Apr. 17

Memorandum by the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

Conversation with the Soviet Ambassador who, after discussing Soviet contracts with Skoda, suggests the possibility of improved Soviet-German relations.


May 4

The German Charge in the Soviet Union (Tippelskirch) to the German Foreign Office

The significance of the replacement of Litvinov by Molotov.


May 5

Foreign Office Memorandum

The Soviet Charge, Astakhov, suggests to Schnurre the revival of economic negotiations and stresses the significance of Molotov's appointment.


May 9

Foreign Office Memorandum

Astakhov expresses pleasure at the changed tone of the German press.


May 17

Foreign Office Memorandum

Astakhov is skeptical concerning the prospects of an Anglo-Soviet agreement, and is optimistic on the improvement of Soviet-German relations.


May 20

Memorandum by the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Molotov says the construction of "political bases" must precede new economic negotiations; he refuses to elaborate.


May 21

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Schulenburg to take no action.


May 22

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

An analysis of political currents in Moscow.


May 27

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Germany hesitates to make advances until the outcome of the Soviet negotiations with Britain and France is known.


May 29

Foreign Office Memorandum

Arguments for and against negotiations with the U.S.S.R.

Foreign Office Memorandum

A proposal that Weizsacker explore the possibility of agreement.


May 30

Memorandum by the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

Both Weizsacker and Astakhov, in conversation on economic questions, hint that a German-Soviet political agreement is desirable and possible.


May 30

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

A telegraphic summary of the above conversation; Germany has decided to undertake negotiations.


May 30

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg).

Hilger may begin economic negotiations; political questions are to be referred to Berlin.


June 5

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

Contends that, in the interview of May 20, Molotov had not rejected a German-Soviet political agreement; rather, he had almost invited political discussions.


June 15

Foreign Office Memorandum

The Bulgarian Minister reports a conversation with Astakhov on Soviet foreign policy.


June 18

The German Charge in the Soviet Union (Tippelskirch) to the German Foreign Office

The Soviet Government is skeptical of German sincerity. Enclosure: Mikoyan tells Hilger that the German reply on economic negotiations is "not entirely favorable."


June 27

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office

Stresses the Soviet fear that Germany is pushing economic negotiations only to block an Anglo-Soviet agreement and that Germany will allow the negotiations to lapse when this objective is achieved.


June 29

Foreign Office Memorandum

Hitler orders negotiations with the U.S.S.R. ended.


June 29

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office

A conversation with Molotov, who, while still suspicious, shows desire to maintain contact with Germany.


June 30

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

No further action is to be taken for the moment on political or economic negotiation.


July 3

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office

Details of the conversation of June 28 with Molotov.


July 12

The Counselor of Embassy of the German Embassy in the Soviet Union (Tippelskirch) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

After conversations in Berlin, he concludes that there is no definite political opinion on the problem of negotiations with the U.S.S.R.


July 22

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office

The Soviet press announces the opening of economic negotiations.


July 27

Foreign Office Memorandum

Schnurre, in conversation with Astakhov and Babarin, explores problems of German-Soviet relations.


July 29

The German Foreign Office to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Schulenburg is to discover Molotov's views on the above conversation, and, if Molotov abandons his reserve, to state that Germany is prepared to respect Soviet interests in Poland and the Baltic States.


Aug. 3

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Schnurre will tell Astakhov that Germany is ready for more concrete discussions.


Aug. 3

The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Germany must know whether or not the U.S.S.R. is prepared to settle all problems, so that German policy can be adjusted to meet the Soviet position.


Aug. 4

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office

Molotov, abandoning reserve, expresses hope for improved relations, but says that proofs of a changed German attitude are lacking.


Aug. 7

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to Counselor of Legation Schliep of the German Foreign Office

Schulenburg comments privately on British and French negotiations with the U.S.S.R., on Soviet mistrust of Germany, and on current gossip in Moscow.


Aug. 10

Foreign Office Memorandum

Schnurre warns Astakhov that Soviet interests in Poland can be protected only by a German-Soviet agreement concluded before the outbreak of war; Astakhov says the negotiations with Britain were begun by the Soviets without enthusiasm, and only as protection against Germany.


Aug. 14

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

Reviews the situation in Moscow to justify his belief that haste should be avoided.


Aug. 14

The German Foreign Office to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

In accordance with instructions, Astakhov tells Schnurre that the Soviet Government wishes to discuss each group of questions, by stages.


Page 1



Frames 231609-231610, serial 485

Memorandum by the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

St. S. Nr. 339
BERLIN, April 17, 1939.

The Russian Ambassador visited me today-for the first time since he took up his post here [1]-for a conversation on practical matters. He dwelt at length on a subject which he said was of particular interest to him: namely, the fulfillment of certain contracts for war materiel by the Skoda Works. Although the items involved are manifestly rather insignificant, the Ambassador regarded the fulfillment of the contracts as a test, to determine whether, in accordance with a recent statement by Director Wiehl [2] to him, we were really willing to cultivate and expand our economic relations with Russia. The matter of these supply contracts is being looked into elsewhere.

Toward the end of the discussion, I casually mentioned to the Ambassador that even granted goodwill on our part, a favorable atmosphere for the delivery of war materials to Soviet Russia was not exactly being created at present by reports of a Russian-British-French air pact and the like. Herr Merekalov seized on these words to take up political matters. He inquired as to the opinion here regarding the present situation in Central Europe. When I told him that as far as I knew Germany was the only country not participating in the present saber-rattling in Europe, he asked me about our relations with Poland and about the alleged military clashes on the German-Polish frontier. After I had denied the latter and made some rather restrained comments on German-Polish relations, the Russian asked me frankly [unverblümt] what I thought of German-Russian relations.

I replied to Herr Merekalov that, as everybody knew, we had always had the desire for mutually satisfactory commercial relations with Russia. It had appeared to me that the Russian press lately was not fully participating in the anti-German tone of the American and some

[1] Ambassador Merekalov had presented his credentials on June 5, 1938.

[2] Head of the Commercial Policy Division of the German Foreign Office.

Page 2

of the English papers. As to the German press, Herr Merekalov could form his own opinion, since he surely followed it very closely.

The Ambassador thereupon stated approximately as follows:

Russian policy had always moved in a straight line. Ideological differences of opinion had hardly influenced the Russian-Italian relationship, and they did not have to prove a stumbling block with regard to Germany either. Soviet Russia had not exploited the present friction between Germany and the Western democracies against us, nor did she desire to do so. There exists for Russia no reason why she should not live with us on a normal footing. And from normal, the relations might become better and better.

With this remark, to which the Russian had led the conversation, Herr Merekalov ended the interview. He intends to go to Moscow in the next few days for a visit.



Frame 111301, serial 103
The German Chargé in the Soviet Union (Tippelskirch) to the German Foreign Office


No. 61 of May 4

Moscow, May 4, 1939-8:45 p. m.

Received May 4, 1939-10 p. m.

Appointment of Molotov as Foreign Commissar simultaneously retaining his position as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars is published as ukase of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of May 3 by Soviet press with great fanfare. Dismissal of Litvinov appears on last page as small notice under "Chronicle." Sudden change has caused greatest surprise here, since Litvinov was in the midst of negotiations with the English delegation, at the May Day Parade still appeared on the reviewing stand right next to Stalin, and there was no recent concrete evidence of shakiness in his position. Soviet press contains no comments. Foreign Commissariat is giving press representatives no explanations.

Since Litvinov had received the English Ambassador as late as May 2 and had been named in press of yesterday as guest of honor at the parade, his dismissal appears to be result of spontaneous decision by Stalin. The decision apparently is connected with the fact that differences of opinion arose in the Kremlin on Litvinov's negotiations. Reason for differences of opinion presumably lies in deep mistrust that Stalin harbors toward the entire surrounding capitalist

Page 3

world. At last Party Congress Stalin urged caution lest Soviet Union be drawn into conflicts. Molotov (no Jew) is held to be "most intimate friend and closest collaborator" of Stalin. His appointment is apparently to guarantee that the foreign policy will be continued strictly in accordance with Stalin's ideas.



Frame 211496, serial 388

Foreign Office Memorandum

To W IV 1493

This afternoon I asked the Soviet Chargé, Counselor of Embassy Astakhov, to come to see me and informed him that we had agreed, as requested by his Ambassador on April 17, to carry out the Soviet supply contracts with the Skoda Works. Appropriate instructions had already been given. I asked him to inform his Government of this.

Counselor of Embassy Astakhov was visibly gratified at this declaration and stressed the fact that for the Soviet Government the material side of the question was not of as great importance as the question of principle. He inquired whether we would not soon resume the negotiations which had been broken off in February. To this I replied that I could not yet give him any answer to that, as the examination of the numerous problems which the last Russian answer had raised was not yet completed.

Then Astakhov touched upon the dismissal of Litvinov and tried without asking direct questions to learn whether this event would cause a change in our position toward the Soviet Union. He stressed very much the great importance of the personality of Molotov, who was by no means a specialist in foreign policy, but who would have all the greater importance for the future Soviet foreign policy.


BERLIN, May 5, 1939.


Frame 211486, serial 388

Foreign Office Memorandum


The Counselor of the Russian Embassy, Astakhov, called on me this afternoon in order to introduce to me the Tass representative,

Page 4

Filipov, who had just arrived. He began with the statement that he was happy that Herr Filipov could start his work under new conditions which were completely different from the past. The recently practiced reserve of the German press toward Soviet Russia had already attracted the attention of the foreign press. I for my part remarked that at the present time one could not talk about a corresponding Russian reserve toward Germany and pointed out the latest broadcasts of the Moscow Radio. To this Herr Astakhov remarked that Moscow apparently still was rather suspicious because, of course, they did not yet know how this reserve was to be interpreted, which was, after all, possibly only a short-lived tactical maneuver. At any rate, the Soviet Russians would be only too happy if such fears were unjustified.

Asked about the significance of the change in the direction of foreign affairs in Moscow, Herr Astakhov declared that previously it had, after all, not been a question of a personal policy of Litvinov, but of compliance with general principles. Therefore, for the time being one could not speak of a reorientation of policy, particularly since Soviet Russian policy depended on that of the others and not least on that of Germany.


BERLIN, May 9, 1939.


Frames 211504-211505, serial 388

Foreign Office Memorandum

To W IV 1870/39


The Soviet Chargé, Counselor of Embassy Astakhov, called on me today in order to talk to me about the legal status of the Soviet Trade Mission in Prague, established there on the basis of the Soviet-Czechoslovak Trade Agreement of 1935. The Soviet Union wants to leave the Trade Mission in Prague as a section of the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin, and requests that it be given temporarily the same legal status that it had under the Soviet-Czechoslovak Trade Agreement. Herr Astakhov invoked the German declaration, according to which the present Czechoslovak trade agreements would continue to be applied to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia until something new had replaced them.

I received this request and promised an early answer. I told him

Page 5

as my personal opinion that there would hardly be any objections to the Soviet request.

