no new closer agreement, and that therefore negotiations cannot be taking place;

2. According to the evidence in the possession of the Soviet Union both Germany and the Soviet Union are fulfilling to the letter the terms of the Soviet-German Non-aggression Pact, so that in the opinion of Soviet circles the rumors of the intention of Germany to break the Pact and to launch an attack against the Soviet Union are completely without foundation, while the recent movements of German troops which have completed their operations in the Balkans, to the eastern and northern parts of Germany, must be explained by other motives which have no connection with Soviet-German relations;

3. The Soviet Union, in accordance with its peace policy, has fulfilled and intends to fulfill the terms of the Soviet-German Non-aggression Pact; as a result, all the rumors according to which the Soviet Union is preparing for a war with Germany are false and provocative;

4. The summer calling-up of the reserves of the Red Army which is now taking place and the impending maneuvers mean nothing but a training of the reservists and a check on the operations of the railroad system, which as is known takes place every year; consequently, it appears at least nonsensical to interpret these measures of the Red Army as an action hostile to Germany.


The following telegram from von Ribbentrop to von der Schulenburg outlined the cause of the Nazi invasion of Russia, at least the propagandistic version for the invasion, quite in contradistinction to Schulenburg's rosy telegram of just a week earlier:



BERLIN, June 21, 1941.


BY radio

For the Ambassador personally.

1) Upon receipt of this telegram, all of the cipher material still there is to be destroyed. The radio set is to be put out of commission.

2) Please inform Herr Molotov at once that you have an urgent communication to make to him and would therefore like to call on him immediately. Then please make the following declaration to him.

"The Soviet Ambassador in Berlin is receiving at this hour from the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs a memorandum giving in detail the facts which are briefly summarized as follows:

"I. In 1939 the Government of the Reich, putting aside grave objections arising out of the contradiction between National Socialism and Bolshevism, undertook to arrive at an understanding with Soviet Russia. Under the treaties of August 23 and September 28, 1939, the Government of the Reich effected a general reorientation of its policy toward the U.S.S.R. and thenceforth adopted a cordial attitude toward the Soviet Union. This policy of goodwill brought the Soviet Union great advantages in the field of foreign policy.

"The Government of the Reich therefore felt entitled to assume that thenceforth both nations, while respecting each other's regime and not interfering in the internal affairs of the other partner, would arrive at good, lasting, neighborly relations. Unfortunately it soon became evident that the Government of the Reich had been entirely mistaken in this assumption.

"II. Soon after the conclusion of the German-Russian treaties, the Comintern resumed its subversive activity against Germany, with the official Soviet-Russian representatives giving assistance. Sabotage, terrorism, and espionage in preparation for war were demonstrably carried out on a large scale. In all the countries bordering on Germany and in the territories occupied by German troops, anti-German feeling was aroused and the German attempt to set up a stable order in Europe was combated. Yugoslavia was gladly offered arms against Germany by the Soviet Russian Chief of Staff, as proved by documents found in Belgrade. The declarations made by the U.S.S.R. on conclusion of the treaties with Germany, regarding her intention to collaborate with Germany, thus stood revealed as deliberate misrepresentation and deceit and the conclusion of the treaties themselves as a tactical maneuver for obtaining arrangements favorable to Russia. The guiding principle remained the weakening of the non-Bolshevist countries in order the more easily to demoralize them and, at a given time, to crush them.

"III. In the diplomatic and military fields it became obvious that the U.S.S.R.--contrary to the declaration made at the conclusion of the treaties that she did not wish to Bolshevize and annex the countries falling within her sphere of influence--was intent on pushing her military might westward wherever it seemed possible and on carrying Bolshevism further into Europe. The action of the U.S.S.R. against the Baltic States, Finland, and Rumania, where Soviet claims even extended to Bucovina, showed this clearly. The occupation and Bolshevization by the Soviet Union of the sphere of influence granted to her clearly violated the Moscow agreements, even though the Government of the Reich for the time being accepted the facts.

