36 M. DE MONTBAS-Berlin, January 5 At the outset of 1939 the atmosphere of the Third Reich can- not be better described than by the term tension. The Ger- man grip on Czechoslovakia is tightening .................. 48 37 M. LÉON NOEL-Warsaw, January 12 In the course of the interview which Colonel Beck had in Bavaria with Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop and on the Führer's initiative, it was reaffirmed specifically that it was necessary to maintain the relations of good neighbour- liness inaugurated by the German-Polish declaration of 1934 50 38 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw. January 27 The French Ambassador calls on Herr von Ribbentrop during the latter's visit to Warsaw, and informs him of the wel- come given by the Chamber of Deputies to the passage in M. Georges Bonnet's speech concerning Franco-German relations. 51 39 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, January 27 Herr von Ribbentrop fears the influence of the U.S.S.R. upon the foreign policy of France ......................... 52 40 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, January 27 The Minister for Foreign Affairs transmits to the French Ambassador in Berlin the passage in his speech in the Cham- ber of Deputies concerning Franco-German relations ........ 53 41 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, January 30 In his telegram to his Polish colleague after his visit to him in Poland Herr von Ribbentrop expresses the conviction that "the friendly relations between the two States have been in a large measure strengthened by their conversations in Warsaw" ................................................ 53 42 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, January 30 Colonel Beck indicates to the French Ambassador in Warsaw that he is completely in agreement with Herr von Ribbentrop on the necessity and the possibility of settling present and future difficulties between the two countries in "the spirit of good neighbourliness" which is the basis of the pact of 1934 ...................................................... 54 43 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, February 4 The French Ambassador in Warsaw indicates that in the course of the Germano-Polish conversations Poland has refused the establishment of a "corridor through the Corridor" and the granting of extra-territorial status to a motor road or a railway ................................................... 54 44 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, February 4 The Minister instructs the French Ambassador in Berlin to make a démarche parallel with that to be carried out by his British colleague in order to ascertain the intentions of the German Government on the subject of the guarantee to be granted to Czechoslovakia ................................. 55 45 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, February 7 An interview between the French Minister in Prague and M. Chvalkovsky, Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the latter's return from Berlin brings little reassurance on this question, Herr Hitler having apparently subordinated the granting of the German guarantee to several conditions .... 55 46 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, February 7 In the course of a conversation with the French Ambassador in Berlin Herr von Ribbentrop specifies that Germany's fo- reign policy has two objectives: (1) to combat Bolshevism by every means, (2) to recover her colonies. On the first point he adds "As regards the Soviets we shall remain as firm as a rock. We shall never come to an agreement with Bolshevik Russia" ......................................... 57 47 VERBAL NOTE FROM THE FRENCH AMBASSADOR IN BERLIN-Berlin, February 8 Recalling the terms of Annex 1 of the Munich Agreement the French Ambassador in Berlin hands to the Foreign Office of the Reich a Note verbale in which he requests the views of the German Government on the question of the international guarantee ................................................. 59 48 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, February 18 M. de Lacroix enumerates the ten conditions to which Ger- many would subordinate the granting of her guarantee ...... 60 49 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, February 22 M. Bonnet requests M. Coulondre to acquaint him with the result of his démarche .................................... 61 50 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, February 24 M. Coulondre reports that no answer has yet been received from the German Foreign Office ............................ 61 51 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 2 The German reply suggests that the conditions provided for in Annex I of the Munich Agreement have not been fulfilled, the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia not having been settled. It takes for granted, moreover, that Central Europe is no longer any concern of the Western Powers ........................................ 61 52 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 10 The negotiations which have been going on for some time be- tween the Czechs and the Slovaks result in a crisis; the Prague Government dismisses the Slovak Ministers represen- ting extremist influences and the Prime Minister, Mgr. Tiso. At the same time it takes important police precautions in Slovakia .................................................. 65 53 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 10 First indications suggest that the Prague Government has the situation in hand. They have not observed any reaction from the German side. Nevertheless, there are rumours of concen- trations of German troops on the southern frontiers of Mor- ana and Slovakia .......................................... 66 54 M. DE MONTBAS-Berlin, March 11 Mgr. Tiso appeals for help to the German Government. The latter is reported to be contemplating an "armed mediation." The German Press suggests that Germany has undertaken to support the cause of the nationalities in revolt against the Government of Prague ...................................... 66 55 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 13 Since March 11 military preparations and movements of troops have been noted. Everything points to Germany being about to launch an armed campaign against Czechoslovakia in the near future ........................................... 67 56 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 13 This view is confirmed by a German personality according to whom the fate of Czechoslovakia is settled. What Germany wants is the annexation pure and simple of Bohemia and Moravia ................................................... 68 57 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 13 Confronted with this display of force on the part of the Reich and the attitude of the German Press, the French Ambassador in Berlin proposes to make a démarche at the Wilhelmstrasse based on the Munich agreement and on the Franco-German declaration of December 6 ................... 68 58 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 14 The Reich has presented an ultimatum to Prague ............ 70 59 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 14 The open intervention of Germany appears to have deprived the Prague Government of all energy. The proclamation of the independence of Slovakia is expected .................. 71 60 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 14 The Vienna radio station continues to denounce the bad treat- ment of which the Germans of Czechoslovakia are supposed to have been victims, and alludes to a Marxist plot in Prague; the tactics followed by Germany in this connection recall those employed in September 1938, and on the eve of the Anschluss ................................................. 71 61 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 14 It appears to be confirmed that Germany is insisting on the dismissal of several Czech Ministers, and perhaps of the entire Cabinet ............................................ 71 62 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 14 The French Ambassador in Berlin indicates that in the course of a visit to that capital Mgr. Tiso and Herr Durcansky are reported to have received from the German leaders a promise that German friendship would be extended to an independent Slovakia .................................................. 72 63 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 14 From an interview between the British Ambassador and Herr von Weizsäcker, it appears that Germany considers the Tiso Government to be the only legitimate government and the action of the Prague Government against it to be contrary to the constitution. Nevertheless, in Sir Nevile Henderson's opinion, Germany is still hesitating, on the line of conduct to be adopted ............................................. 73 64 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, March 14 The Minister for Foreign Affairs, recalling the spirit and scope of the Munich Agreement, and referring to the Franco- German declaration of December 6, instructs the French Amb- assador in Berlin to express the serious anxiety of the French Government to Herr von Ribbentrop and to ask him what interpretation should be placed on the action of the Reich in Slovakia ............................................... 74 65 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 14 As President Hacha is meeting Herr Hitler, the French Ambas- sador in Berlin gives an outline of the political situation. Slovakia has just proclaimed her independence; the German Press is announcing the "disruption" of Czechoslovakia. The whole affair has been conducted by the Reich in conformity with a preconceived plan and following the method already used at the time of the Anschluss and in September, 1938 ..................................................... 75 66 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 14 During the last few months Germany has completely revised her policy in the East. Immediately after the Munich Agree- ment it seemed that Germany wished to keep a vassal Czecho- slovak state as a starting-point for her expansion towards the South-East; subsequently she has reversed her decision and ceased to object to the plan of establishing a Polish- Hungarian frontier on the Carpathians ..................... 79 67 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 15 The French Ambassador in Berlin announces the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by the German Army and specifies that these provinces will be purely and simply annexed by Germany. Between Czech and German Ministers there are no negotiations in the true meaning of the word. Herr Hitler has confined himself to announcing his decision to the Czechs .......... 82 68 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 15 The French Ambassador in Berlin indicates that he is to be received by Herr von Weizsäcker. He proposes expressly to reserve the attitude of the French Government towards the situation created by the German Government ................ 83 69 HERR VON WELCZECK-Paris, March 15 The German Ambassador in Paris communicates to the French Government the text of an arrangement concluded during the night of March 1415 between Herr Hitler and President Hacha according to the terms of which the President of Czecho- slovakia is reported to have placed the destinies of his people in the Führer's hands. Herr von Welczeck notifies moreover that following this arrangement German troops crossed the Czech frontier on March 15 at six o'clock in the morning to re-establish order ............................. 83 70 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 15 To the request for explanations made by the French Ambassador in Berlin, Herr von Weizsäcker replies that Czechoslovakia was in a state of disruption, that Germany has had to inter- vene to protect the threatened German minority, and that, besides, an agreement has been concluded between the Berlin and Prague Governments. When questioned upon the intentions of Germany and an eventual withdrawal of the German troops, Herr von Weizsäcker merely refers M. Coulondre to the text of the agreement concluded between Herr Hitler and M. Hacha ................................................. 85 71 M. DE LACROIX-Prague, March 15 Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop are reported to have told M. Hacha that the most terrible repression will take place if the least resistance is made to the entry of the German troops ............................................. 86 72 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, March 16 The Minister for Foreign Affairs asks the French Ambassador in London to draw the attention of the British Government to the necessity of a formal protest by the Governments of Paris and London and of a concerted démarche by their Ambas- sadors in Berlin .......................................... 86 73 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 16 The French Ambassador in Berlin finds typical elements of the Hitlerian mentality in the circumstances which have brought about the disappearance of Czechoslovakia: cynicism and perfidy in conception, secrecy in preparation ruthless- ness in execution. The lesson to be drawn from it is that Hitler's thirst for domination is boundless and that it would be in vain to try to oppose it successfully by any other argument than force ...................................... 88 74 M. ARDIET-Nuremberg, March 16 Gauleiter Streicher proclaims publicly that the Prague affair is only a beginning and that the Democracies are doomed .................................................... 94 75 M. LÉON NOËL-Warsaw, March 16 In Poland the annexation of Czechoslovakia is regarded as the prelude to action by the Reich in the East ............ 94 76 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, March 17 The French Ambassador in Berlin receives instructions to hand to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs a Note in which the French Government specifies that it cannot recog- nize the legality of the new situation created in Czecho- slovakia by the action of the Reich ....................... 95 77 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 17 M. Coulondre relates the dramatic circumstances in which M. Hacha has been induced to sign the agreement imposed on him by Herr Hitler ............................................ 96 78 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 18 The French Ambassador in Berlin hands a note of protest from the French Government to Herr von Weizsäcker, who accepts it only after making difficulties ............................ 98 79 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 18 The German Government's bad faith is confirmed from numerous sources ................................................... 99 80 M. COULONDRE-Berlin, March 19 Much more than even a new advance of German influence east- wards, the unspeakable methods resorted to by the Reich mark the departure from the policy of appeasement initiated at Munich. An entirely new situation has arisen. In suppressing Czechoslovakia, the German Government has openly disclosed annexationist ambitions hitherto concealed. Where will they stop on that road, along which the material power they have acquired and the intoxication of success are driving them? In any case it is essential that we should carry our effort of reorganization to the highest point and proceed to the industrial mobilization of the country .................... 100 81 M. GEORGES BONNET-Paris, March 19 The Minister for Foreign Affairs approves the action of the French Ambassador in Berlin in rejecting Herr von Weizsäcker's contention that M. Bonnet had declared to Herr von Ribbentrop that Czechoslovakia could no longer form the subject of any exchange of views. This contention is contra- dicted by the very fact that the German Government has been the object of several approaches on the part of the French Government, on the question of the guarantee of the Czecho- slovak frontiers, and that replies have been received from the German Government ..................................... 107 82 M. PAYART-Moscow, March 19 The Government of the U.S.S.R. protests to the German Govern- ment against the annexation of Czechoslovakia; it sees in it a new danger to peace .................................. 108
M. DE MONTBAS, French Chargé d'Affairs in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, January 5, 1939.
AFTER the undeniable successes of the Third Reich's foreign policy during the year 1938, it might have been imagined that the Führer, gratified at having attained his chief aims without striking a blow and shown the world the superiority of Hitlerian methods, would have addressed himself to the task of easing the internal tension, and would himself have given an example of satisfied calm.
But, according to information received from trustworthy sources, this is not the case. Herr Hitler is again said to be going through a period of crisis. He is said to be nervous, agitated, a prey to sudden and violent outbursts of rage. It is said that he shuns his collaborators and lives in sullen seclusion. In the presence of those happy few who are received by him, he gives vent to angry complaints; he declares that he receives nothing but disappointing reports; that the carrying out of the Four Year Plan encounters new difficulties every day; that in many regions of the Reich, the spirit of the public is not what it should be; that in Vienna, Bürckel is struggling in the midst of scandals caused by the corruption and extortions of the Austrian Nazis; that Sudetenland is costing great sums of money; and that he is assailed with requests for credits and subsidies from every side.
From abroad, the Greater German Reich has not received the flattering consecration or reaped the tribute of respect and consideration that its victories had led it to hope for. In spite of the Munich agreement, Anglo-German relations have never been so strained. With Washington Berlin sees itself engaged, willy-nilly, in vain and fruitless
polemics, at the very moment when, the bloc of a German or German-controlled Mitteleuropa being as yet unorganized, the National-Socialist economic system finds itself sorely in need of safety-valves abroad. To the proposals for a German-American armistice which the Propaganda service has discreetly issued through certain press-agencies, the only answer so far has been President Roosevelt's message in which he raised the problem of a "reconsideration" of the American policy of neutrality.
In the East and South-East the situation tends to become more complicated: the collapse of Czechoslovakia has suddenly revived national prejudices, hatreds and appetites; German-Polish friendship, not so long ago a fine subject for official toasts and the usual leitmotif of the Führer's pacific speeches, has cooled down considerably. Deceived in their hopes, the Hungarians have become recalcitrant and restless. Far from taking refuge under the triumphant Swastika, the small nations are sheltering behind a neutrality which is not always a benevolent one.
The Franco-German declaration of December 6 is one of the few clear patches in a cloudy sky. But the tension between Rome and Paris is placing the Reich in a delicate position towards France. Confronted with the Franco-Italian differences, Nazi propaganda adopts for the time being a watchful attitude, notwithstanding platonic protests regarding the solidarity of the Axis.
It would be an obvious mistake to assume that the Chancellor attaches much importance to these setbacks. Since the events of last year, his faith in his own genius, in his instinct, or as one might say, in his star, is boundless. Those who surround him are the first to admit that he now thinks himself infallible and invincible. That explains why he can no longer bear either criticism or contradiction. To contradict him is in his eyes a crime of lèse-majesté; opposition to his plans, from whatever side it may come, is a definite sacrilege, to which the only reply is an immediate and striking display of his omnipotence.