During the subsequent conversation Astakhov again referred in great detail to the development of German-Soviet relations, as he had already done two weeks ago. He remarked that the German press for some weeks looked entirely different. The attacks hitherto directed against the Soviet Union were missing, reports were objective; in an industrial newspaper of the Rhineland he had even seen some photographs of Soviet installations. Of course, the Soviets could not judge whether this was only a temporary break that was used for tactical reasons. However, it was hoped that a permanent state of affairs would result from it. Astakhov stated in detail that there were no conflicts in foreign policy between Germany and Soviet Russia, and that therefore there was no reason for any enmity between the two countries. It was true that in the Soviet Union there was a distinct feeling of being menaced by Germany. It would undoubtedly be possible to eliminate this feeling of being menaced and the distrust in Moscow. During this conversation, he also again mentioned the Treaty of Rapallo. In reply to my incidental question, he commented on the Anglo-Soviet negotiations to the effect that under the present circumstances the result desired by England would hardly be achieved.

To substantiate his opinion concerning the possibility of a change in German-Soviet relations, Astakhov repeatedly referred to Italy and stressed that the Duce, even after the creation of the Axis, had implied that there were no obstacles to a normal development of the political and economic relations between the Soviet Union and Italy.

In my replies I was reserved and induced Astakhov, by means of incidental remarks only, to further elaborate his viewpoint.


BERLIN, May 17, 1939.


Frames 111353-111355, serial 103

Memorandum by the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

Tgb. Nr. A/1023

Moscow, May 20, 1939.

This afternoon at 4:00, I was received by the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov. The interview took place in the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. It lasted over an hour and was carried on in most friendly

Page 6

fashion. Herr Molotov, who speaks only Russian, had requested that no translator be brought along since he himself would provide an excellent interpreter. The latter, a rather young man, translated very correctly but slowly from the French. That explains in part the long duration of the conference.

I opened the conversation by saying to Herr Molotov that the last proposals of Herr Mikoyan in our economic negotiations had presented several difficulties which could not be immediately removed. We now believed that a way had been found to come to an understanding and we intended in the very near future to send Geheimrat Dr. Schnurre to Moscow to discuss with Herr Mikoyan whether an agreement could be reached on the basis of our proposals. I asked whether Herr Mikoyan was prepared to confer with Herr Schnurre.

Herr Molotov replied that the course of our last economic negotiations had given the Soviet Government the impression that we had not been in earnest in the matter and we had only played at negotiating for political reasons. At first it had been reported that a German delegation was coming for economic negotiations to Moscow (I suggested that this report did not emanate from us but from the Polish and French press), and later it was to the effect that Herr Schnurre was coming alone. Herr Schnurre did not come, but Herr Hilger [3] and I had conducted the negotiations and then these negotiations also had faded out. The Soviet Government could only agree to a resumption of the negotiations if the necessary "political bases" for them had been constructed [wenn hierfür die notwendige "politische Grundlage" geschaflen sein werde.].

I told Herr Molotov that we had never regarded the economic discussions as a game, but we had always conducted them entirely in earnest. We always had had and still have the sincerest intention to come to an agreement, and Berlin was of the opinion, if I understood it correctly, that a successful conclusion of the economic discussions would also help the political atmosphere. It had been technical reasons only that had been responsible for Herr Schnurre's absence and for the delay of the negotiations. The present economic conditions in Germany made it very difficult to fulfill the wishes of Herr Mikoyan. I asked Herr Molotov what he meant by the construction of political bases. I had had the impression that the German-Soviet atmosphere had improved during the last year or so, and I was astonished that economic negotiations should now be impossible while previously negotiations of the same sort had repeatedly taken place under more

[3] Of the staff of the German Embassy in Moscow.

Page 7

unfavorable conditions and had been brought to a conclusion. Herr Molotov then declared that the way in which better political bases could be built was something that both Governments would have to think about. All of my determined efforts to bring Herr Molotov to make his wishes more definite and more concrete were in vain. Herr Molotov had apparently determined to say just so much and not a word more. He is known for this somewhat stubborn manner. I thereupon concluded the conversation and stated that I would inform my Government. Herr Molotov then bade me farewell in a very friendly fashion.

Immediately at the conclusion of my visit to Herr Molotov, I visited Herr Potemkin. I related to him the course of my conversation with the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, and I added that I had unfortunately not been able to find out from the conversation what Herr Molotov actually wanted. He certainly must have had something in mind. I asked Herr Potemkin to find out whether he could not possibly let me know what direction Herr Molotov's line of thought was taking. I gave the impression that I did not know at all what I should suggest to my Government. Nothing could be changed in the main lines of German policy. Thus in my opinion, we would persevere in our East Asia policy. I could however, add that this policy was in no way directed against the Soviet Union.



Frame 111328, serial 103

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)


BERLIN, May 21, 1939.

No. 94

Reference your telegram 73. [4] For Ambassador personally

On basis of results so far of your discussions with Molotov, we must now sit tight [ganz stillzuhalten] and wait to see if the Russians will speak more openly.

I request that you act accordingly until otherwise instructed, but to wire from time to time any useful reports and news reaching you as well as your appraisal of the situation.


[4] Not printed; it summarized interview between Schulenburg and Molotov described in preceding document.

Page 8


Frames 111346-111347, serial 103

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

Tgb. Nr. A/1023

Moscow, May 22, 1939.

DEAR HERR VON WEIZSÄCKER: I have the honor to transmit to you as an enclosure a copy of the memorandum [5] which gives the content and course of my interview with Herr Molotov on May 20. I have also included the memorandum with my report.

The Reich Minister directed me to maintain extreme caution in my conference with Molotov. As a result I contented myself with saying as little as possible and took this attitude all the more because the attitude of Herr Molotov seemed to me quite suspicious [recht verdächtig]. It cannot be understood otherwise than that the resumption of our economic negotiations does not satisfy him as a political gesture, and that he apparently wants to obtain from us more extensive proposals of a political nature. We must be extremely cautious in this field as long as it is not certain that possible proposals from our side will not be used by the Kremlin only to exert pressure on England and France. On the other hand, if we want to accomplish something here, it is unavoidable that we sooner or later take some action.

It is extraordinarily difficult here to learn anything at all about the course of the English-French-Soviet negotiations. My British colleague, who apparently is the only one who is active in that connection here (he was being announced to Herr Potemkin when I was visiting the latter), preserves an iron silence. Even neutral diplomats have not been able to learn anything.

My French colleague has been away for some time. The Counselor of Embassy and Chargé in the last few days asked us for a transit visa, so that it seems that he also is going to leave Moscow soon. If the reports are correct that France will now take over the negotiations in the matter of the French-British-Soviet "alliance," these negotiations may well take place not here but in Paris.

My Italian colleague is of the opinion that the Soviet Union will surrender her freedom of negotiation only if England and France give her a full treaty of alliance.

It is often stated here (I do not know whether it is correct) that one of the principal reasons for the hesitation of England in accepting the Soviet proposals for a military alliance is the question of Japan. London is afraid of driving the Japanese into our arms if she guar-

[5] Ante, p.5.

Page 9

antees the defense of all Soviet frontiers. If Japan should come into our arms voluntarily, this consideration for England should be eliminated.

With best greetings and Heil Hitler, I am, Herr von Weizsäcker, yours very respectfully,



Frames 178398-178397, serial 276

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the

German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

BERLIN, May 27, 1939.

DEAR COUNT SCHULENBURG: We answered your letter of the 22d in our telegram of yesterday, [6] which will probably surprise you less than Herr Hilger, who was at hand at the birth of a very different sort of instruction. I feel that I still owe you a word of explanation. We are of the opinion here that the English-Russian combination certainly will not be easy to prevent. However, there may even today be a rather wide field of negotiation into which we may be able to inject ourselves with an impeding and disturbing effect by use of a more unmistakable sort of language. The possibility of success is considered here to be quite limited, so that one must weigh whether a very open statement in Moscow, instead of being beneficial, might not rather be harmful and perhaps produce a peal of Tartar laughter. In weighing these points of view, it had also to be considered that one link in the whole chain, namely, a gradual conciliation between Moscow and Tokyo, is regarded by the Japanese as distinctly problematical. Rome also was very hesitant, so that eventually the disadvantages of the proposed far-reaching step were regarded as the determining factor. In short, we will remain within the instructions which we have sent to you, and we now want to see how deeply Moscow on the one hand and Paris-London on the other are willing to pledge themselves to each other.

Your reports and judgments of the situation are naturally most welcome here at all times.

Our inquiries about the return here of the Soviet Russian Ambassador, Merekalov, are only of significance in relation to the future moves at the Kremlin.

Heartiest greetings and best wishes.

Heil Hitler!

Always yours faithfully,


[5] Telegram not printed.

Page 10

P. S. Berlin, May 30, 1939.

To my lines above I must add that now, with the consent of the Führer, a distinctly limited exchange of views with the Russians will take place by means of a conference which I am to hold today with the Russian Chargé. You will, of course, be officially informed of developments. I need, therefore, not go more deeply into the matter here.



Frames 111372-111374, serial 103

Foreign Office Memorandum [7]

MAY 29, 1939.

1. We are faced with the fact that our Ambassador in Moscow had a talk with Herr Molotov about the resumption of German-Soviet commercial negotiations and that on this occasion Herr Molotov made them subject to the clarification of political relations between Germany and Soviet Russia. Of course we ask ourselves whether Herr Molotov wanted to express thereby a desire that a talk get under way concerning the political relations between us, or whether he wanted this considered simply as a form of rejection.

2. You yourself as well as their Ambassador occasionally have indicated possibilities of some day discussing the political relations between Germany and the Soviet Union, and we ask ourselves whether this is in harmony with Molotov's views or whether we are dealing here with different points of view of their Embassy here and their Foreign Commissariat.

3. If they should have the desire to have a political conversation with us, I personally can imagine this as entirely possible. I would consider as a condition that the aggressive promotion of the idea of world revolution no longer be an element in the present Soviet foreign policy. [Marginal notation: "mutually not to interfere in domestic politics in any way, for ..."] If this condition is met-as certain signs might indicate-I could imagine that such a conversation could lead to useful results in the direction of a progressive normalization of German-Soviet Russian relations. [Marginal notation: "Ukraine."]

4. It is admittedly very doubtful whether the state of affairs in Europe just at the moment promises success from such talks, since the Soviet Government is engaged in negotiations with England, which indicate that Moscow is more or less determined to enter actively

[7] This and the following document are apparently a series of proposals submitted by Ribbentrop to Hitler.

Page 11

into the English policy of encirclement. However, it is, of course, up to your Government [marginal note: "ice-cold"] to judge whether at this stage in the Anglo-Soviet negotiations, it still sees room for such a conversation with Germany.

[Penciled notation: "spare myself the reproach of not having spoken up."] [8]


Frames 111368-111371, serial 103

Foreign Office Memorandum


I suggest that the request of the Soviet Embassy in Berlin for permission for the further maintenance of the Soviet Russian commercial agency in Prague as a branch of the Russian commercial agency in Berlin be used as the occasion for the following statement, to be made by Herr von Weizsäcker to the Russian representative in Berlin.

1. The question of the continued maintenance of the Russian commercial agency in Prague is one of principle. For that reason the Minister believed that in this matter he could not make a decision on his own responsibility and presented the matter to the Führer.

2. The German Reich Government would like to know whether the Soviet Government wishes to consider the maintenance of its commercial agency in Prague on a permanent basis or whether it has only a limited period in mind. What, in the latter case, would be the time limit ?