"IV. When Germany, by the Vienna Award of August 30, 1940, settled the crisis in Southeastern Europe resulting from the action of the U.S.S.R. against Rumania, the Soviet Union protested and turned to making intensive military preparations in every field. Germany's renewed effort to achieve an understanding, as reflected in the exchange of letters between the Reich Foreign Minister and Herr Stalin and in the invitation to Herr Molotov to come to Berlin, brought demands from the Soviet Union which Germany could not accept, such as the guarantee of Bulgaria by the U.S.S.R., the establishment of a base for Soviet Russian land and naval forces at the Straits, and the complete abandonment of Finland. Subsequently, the policy of the U.S.S.R. directed against Germany became more and more obvious. The warning addressed to Germany regarding occupation of Bulgaria and the declaration made to Bulgaria after the entry of German troops, which was of a definitely hostile nature, were as significant in this connection as was the promise to protect the rear of Turkey in the event of a Turkish entry into the war in the Balkans, given in March 1941.

"V. With the conclusion of the Soviet-Yugoslav Treaty of Friendship of April 5 last, which was intended to stiffen the spines of the Yugoslav plotters, the U.S.S.R. joined the common Anglo-Yugoslav-Greek front against Germany. At the same time she tried rapprochement with Rumania, in order to induce that country to detach itself from Germany. It was only the rapid German victories that caused the failure of the Anglo-Russian plan for an attack against the German troops in Rumania and Bulgaria.

"VI. This policy was accompanied by a steadily growing concentration of all available Russian forces on a long front from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, against which countermeasures were taken by Germany only later. Since the beginning of the year this has been a steadily growing menace to the territory of the Reich. Reports received in the last few days eliminated the last remaining doubts as to the aggressive character of this Russian concentration and completed the picture of an extremely tense military situation. In addition to this, there are the reports from England regarding the negotiations of Ambassador Cripps for still closer political and military collaboration between England and the Soviet Union.

"To sum up, the Government of the Reich declares, therefore, that the Soviet Government, contrary to the obligations it assumed,

1) has not only continued, but even intensified its attempts to undermine Germany and Europe;

2) has adopted a more and more anti-German foreign policy;

3) has concentrated all its forces in readiness at the German border. Thereby the Soviet Government has broken its treaties with Germany and is about to attack Germany from the rear, in its struggle for life. The Führer has therefore ordered the German Armed Forces to oppose this threat with all the means at their disposal."

End of declaration.

Please do not enter into any discussion of this communication. It is incumbent upon the Government of Soviet Russia to safeguard the security of the Embassy personnel.


The following memorandum demonstrates how German paranoia overcame practical reason--always the saving grace to the democracies from little, dumb fascists:

Foreign Office Memorandum

Ha Pol 294/41 g RS



1) The discussions concluded a few days ago with Krutikov, First Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Trade of the U.S.S.R., were conducted in a notably constructive spirit by Krutikov. It was therefore possible to settle satisfactorily difficult points in the Trade Agreement of January 10, 1941, such as delivery of oil seed, nonferrous metals, petroleum, and transit of raw rubber from East Asia through the territory of the U.S.S.R. Despite his constructive attitude, Krutikov's stand when defending Russian interests was firm. He showed no extreme willingness to give way which might have been construed as weakness.

2) Difficulties arose, as in the past, regarding the execution of German delivery commitments to the U.S.S.R., especially in the field of armaments. We shall not be able to adhere to the more distant delivery dates. However, the non-fulfillment of German commitments will only make itself felt after August 1941, since until then Russia is obligated to made deliveries in advance. Difficulties arose especially with respect to the execution of certain contracts covering supplies for the air force, as the Reich Ministry for Air will not release the aircraft promised and already sold. Krutikov brought up these questions, without too great insistence, however. Construction of the cruiser L in Leningrad is proceeding according to plan, with German supplies coming in as scheduled. Approximately seventy German engineers and fitters are working on the construction of the cruiser in Leningrad under the direction of Admiral Feige.

3) The status of Soviet raw material deliveries still presents a favorable picture. Of the most important items of raw materials, the following deliveries were made in April:


208,000 tons


90,000 tons


8,300 tons

Nonferrous metals

6,340 tons; copper, tin, and nickel.

With regard to manganese ore and phosphates, deliveries suffered from the lack of tonnage and transportation difficulties in the Southeast area.