The Chancellor chafes against all these disappointments with indignant impatience. Far from conducing him to moderation, these obstacles irritate him. He is aware of the enormous blunder which the anti-Jewish persecutions of last November have proved to be; yet, by a contradiction which is part of the dictator's psychological make-up, he is said to be preparing to enter upon a merciless struggle against the Church and Catholicism. Perhaps he thus wishes to wipe out the memory of past violence by fresh violence. It is in Austria, henceforth
turned into an experimental station, that the signal for anti-clerical measures might perhaps be given, doubtless because the unity and the spirit of sacrifice among the clergy is not so strong there as in the rest of the Reich, where the memory of the Kulturkampf is still alive. Certain articles in the Schwarze Korps already point to the possibility of a far-reaching confiscation of Church property in the so-called Ostmark.
Outside the Reich, German domination is weighing down Czechoslovakia more and more heavily. The conclusion of a customs and monetary union to the profit of the Reich might prove at the same time a most advantageous operation and the first stage on the road to the Ukraine.
Thus, at the beginning of the year 1939, the atmosphere in the Third Reich can best be described as tense: tension in all fields- political, economic, confessional and psychological. As happens with an overheated engine, the machinery of the Third Reich is strained to breaking point, but the driver of Berchtesgaden does not appear to intend to moderate the pressure.
M. LÉON NOËL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, January 12, 1939.
WHEN he received me today, after a couple of days' rest, Colonel Beck began by telling me again that his journey to Bavaria had been made on the initiative of the German Chancellor, who had sent someone to see him in Monte Carlo for that purpose. He added that he had not considered it opportune, after recent events, to refuse the invitation thus tendered to him.
According to Colonel Beck, this is what the conversations between him and Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop really amounted to.
The necessity was again stressed of maintaining the good neighbourly relations created by the Polish-German declaration of 1934, and it was stated that these relations remained satisfactory in spite of certain difficulties.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs told me that he had found the Chancellor calm, talking a great deal as usual, but weighing his words,
and not at all in the feverish state in which he had seen him sometimes. "It does not appear," he said, "that at the present time Herr Hitler is contemplating a vast project for action in the near future, nor that his intention is to bring about great events at short notice; he did not give me the impression of a man who was preparing to start a crusade against anybody."
Colonel Beck gave me the following information:
(1) Herr Hitler expressed his satisfaction that war had been avoided in September 1938 and that the young people who had already so many difficulties to contend with had been spared this terrible ordeal.
(2) According to Colonel Beck, Herr Hitler referred twice to France; first he congratulated himself on Herr von Ribbentrop's journey to Paris, and gave an assurance of his "good intentions" towards us. Later, the conversation having strayed to architecture, he acknowledged the great debt which civilization owes to our country.
(3) Against Moscow, against "Russia," and not merely against Bolshevism, the Führer showed the same hostility as in days gone by.
(4) From certain remarks made by the Chancellor, Colonel Beck infers that the persecution of the Jews "will not slow down in Germany." As to the fate of the Polish Jews, the negotiations will be taken up again very soon, after a temporary interruption.
(5) Colonel Beck was able to ascertain, on the occasion of his visit to Berchtesgaden, that Herr von Ribbentrop appeared rather ill-informed of the intentions of the Chancellor, whom he had not seen for several weeks. This, in his opinion, confirms what he had told me at the time of Herr von Neurath's departure, concerning Herr Hitler's intention to direct himself the future foreign policy of the Reich, pondering over his decisions in the solitude of Berchtesgaden.
(6) The Foreign Minister of Poland hopes that Herr von Ribbentrop will come to Warsaw toward the end of January.
M. LÉON NOËL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, January 27, 1939.
IN accordance with Your Excellency's instructions, I paid a short visit to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs just as he was leaving
for Berlin by train. Herr von Ribbentrop expressed his deepest appreciation of this call.
As arranged, I informed the Minister that I had been instructed to show him this mark of courtesy in order to illustrate the spirit in which-a few weeks after his official visit to Paris and the signing of the declaration of December 6 to which we attach the importance stressed in Your Excellency's declarations yesterday-we regarded his visit to our Polish friends, and the good neighbourly relations which the German Government declares itself determined to maintain with them. Herr von Ribbentrop had just been shown an incomplete and partially inaccurate report of your speech, which made my démarche all the more opportune. The passage relating to France's policy towards Germany, and its reception by the Chamber had in fact been left out. The report stressed before everything else the parts of the speech bearing on the maintenance of the Franco-Soviet engagements.
Thanks to the telegram of the Agence Havas and to the conversation which I had last week with Your Excellency, I was able to put matters in their true light, and to repeat to the Minister the important portions of your speech concerning the declaration of December 6.
M. LÉON NOËL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, January 27, 1939.
IN the course of our conversation, Herr von Ribbentrop felt the need, in connection with Your Excellency's speech and with our pact with Soviet Russia to refer to what he calls "the policy of genes," and the events of last summer.
I interrupted these retrospective considerations by observing that, at present, the best course was not to discuss the past, but to look towards the future.
On the question of the Soviets, as he gave me to understand that he always dreaded their influence on our foreign policy, I replied that our Government's attitude as well as the situation at home and the state of public opinion in France, should be enough to prevent Germany's interpreting our relations with Soviet Russia in a way that would misrepresent their nature.
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, January 27, 1939.
THE debate which has just taken place in the Chamber of Deputies on our foreign policy gave several members an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the Franco-German declaration of December 6 for the development of the relations between both countries. During the sitting of January 26, Messrs. Oberkirch and Scapini laid special stress on their wish to see the consultations provided for in the agreement become more frequent.
You will receive under separate cover the text of the passage of my speech dealing with Franco-German relations, which the entire Chamber applauded.
I leave it to your discretion to make whatever use of this information you may consider desirable.
M. LEON NOEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, January 30, 1939.
THE officially inspired Press publishes the text of telegrams exchanged between Herr von Ribbentrop and Colonel Beck, after the Foreign Minister of the Reich had left. Herr von Ribbentrop thanks his Polish colleague for the "exceptionally cordial hospitality extended to his wife and to himself" and expresses the belief that the "friendly relations between the two States will have been in a large measure strengthened by the conversations of Warsaw."
"The spirit which Marshal Pilsudski and the Führer at that time introduced into German-Polish relations, give the guarantee," so he adds, "that the future will bring about a constant development of our peaceful relations, and at the same time draw still closer the ties of friendship now existing between our two countries and so many neighbouring States."
"I am convinced," Colonel Beck replied, "that the conversations of Warsaw, carried on in an atmosphere of sincerity and of mutual regard for the interests of the two nations, will contribute to strengthen the
good neighbourly relations established by the agreement of 1934. These conversations will form a valuable addition to what the Chancellor and Marshal Pilsudski had achieved before, and will allow the relations between our two countries to develop in the most friendly spirit."
M. LÉON NOËL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, January 30, 1939.
WHEN he spoke to me this morning about his conversations with Herr von Ribbentrop, Colonel Beck assured me that they had been such as he had predicted to me before the arrival of the Foreign Minister of the Reich. Nothing new has been either signed or concluded between the two Governments of Berlin and of Warsaw.
The Polish Foreign Minister then referred to the speech and telegrams which he had exchanged with Herr von Ribbentrop as well as to the text of the communiqué, and he told me that he had found himself in complete agreement with the German Minister on the necessity and the possibility of settling, in the "spirit of neighbourliness," which is the basis of the pact of 1934, present and future difficulties between both countries.
When I asked him if there had been any new developments on the subject of Danzig, Colonel Beck answered in the negative and renewed his promise to inform us, eventually, of what Poland and Germany, in the spirit of the pact, might agree upon concerning the Free City of Danzig.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs was good enough to inform me that his recent conversations had confirmed his impressions that the Franco-Polish alliance was accepted by the Reich as a fact, compatible both with the Polish-German agreement of 1934 and with the Franco-German declaration of December 6,1938.
M. LEON NOEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, February 4, 1939.
WITH reference to the question of transit through the Corridor,
which has been examined during the Polish-German conversations, I have just received the following additional information:
Poland absolutely refuses to accept the establishment of "a corridor through the Corridor"; neither will she hear of the construction of a railway line which would be the property of Germany or of a motor-road with extra-territorial rights.
But as can be inferred from the inspired commentary issued on the communiqué, measures are being planned, which, according to the words of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, are meant to ease and "simplify" German transit through Pomerania.
Negotiations on this matter are to take place between the two Governments. They might possibly be carried on in connection with conversations on the Danzig question.
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, February 4, 1939.
LORD HALIFAX informed me in Geneva of Mr. Chamberlain's conversation with Signor Mussolini, and of the plan of the British Cabinet to sound the Government of the Reich on its intentions.
Please make a parallel démarche at the Wilhelmstrasse to that of your British colleague respecting the prospective guarantee of the new frontiers of the Czechoslovak State.
You might indicate that the French Government, which desires to give effect to the execution of all the clauses of the Munich Agreement, would be glad to be informed as soon as possible of the German Government's views on this matter.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, February 7, 1939.
THIS morning I had a conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his journey to Berlin. First of all, M. Chvalkovsky told me that, according to the desire expressed by the German authorities, it had been agreed not to publish anything on the conversations which
had taken place. Taking advantage of this official silence, the Press published countless pieces of information, either inaccurate or entirely invented. M. Chvalkovsky denied especially that he had been ill-received in Berlin or that he had been disappointed with the result of his journey. He told me his visit was not meant to include any negotiation, that he went to discuss current affairs concerning both countries and in order to find out what was expected of Czechoslovakia.
The position of his country in regard to Germany supplied the atmosphere in which the Minister stated the facts and expressed his views. He stressed the fact that he was received by the Führer as an acquaintance and that the interview he had with him took the form of a conversation and not of the receipt of instructions.
The Foreign Minister summarized the indications he had given me and linked them up with the question of the guarantee of Czechoslovak frontiers. What appears to have impressed him most was the importance which Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop attach to the Jewish question-absolutely out of proportion to the importance given to the other questions dealt with. The Foreign Minister of the Reich, as well as the Chancellor, are said to have stated emphatically that it was not possible to given a German guarantee to a State which does not eliminate the Jews:
"Do not imitate the sentimental and leisurely manner in which we ourselves treated this problem," the two statesmen are reported to have said. "Our kindness was nothing but weakness, and we regret it. This vermin must be destroyed. The Jews are our sworn enemies, and at the end of this year there will not be a Jew left in Germany. Neither the French, nor the Americans, nor the English are responsible for the difficulties in our relations with Paris, London, or Washington. Those responsible are the Jews. We will give similar advice to Rumania, Hungary, etc.... Germany will seek to form a bloc of anti-Semitic States, as she would not be able to treat as friends the States in which the Jews, either through their economic activity or through their high positions, could exercise any kind of influence."
In connection with this part of M. Chvalkovsky's conversations, I learnt that the Director of the Commercial Department in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Herr Friedmann, and the former Consul-General in Paris, Herr Butter, at present attached to the Press Department at the Czernin Palace, have been relieved of their posts.
The second point which the Reich Chancellor is said to have emphasized during his talks with M. Chvalkovsky, inasmuch as it con-
cerns the guarantee as well as the general relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia, is the question of the rights to be granted to the German minority within the Czechoslovak State: the right to teach according to the National-Socialist ideology in the German schools from which the Jewish teachers must be expelled; the right to organize themselves according to National-Socialist principles; the right for the German minority to wear National-Socialist badges. Then, M. Chvalkovsky mentioned that the Social-Democrats of the German minority had merged into the National-Socialist party, as had been the case in Germany. Only a few hundred people, who have compromised themselves too much to take the risk of returning to Germany, are remaining faithful to their original convictions.
Finally, the German statesmen are said to have asked for a reduction of the Czechoslovak army, in greater proportion than the reduction in territory and population already suffered. According to M. Chvalkovsky, who did not express himself quite definitely, no demand was made. The Reich seems to have mentioned that they would be prepared to give their guarantee to a neutral State, taking for granted that such a State would have no need for a strong army.
As the Foreign Minister reminded me, the Czechoslovak Government was waiting for the Munich Powers to state clearly the conditions upon which they were ready to give the international guarantee mentioned as early as September by France and Great Britain. According to M. Chvalkovsky, the conditions stipulated in the Munich Agreement had been fulfilled long ago.
In concluding, the Foreign Minister mentioned that Czechoslovakia remained faithful to the treaties signed, and to the alliances entered into by her Government.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, February 7, 1939.
YESTERDAY afternoon I had an hour's conversation with Herr von Ribbentrop, by whom I had asked to be received. In its essentials the conversation was a long account by the Minister of the Reich's foreign policy, a policy which, as he stressed, was not his, but the Führer's, whose instructions he merely followed.
As I reminded him of the general approval given, in the Chamber of Deputies, to the declarations made by Your Excellency on Franco-German relations, Herr von Ribbentrop made substantially the following statement: "I will speak to you with complete frankness. It is outrageous to maintain, as is often done abroad, that we are pursuing war aims. I myself in 1933 and 1934, offered an agreement in turn to France and Great Britain. All my endeavours were of no avail. The Berlin-Rome Axis was forged. Today that Axis is a fact, and the London-Paris Axis is another. Moreover, the Western Powers have shown themselves unable to understand that our vital interests must be satisfied; the Press of those countries has played its part, together with irresponsible and mischievous elements, and the Czechoslovak crisis arose. Later, Germany did what was in her power to bridge the differences between the two Axes; hence the Anglo-German declaration, and then the Franco-German declaration to which, I insist, we attach the utmost importance. Is this a policy of war or a policy of peace? Nevertheless, in spite of the moderation of the German Press, a great number of British and American newspapers, under the pressure of Jewish and Bolshevising elements, do not stop attacking us; on account of this, we have decided to give our newspapers full liberty to answer back and you will soon see how they do it.