3. It is not easy for the German Reich Government, under the present circumstances, to consent at all to the maintenance of this Russian commercial agency, even as a branch of the Berlin office. To its last suggestion particularly, of taking up direct commercial negotiations with Moscow, it received an answer in Moscow from which it believes it must infer that the Soviet Government is at present very little interested in resuming and strengthening German-Russian commercial relations. There is, in addition, the development of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, which also calls for caution on the part of the German Reich Government with respect to the examination and granting of special Soviet Russian wishes, such as in this case of the Prague commercial agency. For the Reich Government has no doubt the that Russia seems to be inclined actively to support the British policy of encirclement directed against Germany. The Reich Government, therefore for its part too, in its own understandable interest, considers a clarification of this development as the necessary condition for the granting of special concessions. But above all, as stressed in

[8] The penciled notations appear to be notes by State Secretary von Weizsäcker for his conversation with the Russian Chargé on May 30, post, p. 12.

Page 12

point 2, it would be important to know for how long, under those circumstances, the Soviet Government requests permission for the continuance of its commercial agency in Prague.


Frames 111362-111367, serial 103

Memorandum by the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)


St. S. Nr. 455

BERLIN, May 30, 1939.

The Soviet Russian Chargé called on me this morning at my request. I designated as our subject of conversation the Soviet Russian request to continue accrediting their trade mission in Prague as a branch office of the trade mission in Berlin. In my subsequent remarks, which the Chargé interrupted by occasional objections, I adhered strictly to the instructions given to me.

First, I told the Chargé that the request of the Russian Government involved a matter of principle, and that for this reason the Foreign Minister had dealt with it. Herr von Ribbentrop had presented the matter to the Führer. At this point the attention of the Chargé was aroused, and he made sure by asking me again whether the Führer had really dealt with the matter.

I then continued that we would like to know whether the trade mission in Prague was to be retained permanently or only temporarily, and for what length of time. To this the Chargé immediately replied that he personally could only state that there was still much work to be done in order to complete current business in the Protectorate, but that his Government had probably been thinking of a permanent status.

In accordance with instructions I then went on to state that it would not be easy for us to give our consent to the retention of the trade mission in Prague, because we, i. e., Ambassador Count Schulenburg, had recently received from Herr Molotov a not very encouraging reply in the matter of our economic relations. The Chargé indicated that he was informed of the contents of the talk, and pending more detailed instructions interpreted it to the effect that in Moscow they wanted to avoid a repetition of what happened last January, i. e., they did not want to make preparations again for the trip of a German trade negotiator to Moscow only to receive a cancellation at the last moment, amidst the ridicule of the foreign press. Actually, Herr Molotov had stated that politics and economy could not be entirely

Page 13

separated in our relations; a certain connection between the two did actually exist. Apparently Potemkin in his communication to the Chargé here expressed the matter this way: that the contemplated trade negotiations could not be treated lightly.

After we had exchanged a few more words to clarify the incident of last January, I told the Chargé that I agreed with him that economics and politics could not be entirely separated from each other. It was for this very reason that I was having the conversation with him, because the British efforts to draw Russia into her sphere-efforts of which we were informed-indicated a political orientation in Moscow of which we would have to take account, even in considering less important problems, such as the Soviet Russian trade mission in Prague. I returned therefore to the question raised at the beginning of our conversation-namely, what length of time the Soviet Government would propose for the business of its trade mission in Prague.

The Chargé concluded from this part of the conversation that he would have to inquire again in Moscow as to what intentions they actually had for the trade mission in Prague and, furthermore, what Foreign Commissioner Molotov actually meant to tell Count Schulenburg. The Chargé was willing to say on his own account that Herr Molotov had, to be sure, talked with the customary Russian distrust, but not with the intention of barring further German-Russian discussions.

After the discussion had reached this point I reminded the Chargé of certain conversations which he himself had conducted in the Office and above all of the statements of his Ambassador, now absent from Berlin, who told me in the middle of April of the possibility of a normalization and even further improvement of German-Russian political relations. From this point the conversation proceeded spontaneously and I changed over to a purely conversational tone and put aside paper and pencil.

I here reminded the Chargé of the remarks of his Ambassador about the more reserved language of the press on both sides in the last few months. I mentioned that to my knowledge the topic of Soviet Russia had receded into the background in official German speeches of recent months-which the Chargé confirmed but held that it could be interpreted in different ways. Finally I told the Chargé that the development of our relations with Poland, which was known to him, had actually made our hitherto restricted policy in the East freer.

After some concurring remarks by the Chargé, I told him that personally thought the German position toward Soviet Russia was as

Page 14

follows: Germany was not narrow-minded, but she was not officious either. Among our German political merchandise, however, one item did not exist, namely a special liking for Communism. We had dealt with Communists in short order and we would continue to do so; moreover, we did not expect any special liking for National Socialism in Moscow either. At this point the Chargé interrupted with explanations as to how Russian relations with Italy and particularly Turkey, as well as other countries could be normal or even very good, although in those countries Communism was not favored at all. He strongly emphasized the possibility of a very clear distinction between maxims of domestic policy on the one hand and orientation of foreign policy on the other hand.

I then continued with my figure of speech and stated that among our political merchandise there was also a pretty good selection for Russia, ranging from normalization of our relations such as the Russian Ambassador had suggested to me, to unrelenting hostility. Normalization was indeed obstructed by a lot of rubble and I was convinced that many people would even like to pile it higher. The Chargé probably knew that Herr Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, was also not entirely without his share in this. One could conduct interesting talks with Herr Beck, but he appeared to me to have become a little old, because he sometimes suffered from a regrettable weakness of memory. Thus, for instance, Beck's interpretation of the German policy toward the Ukraine was refuted by the German conduct in the case of the Carpathian Ukraine. However, I did not want to go into these things in detail; I thought that Germany had proved that she could cope with Communism at home; nor did she have any fear in foreign policy. I did not know whether there still was any room at all for a possible gradual normalization of relations between Soviet Russia and Germany, now that Moscow had perhaps already listened to the enticements of London. At any rate, however, since the Chargé and his Ambassador had talked so frankly in the Foreign Ministry, I would like to spare myself the reproach that we on our part had held back and had concealed our position. We did not ask anything from Moscow, we did not desire anything from Moscow, but neither did we want to be told by Moscow at a later date that we had erected between us an impenetrable wall of silence.

The Chargé, who had followed the talk attentively and had contributed to it a number of remarks not mentioned here, stated in conclusion that the ideological barrier between Moscow and Berlin was in reality erected by us. Before our treaty with Poland we

Page 15

had rejected a Russian offer of alliance and until recently there had been little comprehension here of the Russian thesis that foreign and domestic policy did not have to interfere with each other. He believed that his Government had not wavered in this viewpoint and was still faithful to it today. In conclusion the Chargé stated that he would report home about our talk, the second part of which he designated, for his part, as private, and he would request instructions from his Government as to what its real aims were concerning the trade mission in Prague, as well as whether he, the Chargé, had correctly interpreted the Molotov talk as in no way negative [keineswegs zurückweisendes].

I did not, of course, ask the Chargé about the state of the Anglo-Russian negotiations; nor did he mention anything about them. However, it cannot be contested that in his remarks today about our political relations he used basically the same language as hitherto and as his Ambassador did in the middle of last April. The Molotov-Schulenburg episode appears to me, therefore, to have been the product of sensitivity and distrust rather than a premeditated rejection.



Frames 111375-111378, serial 103

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)



BERLIN, May 30, 1939.

No. 101. For the Ambassador.

For information.

Contrary to the policy previously planned, we have now decided to undertake definite negotiations with the Soviet Union. Accordingly, in the absence of the Ambassador I asked the Chargé, Astakhov, to see me today. The Soviet request for further continuance of their trade mission at Prague as a branch of the trade mission at Berlin provided the starting point of our conversation. Since the Russian request presents a question of policy the Reich Foreign Minister had also been considering it and he had taken the matter up with the Führer. To my inquiry as to whether the maintenance of the trade mission at Prague involved a permanent situation or a continuance over a limited period, the Chargé remarked that in his personal view it seemed most likely that the Soviet Government was thinking of a permanent arrangement. I replied that it would not be an easy matter for us

Page 16

to grant permission for continuance of the trade mission in Prague, since Ambassador Count Schulenburg had just received from Molotov a not very encouraging pronouncement on the subject of the general state of our relations. The Chargé, in the absence of more definite instructions, interpreted the conversation between Count Schulenburg and Molotov, of which he had knowledge, as meaning that at Moscow they wished to avoid a repetition of the course of events of last January. In Molotov's view political and economic matters could not be completely separated in our relationship. Between the two as a matter of fact, there was a definite connection.

After I had cleared up to some extent the events of January, I said to the Chargé that in our opinion also political and economic matters in Russo-German relations could not be entirely separated and I was conferring with him particularly because British efforts to draw Russia into their orbit pointed to a political orientation on the part of Moscow of which we would have to take notice even in relatively minor matters such as that of the trade mission in Prague. I would therefore have to renew my query regarding the length of time the Soviet Union desired the trade mission at Prague. The Chargé at this stage of the conversation stated that he must ask Moscow what the intentions there were regarding the trade mission at Prague and what Foreign Commissar Molotov had intended to say to Count Schulenburg. In his view Molotov had, it was true, spoken with the suspicion customary with the Russians, but not with the intention of putting a check on further Russo-German discussion.

In this connection I recalled to the Chargé certain conversations which he himself had carried on at the Foreign Office and especially statements made to me by the Soviet Ambassador about the middle of April about the possibility of normalization and even further improvement of Russo-German political relations, and at this point I also referred to the more moderate tone of the public statements on both sides for several months past and above all to the fact that the development of our relations with Poland had made our policy in the East. which had previously been hampered, more free. Following indications of agreement on the part of the Chargé, I said that in my personal opinion Germany was not narrow-minded as respects Soviet Russia, but also not importunate. Communism would continue to be rejected by us, while we, on the other hand, expected no affection for National Socialism from Moscow. The Chargé emphasized strongly in that connection the possibility of a very clear separation between principles governing internal policy on the one hand and the attitude

Page 17

adopted in foreign policy on the other. I continued that Russia, in addition to that normalization of our relationship at which the Russian Ambassador had hinted, could choose any course up to unyielding antagonism, even though many people, as, for instance, the Polish Foreign Minister, were interested in hindering such normalization. Beck's interpretation of Germany's Ukrainian policy could, however, be best refuted by Germany's conduct in respect to the Carpatho-Ukraine. Whether there was still room for a gradual normalization after Moscow had, perhaps already, given ear to the enticements of London, I did not know. However, after the Chargé and the Ambassador had made unequivocal statements at the Foreign Office, we wanted to escape the charge that we had kept silent about our own position. We were asking and we wanted nothing from Moscow; however, we did not want Moscow to be able to say to us later that we had erected an impassable wall of silence between us.

The Chargé replied that he believed that his Government was still of the opinion that foreign policy and internal policy need not disturb each other. He would report the conversation and request instructions from his Government both as to its intentions about the trade mission in Prague and as to whether he had correctly interpreted the statements of Molotov as being in no sense a rejection.