The transit route through Siberia is still operating. The shipments of raw materials from East Asia, particularly of raw rubber, that reach Germany by this route, continue to be substantial (raw rubber during the month of April, 2,000 tons by special trains, 2,000 by regular Siberian trains).

Total deliveries in the current year amount to:


632,000 tons


232,000 tons


23,500 tons

Manganese ore

50,000 tons


67,000 tons


900 kilograms

4) Great difficulties are created by the countless rumors of an imminent German-Russian conflict. Official sources are in large measure responsible for the persistence of these rumors. These rumors are causing grave anxiety to German industry, which is eager to withdraw from its engagements with Russia and in some cases already refuses to dispatch to Moscow the personnel needed for the execution of the contracts.

5) I am under the impression that we could make economic demands on Moscow which would even go beyond the scope of the treaty of January 10, 1941, demands desired to secure German food and raw material requirements beyond the extent now contracted for. The quantities of raw materials now contracted for are being delivered punctually by the Russians, despite the heavy burden this imposes on them, which, especially with regard to grain, is a notable performance, since the total quantity of grain to be delivered under the agreement of April 10 of this year and the Belgian and Norwegian agreements, amounts to over 3 million tons up to August 1, 1942.

6) For the end of May or beginning of June, the Trade Agreement of January 10, 1941, provides for new negotiations in Moscow regarding settlement of balances. Such negotiations would, however, only make sense if they were used to present specific German demands. If this is not to be the case, I intend to procrastinate with regard to the date of the negotiations.


BERLIN, May 15, 1941.

And the announcement of the coup de gráce vis á vis the pact with Stalin, a letter from Hitler to Mussolini, identifying precisely his reasons for violating the pact. Note especially paragraphs "6" and "7" in his summary, his blithely setting aside the threat of the potential for U. S. intervention to the war resultant from the move on Russia, for his assumption that the U. S. had already provided as much support to the Allied cause as it could muster and his further assumption that England was finished. Both proved poor assumptions.

Then, the statement, implicitly confirming his knowledge, probably from the visit by Matsuoka to Germany in March, 1941, of the Japanese intentions to attack the American interests in the Pacific, a plan on the drawing board in variant forms in Japan since summer, 1940 and given its initial official approval for implementation on July 2, 1941, the plan which became the attack on Pearl Harbor: "The elimination of Russia means, at the same time a tremendous relief for Japan in East Asia, and thereby the possibility of a much stronger threat to American activities through Japanese intervention."

June 21, 1941.


I am writing this letter to you at a moment when months of anxious deliberation and continuous nerve-racking waiting are ending in the hardest decision of my life. I believe--after seeing the latest Russian situation map and after appraisal of numerous other reports--that I cannot take the responsibility for waiting longer, and above all, I believe that there is no other way of obviating this danger--unless it be further waiting, which, however, would necessarily lead to disaster in this or the next year at the latest.

The situation: England has lost this war. With the right of the drowning person, she grasps at every straw which, in her imagination might serve as a sheet anchor. Nevertheless, some of her hopes are naturally not without a certain logic. England has thus far always conducted her wars with help from the Continent. The destruction of France--in fact, the elimination of all west--European positions--is directing the glances of the British warmongers continually to the place from which they tried to start the war: to Soviet Russia.