"In foreign policy, our aim is twofold:
(1) To fight Bolshevism by every means, and especially through the operation of the anti-Comintern pact.
(2) To regain our colonies.
"On the first point, believe me, the struggle we have started is merciless. Towards the Soviets, we will remain adamant. We never will come to an understanding with Bolshevist Russia. During the Spanish war some among us had advocated a policy of complete aloofness, hoping to weaken France through the creation of a revolutionary focus on her borders. This was not and is not the Führer's policy. This is the reason why our 'volunteers' went to the help of Franco.
"As to the Colonies, we cannot admit that the riches of the world should be divided between Powers, great and even small ones like Belgium or Holland, and that Germany should be completely deprived of them. One day or another, this colonial question will have to be settled. But, for the time being, the Governments of the countries concerned are too much under the pressure of the opposition parties to allow a free discussion.
"It is just for this reason that we are not prepared, generally speak-
ing, to start negotiations. And why should we, as long as in the democracies the opposition parties are stirred up by the mischievous action of Bolshevism and Jewry? But we are confident that, in those countries, such influences will be gradually reduced and finally suppressed; then it will be possible to negotiate, and satisfactory solutions will probably be found. But, for the time being, should a conference be summoned, it would soon be seen that the only possible course would be to call it off."
I had no opportunity to take up each of the points mentioned by Herr von Ribbentrop during this monologue, which I thought it advisable not to interrupt. I found it expedient to do nothing more than point out to him that the last speech delivered by Your Excellency would provide him with definite information on the general position taken by the French Government.
Then Herr von Ribbentrop took up the sentence in your last speech relating to our agreements with Eastern European countries. One might gather the impression, he remarked, that France has not renounced the policy which brought about the last crisis, and in any case such an interpretation might be given to the declaration in certain countries; recently we had to make certain representations to M. Chvalkovsky. I answered him that France had no intention of giving up either her friendships or her interests in any part of the continent; as a great European Power she would make her presence felt in Europe. Nothing, however, in her attitude could give rise to suspicion on the part of the Reich; but I had to repeat that if Berlin wished France to show understanding of German vital interests, it was necessary to admit and practice reciprocity; this mutual understanding would be the best safeguarding for Franco-German relations and for peace itself.
ACCORDING to annex No. 1 to the agreement signed in Munich on September 29, 1938, the German and Italian Governments declared themselves prepared to join in an international guarantee of the new frontiers of the Czechoslovak State against unprovoked aggression, as
soon as the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia had been settled.
Referring to this declaration, as well as to the information recently given in Rome by Signor Mussolini to the British Prime Minister, as to the preliminary conditions under which the Italian Government as far as it was concerned, would consider the granting of this guarantee, the French Government, anxious to see all the clauses of the Munich Agreement effectively carried out, would appreciate information on the views of the Government of the Reich on the question of the guarantee provided for in the said agreement.
The French Embassy would be grateful to the Reich Foreign Office if it would kindly enable it with all speed to comply with the desire thus expressed by the French Government.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, February 18, 1939.
THE conditions which the Reich lays down to the Czechoslovak Government for an effective guarantee of the Czechoslovak frontiers by Germany may be summed up in the following ten points:
(1) Complete neutrality of Czechoslovakia.
(2) The foreign policy of Czechoslovakia must be brought into line with that of the Reich; adhesion to the Anti-Comintern Pact is deemed advisable.
(3) Czechoslovakia must immediately leave the League of Nations
(4) Drastic reduction of military effectives.
(5) A part of the gold reserve of Czechoslovakia must be ceded to Germany. A part of the Czechoslovak industries having been ceded a part of the gold-reserve must accordingly pass into the hands of Germany.
(6) The Czechoslovak currency from Sudetenland must be exchanged for Czechoslovak raw materials.
(7) The Czechoslovak markets must be open to the German industries of Sudetenland. No new industry may be created in Czechoslovakia if it competes with an industry already existing in Sudetenland.
(8) Promulgation of anti-Semitic laws analogous to those of Nuremberg.
(9) Dismissal of all Czechoslovak Government employees who may have given Germany any ground for complaint.
(10) The German population of Czechoslovakia must have the right to carry Nazi badges and to fly the National-Socialist flag.
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, February 22, 1939.
I SHOULD be glad if you would report as soon as possible the result of the démarche which I have instructed you to make at the Wilhelmstrasse, parallel to that of your British colleague.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, February 24, 1939.
I HAVE received no answer whatsoever to the démarche which I made in accordance with your instructions of February 4.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 2, 1939.
THE Minister for Foreign Affairs has just sent me his answer to my note of February 8, concerning the guarantee to be given to Czechoslovakia. The Department will find the translation of that document attached. The same answer, couched in identical terms, was given to the British Embassy.
As I am unable, owing to the late hour when the document reached me, to proceed to an exhaustive analysis of the document, I will confine myself to a rapid survey of the points which appear essential to me.
(1) In its comparatively veiled form, which does not however exclude certain brutal or perfidious thrusts, the German note, in substance, suggests that, in the opinion of the Government of the Reich, the conditions foreseen in annex 1 to the Munich Agreement for Ger-
many to adhere to an international guarantee of the new frontiers of the Czechoslovak State have been in no way fulfilled up to the present time.
The annex to the Munich Agreement stipulates in fine that, after the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia has been settled, Germany and Italy, on their side, will also guarantee Czechoslovakia.
The German note endeavours to convey the impression that the difficulties between Poland and Hungary on the one hand, and Czechoslovakia on the other, are far from being settled. Without hesitating to contradict the official statements hitherto issued, it admits the failure of the Vienna Award. The position thus taken allows the Government of the Reich to refuse its guarantee, and consequently leaves the door open for it eventually to reconsider the entire question.
(2) The note from the German Foreign Office goes further still. It unequivocally declares that an intervention of the Western Powers in Central Europe, in the shape of a guarantee in favour of the Czechoslovak State, would do more harm than good. It would contribute to aggravate the differences of Czechoslovakia with her neighbours-other than the Reich-and perhaps even lead them to degenerate into a conflict. Doubtless the note seems in places to deal with a "premature" guarantee, but, for those who understand, it is the whole conception of a guarantee of the new Czechoslovakia by the Western Powers which it rejects. "The German Government," it points out, "cannot in any way see in an extension of this guarantee obligation to the Western Powers a factor that might allay internal quarrels in the said area, but rather an element liable to increase unreasonable tendencies, as has already been the case."
All that part of Europe henceforward is a preserve of the Reich "The German Government," the note adds, "is perfectly aware that, all things considered, the general evolution of that part of Europe falls primarily into the sphere of the Reich's most vital interests, and that not only from the historical point of view, but also from the geographical and, above all, the economic angle."
Translated into clear language, this phrase means that the Western Powers have no longer any right to interest themselves in Central European affairs.
This general theme is intermingled with perfidious allusions to the question of Palestine (for the London Government) to "more or less serious" military guarantees given by her Western friends to Czecho-
slovakia (for Paris), and chiefly with thinly veiled threats against the elements which, in Czechoslovakia, might continue even today to oppose German domination.
At first sight this document is therefore anything but reassuring as to the immediate intentions of Hitler's policy towards Czechoslovakia.
Berlin, February 28, 1939.
IN its note verbale No. 78 of February 8, 1939, the French Embassy raised the question of a guarantee for the Czechoslovak State, a question dealt with in the annex to the Munich Agreement of September 29, 1938. Referring to the conversation which took place on this matter in Rome between the Head of the Italian Government and the British Prime Minister, the Embassy expressed the desire of its Government to know the attitude of the German Government in this matter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the honour to reply to the Ambassador as follows:
In the course of the conversations which took place during the Munich conference, the German Government, in answer to the suggestions made to them, made it dear that they could not consider granting a guarantee to the Czechoslovak State, unless the other neighbours of that State showed themselves equally disposed to enter into a similar engagement. Even though the possibilities of a conflict between Czechoslovakia enjoying a guarantee and the German Reich are reduced to the minimum for the future, the same cannot be said of the differences which might arise between Czechoslovakia and her other neighbours. The participation of Great Britain and France in such an engagement to guarantee Czechoslovakia appears, in the opinion of the German Government, as an inadequate safeguard against such differences arising and multiplying and leading to conflicts. The Government of the Reich rather apprehends, on the basis of past experiences, that a declaration of a guarantee in favour of Czechoslovakia by the Western Powers might contribute to aggravate the differences of Czechoslovakia with the neighbouring States. It will not, for instance, have escaped the notice of the French Government that a divergence of view persists between Hungary and Poland on the one hand, and Czechoslovakia on the other, as to the fairness of the delimitation of
their present frontiers. The Government of the Reich and the Italian Government undertook that delimitation in the hope of attaining, by an effort which they then thought to have been successful, such a compromise as would meet with the approval of all parties concerned. Since then events had shown that, in this region where national groups are so hopelessly intermingled, and where conditions of life cannot be compared with those prevailing in the West, it was really very difficult to arrive at a compromise which would be satisfactory to all. The French Government perhaps might better understand how uncertain the result of such attempts remains, even when prompted by the best intentions, if it will recall the alternative schemes of the British Government for the solution of the question of Palestine. It appears to be beyond doubt that the chief cause for the critical development of the Czechoslovak problem is to be found in the fact that, in the past, as a result of the more or less serious military guarantees which they had received from the Western Powers, the successive Czech governments thought that they could simply ignore the imprescriptible claims of the national minorities. Hence the state of internal tension which finally led to the solution arrived at in 1938.
It is not to be denied that even today the elements responsible for past developments are continuing their intrigues within Czechoslovakia, even though contrary to the wish of the present Government. An undeniable danger exists that prematurely given guarantees, far from bringing about a reasonable solution of the Czechoslovak internal problems, might rather contribute to consolidate existing opposition and thus provoke further conflicts. In the belief that it might pacify this region in which, by force of circumstances, it happens to be the most interested party, the Government of the Reich, in cooperation with the Italian Government, made the Vienna Award, which, as time has shown, met with only a qualified welcome from the interested parties. They do not therefore consider themselves in a position to provoke unnecessarily by another premature intervention criticism against measures which they have taken in countries with which they wish to live on terms of peace and friendship. Consequently, and as already indicated, they cannot consider an extension of this promise of guarantee to the Western Powers as likely to allay internal unrest in the area concerned, but rather as an element liable to encourage unreasonable tendencies, as has been the case before. The German Government are perfectly aware that, all things considered, the general evolution
in that part of Europe falls primarily into the sphere of the Reich's most vital interests, and that not only from the historical point of view, but also from the geographical and, above all, from the economic, angle.
They are also of opinion that it is necessary first of all, before taking up a new position, to wait until developments within Czechoslovakia have been clarified, as well as for the improvement which cannot fail to be the result in the relations between that country and the neighbouring States.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 10, 1939.
THE negotiations that were taken up again yesterday in Prague by the delegates of the Slovak Cabinet have culminated tonight in a new crisis which led the Government of Prague to dismiss President Tiso, as well as the Ministers Durcansky, Cabusinsky and Vanco. At the same time, the Czechoslovak Government entrusted the Government of the province to M. Sivak, who until now was Minister for Public Instruction.
According to the first information received, it seems that the following interpretation can be placed on the events leading to this decision which does not affect the autonomous arrangements stipulated in November last.
It is said that the Czechs rejected the Slovak proposal for the organization, not of a federal State, but a Confederation of States. In their opinion such a system did not afford them sufficient guarantees and involved serious risks for the future. In the Bratislava Cabinet, with which the Slovak negotiators were in constant communication by telephone, the uncompromising elements are said to have declared themselves for resistance.
In these circumstances the Government of Prague decided to recall the Ministers who were under the influence of the extremists, as well as the Prime Minister of Slovakia, who had proved incapable of keeping them in check. The Government also decided to take important police measures in Slovakia, so as to be ready for any contingency.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 10, 1939.
ACCORDING to information I have just received from Bratislava, the Central Government until now seems to remain in control of the situation in spite of intense agitation. The military authorities, under the orders of the general who is said to have been sent from Prague, have unlimited control. It is reported that some units of the Hlinka guard made a show of resistance, but that they were held in check It was all confined to a few shots and some scuffling.
The Cabinet of Prague, according to M. Chvalkovsky's communication this morning to my British colleague, is said to be confident of complete success on the home front. As to the attitude of Germany, the Minister for Foreign Affairs had not yet noticed the least reaction from that side.
According to rumours which seem to be gaining strength, concentrations of German troops are taking place near the southern frontiers of Moravia and Slovakia. It should be observed that such rumours, for the time being are interpreted as a probable indication of Germany's desire, by intimidatory action, to exploit the situation created by her agents and to exercise pressure so as to extend her domination over Czechoslovakia.
M. DE MONTBAS, French Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 11, 1939.
THE conflict which has arisen between the Czechs and the Slovaks has suddenly taken an alarming turn, not only following the proclamation of martial law in Bratislava and the disbanding of the Slovak formations for self-protection (this measure, since yesterday, is being commented on in the German Press in a threatening tone), but also by the fact that Mgr. Tiso is reported to have addressed (as confirmed this morning by the D.N.B.) an appeal for help to the Government of the Reich. In such circumstances we must expect the latter to intervene very soon by ordering the Government of Prague to reconsider
the measures just taken and to respect Slovak autonomy. According to information received at the Embassy, this intervention may, as soon as next week, take the form of an "armed mediation."
Although up to the present moment the attitude of the German Press is less aggressive than when the "liberation" of Sudetenland was to the fore, it foreshadows that Germany will not remain passive and that she is adopting the cause of the nationalists revolting against the Government of Prague.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 13, 1939.
WHILE at the Wilhelmstrasse, as late as in the evening of March 12, they professed to be confident that M. Chvalkovsky would find a satisfactory solution for the crisis within Czechoslovakia, the Minister for Propaganda, according to information obtained this morning by my Belgian colleague, now declares that from the moment Germans are molested, the Reich will have to intervene in a more direct manner, but in what manner they decline to say.
The situation as I found it on my return to Berlin is, therefore, an extremely serious one, and seems to be developing rapidly.