I got the impression from the conversation that the statements of Molotov should not be considered an intentional refusal.

Instructions for further treatment of the subject are being held in reserve.



Frames 111379-1113S0, serial 103

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)



BERLIN, May 30, 1939.

No. 102

With reference to telegram of today No. 101.

In the light of talk of today with Soviet Chargé here, about which other telegraphic instructions are under way, there are no objections here if Hilger gets in touch with Mikoyan of his own accord and without referring to an order. The fact that Hilger has worked for two and one-half weeks in Berlin with competent authorities on creation of a basis for commercial negotiations with Soviet Union ought

Page 18

to be sufficient occasion to initiate such a talk on his part. However, Hilger would have to confine himself in possible conversation to talking generally of his work here, without repeating the offer to resume negotiations. On the other hand, in view of Soviet sensitivity because of the recall of Schnurre some time ago, he may try to remove doubts of the seriousness of our intentions at that time and at present of expanding economic relations with the Soviet Union. If in this connection the Soviet negotiators touch upon political questions, Hilger is only to point out that political questions were the subject of direct conversation between the State Secretary and the Soviet Chargé and that the political authorities were probably about to clarify the situation further.

If during this talk the Soviets show willingness to resume economic negotiations Hilger could promise to get in touch with Berlin at once.



Frames 111398-111401, serial 103

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) [9]

MOSCOW, JUNE 5, 1939.

MY DEAR HERR VON WEIZSÄCKER: May I thank you very much for your kind and very interesting letter of the 27th of last month.

It is obvious that Japan would not like to see even the smallest agreement between us and the Soviet Union. The less our pressure becomes upon the western boundary of Russia, the stronger the might of the Soviet Union will make itself felt in Eastern Asia. The Italians really ought to welcome a German-Russian arrangement; they themselves have always avoided clashing with Moscow, and the Reich could take a stronger stand toward France if Poland were kept in check by the Soviet Union, thus relieving our eastern boundary. If the Italians nevertheless are "pretty reserved," the reason may be that they are not pleased to see the importance of the Reich within the Axis increase through an improvement in German-Soviet relations and the resulting automatic increase in our power.

It appears to me that they have gained the impression in Berlin that Herr Molotov had rejected a German-Soviet arrangement during the discussion with me. I have read through my telegram once

[9] Marginal notation: "F" [sent to the Führer].

Page 19

again and compared it with my letter to you and my memorandum. I cannot discover what has given rise to this opinion in Berlin. [10] In reality, the fact is that Herr Molotov almost invited political discussions. Our proposal of conducting only economic negotiations appeared insufficient to him. Of course, there was and is the danger that the Soviet Government will utilize German proposals for pressure on the English and French. Herr Molotov in his speech at once utilized tactically our offer to begin economic negotiations. Caution on our part was and is therefore necessary, but it appears clear to me that no door has been shut and that the way is open for further negotiations.

We have heard and read with the very greatest interest of your conversation with Herr Astakhov. Incidentally, several days after having mailed my last letter to you I had occasion to talk again with Herr Potemkin about Soviet-German relations. I told him that I had racked my brains as to what positive steps could be taken to realize the suggestions of Herr Molotov. There were no points of friction, no controversial issues, between Germany and the Soviet Union. We had no border incidents to eliminate and no dispute to settle. We were asking nothing, from the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union nothing from us, apparently. I asked Herr Potemkin, with whom-in private-I can talk much more freely, whether he could now tell me anything about the ideas of Herr Molotov. Herr Potemkin answered this in the negative; unfortunately, he could not add anything to the statements of Herr Molotov, who had spoken for the Soviet Government. [11]

I am curious whether your conversation with Astakhov will help the matter. Herr von Tippelskirch in my opinion was justified in calling attention to the fact that, through our non-aggression treaties with the Baltic countries, Russia has received from us, free of charge, increased security and thereby a German political down payment.

I would like to call attention to the fact that Herr Molotov mentioned in his speech three conditions, which must be met under any circumstances in order to achieve the English-French-Soviet alliance. In none of the three points is it stated that the demands of the Soviet Union refer exclusively to Europe. The Far East is not named, to be sure, but it is not excluded, either. As far as I know, however, Great Britain wants to assume new obligations only in Europe. From this a

[10] This sentence underlined and with marginal comment in Ribbentrop's handwriting: "?? Erl [edigt]"-[Taken care of].

[11] This sentence underlined and in margin " !! ".

Page 20

new controversy may result, if the guarantee of the Baltic countries is achieved. The Soviet Russians are full of distrust toward us, but they do not much trust the democratic powers, either. Distrust is aroused very easily here and, once aroused, can be removed only with great difficulty.

It is significant that Molotov, in speaking of relations with England, did not mention the invitations which the British Government has extended to Mikoyan and recently to Voroshilov, too, following the visit of Mr. Hudson in Moscow.

I learn from a generally reliable source that Herr Potemkin was sent to Ankara in such a hurry in order to prevent Turkey from signing with the English. Herr Potemkin prevented the signature of the treaty, but not the "declaration." The Soviet Government is reported not to be opposed in principle to an English-Turkish agreement, but is said to consider it important that Turkey should not dash ahead, but should act at the same time and in the same manner as the Soviet Union.

The most recent border incidents on the Mongolian-Manchurian frontier seem to have been quite serious. According to Japanese reports, the "Mongols" on May 28 employed one hundred airplanes, forty-two of which the Japanese claim to have shot down. They claim that seventeen airplanes had been shot down previously. I believe that the Soviets are responsible for these serious incidents. They represent aid to China; they are to prevent the Japanese from withdrawing their very strong troop contingents from Manchuria to China.

With most cordial regards and Heil Hitler, I remain, my dear Herr von Weizsäcker,

Yours most respectfully,



Frames 178376-178378, serial 276

Foreign Office Memorandum

BERLIN, June 15, 1939.

The Bulgarian minister called on me today and told me confidentially the following: The Soviet Russian Chargé, with whom he had no intimate relations, called on him yesterday without any apparent reason and stayed with him two hours. The long conversation, of which it could not be ascertained whether it had reflected the personal opinions of Herr Astakhov or the opinions of the Soviet Government, could be summarized approximately as follows:

The Soviet Union faced the present world situation with hesitation.

Page 21

She was vacillating between three possibilities, namely the conclusion of the pact with England and France, a further dilatory treatment of the pact negotiations, and a rapprochement with Germany. This last possibility, with which ideological considerations would not have to become involved, was closest to the desires of the Soviet Union. In addition, there were other points, for instance that the Soviet Union did not recognize the Rumanian possession of Bessarabia. The fear of a German attack, however, either via the Baltic countries or via Rumania was an obstacle. In this connection the Chargé had also referred to Mein Kampf. If Germany would declare that she would not attack the Soviet Union or that she would conclude a non-aggression pact with her, the Soviet Union would probably refrain from concluding a treaty with England. However, the Soviet Union did not know what Germany really wanted, aside from certain very vague allusions. Several circumstances also spoke for the second possibility, namely to continue to conduct the pact negotiations with England in a dilatory manner. In this case the Soviet Union would continue to have a free hand in any conflict which might break out.

Herr Draganoff then stated that he had declared to the Soviet Russian Chargé that Germany, in his opinion, could have no aggressive aims against the Soviet Union, and he pointed out that the situation had also changed with respect to other countries, since Mein Kampf had been written. He reproached Russia with the fact that she had helped Rumania to the Dobruja, for which the Chargé tried to lay the blame exclusively on the Tsarist Government.

At the end Herr Draganoff repeated again that he had no indications why Herr Astakhov had given him this information. He was pondering the possibility that this was probably done with the intention of having Herr Draganoff report it to us.



Frames 111436-111440, serial 103

The German Chargé in the Soviet Union (Tippelskirch) to the German Foreign Office



Moscow, June 18, 1939.

W. 950/39g

Reference report of June 17, 1939, by a different channel.

Subject: conversation with Commissar for Foreign Trade Mikoyan on June 17, 1939.

Enclosed I am sending a memorandum of Counselor of Legation Hilger on his conversation with Commissar for Foreign Trade Miko-

Page 22

yan on June 17, 1939. The fact that Mikoyan received Herr Hilger immediately after his arrival, after an appointment had been made on the day before, shows that Mikoyan is anxious not to lose contact. That Mikoyan would immediately accept the German proposal could hardly be expected considering the mentality of the Soviet Government, which at present is riding a high horse, and its known methods of negotiation. The continually repeated statement of Mikoyan that he suspects a political game behind our offer of negotiation may not be due only to tactical motives but may partly reflect his true opinion. Mikoyan seems to believe that we had deliberately chosen the present time for economic negotiations. This becomes clear from his remark that we expected an advantage from a resumption of the economic negotiations just now.

It is a remarkable nuance that Mikoyan in his answer uses the same formula as the communiqué published on June 16 on the first conversation of Molotov with the British and French Ambassadors and Strang. In this as well as in the other case the result is called "not entirely favorable."





Subject: conversation with Mikoyan on June 17, 1939.

After the Embassy had made an appointment the People's Commissar Mikoyan received me today immediately after my return from Berlin.

I explained to Mikoyan the purpose of my trip and pointed out the unfavorable impression which his last communication of June 8 had left with us. At the same time I asked him to consider the fact of my trip to Berlin and the answer of the German Government which I had brought along as an additional proof of the seriousness of our intentions with respect to the expansion and strengthening of German-Soviet economic relations. Thereupon I read to Herr Mikoyan the text of the German answer that had been given to me in Berlin (cf. enclosure). The People's Commissar listened with rapt attention, while Babarin, newly appointed Deputy Commercial Representative in Berlin, who was present at the conversation, busily wrote down every word. The People's Commissar appeared to be visibly impressed with the German answer. Nevertheless, he declared after a short pause that the German answer had disappointed him, since it did not meet his conditions.

Page 23

On the basis of the instructions received in Berlin on this subject, I then commented on the contents of the German answer in great detail. I stressed particularly the great German concession which was expressed in sending Counselor of Legation Schnurre and in accepting the last Soviet proposal as a basis for negotiations. I reminded the People's Commissar that during the negotiations in February he did not describe the last Soviet proposal as his last word, but as the basis of further negotiations. I further reminded him of his statement in the conversation of June 8, in which he had declared that the Soviet Government would see in the despatch of Herr Schnurre proof of the fact that the German Government was also serious in the matter of "policy" [der "Politik"].

Mikoyan replied that my two last statements corresponded entirely with the facts and that I had repeated his statements correctly. Nevertheless, he still did not believe he had assurance that it was for us not a question of continuing a political game in which the Germans had an interest just at the present moment and from which they expected advantages to them.

To this I replied sharply that I had often enough rejected his statements regarding a political game allegedly played by us and that they would not become more convincing by continuous repetition. I could not understand at all what risk for the Soviet Union the People's Commissar saw in the whole matter, since the Soviet Government was not delegating a special emissary to Berlin, but the German Government was sending Herr Schnurre to Moscow, and, in fact, in agreement with the request expressed by the Soviet Government in January of this year.

Herr Mikoyan replied that this statement by me was also correct, since the Soviet Government at that time had expressed the specific desire to conduct the negotiations in Moscow.