Both countries, Soviet-Russia and England, are equally interested in a Europe fallen into ruin, rendered prostrate by a long war. Behind these two countries stands the North American Union goading them on and watchfully waiting. Since the liquidation of Poland, there is evident in Soviet-Russia a consistent trend, which, even if cleverly and cautiously, is nevertheless reverting firmly to the old Bolshevist tendency to expansion of the Soviet State. The prolongation of the war necessary for this purpose is to be achieved by tying up German forces in the East, so that--particularly in the air--the German Command can no longer vouch for a large-scale attack in the West. I declared to you only recently, Duce, that it was precisely the success of the experiment in Crete that demonstrated how necessary it is to make use of every single airplane in the much greater project against England. It may well happen that in this decisive battle we would win with a superiority of only a few squadrons. I shall not hesitate a moment to undertake such a responsibility if, aside from all other conditions, I at least possess the one certainty that I will not then suddenly be attacked or even threatened from the East. The concentration of Russian forces--I had General Jodl submit the most recent map to your Attaché here, General Maras--is tremendous. Really, all available Russian forces are at our border. Moreover, since the approach of warm weather, work has been proceeding on numerous defences. If circumstances should give me cause to employ the German air force against England, there is danger that Russia will then begin its strategy of extortion in the South and North, to which I would have to yield in silence, simply from a feeling of air inferiority. It would, above all, not then be possible for me, without adequate support from an air force, to attack the Russian fortifications with the divisions stationed in the East. If I do not wish to expose myself to this danger, then perhaps the whole year of 1941 will go by without any change in the general situation. On the contrary. England will be all the less ready for peace for it will be able to pin its hopes on the Russian partner. Indeed, this hope must naturally even grow with the progress in preparedness of the Russian armed forces. And behind this is the mass delivery of war material from America which they hope to get in 1942.

Aside from this, Duce, it is not even certain whether we shall have this time, for with so gigantic a concentration of forces on both sides--for I also, was compelled to place more and more armored units on the eastern border, and also to call Finland's and Rumania's attention to the danger--there is the possibility that the shooting will start spontaneously at any moment. A withdrawal on my part would, however, entail a serious loss of prestige for us. This would be particularly unpleasant in its possible effect on Japan. I have, therefore, after constantly racking my brains, finally reached the decision to cut the noose before it can be drawn tight. I believe, Duce, that I am hereby rendering probably the best possible service to our joint conduct of the war this year. For my over-all view is now as follows:

1) France is, as ever, not to be trusted. Absolute surety that North Africa will not suddenly desert does not exist.

2) North Africa itself, insofar as your colonies, Duce, are concerned, is probably out of danger until fall. I assume that the British, in their last attack, wanted to relieve Tobruk. I do not believe they will soon be in a position to repeat this.

3) Spain is irresolute and--I am afraid--will take sides only when the outcome of the war is decided.

4) In Syria, French resistance can hardly be maintained permanently either with or without our help.

5) An attack on Egypt before autumn is out of the question altogether. I consider it necessary, however, taking into account the whole situation, to give thought to the development of an operational unit in Tripoli itself which can, if necessary, also be launched against the West. Of course, Duce, the strictest silence must be maintained with regard to these ideas, for otherwise we cannot expect France to continue to grant permission to use its ports for the transportation of arms and munitions.

6) Whether or not America enters the war is a matter of indifference, inasmuch as she supports our opponent with all the power she is able to mobilize.

7) The situation in England itself is bad; the provision of food and raw materials is growing steadily more difficult. The martial spirit to make war, after all, lives only on hopes. These hopes are based solely on two assumptions: Russia and America. We have no chance of eliminating America. But it does lie in our power to exclude Russia. The elimination of Russia means, at the same time a tremendous relief for Japan in East Asia, and thereby the possibility of a much stronger threat to American activities through Japanese intervention.

I have decided under these circumstances, as I already mentioned, to put an end to the hypocritical performance in the Kremlin. I assume, that is to say, I am convinced, that Finland, and likewise Rumania, will forthwith take part in this conflict, which will ultimately free Europe, for the future also, of a great danger. General Maras informed us that you, Duce, wish also to make available at least one corps. If you have that intention, Duce--which I naturally accept with a heart filled with gratitude--the time for carrying it out will still be sufficiently long, for in this immense theater of war the troops cannot be assembled at all points at the same time anyway. You, Duce, can give the decisive aid, however, by strengthening your forces in North Africa, also, if possible, looking from Tripoli toward the West, by proceeding further to build up a group which, though it be small at first, can march into France in case of a French violation of the treaty; and finally, by carrying the air war and, so far as it is possible, the submarine war, in intensified degree, into the Mediterranean.

So far as the security of the territories in the West is concerned, from Norway to and including France, we are strong enough there--so far as army troops are concerned--to meet any eventuality with lightning speed. So far as the air war on England is concerned, we shall, for a time, remain on the defensive,--but this does not mean that we might be incapable of countering British attacks on Germany; on the contrary, we shall, if necessary, be in a position to start ruthless bombing attacks on British home territory. Our fighter defense, too, will be adequate. It consists of the best squadrons that we have.