Analyzed in its political and military factors, it appears in the following light:
On March 11 and 12 military preparations were noticed in certain German garrisons, and particularly in those near Berlin. These preparations, which consisted for instance in camouflaging the numbers on the cars and the men's regimental badges, are an indication of impending troop movements.
In the course of the same days, troop movements were definitely observed in the provinces, on one side through Saxony and Silesia in the direction of Gleiwitz, on the other in Franconia in the direction of Austria.
In spite of camouflage it was possible to identify light armoured units coming from Northern Germany, as well as certain anti-aircraft units. On the other hand, on March 12 no preparations could be noticed in Austria north of Vienna, or in Vienna itself. That region, however,
is well provided with mechanized units, the second Armoured Division especially, which is now in line.
Everything suggests that Germany will very soon resort to force against Czechoslovakia. Although no actual measures of mobilization, even partial, have yet been noticed, movements of troop units belonging to the standing army are taking place with the object either of gripping the corridor or Moravia in a vice, or of surrounding the entire Bohemian Quadrilateral.
It appears from more recent information that, on the one hand Staff officers are to leave Berlin to-morrow morning, March 14, in order to take part in the operation, and also that the Black Militia would be entrusted with vanguard duties.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 13, 1939.
According to the declarations obtained by one of our correspondents this evening from a German who occupies an important post in one of the Ministries, the fate of Bohemia and Moravia is now settled. What Germany wants is the annexation of these provinces pure and simple. "It is not for the sake of Mgr. Tiso," said the person in question, "that our divisions are marching and that we are mobilizing several major aircraft units. You should understand that we intend to settle the question finally. Today an ultimatum will be sent to the Prague Government. The answer we receive is immaterial. It will be overtaken by events by the time it reaches us."
This latter indication should, in my opinion, be transmitted to Prague as a matter of the utmost urgency. It would be desirable for the Czech Government to take the necessary steps so as not to be overtaken by events as happened in September.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 13, 1939.
ONE may well wonder what political designs are to be realized by
the display of force which I have reported. Though the secret appears to have been well kept, it seems, nevertheless, that the attitude of the German Press is sufficient to enlighten us.
As early as March 10 a D.N.B. dispatch made it known that Mgr. Tiso had actually addressed a note to the German Government. From that moment the newspapers of the Reich have been maintaining that the only regular Slovak Government for Germany was that of Mgr. Tiso. Yesterday, a new element appeared: the violent attitude adopted by the Czechs towards the German minority who made common cause with the Slovak extremists. But today the quarrels between Czechs and Slovaks are relegated to the background in the Press, which is clamorously denouncing the regime of terror which the Czechs are supposed to have unleashed, as in M. Benes's time against the Slovak separatists as well as those of Bohemia and Moravia. The evolution in the German attitude towards the neighbouring country, which had become noticeable in the last few months, is now taking definite shape. It certainly looks as if the policy of reducing Czechoslovakia to a vassal state was giving way to that of separating of its component nationalities. It also appears that the Reich, while favouring the independence of Slovakia, is supporting the Polish and Hungarian claims on Ruthenia, which, if it secedes from Czechoslovakia, must inevitably fall into the hands of its neighbours. The future will show what sort of bartering with Budapest and Warsaw such a policy will involve. For the time being, in order that this policy should succeed, there must be a pretext for intervention. As in September last, the German Press denounces the persecutions alleged to have been suffered by German nationals, or by members of the German minority in Czechoslovakia. As in September, the newspapers announce that concentrations of Czech troops are taking place near the German frontiers. The German population, from what I hear, feels, as it did last autumn, a certain uneasiness caused by military preparations and by current rumours. They fear some rash adventure. But this factor appears to be even less decisive than it was in September. The leaders of the Reich, judging by news that reaches me from German sources, are not reckoning with any resistance whatsoever from the Czechs. The intended action, in their opinion, will not overstep the bounds of a police operation, and it appears, by the manner in which this operation is being prepared on the military side, that such are actually the German Government's anticipations.
In short, the situation appears to be serious enough for us to have
to reckon with the possibility of a resort to force in one form or another against Czechoslovakia, Germany alleging that she is obliged to come to the rescue of her fellow-countrymen. My British colleague has the same feeling. This morning he asked for an interview with the State Secretary, with a view to obtaining indications as to the German Government's intentions. Until now he has not been able to see him. In view of the contemplated démarche of Sir Nevile Henderson, who, by the way, has been acting without instructions from his Government, I thought it preferable not to ask for an interview immediately so as not to create the impression of a concerted intervention which might recall those of last May.
If Your Excellency considers it suitable, I could, in view of the rapid development of events, try to see the State Secretary as soon as possible. I could point out to him that the French Government would very well understand that the Reich should help in bringing about some fair settlement between Prague and Bratislava; but I would stress that any violent solution, by destroying the foundations of the agreement of September 29, would seriously endanger the policy of mutual confidence and cooperation in the spirit of Munich, which was also manifested in the declaration of December 6. At the same time, I would remind the State Secretary that a mutual consultation in case of international difficulties was provided for by the stipulations in paragraph 3 of that declaration.
Both my British colleague and myself hold that it is essential that the necessary advice be given to Prague, so that no pretext for intervention and no argument that might be used for purposes of internal propaganda be supplied to the Reich.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 14, 1939.
I HAVE just learnt that the Reich has presented an ultimatum or an imperative demand. My informant, who was not able to learn the object of this demand, was left with the impression that the answer need not be given immediately. According to certain rumours, the resignation of the Cabinet is contemplated.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 14, 1939.
THE reception given to Mgr. Tiso and M. Durcansky by the German Chancellor, and the open intervention of the Reich in the Czechoslovak conflict immediately broke the energy shown by the Government of Prague towards the Slovak extremists. The sitting of the Bratislava Diet now in progress is probably taking place under the influence of radical elements. The principal organ of the Czech national bloc, the Venkov, seems to be preparing its readers for the proclamation of Slovakia's complete independence.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 14, 1939.
THE language used by the wireless station in Vienna on the Czechoslovak crisis, being more forceful than yesterday's broadcast, is creating intense anxiety here. The speaker, making capital out of various incidents which occurred last Sunday in the towns of Moravia, declared that the Germans were again being subjected to ill-treatment, that the Czech Government seemed inclined to return to the methods of the Benes regime towards the German and Slovak population, and that this would not be tolerated by the Reich. According to the same station, a "Marxist plot was actually being hatched in Prague."
The official agency and the daily Narodni Prace, which is the organ of the national workers' party, gave an emphatic denial to this assertion yesterday evening. The threats and accusations of Germany are strikingly reminiscent of the tactics employed by her at the beginning of September, as well as on the eve of the Anschluss.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague. to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 14, 1939.
As I had foretold, it seems to be confirmed that Germany has de-
mended a reshuffle of the Prague Cabinet. She is said to have made an imperative démarche yesterday evening to demand the dismissal of several Ministers' whom she considers not sufficiently docile, or suspect of sympathy with the tendencies of the former regime in their home policy.
According to certain information it even appears that a complete change in the ministry must be expected very soon. German pressure has made the small fascist groups against which measures were recently taken, increasingly bold. They maintain that General Gajda will be the next President of the Council.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 14, 1939.
WITH regard to the visit which Mgr. Tiso, accompanied by M. Durcansky, made to Berlin yesterday, I have gathered the following information.
A telegram from Berlin inviting Mgr. Tiso to go to the Führer without delay was received at Bratislava at about ten o'clock yesterday morning. After conferring with the principal leaders of the Slovak People's Party, Mgr. Tiso decided to obey this summons. In the course of the interview which he had with Herr Hitler towards the end of the afternoon, the latter declared that he desired to see a completely free Slovakia, and that in other respects it rested with the Slovak people to choose their own destiny. Mgr. Tiso and M. Durcansky conferred from nine p.m. until three a.m. with Herr von Ribbentrop and various Nazi high Officials and dignitaries, in particular with Herr Keppler, who appears to have played an important part in the whole affair.
They are said to have examined every aspect of the situation and any further developments which might result from it, and the conclusion arrived at through these discussions appears to be that the salvation for the Slovaks can only lie in complete separation from Prague.
It is announced that the Slovak Diet, whose sitting was to take place today but had been postponed until the 28th, will now sit this morning; it is anticipated that it will vote in favour of complete independence for the country. The Slovak Ministers are said to have
from the Nazi leaders an assurance that Germany's friendship will be given to an independent Slovakia.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 14, 1939.
THE State Secretary, who this morning received my British colleague, gave him in substance the following information:
Germany holds the Tiso Government to be the only legal Government. She considers the action taken against it by the Prague Government contrary to the constitution.
The Reich desires the maintenance of order, proper treatment for the German minority and the final elimination of "the Benes spirit."
It has not yet been decided in Berlin what action will be taken, and up to the present no ultimatum has been addressed to the Prague Government. It is considered that matters can be settled in a decent manner, especially if the Czech Government respects the decision of the Slovak Diet. Moreover, the line of policy to be observed in regard to Czechoslovakia is a matter of divergent opinions and has not yet been fixed.
The State Secretary has indicated to Sir Nevile Henderson that the Reich Government had no contact with the Czech Government, but that he personally did not consider that there was any objection to such contact, provided that it took place between Governments.
In giving his account of that conversation to the Foreign Office my colleague said in conclusion that there is still hesitation in Berlin over the line of conduct to be adopted. This is certainly the impression which Herr von Weizsäcker gives; but I am not certain that the declarations of the State Secretary are still in accordance with the actual facts.
I am inclined to believe that the National-Socialist Government has from now on decided on a break-up of the nationalities constituting Czechoslovakia, a break-up which would be only the first step in a complete partition of the country.
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London, to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, March 14, 1939.
For London: I am sending the following telegram to our ambassador in Berlin.
For both: Until now the Munich Agreement has been presented even in Germany, as a vital element in the peace of Central Europe and, in a more general way, as a decisive step in the promotion of mutual confidence between the principal European Powers interested in the maintenance of that peace, among whom it should create both a formal basis for understanding and at the same time an atmosphere of cooperation which would prevent any future resort to force.
More particularly, as far as Czechoslovakia is concerned, Annex No. 1 to the Munich Agreement, referring to an international guarantee of the new frontiers of the Czechoslovak State, established between the four signatories, by means of definite stipulations, an incontestable solidarity of purpose.
It was, moreover, the wider implication, attributed to the Munich Agreement, which brought about the easing of Franco-German relations, marked by the declaration of December 6, with all that this implied in the political, economic and cultural spheres.
It is therefore with the most concern that the French Government is following the development of events in Slovakia. The attitude to be adopted on this occasion by the Reich Government cannot but provide a lesson which will throw a light upon many essential questions for the future relations of Germany with the rest of Europe.
Taking into account the foregoing considerations you should inquire most urgently from Herr von Ribbentrop what interpretation, in the opinion of the Reich authorities themselves, is to be put on their action in Slovakia. You should make this inquiry purely as a request for information, the importance of which would justify, if necessary, a reference on your part to the procedure of mutual consultation provided for by the declaration of December 6.
Inasmuch as the French Government intends to respond in all sincerity to the new orientation resulting from the Munich Agreement and the Franco-German Declaration, Berlin cannot be surprised at
our present anxiety to obtain a clear means of judging the degree of confidence which the German Government means to establish as a justification of that policy.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 14, 1939.
IMMEDIATELY after the Vienna Award, while the German Press was celebrating the "final" nature of the German-Italian solution, a farsighted observer of affairs in Central Europe stated in Berlin: "The old Czechoslovakia has lasted twenty years, the new Czechoslovak State will not last five." Events which are now taking place have proved him right inasmuch as the Czechoslovakia of November 2, 1938, did not even last five months.
This evening, leading newspapers of the National-Socialists are announcing as an accomplished fact the disruption of the neighbouring State. The Diet of Bratislava proclaimed this morning the independence of Slovakia, Hungarian troops have crossed the frontier of Sub-Carpathian Russia; and, in reprisal for incidents more or less provoked, at Iglau, Brunn and elsewhere, the threat of a "crushing" intervention of the Reichswehr hovers over Bohemia and Moravia. According to rumours as yet unconfirmed, German detachments have penetrated Czech territory at several points.
It is striking to note once again the rapidity and precision with which Hitler's political plans have been accomplished, for it is beyond any question of doubt that the present crisis is in accordance with a carefully preconceived plan of which Berlin holds the principal strings. This Embassy has recently collected various information which leaves no uncertainty on this point. On February 5 a National-Socialist of standing, whose duties call for direct contact with the Führer's immediate circle, told one of my collaborators to be prepared for developments in which a "dislocation" (Auflösung) of Czechoslovakia would be unavoidable. In this case, he added, Slovakia would become independent, Hungary would annex Sub-Carpathian Russia, and the Reich would, in one form or another, obtain control of Bohemia and of Moravia. It is this process of disruption, this dissection of Czechoslovakia, into three pieces, which is being brought about today.
In explanation of this astonishing gift of prophecy, one can admit that the controlling circles of the Third Reich possessed at that time most precise information of the attitude of the Slovak people. They could form a better judgment of the developments in the situation since they exercised a strong control over it. But there is a more simple explanation: German policy had first decided upon its aims in outline. After that all that remained was to find means of inventing pretexts.
Now the partition of Czechoslovakia into three pieces allowed Germany a revision, if not a complete change in her policy towards that country. After Munich, the National-Socialist leaders officially took upon themselves the task of maintaining, in its then reduced limits, the integrity of the new Czechoslovak State. They considered at that time that a vassal Czechoslovakia, obedient to the will of the Reich would afford the latter a starting-point for her expansion towards the South-East, an expansion which had only to follow the corridor of Sub-Carpathian Russia to reach the oil-wells of Rumania and the wheat fields of the Ukraine. Hence Germany's veto to the Hungarian-Polish project of a common frontier, hence her stubborn determination in Vienna on November 2 to safeguard the existence of an independent Carpathian Ukraine within the frame of the Czechoslovak State.
Today, Berlin does not hesitate to retract. The Nazi leaders are renouncing the principle of Czechoslovakian integrity. They are removing their opposition to the plan of a Polish-Hungarian frontier on the Carpathians. It is interesting to speculate when, how, and for what reasons this change of mind has occurred.