Thereupon I stated to the People's Commissar that I was completely in the dark about what he really wanted from us, after all, and what answer he had expected from the German Government.

Mikoyan replied that he had expected concrete statements as to which points of his last proposal we would and which we would not accept.

I told the People's Commissar that this was clearly apparent in the German answer and my oral comments of today. Therefore I would like to repeat for the third time that, after the existing obstacles had been removed on our part, we definitely expected agreement from the Soviet Government to our wishes and an increase in the Soviet offer

Page 24

of raw materials. All other less important points would have to be left to the negotiations suggested by us. This offer from us represented the maximum concession. If on this basis we did not soon arrive at concrete negotiations, the responsibility would fall alone upon the Soviet Government.

Thereupon, the People's Commissar declared that he unfortunately could not change his opinion that the German answer was "not entirely favorable." Nevertheless, he would present it to his Government and inform me of the result.


MOSCOW, June 17, 1939.



The German Government is willing to send Counselor of Legation Schnurre to Moscow with authority to negotiate expansion and strengthening of economic relations between the Reich and Soviet Russia and, if a common basis is found, to come to an agreement. From the fact of sending a German plenipotentiary as negotiator we request the Soviet Government to conclude that the German Government expects and desires a positive conclusion on a widened basis. We would have to refuse acceptance in advance of the Soviet counterproposal of February 1939, however, since this counterproposal itself is to be the basis of the negotiations. The Soviet Government, however, should note that in the meanwhile we have endeavored to remove obstacles which in February still appeared to us as insurmountable. However, we expect that the Soviet Government, too, will reexamine Soviet raw material deliveries in the light of German desires in order to establish a balance of give-and-take under the future treaty.


Frame 23208, serial 34

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office


No. 113 of June 27

Moscow, June 27, 1939-5:42 p. m.

Received June 27, 1939-8:30 p. m.

Reference your telegram of the 26th No. 132 [12]

As I see it, Mikoyan's tactics can be interpreted as follows: Mikoyan does not want to see the talks with us broken off, but wishes to keep

[12] Not printed.

Page 25

the negotiations firmly in hand, in order to control their progress at any time. Obviously it would not fit very well into the framework of the Soviet Union's general policy, if a stir should be created by a resumption of the trade negotiations, and above all by repeated journeys of a special plenipotentiary to Moscow. The Soviet Government apparently believes that by resuming the trade negotiations at this particular moment we intend to influence the attitude of England and Poland, and thereby expect to gain certain political advantages. They fear that after gaining these advantages we would again let the negotiations lapse.

In order to dispel this distrust, there are in my opinion the following possibilities:

That I be directed to propose to Mikoyan the dispatch of a qualified special delegate with all necessary powers to Berlin, in order to continue and possibly conclude the negotiations there. In view of Mikoyan's tactics, this course seems to me to have a far better prospect of success. If Mikoyan should decline this proposal, the possibility would remain of entrusting me with the further conduct of the trade negotiations in Moscow.

I propose to supplement these considerations after I have had an opportunity to speak with Molotov.



Frame 111454, serial 103

Foreign Office Memorandum


In connection with the telegram of Count Schulenburg concerning the Hilger-Mikoyan conversation, [13] the Führer has decided the following:

The Russians are to be informed that we have concluded from their attitude that they make the continuation of further talks dependent upon the acceptance of the bases of our economic discussions, as they were fixed for January. Since this basis was not acceptable to us, we would not be interested in a resumption of the economic discussions with Russia at the present time.

The Führer agreed that this answer be delayed for a few days.

I notified the Reich Foreign Minister of this by telephone, and I am

[13] Supra.

Page 26

sending this note only as a guide for a conference of the competent official with the Minister.


BERCHTESGADEN, June 29, 1939.

Respectfully submitted herewith to

State Secretary von Weizsäcker.

June 29, 1939.


Frames 111452-111453, serial 103

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office




Moscow, June 29, 1939-2:40 a. m.

Received June 29, 1939-7:20 p. m.

No. 115 of June 28

This afternoon I had a conversation with Molotov, who received me immediately after I had been announced. The conversation lasted over an hour and proceeded in a friendly manner.

I described to Molotov the impressions which I had gained from talk with influential personalities in Berlin, particularly with the Reich Foreign Minister. I pointed out that we would welcome a normalization of the relations between Germany and Soviet Russia, as the State Secretary had stated to the Soviet Chargé in Berlin. For this we had furnished a number of proofs, such as reserve in the German press, conclusion of the non-aggression treaties with the Baltic countries and desire for resumption of economic negotiations. From all this it was evident that Germany did not have any bad intentions toward the Soviet Union, particularly since the Berlin Treaty [14] was still in force. We, on the German side, would continue to take advantage of any opportunity to prove our goodwill. However, we had had no answer from the Soviet Union to the question of what Molotov meant in his last conversation with me by "creation of a new basis of our relationship" ["Schaffung einer Neuregelung der Basis"]. We also objected to the attitude of the Soviet press.

Molotov replied that he received my statements with satisfaction. The foreign policy of the Soviet Government was, in accordance with the pronouncements of its leaders, aimed at the cultivation of good relations with all countries, and this of course applied-provided there was reciprocity-to Germany too. He was gratified that in the

[14] Treaty of friendship and neutrality between Germany and the Soviet Union, signed at Berlin April 24, 1926.

Page 27

opinion of the German Government the Berlin Treaty was still in force, particularly since the Soviet Government had had doubt about that. As to the question of the treaty negotiations for non-aggression pacts with the Baltic countries, Molotov remarked that Germany had concluded them in her own interest, and not out of love for the Soviet Union. He had to doubt the permanence of such treaties after the experience which Poland had had; to which I replied that Poland had herself caused the termination of the treaty by joining a combination hostile to us, which was irreconcilable with friendly relations to us.

Concerning the question of resuming economic negotiations Molotov referred to the last conversation between Mikoyan and Hilger. Molotov showed himself informed, approved the attitude of Mikoyan, and suggested that we give Mikoyan the desired information. After settlement of this question the trip to Moscow contemplated by Schnurre would perhaps prove useful.

My impression is that the Soviet Government is greatly interested in knowing our political views and in maintaining contact with us. Although a strong distrust was evident in everything that Molotov said, nevertheless he described normalization of relations with Germany as desirable and possible. Progress is to be seen also in the fact that Molotov, in connection with the resumption of economic negotiations, this time did not speak of prior creation of a political basis, but confined himself to Mikoyan's demand.

I request telegraphic instructions whether and in what form compliance should be given to Mikoyan's requests, presented also by Molotov.

(Cf. telegraphic reports No. 111 and 113 of the 20th and the 27th of this month.) [15]



Frame 111464, serial 103

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)


No. 134

BERLIN, June 30, 1939.

Reference your telegram 115. [16]

Reich Foreign Minister took note of your telegraphic report on conversation with Molotov. He is of the opinion that in the politi-

[15] Neither printed.

[16] Supra.

Page 28

cal field enough had been said until further instruction and that for the moment the talks should not be taken up again by us.

Concerning the possible economic negotiations with the Russian Government, the deliberations here have not yet been concluded. In this matter, too, request that for time being nothing further be initiated, but that instructions be awaited.



Frames 111460-111469, serial 103

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office



No. 121 of July 3

Moscow, July 3, 1939-8:40 p. m.

Received July 4, 1339-1:20 a. m.

Reference telegram of July 2 No. 139. [17]

In accordance with instructions, I add to my telegram No. 115 of June 28 the following:

Molotov received me in the Kremlin, after I had announced my arrival three hours before. Correct translation was secured through Hilger. Molotov's translator failed to appear.

I opened the discussion with the statement that on the basis of the talks in Berlin, particularly with the Reich Foreign Minister, I had the impression that we would welcome a normalization of relations with the Soviet Union. The State Secretary had very clearly acquainted Herr Astakhov with our position. Indicative of this position was the following: correct tone of the German press toward the Soviet Union, conclusion of non-aggression treaties with the Baltic countries and our desire for resumption of economic negotiations.

Molotov listened attentively and stated that he received this communication with satisfaction. I continued that since the conversation of the State Secretary with Astakhov we had waited for a Soviet statement as to what Molotov had meant in his conversation with me on May 20 by the words "creation of a political basis for the resumption of economic negotiations"; I would also have to point out to him that the attitude of the Soviet press in all questions concerning Germany still gave cause for serious criticism. Herr Astakhov had been told that Herr Molotov wanted to answer me personally. Among other

[17] Not printed.

Page 29

things I had come in order to inquire whether he held anything to tell me.

In his answer Molotov did not go into the question as to the meaning of the concept "political basis," but he declared that the Soviet Government in accordance with the enunciations of its leaders desired good relations with all countries and therefore-provided there was reciprocity-would also welcome a normalization of relations with Germany. It was not the fault of the Soviet Government if these relations had become bad. He could not accept the criticism of the Soviet press, since he was not aware of any hostile attitude of the press toward Germany.

I replied that much could be said about these questions; that I had not, however, come to talk of the past, but of the future.

Thereupon, Molotov asked how we visualized further developments and what changes had occurred lately in the relations between Germany and the Soviet Union. As to the non-aggression treaties, Germany had concluded them in the first place in her own interest, and they concerned only Germany and the countries participating, but not the Soviet Union. Furthermore, he would have to doubt the permanence of such treaties after the experiences which Poland had had.

I replied that our non-aggression treaties provided the Baltic countries with additional security, in which the Soviet Union was very much interested. Poland had herself provoked the termination of the treaty with us by behaving irresponsibly and joining a combination hostile to us, which was irreconcilable with friendly relations with us. To this Molotov stated that in his opinion the treaty concluded by Poland with England was a purely defensive instrument.

I disagreed and pointed out that the word "defensive" in this connection was of only academic significance. Then I returned to Molotov's question as to how we visualized further developments and said that, in my opinion, the main task in the future would be that both countries avoid everything that would lead to a further deterioration of relations and do everything that might result in their improvement. Germany had no ill intentions against the Soviet Union, and one of the proofs for that was the Berlin Treaty, which we had extended some time ago.

Thereupon Molotov asked, "Are you convinced that the Berlin Treaty is really still in force and has not been abrogated by later treaties concluded by Germany?" I replied the following: "I know

Page 30

of no such treaties and have no reason to doubt the validity of the Berlin Treaty."

At the end I asked Molotov what he had to say to the question of the resumption of economic negotiations.

Molotov replied that he knew the contents of the last conversation between Mikoyan and Hilger. He approved Mikoyan's (group missing) and suggested that we give Mikoyan the desired information.

I sought to convince Molotov that it would not be in the interest of speeding up the economic negotiations if details were discussed between Mikoyan and Hilger or me, since we continuously had to request instructions from Berlin. Schnurre, on the other hand, had all the necessary authority, knowledge, and experience and would be able to conclude the negotiations quickly to mutual satisfaction

Thereupon Molotov indicated that cancellation of Schnurre's trip in February had annoyed the Soviet Union. They would leave it to Mikoyan, who had mastery of the subject matter, to ask for what he considered right. When we had given the information desired by Mikoyan, a trip by Schnurre to Moscow might perhaps prove useful.

The conversation closed in friendly spirit and with my repeated request that Molotov influence the attitude of the Soviet press.