As far as the war in the East is concerned, Duce, it will surely be difficult, but I do not entertain a second's doubt as to its great success. I hope, above all, that it will then be possible for us to secure a common food-supply base in the Ukraine for some time to come, which will furnish us such additional supplies as we may need in the future. I may state at this point, however, that, as far as we can tell now, this year's German harvest promises to be a very good one. It is conceivable that Russia will try to destroy the Rumanian oil region. We have built up a defense that will--or so I think--prevent the worst. Moreover, it is the duty of our armies to eliminate this threat as rapidly as possible.

If I waited until this moment, Duce, to send you this information, it is because the final decision itself will not be made until 7 o'clock tonight. I earnestly beg you, therefore, to refrain, above all, from making any explanation to your Ambassador at Moscow, for there is no absolute guarantee that our coded reports cannot be decoded. I, too, shall wait until the last moment to have my own Ambassador informed of the decisions reached.

The material that I now contemplate publishing gradually, is so exhaustive that the world will have more occasion to wonder at our forbearance than at our decision, except for that part of the world which opposes us on principle and for which, therefore, arguments are of no use.

Whatever may now come, Duce, our situation cannot become worse as a result of this step; it can only improve. Even if I should be obliged at the end of this year to leave 60 or 70 divisions in Russia, that is only a fraction of the forces that I am now continually using on the eastern front. Should England nevertheless not draw any conclusions from the hard facts that present themselves, then we can, with our rear secured, apply ourselves with increased strength to the dispatching of our opponent. I can promise you, Duce, that what lies in our German power, will be done.

Any desires, suggestions, and assistance of which you, Duce, wish to inform me in the contingency before us, I would request that you either communicate to me personally or have them agreed upon directly by our military authorities.

In conclusion, let me say one more thing, Duce. Since I struggled through to this decision, I again feel spiritually free. The partnership with the Soviet Union, in spite of the complete sincerity of the efforts to bring about a final conciliation, was nevertheless often very irksome to me, for in some way or other it seemed to me to be a break with my whole origin, my concepts, and my former obligations. I am happy now to be relieved of these mental agonies.

With hearty and comradely greetings, Your



The Naval Attaché, Baumbach, of the German Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Naval High Command [Telegram]

No. 34112/110 of April 24, [1941.]

For the Navy.

    1. Rumors current here speak of alleged danger of war between Germany and the Soviet Union and are being fed by travelers passing through from Germany.
    2. According to the Counselor of the Italian Embassy, the British Ambassador [Stafford Cripps] predicts June 22 as the day of the outbreak of war.
    3. May 20th is set by others.
    4. I am endeavoring to counteract the rumors, which are manifestly absurd.

Naval Attaché


Russia Sworn To Aid France, Sworn Not To Oppose Hitler

The brain-teaser of what would happen if an irresistible force collided with an immovable object is as nothing to the burning question of what Russia would do if her mutual assistance treaty with France were to be invoked against Germany, with whom she has just signed a treaty of non-aggression.

Make the easy assumption that France is the victim of "unprovoked aggression" by Germany. According to the terms of the 1935 agreement solemnly entered into by France and Russia, it would be up to the League of Nations Council to act, and in that action to call for Russia's aid to France's assistance. And if the Council should fail or decline to act, then Russia is pledged to render "aid and assistance" to France against Germany.

But... This Russia could not do unless she breached the agreement with Germany made only yesterday. The pact is strikingly mute on the point of aggression by either signatory against a third power. It neglects to provide for that contingency except to outlaw aggression between the two powers.

If Germany should become the object of "warlike acts" by France--ah, yes, that is covered. Russia will in no way support her French ally. But were the more likely reverse to happen and France be warred against by Germany, Russia would be--

1. Bound by the 1935 treaty to go to France's aid.

2. Bound by the 1939 treaty not to go to that aid against Germany.


Home Prospect

It Is Somewhat Different From That In 1914

If war comes in Europe, what will it mean to the United States?