During the whole of the month of November and a part of the month of December 1938 the inspired Press of the Reich never ceased to present the Belvedere arbitration as a fair compromise bringing a definite solution to the Hungarian-Czechoslovak difficulties. The Poles, having themselves obtained complete satisfaction over their national claims in the region of Teschen, the new Czechoslovakia was, according to the German Press, a solid State which would prove to the world the superiority of the political conceptions of the Axis to the superficial structure built up immediately after the Great War by the Peace Treaties. This assertion was accompanied at times by calls to order addressed sometimes to the Hungarians, sometimes to the Poles when they appeared insufficiently convinced of the immutability of the established state of things.
Towards the end of December, there was sudden silence over the advantages of the Vienna Award. In January, there was no longer
any mention of it, and in a speech delivered to the Reichstag the Führer only touched lightly on the Czechoslovak problem. It is, therefore, permissible to conclude that it was towards the end of the year 1938, that Chancellor Hitler decided for definite motives to fall back on the lines which Italian political circles had continued to recommend in respect of Sub-Carpathian Russia.
Indeed, on January 7, the Führer, when receiving Colonel Beck at Berchtesgaden, declared to him that in his opinion the Ukrainian question was not of "immediate interest." It seems that with Count Czaky, at the time of his official visit to Berlin (January 16 to 18), the ruling elements of the Reich were still more explicit, and that the Hungarian Minister was given to understand that the Reich would not oppose, should occasion arise, the seizure of Sub-Carpathian Russia by Budapest.
What reasons can have induced the Führer to modify his attitude in this respect? On this point, as things at present stand, one is naturally reduced to conjecture. Possibly, as the correspondence from this Embassy has already indicated, the Nazi leaders realized that they were mistaken about the importance, for the purpose of a future German advance towards the East, of a Sub-Carpathian Russia that had been dismantled and deprived of its urban centres, its main roads and its railways by the Belvedere arbitral award. Then again, in order to keep in hand such an uncertain trump card, could the Third Reich allow its difficulties in Central Europe to increase, incur the rancour of the Hungarians and the resentment of the Poles? It was rumoured that the coming together of Warsaw and Moscow and the vehement tone of a part of the Press and of the Hungarian Opposition had aroused Adolf Hitler's concern. In trying to avoid the material obstacle of the common frontier was he not going to rouse against him the joint hostility of Hungary and of Poland, just at a time when the Western Powers were striving to reinforce their armaments? By yielding to the Hungarian-Polish plans, the Reich would, on the contrary, be assured of the gratitude of the Magyars and of their eventual support against Rumania and, on the day when he decided to resume his drive towards the East he would have at his disposal the broad fairway of the Hungarian plains instead of the narrow and difficult path of the Carpathians. As far as Poland is concerned, Berlin has possibly flattered itself that Polish neutrality in case of a European conflict could be bought by freeing Poland from the danger of having
at her Southern frontier an independent Ukrainian province which would be the centre of propaganda and irredentist unrest.
However, the decision once having been taken, German policy definitely intended to press forward. The reply of the Wilhelmstrasse to the Franco-British inquiry concerning the guaranteeing of the new Czechoslovak frontier leaves no doubt on this score. This note, dated February 28, is the first official German document to admit, to Paris and London, the failure of the Vienna Award. This position permitted the Reich Government to refuse its guarantee and, in consequence, left it the possibility to reconsider the whole matter. In well-informed Berlin circles, no secret had been made of the fact that in this respect the date of March 15 might be decisive.
It remained, then, only to find means of action and pretexts. It is an established dogma of National-Socialist policy to undermine from inside the States which are to be destroyed. The Slovaks appear to have played this time the part played by the Sudetens last year. By secretly encouraging the uncompromising Slovak elements, notably the partisans of the Radical movement "Rodebrana," and by stirring up against Prague certain Slovak Ministers such as M. Mach and M. Durcansky, Hitler's agents cunningly caused this variance to degenerate into an acute crisis. If there were, as has been stated, any project of a Putsch at Bratislava there are good reasons for believing that the German authorities were in the secret. It was not simply by chance that M. Durcansky, as soon as he was able to escape, took refuge in Vienna, where the radio was put at his disposal to allow him to carry on his anti-Czech campaign.
Prague appears to have tried to forestall this measure, but too late Perhaps, also, the policy of the Central Government was not always perfectly clear or wise. If the Czech leaders have expressed ample signs of goodwill towards Berlin, it seems that they have believed that at the same time they could continue inside their country a policy which was purely Czech. In doing this, they have revived old internal jealousies and needlessly aroused the suspicions of the Reich. This movement, once started, developed according to the prescription, tried out at the time of the Anschluss and improved during last year's crisis. The Tiso note recalls the Seyss-Inquart telegram. The incidents which took place at Iglau, Brunn and other German-speaking centres were used to transform at a given moment the Czechoslovak conflict into a German-Czech conflict. One finds again in the Berlin papers the same headlines as in August 1938, and almost the same statements:
the pregnant woman struck down and trampled upon, the "Deutschtum" in danger, because a student of the German minority was ill-treated and in the headings of tonight's papers the final motive of a "Blutbad" which must be avenged. In the meantime Mgr. Tiso and M. Durcansky have gone in a dramatic way to the Führer, as Herr Henlein had previously done.
It is still too early to know to what extent the almost desperate effort now being made in Berlin by the President of the Czechoslovak Republic and his Prime Minister will modify the German attitude and safeguard the federal unity of the country. It is to be feared that the two statesmen only came from Prague to ratify the Führer's decisions.
IN a previous letter I have set forth the origin and growth of the crisis which must lead to the division and perhaps to the partition of Czechoslovakia. I will therefore confine myself now to summing up the political situation as it appears in Berlin at the present moment. The most important point is the proclamation in Bratislava this morning of the independence of Slovakia, which has now severed its ties with Prague and thus broken up the framework of the Czechoslovak Federal State. One may wonder whether the internal Czechoslovak crisis has not, by the rapidity of its growth, surprised even the leaders of the Reich, but one can hardly doubt that at the last moment the proclamation of Slovak independence was the outcome of pressure, if not of a direct order, from Berlin. It was, as a matter of fact, during the course of the visit paid yesterday by Mgr. Tiso to the capital of the Reich that the decision was taken to convoke this morning the Slovak Diet whose meeting, originally fixed for today, had been postponed till the 28th.
From indications which I have been able to gather concerning the interviews Mgr. Tiso had in Berlin, it would seem that the Reich leaders and the Führer himself had shown clearly their determination that a completely free Slovakia should be created. It is only upon this condition that the friendship and protection of the Nazi leaders, indis-
pensable to the new State, will be granted. Slovakia, therefore, must be regarded as a vassal of the Reich.
Events in Slovakia have had an immediate repercussion in Sub-Carpathian Russia; Mgr. Volosin has also proclaimed the independence of his country, whose position now appears most intricate. Indeed, as the result of dashes with the Czech forces, Hungarian troops have already entered Ruthenian territory, while the Government of Budapest has addressed an ultimatum to Prague demanding the immediate withdrawal of Czech troops from Sub-Carpathian Russia. Mgr. Volosin, on his part, has asked by telegram for help and protection from the Reich and from Italy. It is unlikely that these two countries will accede to this request.
Now after the Slovak proclamation of independence which has cut the Federal Republic into three sections, Sub-Carpathian Russia, hitherto supported by subsidies from Prague, can no longer survive. Its existence appears very ephemeral. In all probability it will be absorbed by Hungary. This at least is the point of view expressed in those German newspapers which are mouthpieces of official circles. Thus would be established the common frontier, so ardently desired by Warsaw and Budapest, which since the verdict of Vienna has been the subject of such bitter controversy. Finally the future of what remains of the Czechoslovak Republic, that is of Bohemia and Moravia, is itself under discussion.
The Reich is again bringing great political pressure to bear on the Prague Government accompanied by the threats of military action.
Following upon the quarrels between Czechs and Slovaks one can notice since last Sunday a sudden revival, in its most virulent form, of the campaign which the German Press launched last September against Czechoslovakia. The Czechs are once more accused of using violence not only against the Slovaks but also against others, and especially against members of the German minority and citizens of the Reich. The newspapers are proclaiming that the lives of these Germans are in danger, that the situation is intolerable, and that it is necessary to smother as quickly as possible the focus of trouble which Prague has become in the heart of Europe. They have even gone to the length of asserting that the Czech Government is mobilizing.
This morning officials of the Reich press-service, in discussing the subject with the representatives of foreign news agencies, declared that the situation was "unbearable," and let it be understood that grave developments must be expected.
In the meantime the German High Command has concentrated around Bohemia and Moravia (that is to say, in Silesia, in Saxony, in Bavaria and in Austria) considerable numbers of troops, consisting for the most part of mechanized units, which are now awaiting the order to cross the frontier. The general impression is that this order will be given some time to-morrow. It is even stated that Pilsen will be occupied by German troops. They are said already to have crossed the frontier in the region of Morawska-Ostrawa.
It seems that after a moment of confusion Prague has pulled itself together and a last effort is being made to avoid a rupture with the Reich. The President of the Republic and the President of the Council of Ministers are now on their way to Berlin.
Will they succeed in averting the military menace once more hanging over their country? It seems very doubtful. The German-Czech crisis has in a few days reached a stage as acute as in the darkest days of September. The use of force against Prague appears imminent. It would doubtless be accompanied by parallel measures in Slovakia, whither the Czechs have sent important reinforcements during the last few days.
What are the designs of the Reich leaders with regard to this State, which for some time they have been referring to as "Czechia"?
Before and during the September crisis the Nazi leaders made no secret of their clear determination to wipe Czechoslovakia off the map. During last January the Führer himself told one of my colleagues that if Czechoslovakia did not "run straight," he would release a lightning attack against it. Quite recently one of the Chancellor's intimates spoke of this very dissolution of Czechoslovakia which the Reich press is gloatingly proclaiming tonight.
If the fate of Slovakia and Sub-Carpathian Russia now appears obvious it is more difficult to perceive the Führer's intentions towards "Czechia."
According to my information, the Nazi extremists are calling for nothing less than the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia by the Reich, which would in return grant these provinces some form of administrative and cultural autonomy. Others advise the setting up in Prague of an authoritarian Government whose head would be General Gajda, Dr. Benes's relentless enemy. Such a Government in matters of both internal and foreign policy would have to conform absolutely to the views of Germany.
It is said that at present the Chancellor, having been disappointed
over the results of the Munich Agreement, inclines towards the extremist plan as he is seeking this time a radical solution.
In any case the Reich Government would demand the complete disarmament of "Czechia."
Such appears to be the situation at the present moment when M. Hacha and M. Beran are about to arrive in Berlin, where they will be received as representatives of the State of Bohemia and Moravia.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 15, 1939.
THE German troops will occupy Prague at ten o'clock this morning. Battalions of parachutists will descend near the town.
M. Hacha, in the presence of M. Chvalkovsky, signed during the course of interviews which he had last night with the Führer, Field-Marshal Goering and Herr von Ribbentrop a declaration placing the destinies of Bohemia and Moravia in the hands of the Reich.
The German troops will occupy the whole of the two provinces. Czech troops are from now onwards confined to their barracks. Field-Marshal Goering has announced that if there is the slightest attempt at resistance the Reich Air Force, which is massed around Czechoslovakia, will give a demonstration on Prague to show the Czechs what resistance to Germany would cost them.
Bohemia and Moravia will be simply annexed, as was done in the case of Austria. At the same time a certain measure of political and cultural autonomy will be permitted to them. The formula has not yet been drawn up. M. Hacha will remain President of Bohemia and Moravia. The Czechs will not become citizens of the Reich but will have a status somewhat similar to that of the Jews.
Czechoslovakia will no longer be diplomatically represented in foreign countries. The German Legation will be provisionally maintained in Prague, but it is not certain that the Czech Legation will be maintained in Berlin.
One cannot say that any negotiations have taken place between the Czech and German Ministers. The Führer made it known from the beginning that his decision had been taken, and that anyone who opposed it would be crushed.
The Czech Ministers have been informed that the gold reserves of the Czech Bank must be put at the disposal of the Reich. The same applies to the whole of the gold and foreign currency owned by individual Czech citizens.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 15, 1939.
FOLLOWING Your Excellency's instructions I have this morning asked for an audience from Herr von Ribbentrop.
As the latter is, according to the reply I received, away from Berhn, I will see Herr von Weizsäcker at midday (German time). I have progressively kept you informed of the course of events since yesterday, namely the entry of the German troops into Morawska-Ostrawa, the conference between the Chancellor and President Hacha, followed by the signing of the agreement, the text of which has been communicated to you, the Führer's proclamation and finally the Reich Army's rapid occupation of Bohemian and Moravian territories. All this has taken place within a few hours and events have thus outrun the limits which your instructions had set to the conversation I am due presently to have.
Owing to this speedy development of events I propose, during my interview with Herr von Weizsäcker, to reserve in the most formal manner both full liberty of appreciation and the attitude which the French Government may adopt at a later period in regard to the situation with which they are confronted.
COUNT VON WELCZECK, German Ambassador in Paris, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Paris, March 15, 1939.
On behalf of my Government I have the honour to inform Your Excellency as follows:
On the evening of March 14 the President of the Czech State, Dr. Hacha, was received, according to his wish, by the Führer and Chancellor of the Reich. In the course of the discussions which followed an agreement was reached, the text of which I have the honour to communicate to you herewith. May I ask Your Excellency to bring to the notice of the French Government the above facts and also the text of the agreement here enclosed. Acting on the order of my Government I have the following further communication to make to Your Excellency:
In accordance with the enclosed agreement German troops crossed the Czech frontier at six o'clock this morning and will assume responsibility for the re-establishment of order in Czech territory. Dr. Hacha, President of the Czech State, and Dr. Chvalkovsky, the Czech Minister for Foreign Affairs, have given their assent to any measures necessary to prevent resistance in any form, and to avoid bloodshed. The competent Czech authorities, both military and civil, have received instructions to this effect. In consequence, there are grounds for assuming that the process of occupying and pacifying the territories concerned will be carried out calmly and in perfect order.