Frames 178431-178434, serial 276

The Counselor of Embassy of the German Embassy in the Soviet Union (Tippelskirch) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)

BERLIN, JULY 12, 1939.

MY DEAR MR. AMBASSADOR: Herr Lamla, [18] whom I asked to I remember me to you, has probably already told you a few things. However, I still would like to report on my impressions here. The Reich Foreign Minister was busy with the Bulgarian state visit and was not able to see me. Otherwise, however, with the exception of Gaus and Selchow, who were on vacation I have talked to all personalities concerned. The State Secretary was interested to hear an opinion as to what result the English-French-Soviet pact negotiations would have. He said that he could not imagine that the Soviet Union after having entered the negotiations would let them pass without result and sink back into isolation. He was also interested in your conversations with Molotov and remarked that in his opinion our side had done enough

[18] Of the staff of the German Embassy in Moscow.

Page 31

politically for the moment. Then we discussed the instructions concerning the answer to Mikoyan, and I expressed myself as in favor of giving this information. (The instructions were submitted to the Führer by the Reich Foreign Minister and were dispatched after details had been added by the State Secretary.) The State Secretary believed that we might try to make some progress in the field of economics, but slowly and step by step. The State Secretary apparently did not want to go further into the subject of the "Berlin Treaty ;" he asked about the result of the discussion with Molotov on this point. I referred to your second telegram and said that you had only touched upon the topic. My vacation appeared to him a little bit long!! I shall therefore be back at the beginning of August.

Herr Schnurre was not in a very good mood. He stressed repeatedly that without any positive reaction by Molotov it would be difficult to make any progress. He showed me an order of the Führer he had received by telephone on June 30 according to which further activities in Moscow were to be stopped in view of the conduct of the Russians. Thereupon, Schnurre drafted a memorandum and the order. I told him that the Embassy and particularly you, yourself, had done everything possible, but we could not drag Molotov and Mikoyan through the Brandenburger Tor.

Unfortunately, I stayed with Woermann only a short time, because the State Secretary called for me. He considered it as important that the Soviets, through Astakhov, had taken the initiative for the rapprochement. I did not deny that, but I called attention to the Fournier despatch published by the Temps about the negative statement of the Soviet Embassy here, which had escaped him. Incidentally, he made an interesting remark about the Berlin Treaty which makes it appear advisable not to touch upon the topic again without instructions. More details orally! I have talked with Schliep about the Komsomol people and caused him to have further steps taken now for the removal [die Abbeförderung].

Of course, we conferred with everyone else concerned, including Meyer-Heydenhagen. I have also roused Herr Schwendemann against the Komsomol people. Then I discussed with Braun Stumm (since Dr. Schmidt was not available) everything concerning the press in the sense of your letter to Seibert which, incidentally, Schmidt still had, and it fell on fertile ground.

In the Personnel Division I talked with Herren Kriebel, Schroeder, Dienstmann, Dittmann. In accordance with your instructions I expressed myself as against either one of us being reassigned.

Page 32

According to my impressions the problem of the Soviet Union is still of the greatest interest here. The opinions, however, fluctuate and are undecided. The formation of a definite political opinion has not yet materialized.

Tonight I am going to Badgastein, Hotel Kaiserhof.

With most cordial regards I remain, my dear Ambassador, yours most respectfully, Heil Hitler.



Frame 111485, serial 103

The German Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office



Moscow, July 22, 1939-1:07 p. m.

Received July 22, 1939-1:35 p. m.

No. 136 of July 22

Entire Soviet press today publishes following report under headline "In the Foreign Trade Commissariat":

"Soviet-German negotiations on commerce and credit have recently been resumed. Negotiations are being conducted by Babarin, the Deputy Commercial Representative in Berlin, for the Foreign Trade Commissariat, and by Schnurre for the Germans."



Frames 69530-69536, serial 127

Foreign Office Memorandum



BERLIN, July 27, 1939.


In accordance with my instructions I invited the Soviet Chargé, Astakhov, and Babarin, the chief of the Soviet trade mission here, to Ewest for dinner last night. The Russians stayed until about half past twelve. The Russians started the talk about the political and economic problems which interest us in a very lively and interested manner so that an informal and thorough discussion of the individual topics mentioned by the Reich Foreign Minister was possible. The following parts of the conversation should be stressed:

1. Referring to remarks by Astakhov about close collaboration and community of interests in foreign policy which formerly existed between Germany and Russia, I explained that such collaboration

Page 33

appeared attainable to me now, if the Soviet Government considered it desirable. I could visualize three stages:

Stage One: The re-establishment of collaboration in economic affairs through the credit and commercial treaty which is to be concluded.

Stage TWO: The normalization and improvement of political relations. This included, among other things, respect for the interests of the other party in the press and in public opinion and respect for the scientific and cultural activities of the other country. The official participation by Astakhov in German Art Day at Munich, or the invitation of German delegates to the Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow, as suggested by him to the State Secretary, could, for instance, be included under this heading.

Stage Three would be the re-establishment of good political relations, either a return to what had been in existence before (Berlin Treaty [19]) or a new arrangement which took account of the vital political interests of both parties. This stage three appeared to me within reach, because controversial problems of foreign policy, which would exclude such a relationship between the two countries, did not, in my opinion, exist in the whole area from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and the Far East. In addition, despite all the differences in Weltanschauung, there was one thing in common in the ideology of Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union: opposition to the capitalist democracies. Neither we nor Italy had anything in common with the capitalism of the West. Therefore it would appear to us quite paradoxical if the Soviet Union, as a Socialist state, were to side with the Western democracies.

2. With the strong agreement of Babarin, Astakhov designated the way of rapprochement with Germany as the one that corresponded with the vital interests of the two countries. However, he emphasized that the tempo must probably be very slow and gradual. The Soviet Union had been forced to feel itself most seriously menaced by the National Socialist foreign policy. We had appropriately called our present political situation encirclement. That was exactly how, after the events of September of last year, the political situation had appeared to the Soviet Union. Astakhov mentioned the Anti-Comintern Pact and our relations to Japan, and Munich and the free hand in Eastern Europe that we gained there, the political consequences of which were bound to be directed against the Soviet Union. Our assumption that the Baltic countries and Finland, as well as Rumania, were in our sphere of interest completed for the Soviet Government the feeling of being menaced. Moscow could not quite believe in a

[19] Treaty of friendship and neutrality between Germany and the Soviet Union, signed at Berlin April 24, 1926.

Page 34

shift of German policy with respect to the Soviet Union. A change could only be expected gradually.

3. In my reply I pointed out that German policy in the East had taken an entirely different course in the meantime. On our part there could be no question of menacing the Soviet Union; our aims were in an entirely different direction. Molotov, himself, in his last speech had called the Anti-Comintern Pact camouflage for an alliance aimed against the Western democracies. He was acquainted with the Danzig question, and the related Polish question. I saw in these anything but a clash of interests between Germany and the Soviet Union. That we would respect the integrity of the Baltic countries and of Finland had become sufficiently clear through our non-aggression pacts and our non-aggression offers. Our relationship to Japan was that of a well-founded friendship, which was not, however, aimed against Russia. German policy was aimed against England. That was the decisive factor. As I had stated previously, I could imagine a far-reaching compromise of mutual interests with due consideration for the problems which were vital to Russia. However, this possibility was barred the moment the Soviet Union, by signing a treaty, sided With England against Germany. The Soviet Union would then have made its choice, and then would only be able to share the German opposition with England. Only for this reason would I have any objection to his view that the tempo of a possible understanding between Germany and the Soviet Union had to be slow. The time was opportune now, but would not be after the conclusion of a pact WITH London. This would have to be considered in Moscow. What could England offer Russia? At best, participation in a European war and the hostility of Germany, but not a single desirable end for Russia. What could we offer, on the other hand? Neutrality and staying out of a possible European conflict and, if Moscow wished, a German-Russian understanding on mutual interests which, just as in former times, would work out to the advantage of both countries.

4. During the subsequent discussion Astakhov came back again to the question of the Baltic countries and asked whether, besides economic penetration, we had more far-reaching political aims there. He also took up the Rumanian question seriously. As to Poland, he stated that Danzig would return to the Reich in one way or another and that the Corridor question would have to be solved somehow in favor of the Reich. He asked whether the territories which once belonged to Austria were not also tending toward Germany, particularly the Galician and Ukrainian territories. After describing our

Page 36

commercial relations to the Baltic countries, I confined myself to the statement that no German-Russian clash of interests would result from all these questions. Moreover, the settlement of the Ukrainian question had shown that we did not aim at anything there that would endanger Soviet interests.

5. There was a rather extensive discussion about the question of why National Socialism had sought the enmity of the Soviet Union in the field of foreign policy. In Moscow, they had never been able to understand this. They had always had full understanding for the domestic opposition to Communism. I took advantage of this opportunity to explain in detail our opinion concerning the change in Russian Bolshevism during recent years. The antagonism of National Socialism resulted naturally from the fight against the Communist Party of Germany which depended upon Moscow and was only a tool of the Comintern. The fight against the German Communist Party had long been over. Communism had been eradicated in Germany. The importance of the Comintern had been overshadowed by the Politbureau, where all entirely different policy was being followed now than at the time when the Comintern dominated. The amalgamation of Bolshevism with the national history of Russia, which expressed itself in the glorification of great Russian men and deeds (celebration of the battle of Poltava, Peter the Great, the battle on Lake Peipus, Alexander Nevski), had really changed the international face of Bolshevism, as we see it, particularly since Stalin had postponed world revolution indefinitely. In this state of affairs we saw possibilities today which we had not seen earlier, provided that no attempt was made to spread Communist propaganda in any form in Germany.

6. At the end Astakhov stressed how valuable this conversation had been to him. He would report it to Moscow, and he hoped that it would have visible results in subsequent developments there. The question of the commerce and credit treaty was discussed in detail.

7. After the statements of the Russians I had the impression that Moscow had not yet decided what they want to do. The Russians were silent about the status and chances of the English pact negotiations. Considering all this, it looks as if Moscow, for the time being, is following a policy of delay and postponement toward us as well as England in order to defer decisions the importance of which they understand completely. Therefore the receptive attitude of the Russians after the various talks, particularly the attitude of Molotov; therefore the delay in the protracted economic negotiations, in which the Russians absolutely reserve the tempo to themselves; therefore

Page 36

most likely also the retention of Ambassador Merekalov in Moscow. As a further handicap, there is the excessive distrust, not only toward us but toward England as well. From our point of view it may be considered a noteworthy success that Moscow, after months of negotiation with England, still remains uncertain as to what she ought to do eventually.



Frames 69528-69529, serial 127

The German Foreign Office to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)


BERLIN, July 29, 1939.

W 1216g

On the evening of the 26th of this month Schnurre had a detailed discussion with Astakhov and Babarin, the content of which is reported in the enclosed memorandum. [20] Astakhov's answer indicates that a detailed report from him is already available in Moscow. At the end Astakhov asked whether we would maintain similar opinions if a prominent Soviet representative were to discuss these questions with a prominent German representative. Schnurre answered this question essentially in the affirmative.