On the analogy of 1914, it might well mean a great business slump and near-panic in the first few months. But perhaps the analogy will not hold good. For the set-up is very different.

In those days, Germany was one of our most important customers, and the sudden cutting off of our trade with her and the Scandinavian countries and Holland, went far to explain what happened. Moreover England caught more or less without warning was very slow in the beginning to take advantage of American supplies.

This time, however, Germany is a relatively negligible customer and England already has her plans to begin to import American supplies as fast as she can. The dislocation will be considerable, of course. The use of cotton by the Lancashire mills, for instance, will certainly fall off for a while at least. But if there is any notable slump, it probably won't last nearly so long as last time nor be so extensive. The booming prosperity which followed the slump before is likely to put in its appearance much more rapidly.

In politics, the result may very well be the re-election of Mr. Roosevelt. War "prosperity" stands to be in full blast by convention time. And moreover, the President's foreign policy has been able and has commanded more general support than any of his domestic policies.

The man in fact probably has the best grasp of international background of any of the possible candidates. And under these circumstances, the old standard plea against "changing horses in mid-stream" is quite likely to be even more than usually effective.


Cause To Weep

England, France Face Choice Of Crawling Or Fighting

They wept in the streets of Paris this morning when the bucket brigades began to plaster up the grim little mobilization notices. And with reason. For impasse has pretty certainly been reached. If England attempts to force Poland to yield to Hitler's demands, she must openly and candidly violate her solemn and voluntarily given promise to protect Poland against whatever the latter judges to threaten her independence.

Indeed, even if she can arrange a compromise under which Hitler would accept for the moment no more than Danzig, she would still surely and clearly be selling Poland down the river. For it is no longer possible for anyone to misunderstand or pretend to misunderstand what the real intentions of Adolf Hitler are. He himself has stripped away the mask with his demands, and confessed quite frankly that he means, not merely to threaten the independence of Poland, but to abolish it.

Moreover, what is involved in this also is that England must crawl ignominiously before the eyes of the world. At Munich Neville Chamberlain was already crawling, but he could pretend boldly that it was not so. He could and did say that, after all, what was involved was the right of those Germans who made up the majority in the Sudetenland to "self-determination"--that he was only rectifying a mistake of the Versailles Treaty which ought never to have been made in the first place, that in turn he was securing the promise of Adolf Hitler that this was "the last territorial demand in Europe" he would make, and so assuring "peace in our time."

It is impossible to say any of these things with a straight face now. In view of Hitler's demands, it is impossible to talk of "self-determination" with regard even to Danzig. Moreover, it is plain that to yield is at best to secure peace for a few months. For it is to make Hitler master of Eastern Europe, to make him strong for new and more arrogant demands still--demands which, if met, will eventually mean the destruction of the British Empire and of France.

As for Hitler himself, he appears to be confident either (1) that Chamberlain will crawl, or (2) that, if war comes, he will be able to mop up Poland within a few days and face England and France with a fait accompli-- to say to to them: "Here it is. Already done. I'm going to partition Poland and nothing you can do will stop me. Why not be sensible, stop all this war business, and go on home?"

That last is probably a gross misreading of the British and French temper. If they go into this war, they will almost certainly do it with the grand determination to see it through to the finish, or until Germany is smashed and partitioned, and Hitler and all of his gang are hanged.

With Neville Chamberlain in power in England, no one can be sure what is going to happen. He may crawl yet. But it is probable that Hitler has chosen the very best way to get Chamberlain's own back up. Moreover, even if he is given dictatorial powers, Chamberlain must still reckon with British public opinion, which seems to have coldly decided that it has had enough of crawling.

The prospect is a terrible one. And one most ominous from the British and French viewpoint. With the forces aligned as they are now, these nations might well lose the war. And if they didn't, it might take many years to bring it to a satisfactory end.

Only two things of value have emerged from the whole Chamberlain policy. One of them is that Hitler has been decisively shown up for what he is--a ruthless madman bent on ever-extending conquest. And the other is that the Russian claim to fondness for democracy is and has been a lie. But these are pretty poor consolations for the strategic and military losses. At least, however, England, which likes to fight only in the name of Dieu et mon droit will have a moral case to her taste.


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