I am, etc., WELCZECK.
The Führer and Chancellor of the Reich has today received, at their own desire and in the presence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich, Herr von Ribbentrop, the President of the Czechoslovak State, Dr. Hacha, and the Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Chvalkovsky. In the course of the meeting the serious situation created by events which have occurred during these last few weeks on what was until now Czechoslovak territory was discussed with the utmost frankness. Both parties agreed in expressing the conviction that the aim of all their efforts ought to be to ensure tranquillity, order and peace in this part of Central Europe. The President of the Czechoslovak State has declared that to serve this purpose, and with the object of securing a final appeasement, he entrusts with entire confidence the destiny of the Czech people and the Czech country to the hands of the Führer of the German Reich. The Führer has accepted this declaration and expressed his resolve to take the Czech people under the protection of the German Reich, assuring it of an autono-
mous development suited to its own character. In testimony whereof this document has been signed in two copies.
Berlin, March 15, 1939. ADOLF HITLER,
DR. VON RIBBENTROP,
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 15, 1939.
IN accordance with your instructions I had an interview with the State Secretary this morning. After reading the text of your telephoned message I summed it up for Herr von Weizsäcker. I pointed out to the State Secretary that he should realize with what deep concern I had heard of the entry of German troops into Moravia. This military intervention was contrary to the Munich Agreement and to the Declaration of December 6. Consequently I had to reserve absolutely the judgment and attitude of my Government, and I requested Herr von Weizsäcker to enlighten me as to the precise intentions of the German Government.
The State Secretary replied as follows: "The present state of affairs was brought about by the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Ruthenia, in which separatism has been active, is now partly occupied by Hungarian troops. Slovakia has proclaimed her independence; the action taken by the Government of Prague against the Government of Slovakia also hastened the movement which led to this proclamation.
"As far as Bohemia and Moravia are concerned, hostilities have broken out there; German blood has been shed and the German Government felt compelled immediately to come to the rescue of the threatened German minority. The agreement reached this morning between the leaders of the German and Czech States in the presence of their Ministers for Foreign Affairs definitely settles the question of Bohemia and Moravia."
I did not fail to point out to Herr von Weizsäcker that the entry of German troops into Moravia and the military pressure brought to bear on Czechoslovakia threw a peculiar light on the nature and conditions of this agreement. The State Secretary answered that after two hours conversation with the German Chancellor, the President of the
Republic was convinced that the Czech Government was incapable of preventing the return to active politics of M. Benes's adherents, and had signed the agreement and placed the future of his country in the hands of the Führer.
I then told Herr von Weizsäcker that for the moment I must urge him to enable me to furnish the French Government with full information regarding the intentions of the Reich towards Czechoslovakia, and especially with regard to an eventual withdrawal of the German troops from Bohemia and Moravia, and to the independence of the country.
Herr von Weizsäcker replied that as to Bohemia and Moravia he could only ask me to refer again to the terms of the agreement between Berlin and Prague. He had nothing further to add. The Reich recognized the independence of Slovakia. As for Ruthenia, its fate must be discussed with Hungary. The explanations of the State Secretary show that the German Government intends, under cover of this agreement, to impose on the Czech plenipotentiaries the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia-which can already be considered as a fait accompli.
M. V. DE LACROIX, French Minister in Prague, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, March 15, 1939.
MY British colleague has learnt that Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop declared to the Czechoslovak Ministers last night that if the German troops met with the slightest resistance on their entry there would be terrible reprisals. M. Hacha is said to have then put the Czechoslovak nation under the protection of the German Chancellor. The Führer appears to have replied that he would ensure the continued development of a certain cultural autonomy. According to what I learn at this very moment, the D.N.B. mentions this last assurance.
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. CORBIN, French Ambassador in London. Paris, March 16, 1939.
THE urgent representations which our Ambassador in Berlin was
instructed to make were based upon the same anxiety for preliminary information which governed the attitude of Lord Halifax.
This démarche has proved belated since the events of today have given an answer. The development of the situation which was at first limited to the separation of Slovakia has ended this morning in the occupation of Prague and the de facto annexation by the Reich of Bohemia and Moravia. The agreements concluded at Munich have been flagrantly violated.
As it is impossible for this violation to be accepted without reaction from Governments who are concerned in estimating its full importance, it is imperative to point out without delay to the German authorities the deductions which we are obliged to draw from events which jeopardize the confidence that the agreements of September 29 were designed to restore.
In calling the attention of the State Secretary to this new situation you should emphasize that if we were to accept without protest so explicit a violation of the Munich Agreement it might lead to a doubt as to the good faith with which Britain and France had embarked on September 29 on a political settlement whose whole justification was, by liberating the Sudeten, to safeguard at the very least the independence and integrity of a more homogeneous Czechoslovakia placed under an international guarantee. The Governments, who gave their assent to a compromise intended to assure the survival of Czechoslovakia, cannot today watch in silence the dismemberment of the Czech people and the annexation of their territory without being accused in retrospect of complaisance and moral complicity. The enforced submission of the Prague Government, brutally imposed by German pressure, cannot be invoked to absolve Great Britain and France from their moral obligation in the eyes of their own people and of those of other States as well as of the Czechoslovak nation. They owe it to international opinion, as well as to themselves, to register a formal protest against this act of force by which Germany, in contempt of the rights of a nation, has destroyed the contractual basis of the first attempt at an understanding between the four great European Powers.
You should represent to Lord Halifax the full importance of these considerations and satisfy yourself that the British Government agree that the British and French representatives should immediately take concerted action in Berlin.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 16, 1939.
LESS than six months after the conclusion of the Munich Agreement and hardly four months after the Vienna Award, Germany, treating her own and her partners' signatures as negligible quantities has brought about the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, occupied with her army Bohemia and Moravia and annexed both these provinces to the Reich. Since yesterday, March 15, the swastika has been flying over the Hradschin, while the Führer, protected by tanks and armoured cars, entered the city among a staggered and thunder-struck population. Slovakia has broken away. A so-called independent state, she has in fact placed herself under the protection of Germany. Sub-Carpathian Russia has been left to Hungary, whose troops have already crossed the frontier. Czechoslovakia, which at Munich agreed to such cruel sacrifices for the sake of peace, no longer exists. The dream of those Nazis who were most eager for her destruction has been realized. Czechoslovakia has vanished from the map of Europe.
The events, which have led up to this result with a lightning speed are typical of the mentality and the methods of the Nazi rulers. They carry with them certain lessons and practical conclusions which all States anxious for their independence and security should draw without delay, faced as they are with a Germany intoxicated by success and which, abandoning the line of racial claims, is plunging forward into sheer imperialism.
The operation to which Czechoslovakia has just fallen a victim bears to an even greater degree than former coups the characteristic marks of Nazi action: cynicism and treachery in conception, secrecy in preparation and brutality in execution.
At Munich, the Nazi leaders and the Führer himself had laid great stress on the impossibility for Germans and Czechs to live together in the same State; they had urged the implacable and age-long hatred of the Czechs for everything German; they had asserted that the maintenance of peace depended on a line being drawn strictly between the two nationalities; they had managed to convince Lord Runciman of this necessity whilst protesting on the other hand that they had no wish to incorporate alien elements in the Reich. It was in virtue
of these principles that the negotiators assembled in the Bavarian capital had compelled the Prague Government to hand over territories in which the German population was predominant. In exchange, Czechoslovakia was to receive an international guarantee of her new frontiers, a guarantee in which Germany herself would take part.
Actually, it very soon appeared, during the work of the International Commission at Berlin at the beginning of October, that the German negotiators were guided far more by strategical than by ethnographical considerations. The numerous interventions of the Wehrmacht's Oberkommando during the course of these negotiations showed that the German leaders intended above all to draw a frontier which would deprive Czechoslovakia of all her natural defences and fortifications, and would reduce her to complete military impotence. Indeed, the boundaries which the Prague Government had to accept in October meant the inclusion of 850,000 Czechs within the Reich.
Today there is no further question of the separation of Czechs from Germans, which was claimed to be so indispensable to peace in the Danube basin and in Europe. Completely reversing her tactics, Germany has again brought into being that German-Czech amalgamation, the elements of which she had declared last September to be incompatible. Whereas a few months ago, she was saying that the co-existence of these two racial groups was an impossibility, she now claims to show that such a co-existence is entirely natural, that it can be historically justified and that it is the result of certain economic and geographical necessities. There is no further question of the implacable and age-long hatred between Germans and Czechs: on the contrary, it is held that the two peoples can and must live in harmony together inside one political community.
The Munich agreements, therefore, were for the Nazi rulers nothing but a means of disarming Czechoslovakia before annexing it. It would, perhaps, be going rather far to assert that the Führer had conceived this project even at Munich. What is beyond all doubt is that, by annexing under threat of arms the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, the Government of the Reich, a signatory to the September agreements, is guilty of a breach of trust, of a real act of treachery to the co-signatory States, particularly the Czech Government which, trusting in the word of the Great Powers, had resigned itself to handing over the Sudeten territories.
It was in the name of this ethnographical principle that the Reich had obtained the return of three and a half million Germans in
September. It is in contempt of this principle that it annexes eight million Czechs today, left defenseless by the handing over of the Sudeten territory.
It is the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination that Germany now invokes in support of the independence (in any case purely illusory) of Slovakia, but this same right is refused to the Carpatho-Ukrainians abandoned to Hungary, and to the Czechs who have been forcibly incorporated in the Reich.
Germany has once again demonstrated her contempt for all written pledges and her preference for methods of brute force and the fait accompli. Without scruple she has torn up the Munich Agreement as well as the Vienna Award, proving yet again that her policy has only one guiding principle: to watch for a suitable opportunity and to seize any booty within reach. It is, more or less, the morality common to the gangster and to the denizens of the jungle.
German cynicism has, moreover, been accompanied by consummate skill. With a remarkable control of men and events, the Government of the Reich has been at pains to give an appearance of legality to the violence done to the Czechs.
The official German thesis is that Czechoslovakia fell to pieces of itself. Slovakia, it is declared, in breaking with Prague, split the Federal Republic into three pieces.
As for Bohemia and Moravia, it was freely and of its own volition that the Prague Government, unable to maintain order and to protect the lives of the German minority, placed the care of these provinces-so runs the argument in the Führer's hands.
Such arguments can deceive no one.
There can be no doubt that Slovak separatism was the work of German agents or of Slovaks controlled directly from Berlin. M. Mach head of the propaganda department of the Bratislava Government and a most ardent extremist, was well-known for his entire devotion to the Reich. M. Durcansky, Minister of Transport, who made frequent visits to Germany, was also a mere tool in Nazi hands, particularly in those of M. Karmasin, the "Führer" of the 120,000 Germans in Slovakia. As for Mgr. Tiso, a man of little energy, although as a priest he was worried by the growth of Nazi ideology in his country he was incapable of opposing the separatist tendencies encouraged by Germany. It was on account of this weakness that the Prague Government dismissed him on March 10. This rigorous measure against Mgr.
Tiso and the latter's appeal for assistance to the Reich Government supplied the German rulers with the excuse for which they had been waiting to interfere in the quarrel between the Czechs and the Slovaks.
On receipt of the note from the dismissed President, German official circles let it be known that in their view Mgr. Tiso's Government alone had a legal character, and that, by appointing a new Prime Minister, Prague had violated the Constitution. From this moment the Berlin newspapers began to denounce the terror unleashed in Bratislava by the Czechs against the Slovak autonomists and their German comrades.
From the 12th onwards the tone of the Berlin Press became more violent. Now it was not only a question of clashes in Slovakia, but also in Bohemia and Moravia. Within twenty-four hours the Berlin papers had relegated to the background the sufferings of the Slovaks and denounced with every sign of the keenest resentment the brutalities to which Germans in Czechoslovakia were subjected, whether they were members of the racial minority or citizens of the Reich. To judge from the German papers, which used not only the same language but exactly the same expressions as in September last, the lives of the 500,000 Germans in Czechoslovakia were in the most serious danger. The Czechs, in whom the old Hussite spirit and the hatred of Germanism was re-awakening, had once more organized man-hunts. The situation was becoming intolerable.
Actually, with the exception of Bratislava, where unrest had been fomented by the German Self-Protection Service and by the Hlinka Guards, who had been armed by Germany, public order had been disturbed neither in Slovakia nor in Bohemia and Moravia. At Brunn, for example, where, according to the German Press, German blood had been shed, the British Consul was able to see and report to his Minister in Prague that there was complete calm. The stories published by the Berlin newspapers under inflammatory titles were, furthermore, very thin in content, much like a few grains of dust whirled along by some infernal bellows.
On the evening of the 13th the German leaders, who had unremittingly counteracted the efforts of Prague to establish a new Slovakian Government, summoned Mgr. Tiso to Berlin. During the night of the 13th-14th, together with M. Durcansky, he had a long interview with the Führer, who expressed his determination to see the creation of "an entirely free Slovakia." The proclamation of Slovak independence should follow without delay. That same evening, the 60
members of the Diet were summoned for the next day at Bratislava, and Slovak independence, decided in Berlin, was unanimously voted by them. From the afternoon of the 14th, the German Press was in a position to declare that Czechoslovakia had fallen to pieces, that she was in a state of complete decay, that the Communists had reappeared and, together with Czech chauvinists, were hunting and ill-treating the Germans, notably at Brunn and Iglau. German blood-so it was reported-was flowing in torrents. Germany-it was said-could no longer tolerate such a state of affairs.
Meanwhile, 14 divisions, composed almost entirely of mechanized units, had been concentrated on the frontiers of Bohemia and Moravia. On the afternoon of the 14th, German troops entered Czech territory and occupied Morawska-Ostrawa.