It would be important for us to know whether the statements made to Astakhov and Babarin have found any response in Moscow. If you see the opportunity of arranging a new talk with Molotov, I request that you sound him out in this sense and that, should the occasion arise, you use the line of thought of the memorandum. If it should develop that Molotov abandons the reserve thus far maintained by him, you can advance another step in your presentation and state somewhat more precisely what was expressed generally in the memorandum. This concerns particularly the Polish question. In any development of the Polish question, either in a peaceful manner as we desire it or in any other way that is forced upon us, we would be prepared to safeguard all Soviet interests and to reach an understanding with the Moscow Government. If the talk proceeds positively in the Baltic question too, the idea could be advanced that we will adjust our stand with regard to the Baltic in such a manner as to respect the vital Soviet interests in the Baltic.

Draft signed by von WEIZSÄCKER

[20] Supra.

Page 37


Frame 260369, serial 695

The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)


BERLIN, August 3, 1939-1:47 p. m.

Received Moscow, August 3, 1939-6:00 p. m.


No. 164 of August 3

For the Ambassador for his information.

Reference telegraphic instruction of today. [21] In accordance with the political situation and in the interest of speed, we are anxious, without prejudice to your conversation with Molotov scheduled for today, to continue in Berlin the clarification of terms for the adjustment of German-Soviet interests. To this end Schnurre will receive Astakhov today and will tell him that we would be ready for more concrete discussions if that is also the desire of the Soviet Government. We would propose in this case that Astakhov obtain instructions from Moscow. We would then be prepared to speak quite concretely concerning problems of possible interest to the Soviet Union.



Frames 69519-69521, serial 127

The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)



BERLIN, August 3, 1939-3:47 p. m.

Received Moscow, August 4, 1939-4:30 a. m.

No. 166 of August 3

For the Ambassador personally!

Last evening I received the Russian Chargé, who had previously called at the office on other matters. I intended to continue with him the conversations with which you are familiar, that had previously been conducted with Astakhov by members of the Foreign Office with my permission. I alluded to the trade agreement discussions, which are at present progressing satisfactorily, and designated such a trade agreement as a good step on the way toward a normalization of German-Russian relationships, if this was desired. It was well known that the tone of our press with regard to Russia had for over half a year been a very different one. I considered that, insofar as the desire

[21] No. 166, infra.

Page 38

existed on the Russian side, a remolding of our relations was possible, on two conditions:

a) noninterference in the internal affairs of the other country (Herr Astakhov believes he can promise this forthwith);

b) abandonment of a policy directed against our vital interests. To this, Astakhov was unable to give any clear-cut answer, but he thought his Government had the desire to pursue a policy of mutual understanding with Germany.

I continued that our policy was a direct and long-range one; we were in no hurry. We were favorably disposed toward Moscow; it was therefore a question of what direction the rulers there wanted to take. If Moscow took a [negative] [22] attitude, we would know where we stood and how to act. If the reverse were the case there was no problem from the Baltic to the Black Sea that could not be solved between the two of us. I said that there was room for the two of us on the Baltic and that Russian interests by no means needed to clash with ours there. As far as Poland was concerned, we were watching further developments attentively and dispassionately. In case of provocation on the part of Poland, we would settle matters with Poland in the space of a week. For this contingency, I dropped a gentle hint at coming to an agreement with Russia on the fate of Poland. I described German-Japanese relations as good and friendly; this relationship was a lasting one. As to Russian-Japanese relations, however, I had my own ideas (by which I meant a long-range modus vivendi between the two countries).

I conducted whole conversation in an even tone and in conclusion again made it clear to the Chargé that in international politics we pursued no such tactics as the democratic powers. We were accustomed to building on solid ground, did not need to pay heed to vacillating public opinion, and did not desire any sensations. If conversations such as ours were not handled with the discretion they deserved, they would have to be discontinued. We were making no fuss about it; the choice lay, as mentioned, with Moscow. If they were interested there in our ideas, why then Herr Molotov could shortly pick up the thread again with Count Schulenburg (this superseded by telegram No. 161 [23]).

Conclusion of the conversation.

[22] This word, missing in the telegram as received in the Moscow Embassy, has been supplied from the German Foreign Office file copy.

[23] Ante, p. 37.

Page 39

Note for Count Schulenburg:

I conducted the conversation without showing any haste. The Chargé, who seemed interested, tried several times to pin the conversation down to more concrete terms, whereupon I gave him to understand that I would be prepared to make it more concrete as soon as the Soviet Government officially communicated its fundamental desire for a new relationship. Should Astakhov be instructed in this sense, we for our part would be interested in an early definite settlement. This exclusively for your personal information.



Frames 695322-69527, serial 127

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign, Office


Moscow, August 4, 1939-12:20 a. m.

No. 158 of August 3

Re instruction W 1216g of July 29, and telegraphic directive of July 31. [24]

In a conference of 1 1/4 hours today, Molotov abandoned his usual reserve and appeared unusually open. I referred to my last conversation with M. and said that in the meantime economic negotiations had been resumed in Berlin and were apparently proceeding in a promising manner. we were consequently expecting an early conclusion. An exchange of ideas had further taken place between Schnurre and Soviet representatives in Berlin, as to the contents of which M. was surely informed. M. confirmed the fact that "by and large" he was posted in the matter. Referring to Astakhov's question as to whether Schnurre's statements would, if the occasion arose, be backed up by a qualified German personage, I declared that I was authorized to confirm explicitly the train of thought developed by Schnurre. I then explained how, on the basis of the three steps mentioned by Schnurre, we contemplated the normalization and improvement of our relations with the Soviet Union. In continuation I stated that from the Baltic to the Black Sea, in our opinion, no opposition of interests existed between Germany and the Soviet Union, that the Anti-Comintern Pact was not directed against the Soviet Union, that by concluding non-aggression pacts with the Baltic countries we

[24] Latter not printed.

Page 40

had proven our decision to respect their integrity, and that our well-known demands on Poland meant no impairment of Soviet interests. We therefore believed that adjustment of interests was entirely possible and were asking the opinion of the Soviet Government in this matter.

M. answered point by point at some length. He stated that the Soviet Government had always desired the conclusion of an economic agreement and if a like desire existed on the German side, he considered the prospects for realization of an economic agreement as entirely favorable. So far as the attitude of the Soviet press was concerned, he considered our reproaches-with some exceptions-unjustified. But he took the stand that the press of both countries must desist from anything that might tend to exacerbate their relations. He considered the gradual resumption of cultural relations necessary and expedient and believed that a gratifying start had already been made toward improvement.

Going on to the question of political relations, M. declared that the Soviet Government also desired normalization and improvement of mutual relations. It was not its fault that relations had so deteriorated. The reason for this he saw, firstly, in the conclusion of the Anti-Comintern Pact and in everything that had been said and done in this connection. To my objection that the Anti-Comintern Pact was not directed against the Soviet Union and had been designated by M. himself on May 31st as an alliance against the Western democracies M. said that the Anti-Comintern Pact had nevertheless encouraged the aggressive attitude of Japan toward the Soviet Union. In the second place, Germany had supported Japan, and thirdly, the German Government had repeatedly shown that it would not participate in any international conferences in which the Soviet Union participated. M. cited the meeting in Munich as an example.

I answered M. in detail, stressing that it was not a matter of discussing the past but of finding new ways.

M. replied that the Soviet Government was prepared to participate in the quest for such ways; yet he must insist on asking how my statements of today are to be reconciled with the three points mentioned by him. Proofs of a changed attitude of the German Government were for the present still lacking.

I thereupon again stressed the absence of opposition of interests in foreign policy and mentioned German readiness so to orient our behavior with regard to the Baltic States, if occasion arose, as to safeguard vital Soviet Baltic interests.

Page 41

At the mention of the Baltic States, M. was interested in learning what States we meant by the term and whether Lithuania was one of them.

On the Polish question I stated that we persevered in our well-known demands on Poland but strove for a peaceful solution. If on the other hand a different solution were forced on us, we were prepared to protect all Soviet interests and come to an understanding with the Soviet Government on this matter.

M. showed evident interest but said that a peaceful solution depended first of all on us.

I vigorously contradicted this and pointed out that the British guarantee had unfortunately brought it about that the decision lay with the Polish authorities.

I then repudiated Molotov's assertion that Germany alone was to blame for deterioration in German-Soviet relations. I reminded him of the fateful consequences of the conclusion of the treaty of 1935 with France and added that the possible new participation by the Soviet Union in a combination hostile to Germany might play a similar role. M. replied that the present course taken by the Soviet Union aimed at purely defensive ends and at the strengthening of a defensive front against aggression. In contrast to this, Germany had supported and promoted the aggressive attitude of Japan by the Anti-Comintern Pact and in the military alliance with Italy was pursuing offensive as well as defensive aims.

In conclusion M. assured me that he would apprise his Government of my statements and repeated that the Soviet Government also desired normalization and improvement of relations.

From M.'s whole attitude it was evident that the Soviet Government was in fact more prepared for improvement in German-Soviet relations, but that the old mistrust of Germany persists. My over-all impression is that the Soviet Government is at present determined to sign with England and France if they fulfill all Soviet wishes. Negotiations, to be sure, might still last a long time, especially since mistrust of England is also great. I believe that my statements made an impression on M.; it will nevertheless take considerable effort on our part to cause the Soviet Government to swing about.


Page 42


Frames 178513-178517, serial 276

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to Counselor of Legation Schliep of the German Foreign Office

Moscow, August 7, 1939.

DEAR COUNSELOR 0F LEGATION SCHLIEP: Sincerest thanks for your letter of the 2d of this month [25] and its interesting enclosure.

As a matter of fact, I have in the meantime received the telegraphic instruction to take part in Party Day. On September 1, I am to travel in the new grey uniform from Berlin to Nuernberg with the other gentlemen of the Foreign Office. That means that I must be in Berlin on August 27 at the latest. A final fitting and the purchase of a number of accessories are unavoidable.

You know from our telegram that the political negotiations of the British and the French have been interrupted for the time being. Mr. Strang left by air this morning for London, where a great quantity of work kind allegedly accumulated for him. At the end of the week, the British and French officers will come. The British military men here regard the prospects of the pending military negotiations also with considerable skepticism. Among the members of the British Military Mission is the former Air Attaché in Moscow, Collier. Collier is a very sober and quiet man and knows Soviet conditions well. At the time of the intervention, he was in Archangel. The fact that he is being sent is welcomed by the British here, since he will not be taken in by the Russians and knows their methods of negotiation.

Concerning the political negotiations up to now, we hear that throughout Herr Molotov sat like a bump on a log. * He hardly ever opened his mouth, and if he did it was to utter only the brief remark: "Your statements do not appear to me entirely satisfactory. I shall notify my Government." The British and the French Ambassadors are both said to be completely exhausted and glad that they now have a breathing spell ahead of them. The Frenchman said to one of my informants, "Thank God that that fellow ** will not participate in the military negotiations!"

Regarding my conversations with Molotov, you are, of course, informed. I believe that we put a few good fleas in the ears of the Soviets, anyhow. At every word and at every step, one can see the great distrust toward us. That this is so, we have known for a long

[25] Not printed.

* He has been very different toward Hilger and me of late, very communicative and amiable. [Marginal note in the original]

** Molotov. [Footnote in the original]

Page 43

time. The unfortunate part of it is, that the mistrust of such people is very easily kindled and can only be allayed slowly and with difficulty.

I recently wrote you of rumors concerning the fist-fight between the Turkish Ambassador Apaydin (who left here very suddenly) and his military attaché. At that time I didn't believe these rumors, but they seem to be correct. I hear now on good authority that the fracas even took place before witnesses. At first the military attaché was also recalled, but then this disciplinary measure was withdrawn, apparently so that the rumors concerning the fight which were circulating here would not receive new support.

My old acquaintance, Minister Idman, who at present is in charge of the Finnish Legation, told me that when he called on Molotov the latter expressed himself as very dissatisfied over the hostile attitude of the Finnish press toward Russia. Idman said he replied that the Finnish press is free to write what it wishes and if it prints anti-Russian articles the Soviet Union had certainly given occasion for them.

The Danish Minister here recently made his first call on Molotov. The Minister President brought up the question of the German-Danish Non-aggression Treaty. He had taken note of, but had made no comment on, the Minister's statement that Denmark was much reassured by the conclusion of the pact.

In conversation with Molotov, the Ministers of Latvia and Estonia here also characterized the German Non-aggression Treaties as guarantees of peace, and remarked that the conclusion of the treaties had been entirely natural, since Latvia and Estonia had similar non-aggression treaties with the Soviet Union. Molotov, however, had taken the position that these treaties indicated an inclination toward Germany, and he could not be moved from this position.

The Estonian Chargé here, in talking about the attitude of the Soviets toward Baltic questions, spoke of the possibility that Germany might guarantee the independence of Latvia and Estonia, as it had done with Belgium. I am of the opinion that the Soviets no longer want such a guarantee to be given by us.

General Köstring, who has gone to Berlin for a few days, will look you up and give you the news from here. I hope he has already done it. We are very curious to know what news he will bring us from Berlin. Just as eagerly we await the arrival of Herr von Tippelskirch on next Friday.

Page 44

I hope the three Germans will arrive soon who are to visit the agricultural exhibition here at the invitation of the Soviet Government. The exhibition is really very much worth seeing (amazingly grandiose). Should not the Soviet Government be invited to the Eastern Fair at Königsberg? Obviously it is too late for the Soviet Union to participate and to send exhibits to the fair; however, in return for the invitation to the agricultural exhibition, a couple of Soviet representatives could at least be invited to visit the fair.

Here the rather terrific heat continues. I like it better than the usual rain and mud.

With warmest regards to your wife and with greetings to you, and with Heil Hitler! I remain, dear Herr Schliep,

Sincerely yours,



Frames 23237-23241, serial 34

Foreign Office Memorandum

To W 1301/39g


Soviet Chargé Astakhov called on me today at 11 a. m. for a conversation lasting an hour. First the journey of the German participants in the agricultural exhibition at Moscow was discussed (cf. separate memorandum [26]). I then asked Astakhov whether he had any news from Moscow regarding the questions which had been discussed between us. Astakhov replied in the affirmative and stated as follows:

The question informally discussed between us, as to whether a political thought should be inserted in the preamble to the credit agreement, had also been examined in Moscow. It was held more appropriate not to connect the trade and credit agreement with language of a political nature. This would be anticipating the future. I replied to Herr Astakhov that this was our view, too. Astakhov then mentioned that he had once again received an express instruction from Moscow to emphasize that the Soviet Government desired an improvement in relations with Germany. The declaration he had made to me the last time was thereby strengthened. I took advantage of this in the ensuing conversation to tell Astakhov the following:

We had noted with satisfaction that the Soviet Government was anxious to continue the conversation regarding the improvement of Soviet-German relations. We had wished that Molotov would let

[26] Not printed.

Page 45

us know his basic attitude in regard to the status of Soviet interests in order to facilitate further conversations and had believed that it was premature for us to discuss concrete problems so long as we did not know exactly the interests of the Soviets. But, in any event, one question was quite ripe, namely Poland. The Polish delusion of grandeur, shielded by England, drove Poland constantly to new provocations. We were still hoping that Poland would somehow come to reason, so that a peaceful solution could be found. Failing this, it was possible that, against our will and against our desires, a solution by force of arms would have to take place. If, as we had now done on various occasions, we had declared ourselves willing to enter upon a large-scale adjustment of mutual interests with Moscow, it was important for us to know the position of the Soviet Government on the question of Poland. In Moscow, after political negotiations had brought no result, military negotiations were now being conducted with England and France. We scarcely believe that. contrary to the direction in which her interests clearly lay, the Soviet Union will align herself with England and make herself, as had England, a guarantor of megalomaniac Polish aspirations. It would, of course, mean a poor start for the German-Soviet conversations, if, however, as a result of the military negotiations in Moscow, a sort of military alliance were contemplated against us, with the Soviet Union participating. These were therefore questions that were of interest to us at this stage of our conversations, and upon them depended, after all, the prospects of achieving a German-Soviet understanding: in the first place, then, the attitude of the Soviet Union on the Polish question, and, in the second place, the objectives that Moscow was pursuing in the military discussions with England and France. I could again assure Herr Astakhov, as I had already done on various occasions, that, even in the event of a solution by force of arms, German interests in Poland were quite limited. They did not at all need to collide with Soviet interests of any kind, but we had to know those interests. If the motive behind the negotiations conducted by Moscow with England was the feeling of being threatened by Germany in the event of a German-Polish conflict, we for our part were prepared to give the Soviet Union every assurance desired, which would surely carry more weight than support by England, which could never become effective in Eastern Europe.

Astakhov was keenly interested, but naturally had no instructions of any kind from Moscow to discuss the subject of Poland or the subject of the negotiations in Moscow. In the course of the conversation,

Page 46

however, he went quite extensively into both subjects on his own accord. The negotiations with England had begun at a time when there had still been no sign of a disposition on the part of Germany to come to an understanding. The negotiations had been entered upon without much enthusiasm, but they had to conduct them because they had to protect themselves against the German threat and had to accept assistance where-ever it was offered. To be sure, the situation had changed since the conversations with Germany had started. But one could not now simply break off something which had been begun after mature consideration. The outcome of the negotiations was uncertain in his opinion, and it was quite possible that his Government likewise considered the question as completely open. Our conversation of today, just as those which previously took place, would surely tend in that direction. On the question of Poland, he said that he doubted whether he would receive a concrete reply from Moscow on this enormous problem. At this stage of the conversations it was somewhat like putting the cart before the horse to want to bring the question of Poland up now for final discussion. Astakhov sought to learn whether any German decisions in the Polish question could be expected in the next few days and what Germany's aims in respect to Poland were. I avoided a reply to this question and at any rate did not show such urgency in the matter. Astakhov will report and then revert to these questions. Astakhov was unable to answer an informal question regarding the possible return of his Ambassador. On the contrary, he asked me whether we had not heard anything from Moscow regarding Herr Merekalov. He emphasized, however, that it made no difference in our talks who was acting as the official representative of the Soviet Government in Berlin.


BERLIN, August 10, 1939.


Frames 228752-228755, serial 472

The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker)

Moscow, August 14, 1939.


May I thank you most heartily for your gracious letter of the 7th instant. [27]

I am still of the opinion that any hasty measure in the matter of

[27] Not printed.

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our relations with the Soviet Union should be avoided; it will almost always be harmful. So I consider it entirely right that our treatment of the Soviet Embassy in Berlin be relaxed only slowly.

The following were the main points in my last conversation with Herr Molotov: the statements about the Baltic States satisfied him to a certain extent, but he wanted to know whether we also included Lithuania among the Baltic States. My statements on the Polish question evidently impressed him, too; he followed my words with the greatest attentiveness. His comment on this point is perhaps worth noting: "Compliance with the desire of the Germans that, in the Polish matter, no 'solution' be forced on the Reich, depends, above all, on Germany itself." Herr Molotov apparently meant thereby that-whatever might happen-the fault would be ours. Finally-and this seems to me the most important point-Herr Molotov demanded that we cease to support Japanese "aggression." In this connection, it is perhaps not uninteresting to note that a member of the American Embassy here, which for the most part is very well informed, stated to one of our aides that we could at any moment upset the British-French negotiations, if we abandoned our support of Japan, sent our military mission back to China and delivered arms to the Chinese. I am afraid that these American ideas are very optimistic, however, and not readily workable, but the Reich Foreign Minister, after all, had some ideas of his own on this point. Something of this sort would, perhaps, have to take place if we are to make any progress.

The British and French military missions have been in Moscow for three days now. The Soviets made no great fanfare over their arrival. Only a very few conferences of the military men have taken place so far, and of their subject matter and outcome nothing is yet known. I assume that the negotiations will last a long time.

With reference to the foregoing, I should like to mention the following: I received instructions to participate in the Nuernberg Party Day, and am supposed to leave Berlin for Nuernberg on September 1 with the other gentlemen of the foreign service. I must also have the new grey uniform made for me for this purpose. Although all preparations have been made, I shall nevertheless have to make a three-day stop in Berlin in order to make the final arrangements and purchases. This means that I shall have to leave here on August 26th, at the latest. The instructions I have received from the Foreign Office are circular instructions, such as apparently every one of us has received. Would it not, as things stand, be better and more necessary

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for me not to go to Nuernberg this time, but to remain here! I am unable, of course, to judge of these matters with certainty, but I wanted, at least, to address an inquiry to you in the matter. As matters now stand, I consider it very proper that our political conversations with the Soviet Union be carried on in Berlin. In view of conditions here, however, it seems certain to me that from time to time in order to expedite matters I shall have to speak with Herr Molotov, the highest personage that can be reached. Surely I am the person who can best and most easily carry on conversations with Herr Molotov. This remarkable man and difficult character has now grown accustomed to me and has, in conversations with me, in great measure abandoned his otherwise always evident reserve. Any new man would have to start from scratch. But, as I stated, I am unable to judge whether this viewpoint should prevail or whether participation in the Nuernberg Party Day should have priority. I would therefore be very grateful to you if you would have a short telegram sent me on this subject.

With very best regards and a Heil Hitler! I am, my dear Herr von Weizsäcker,

Your ever very devoted



Frames 69514-69515, serial 127

The German Foreign Office to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)


No. 171 of August 14

BERLIN, August 14, 1939-1:52 p. m.

Received Moscow, August 11, 1939-5 p. m.

For the Ambassador for his information.

Astakhov called on me on Saturday in order to communicate to me the following:

He had received instructions from Molotov to state here that the Soviets were interested in a discussion of the individual groups of questions that had heretofore been taken up. A. designated as such questions, among others, besides the pending economic negotiations, questions of the press, cultural collaboration, the Polish question, the matter of the old German-Soviet political agreements. Such a discussion, however, could be undertaken only by degrees or, as we had expressed it, by stages. The Soviet Government proposed Moscow as the place for these discussions, since it was much easier for the Soviet Government to continue the conversations there. In this conversation,

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A. left the matter open as to whom we would propose to conduct the conference, the Ambassador or another personage, to be sent out.

To my question as to what priority the Soviets assigned the question of Poland, A. replied that he had received no special instructions regarding sequence, but that the chief stress of his instructions lay in the phrase " by degrees."

These communications of A.'s were probably the amplified instructions to the Chargé of which you notified us.

Subject to further instructions.