Before giving the troops the order to march to the invasion of Czech territory, it was necessary to find some semblance of a justification. M. Hacha, President of the Czechoslovak Republic and M. Chvalkovsky, Minister for Foreign Affairs, arrived at Berlin where they were received by the Führer in the presence of Herr von Ribbentrop and Field-Marshal Goering. Brutally, the Führer states that there is no question of negotiation. The Czech statesmen are asked to acquaint themselves with the decisions of Berlin and to bow to them. Any sign of resistance will be crushed. Any opposition to the German troops will be put down by means of aerial bombardment. The Reich has decided to annex Bohemia and Moravia. Prague will be occupied on the following day at 10 o'clock. President Hacha, a man of great age and in failing health, collapses and faints. Field-Marshal Goering's own doctors intervene and bring him round with injections. Then the old man signs the document presented to him, by which the Czech Government places the destiny of Bohemia and Moravia "with full confidence" in the hands of the Führer.
The next day, the 15th, at nine o'clock in the morning, the first mechanized troops reach Prague. During the afternoon, the Führer enters the Imperial Castle of Hradschin and immediately orders the swastika to be hoisted. Czechoslovakia is no more.
The following day, the 16th, the Führer decrees the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia within the Reich and constitutes them a Protectorate with some sort of self-administration, under the control of "Protector" representing Germany and residing at Prague.
The same day, Mgr. Tiso, head of the new so-called independent Slovak State, asks the Führer to take Slovakia under his protection.
The Chancellor accepts at once. In fact, Slovak independence is at an end. Mutilated by the Vienna Award, robbed of its most fertile lands and reduced to a mountainous region, the country cannot in any case hope for an independent existence.
On March 12 Sub-Carpathian Russia too had proclaimed its independence and solicited the protection of Germany. But the Nazi leaders remained deaf to its appeal, although that country, which for a while had played the role of "Ukrainian Piedmont," had relied entirely upon them.
Sub-Carpathian Ukraine was invaded by Hungarian troops. In despair, the Chust Government offered the country to Rumania. M. Revay, Prime Minister, in a telegram to the French Embassy in Berlin, sought to persuade the French Government to approach the Government in Budapest in the hope that the fate of the country might be decided by diplomatic means and not by force of arms.
Everything seems to point to the conclusion that the Reich has no interest in this State and is abandoning it to Hungary.
One more feature deserves notice. It is the speed with which the operation ending in the partition of Czechoslovakia was decided upon and prepared.
Since the beginning of February, this Embassy had certainly noted numerous indications of Germany's intentions concerning Czechoslovakia. These convergent symptoms left no doubt that the Nazis were only awaiting a favourable opportunity to finish the work begun at Munich and to deal the final blow to a State which, already mortally wounded, was struggling with inextricable internal difficulties.
But it seems that the decision was not taken until March 8 or 9, that is, after the departure of Field-Marshal Goering for Italy, whence he was urgently recalled. Only on March 11 and 12 came the first reports of troop movements. On the 14th, about 200,000 men were massed on the frontiers of Bohemia and Moravia. This concentration took place without any disturbance of the normal life of the country. Once more, bombers played a decisive role. They were the unanswerable argument to which the Czech Ministers bowed, anxious to spare their people the horrors and the destruction of aerial bombardment.
In another letter I point out the repercussions likely to occur in Europe as a result of the new changes brought about in the map of the Continent under the pressure of Nazi Germany.
In conclusion I will simply draw attention to what may be learnt from this new coup committed by the Third Reich.
Nazi Germany has now thrown aside the mask. Until now, she has denied the charge of imperialism. She asserted that her only wish was to re-unite as far as possible all the Germans of Central Europe in one family, to the exclusion of aliens. Today, it is clear that the Führer's thirst for domination knows no limit.
It is equally clear that all hopes of opposing to the Führer any arguments other than those of force are in vain. The Third Reich has the same contempt as the Empire of Wilhelm II for treaties and pledges. Germany remains the country of "scraps of paper."
National security as well as world peace demand from the French people an immense effort of discipline and the organization of the country's whole energy, which alone will enable France, with the help of her friends, to assert herself and defend her interests in the face of so formidable an adversary as the Germany of Adolf Hitler, plunging forward to the conquest of Europe.
M. ARDIET, French Consul in Nuremberg, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Nuremberg, March 16, 1939.
GAULEITER STRETCHER, at a great demonstration organized yesterday evening in Nuremberg on the occasion of the German troops' entry into Bohemia and Moravia, made the following statement: "This is only a beginning: far greater events will follow; the democracies can rise up and protest as much as they like, they will surrender in the end."
Many squadrons flew over Nuremberg this morning on the way to Bohemia.
M. LEON NOEL, French Ambassador in Warsaw, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Warsaw, March 16, 1939.
Is the action recently taken in Europe by Germany the prelude to further acts in the west or in the east?
In Warsaw, the second hypothesis seems quite plausible.
Germany's dissatisfaction with Poland is dear, since the anti-German demonstrations made by the students.
Herr von Moltke does not conceal from his colleagues his ill-humour, which does not spare M. Beck, and he complains that the meeting of the German-Polish commission in Berlin has had no useful result.
The development of sentiments hostile to Germany among all classes of Polish people cannot escape any observer.
It is to be supposed that the reactions and the calculations of the Chancellor will be influenced by this situation.
I learn, too, that a Ukrainian deputy in the Polish Diet, returning from Berlin, has announced that he received there assurances of a new campaign by Germany in favour of the Ukraine.
M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, March 17, 1939.
You should seek an audience with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in order to hand him the note, the text of which you will find herewith. (A similar démarche is being made by your British colleague.)
"By a letter dated March 15, 1939, His Excellency the German Ambassador, acting on instructions from his Government, has handed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the French Republic the text of an agreement reached during the night of March 14-15 between the Führer-Chancellor and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich on the one side and the President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czechoslovak Republic on the other side. In the same communication, it was announced that German troops had crossed the Czech frontiers at 6 o'clock in the morning and that all measures had been taken to avoid resistance and bloodshed and to allow the occupation and pacification of the territory to take place in a quiet and orderly way.
"The French Ambassador has the honour to convey to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Reich the formal Protest made by the Government of the Republic against the measure referred to in Count von Welczeck's communication.
"The Government of the Republic considers itself, through the ac-
tion taken against Czechoslovakia by the German Government, confronted with a flagrant violation of both the letter and the spirit of the Agreement signed in Munich on September 29, 1938.
"The circumstances in which the treaty of March 15 was imposed on the leaders of the Czechoslovak Republic could not, in the view of the Government of the French Republic, legalize the position laid down in this treaty.
"The French Ambassador has the honour to inform His Excellency the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich that the Government of the Republic cannot in the circumstances recognize the legality of the new situation brought about in Czechoslovakia by the action of the Reich."
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 17, 1939.
ON the subject of the circumstances in which M. Hacha and M. Chvalkovsky were constrained to sign the treaty by which the fate of Bohemia and Moravia passed into the Führer's hands, I think I should report the following account, which I heard from a reliable source.
During the afternoon of the 14th, the German Legation in Prague made it known to the Czernin Palace that, in view of the deterioration in the situation, it might be useful if the President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs would go to Berlin.
Immediately on arrival, M. Hacha and his Minister, who were received with military honours, were taken to the Chancellery where Herr Hitler, Field-Marshal Goering, Herr von Ribbentrop and Herr Keppler were waiting for them.
The document to be signed lay waiting on the table, in its final form, as well as a memorandum relating to the future Statute for the administration of Bohemia and Moravia.
The Führer stated very briefly that the time was not one for negotiation but that the Czech Ministers had been summoned to be informed of Germany's decisions, that these decisions were irrevocable, that Prague would be occupied on the following day at 9 o'clock, Bohemia and Moravia incorporated within the Reich and constituted a Protectorate, and whoever tried to resist would be "trodden underfoot"
(zertreten). With that, the Führer wrote his signature and went out. It was about 12:30 a.m.
A tragic scene then took place between the Czech Ministers and the three Germans.
For hours on end Dr. Hacha and M. Chvalkovsky protested against the outrage done to them, declared that they could not sign the document presented to them, pointed out that were they to do so they would be for ever cursed by their people. Dr. Hacha, with all the energy at his command, fought against the Statute of Protectorate which it was intended to impose on the Czechs, observing that no white people was reduced to such a condition.
The German ministers were pitiless. They literally hunted Dr. Hacha and M. Chvalkovsky round the table on which the documents were lying, thrusting them continually before them, pushing pens into their hands, incessantly repeating that if they continued in their refusal, half Prague would lie in ruins from aerial bombardment within two hours, and that this would be only the beginning. Hundreds of bombers were awaiting only the order to take off, and they would receive that order at six in the morning if the signatures were not forthcoming by them.
President Hacha was in such a state of exhaustion that he more than once needed medical attention from the doctors, who, by the way, had been there ready for service since the beginning of the interview. The Czech Ministers having stated they could not take such a decision without the consent of their Government, they received the answer that a direct telephonic line existed to the Cabinet of Ministers then in session at Prague and that they could get in touch immediately. It is a fact that such a line had been laid down in Czech territory by members of the German minority, without the knowledge of the authorities.
At 4:30 in the morning, Dr. Hacha, in a state of total collapse, and kept going only by means of injections, resigned himself with death in his soul to give his signature. As he left the Chancellery, M. Chvalkovsky declared: "Our people will curse us, and yet we have saved their existence. We have preserved them from a horrible massacre."
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 18, 1939.
As the Minister for Foreign Affairs is not in Berlin, I saw the State Secretary this morning and carried out the instructions which had been given me.
Before acquainting himself with the contents of the French Government's note, Herr von Weizsäcker asked me to give him its tenor. When I had communicated the substance of it to him, the State Secretary declared that he refused to accept a protest from the French Government concerning Czechoslovakia. He requested me to ask Your Excellency to reconsider the question. I replied that the French Government had carefully weighed its decision and that it was utterly useless to ask them to change it. As Herr von Weizsäcker still refused to accept the Note, I recalled diplomatic usage and the right of my country to express its opinion of recent events. The State Secretary's attitude surprised me all the more because the object of discussion was a solemn act, signed by the heads of the French Government and the Government of the Reich. What had Germany made of the Munich Agreement? Herr von Weizsäcker, without making a direct answer, referred to verbal assurances alleged to have been given to Herr von Ribbentrop by Your Excellency in Paris after the signature of the declaration of December 6, according to which Czechoslovakia was in future not to be the subject of "an exchange of views." He added that if the German Government had supposed that it might be otherwise, they would not have signed the pact.
I replied to Herr von Weizsäcker that no trace could be found of any such assurance, either in the declaration of December 6 nor in the broadcast statements which had accompanied it, and that the French authors of this agreement could never have meant it to constitute a possible recognition of the suppression of Czechoslovakia however liberally its spirit were to be interpreted:
The declaration, on the contrary, provided that the two Governments would consult each other on matters which concerned them both and which in their development might threaten to cause international difficulties.
Changing his ground, Herr von Weizsäcker then expressed astonishment that the French Government could protest against a state of
affairs resulting from a treaty between the heads of the German and the Czech State.
I pointed out to him that he was now going to the root of the matter and that I could answer that we had the strongest reasons for thinking that the Czech negotiators had not found themselves in a position to express their will freely. Herr von Weizsäcker finally said he would take the Note as if it had been sent to him by post, but that he feared the French Government might regret this step.
I replied that one could never regret having done one's duty, and with these words took leave of the State Secretary.
The frown on Herr von Weizsäcker's face and the first gesture he made on seeing the document which I gave him warned me at the outset that he knew the purpose of my visit and had been instructed to persuade me to withdraw the Note. It was obviously impossible for me to yield to that wish.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 18, 1939.
ACCORDING to information that I have gathered from the best sources, the development the Czechoslovak drama seems to have been as follows:
The Nazi leaders, displeased at the resistance offered by Czechoslovakia to her new position of tutelage last December, worked out a scheme which, as the Germans put it, would effectively prevent this State from ever again becoming a menace to the Reich. But M. Chvalkovsky did not succeed in persuading Prague to accept this plan, which must already have almost amounted to a Protectorate. It was decided in Berlin to break this too unmanageable tool. From the month of February onwards, this Embassy drew attention to certain characteristic signs in this respect.
It was in these circumstances that the leaders of Austria, Seyss-Inquart and Bürckel, were personally ordered about three weeks ago to fan the agitation in Slovakia in favour of its independence. The Vienna wireless station took part in this. The Czech Government, frightened by the speed with which the movement was growing, dismissed Mgr. Tiso, who was considered to be too conciliatory. Herr
Hitler was waiting for this mistake. It is only then, that is to say about March 9, that he seems to have taken the decisions which led to the disappearance of Czechoslovakia. Mgr. Tiso was summoned to Berlin. The Führer informed him of the coming invasion of Bohemia and Moravia and charged him, under threat of seeing Slovakia suffer the same fate, with bringing about the immediate separation of that country from Prague.
In order to prevent Germany's seizure of Slovakia the Hungarians and Poles hastened to recognize the independence of that country on the day of its proclamation, March 14; Germany, the instigator of the whole thing, abstained from so doing but sent troops to occupy Bratislava. Under pressure, Mgr. Tiso telegraphed to the Führer asking for protection, which was immediately granted. The German troops continued their march into Slovakia, but, on representations from Poland, Berlin decided to withdraw them to the line of the Vaag.
M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, March 19, 1939.
ON the morrow of the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia by the Reich, and the passing of Slovakia into German tutelage, I should like, after the violent changes wrought in the map of Europe, to try to determine in which directions German dynamism may turn, to see if we may still hold that it is aimed only at the east, and to draw certain practical conclusions for our guidance.
A direct challenge to world opinion by the treachery, the cynicism, and the brutality it shows, the "coup" by which Germany has just wiped Czechoslovakia off the map cannot simply be dismissed as a break in the general political line taken by Germany since last autumn, nor even as a deviation from this line. On the very morrow of the Munich Agreement, it was clear that beyond the Rhine this Agreement was taken to imply a free hand for Germany in Central and Eastern Europe, and, as a corollary, relative renunciation of their interests in these regions by the Western Powers. Germany had understood, or pretended to have understood, that at Munich France and England had wished above all to prevent recourse to force, but that for the rest they were resigned to Germany's will prevailing in
countries in which neither Paris nor London could effectively intervene. The Munich Agreement, completed by the Anglo-German and Franco-German declarations, meant in Germany's eyes the right for the Reich to organize Central and South-Eastern Europe as she wished, with the tacit approval or at least the complaisance of the great Western Powers. For months this version found daily expression in the great German newspapers, officially inspired, as the reports from the Embassy have often shown. I myself have more than once noted the same state of mind in Herr von Ribbentrop and Herr von Weizsäcker, both of whom have expressed a certain astonishment whenever I have drawn their attention to the fact that France, as a great European Power, intends to be consulted in all that pertains to Europe, and that on this point there must be no mistake or misunderstanding. And yet, this misunderstanding did in fact exist. The Nazi leaders did not fail to stress on every occasion that, as the Führer said in his speech of January 30, "Central Europe was a region where the Western Powers had no concern."
In this respect, the German seizure of Bohemia and Moravia, with the subsequent inclusion of Slovakia within the German orbit, is in line with the policy of eastern expansion of which Germany has not only made no secret since last autumn but which she has openly proclaimed.
During the last six months, the tendencies of German foreign policy may be summed up as follows: a purely defensive attitude in the West and the orientation towards the East of Nazi aims and ambitions. The German attempt to occupy the whole of Slovakia and even Sub-Carpathian Russia shows even more clearly than the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia in which direction lie German thoughts and the German thrust.
Though we have no reason whatever to be surprised at this new advance of German influence in the East, on the other hand we have every right to condemn the unspeakable methods used by the Reich to achieve it. It is these methods which, properly speaking, constitute the break in the policy of appeasement begun at Munich, and which found expression in the declarations of September 30 and December 6. France and Britain were entitled to expect that in the event of fresh Central European difficulties they would be consulted by the Reich; the German Government, moreover, could not be unaware that the French and British Cabinets were ready for such an exchange of views. France and Great Britain also had the right to assume that Germany
would not reject the racial principle which at Munich had guided the settlement of the German-Czech crisis, nor that, having invoked the rights of nationalities, Germany would violate them so wantonly. Paris and London could hope that having renounced the use of force at Munich, Germany would not again have recourse to threats of the wholesale massacre of civil populations by her air force in particularly odious circumstances. France and Britain were also entitled to expect that the rulers of the Reich would not treat as purely negligible the agreements reached at Munich and the declarations which followed them, and that they would not simply throw into the waste-paper basket documents on which the signature of the head of the German State was hardly dry.
But this is in fact what has happened. The Munich agreements no longer exist. The psychological grounds on which the potentialities of the declarations of September 30 and December 6 might have borne fruit have been destroyed. Various German papers are already interpreting as a denunciation of the Anglo-German and Franco-German declarations the démarche by which Britain and France made it known on March 18 that they could not recognize as legal the position in Central Europe which had been brought about by the Reich.
We find ourselves faced, therefore, with an entirely new situation. Germany has not been content to consolidate and extend her political influence over the nations living in the Reich's orbit. She has revealed her desire to absorb them, if not to annihilate them. From a policy of expansion she has gone on to a policy of conquest, the claims of common race giving way henceforth to military imperialism.
This brutal confession of a lust of conquest, which the Third Reich had hitherto been at pains to conceal, could not fail to arouse deep feeling throughout the world. Faced with the wave of hostile criticism which it has provoked, and after having absorbed in one year 18 million new subjects, of whom eight millions are aliens, will Germany find it necessary to mark time for a while? Or, taking advantage of its acquired momentum and of the stupor of the Central European States, will it continue its drive towards the East? Or, again, will it be tempted to face about and put an end to the opposition of the Western Powers which is interfering with the Reich's liberty of action in the East? In other words, will the Führer be tempted to return to the idea expressed by the author of Mein Kampf, which, be it said, is identical with the classic doctrine held by the German General Staff, according
to which Germany cannot accomplish her high destiny in the East until France has been crushed and, as a consequence, Britain reduced to impotence on the Continent?
We must likewise examine whether there is still time to erect in the East a wall capable of stemming to a certain extent the German drive, and if to this end we should not take advantage of the favourable circumstances offered to us by the tension and anxiety which prevail in the Central European capitals, especially in Warsaw.
The renewed changes which the European map has undergone to Germany's advantage will mean from now on a great increase in her potential, if not her actual, war strength.
Germany, whose currency resources were completely exhausted, has just seized the greater part of the gold and currency reserves in the Czech National Bank. The sum so taken, about 50,000,000 dollars, will be of no small advantage to a nation almost completely without the means to make international payments.
Still more important is the passing into German hands of a large quantity of first-class war material, together with the Skoda works. These world-famous works supplied not only Czechoslovakia but Rumania and Jugoslavia, whose military positions are thus seriously impaired. I will mention only by way of reminder that the Skoda works are at present manufacturing aeroplane engines for us. Possessing both the Krupp and the Skoda works, the Reich is henceforth beyond all doubt the most advantageously placed supplier of war material for Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Germany has, therefore, a means of bringing pressure to bear on policy and of controlling armaments, which must not be underestimated, as well as a possibility of obtaining substantial amounts of foreign currency by sales abroad.
Further, the seizure of Bohemia and Moravia is the first territorial operation, which, from the point of view of food supplies, has not caused a loss to the Reich. On the contrary it greatly improves the German food situation, not only on account of the relative fertility of Bohemia and Moravia but also and still more because the Reich now finds itself at the very door of the Hungarian and Rumanian granaries.
Again, the economic leaders of the Reich now have a considerable reserve of labour at their disposal. Autarchy, excessive re-armament, great public works require a labour strength above that which the Reich itself could provide. There was a shortage of a million and a
half labourers in industry and agriculture. In these circumstances, it was hard to see how Germany could, in the event of general mobilization, meet the increased labour demands and fill the gaps left by the men called to the colours. The Czechs, considered unworthy to bear arms, will provide the 5,000,000 workers which Germany needed for such an emergency.
Finally and above all, the strategical position of Germany has vastly improved. In place of the winding frontier, several hundred miles long, which separated Germany from Czechoslovakia, is substituted the much shorter and more easily defended line joining Austria to Silesia. Germany thus saves the several divisions which would have had to watch the Czech frontier in the event of war. Further, the Bohemian and Moravian tableland provides an excellent base of operations, particularly for aircraft, whose effective range will henceforth cover the greater part of the Balkans, to say nothing of Hungary and Poland.
The first act of the German military authorities after the occupation of the Czech provinces was to make Vienna the centre of a new air fleet, the Fourth  (South-East), made up of units stationed in Austria, Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia. "The creation of this fourth fleet," the German papers have pointed out, "increases the power of our air force beyond all our expectations."
Besides the increase of material forces, we must also take into account the immense pride which, as a result of the prodigious successes secured in one year,  could not fail to swell the Nazi leaders' bosoms and inflame their minds. Without striking a blow, without any annoyance beyond a few gestures of protest, the Reich had swallowed 20 million men, turned the whole structure of Europe upside down and forged a military machine of such power that Europe was forced on more than one decisive occasion to bow to German demands; there indeed is an achievement to turn the most well-balanced head. But no operation had ever moved so smoothly as that which culminated in the Führer's entering the Castle of Hradschin. How can Herr Hitler do otherwise than believe that nothing can stand against his will? How could he fail to make capital out of the undoubted superiority that Germany has won for itself in the air? It is quite possible that tomorrow he will apply to Rumania or Poland the same means that had
 The German Air Force had hitherto been divided into three air fleets.  The conquest of Austria occurred on March 12, 1938, that of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939.
been so successful against Austria and Czechoslovakia and place before them the alternatives of the massacre of civil populations and the destruction of open towns, or the acceptance of the German terms however onerous and humiliating they may be. One must not, however, exclude the possibility that the Reich, before carrying out its vast programme to the East, will first turn against the Western Powers.
There are three reasons for not ruling out at once such possibility. From the reactions of London and Paris to the annihilation of Czechoslovakia and the incorporation of the Czechs in the Reich, Nazi Germany must see-as she pretended not to see since Munich-that the Western Powers have not completely given up the whole of Europe beyond the Rhine.
Then, confronted by the re-armament of France, England and America, which is being watched here with more irritation and anxiety than is admitted, the Nazi leaders may be asking themselves how long they will enjoy the mastery of the air, which they have exploited so cynically for the past year, and if they too will not soon have to reckon with enemy air forces capable of shattering reprisals which would neutralize the threat of German air action, at present hanging over Europe.
It is true that up to the present, there is no indication that Germany has modified her line of policy and that she intends at least temporarily to turn her eyes and her ambitions away from the East with a view to a Western war.
On the contrary, one fact seems to indicate that when the Nazi leaders were planning the scheme against Bohemia and Moravia, they were already intending to go still farther eastward at a more or less early date. From information hitherto received, it certainly seems that the German Army tried to occupy the whole of Slovakia and even Sub-Carpathian Russia. It was on account of Poland's attitude, and the Hungarian decision to take no notice of German representations, that the German troops were withdrawn to the line of the Vaag. Now, an occupation of Slovakia and Carpathian Ukraine, which would have brought the German Army right up to the Russian frontier, could have had political or military significance only if further operations were contemplated against either Rumania or Poland. In well-informed circles in Berlin it is regarded that these regions are the more immediately threatened.
Yet it does not seem that the direction of the next Nazi thrust
has been decided upon or that plans for further action have been formulated.
An official of the Propaganda Ministry seems to have summed up accurately the state of mind of the Nazi leaders in a remark made to one of my compatriots: "We have before us so many open doors, so many possibilities, that we no longer know which way to turn or what direction to take."
We shall not go far wrong if we assume that the line of conduct to be adopted by the Reich, which now forms a block of 90 million inhabitants in the heart of Europe, will be influenced by the balance of forces in Europe.
As things are, the Nazi leaders consider that the lead they have established in armaments and the strategical position they have won protect them from attack. Their weak point is a shortage of stocks and a lack of raw materials and foodstuffs which would make it impossible for them to stand a long war. Given the material impossibility of challenging Britain's mastery of the sea, the Nazi leaders see two ways open to them.
Either to proceed without intermission to the subjugation of east and south-east Europe and perhaps to that of Scandinavia, thus securing for Germany in one way or another the resources of these countries, and enabling it to a certain extent to face a blockade.
Or to attack France and Britain, before these two Powers have, with American help, caught up with German armaments, and in particular, snatched from Germany the mastery of the air.
This second possibility is not at present the more probable. But we must reckon with the risk of seeing Germany engaged in such an undertaking. This risk may even be increased by the intensification and the speeding up of our rearmament.
However, as we have no choice save either to bow one day to Hitler's will or, by uniting our forces with those of Britain, to build a military machine, and especially an air force, strong enough to impress Germany, it is vital that we should without delay:
(a) Rearm to the maximum of our capacity.
(b) As far as possible, avoid all publicity about this intensive rearmament.
In any case, whatever new form German dynamism may take after the conquest of Bohemia and Moravia, we are always driven to the same conclusion: to the unavoidable necessity for concentrating the nation's energies towards as vast and as swift a development of
its military strength as possible, especially with regard to its Air Force. In view of the impulsive character of the Nazi leaders, the state of mental intoxication in which the Führer must be at present and the irritation and alarm caused in Germany by the rearmament of the democracies and by the attitude of America, I consider that we must proceed without delay to the industrial mobilization of the country, as secretly and as intensively as possible.
M. GE0RGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to M. COULONDRE, French Ambassador in Berlin. Paris, March 19, 1939.
I Approve your action in replying as you did to the extravagant statement of Herr von Weizsäcker according to which, in my Paris conversation with Herr von Ribbentrop, I am alleged to have said that "Czechoslovakia would no longer be the subject of an exchange of views." This conversation took place without Herr von Weizsäcker, and in the presence of M. Leger and Count von Welczeck only.
I emphasized during this interview-and Herr von Ribbentrop took note of it-that our declaration in no way affected the Franco-Polish and the Franco-Soviet pacts. I then insisted at length that the guarantee promised to Czechoslovakia by the Munich Agreement should also be given by Germany. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich replied that he was afraid Czechoslovakia was still impregnated with the Benes spirit, and that the question was not yet ripe. In spite of my insistence I failed to obtain from him any assurance as to when this guarantee would be given.
In the circumstances I asked you to see Herr von Ribbentrop again during the months of January and February, in order to get the German guarantee for Czechoslovakia. In accordance with my instructions, you saw Herr von Weizsäcker on December 21 and Herr von Ribbentrop on February 6. A written Note was handed in by you on February 8. In reply to this Note, the German Government handed you on March 2 a written memorandum, designed to justify the delay of the required guarantee. In that document it puts forward as a reason the fact that the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities has not yet been settled and adds that, in its opinion, any intervention in Cen-
tral Europe by the Western Powers in the form of a guarantee would do more harm than good.
If, in the course of the Paris conversations, I had declared that "Czechoslovakia would no longer be the subject of an exchange of views," obviously the German Government would not have accepted your démarches and would have refused to be a party to the exchange of notes between the two Governments. You should lose no opportunity to protest against a statement which is one more proof of the German Government's bad faith.
M. PAYART, French Chargé d'Affaires in Moscow, to M. GEORGES BONNET, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Moscow, March 19, 1939.
THE Soviet Government made a written protest yesterday to the German Government, in reply to the notification made by the German Ambassador, against the German Government's decision to incorporate Czechia in the Reich and to modify the Statute of Slovakia.
I am sending by post to your Department the translation of the Commissar for Foreign Affairs' Note, which has not yet been published in the Russian Press.
The People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, after taking exception to the German arguments, after contesting the legality of President Hacha's assent to the Berlin instrument, and after invoking the right of the self-determination of peoples, ends his note in the following manner:
"The Government of the U.S.S.R. cannot recognise the incorporation of Czechia in the Reich nor that of Slovakia in one form or another, as legal or as in conformity with the generally accepted rules of international law, or with justice, or with the principle of self-determination. Not only does the German Government's action not avert any of the dangers threatening world peace but it actually tends to multiply them, to disturb the political stability of Central Europe, to increase the causes of anxiety already existing in Europe, and, finally, to deal a new blow to the feeling of security of nations."