ANALYTICAL LIST OF DOCUMENTS
VIII. THE SOVIET TREATIES WITH JUGOSLAVIA AND JAPAN, MARCH 25-APRIL 13, 1941
Expresses doubt that Matsuoka was completely frank in describing his two-hour conversation with Stalin and Molotov.
Ribbentrop reviews the military situation and concludes that the Axis has already won the war; he states that German relations with the U.S.S.R. are correct, but that Germany regards Soviet policy with suspicion; he suggests that a Japanese attack on Singapore would break British spirit and keep the United States out of the war.
Hitler argues that the British have lost the war, but have not the intelligence to admit it; Matsuoka expresses regret that sentiment favorable to Britain and America has prevented Japanese action, but he expresses confidence that this obstacle will be overcome; Matsuoka reports on his discussions in Moscow.
Ribbentrop states that read cooperation with the U.S.S.R. is impossible, and recommends that Matsuoka not discuss the adherence of the U.S.S.R. to the Three Power Pact when he returns to Moscow.
Ribbentrop again advises Matsuoka against political discussions with the U.S.S.R., and promises German assistance in case of a Soviet attack on Japan, he states that a war between Germany and the U.S.S.R. is possible and explains why Germany could not accept the terms set by Molotov for Soviet adherence to the Three Power Pact, Matsuoka says that he will have to discuss a non-aggression pact in Moscow.
Matsuoka tells of his conversations in Rome; Hitler promises assistance in case of a Japanese war with the United States.
Molotov states that a treaty of friendship and non-aggression would be signed between Jugoslavia and the U.S.S.R.; Schulenburg states that the moment chosen is unfortunate and vainly urges that the Soviet Government reconsider the matter.
After the conclusion of the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement of January 10, 1941. Soviet deliveries lagged, probably because of the cooling of political relations; in March deliveries soared, and continue at a high level.
Instructions to tell Molotov that Germany is taking military action in Greece and Jugoslavia to expel the British from Greece; Germany has no political or territorial interests in the Balkans and will withdraw the German troops when their task is finished.
Molotov expresses regret at the spread of war.
In several conversations, he has been unable to get from Matsuoka a straightforward statement regarding Matsuoka's conversation with Molotov.
A Japanese-Soviet neutrality pact may be signed.
Matsuoka says that the Neutrality Pact will probably be signed this afternoon.
Describes Stalin's demonstration of his desire for German friendship at the railroad station when Matsuoka was departing.
VIII. THE SOVIET TREATIES WITH YUGOSLAVIA AND JAPAN, MARCH 25-APRIL 13, 1941
Frames 113215-113216, serial 104
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
Moscow, March 25, 1941-3:05 a. m.
Received March 25, 1941-5:45 a. m.
No. 680 of March 24
For the Reich Foreign Minister personally.
The Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka, who left Moscow for Berlin this evening in accordance with his itinerary, paid a visit to the Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov this afternoon, accompanied by the Japanese Ambassador here. In the ensuing conversation, which lasted two hours altogether, I hear that Stalin later also took part at Matsuoka's expressed desire. Matsuoka tells me he presented to Molotov and Stalin the "fundamental problems" pending between Japan and the Soviet Union with the thought of eliminating existing differences. When Molotov and Stalin wished to reply, he asked them to withhold comment at this time, but instead to consider the subjects broached, and to continue the conversation upon his return to Moscow. He had gained a strong impression of the personality of Stalin. He would communicate to the Reich Foreign Minister personally all details of the conversation.
Since the conversation with Molotov and Stalin lasted two hours altogether, the discussion would seem, nevertheless, to have been a thorough one.
Matsuoka explained to me and the Italian Ambassador that he had for thirty years been of the opinion that relations between Japan and the Soviet Union should be good. His further pursuit of this policy, therefore, was nothing new.
Matsuoka with the greatest willingness received the chiefs of the missions here (among them also the American and French Ambassadors, whom he knew from earlier days-but not British Ambassador
Cripps), as well as representatives of the press. In all his talks, Matsuoka expressed himself very positively on Japan's attitude to the Axis, in which connection he emphasized that he had personally striven f or the consummation of the Three Power Pact. With regard to his trip, he repeatedly stressed the importance of a personal meeting with Germany's great Führer, the Reich Foreign Minister, and Mussolini. In the most emphatic manner he expressed the conviction that victory was assured to Germany and Italy.
NOTE Transmitted to special train under No. 1085.
Telegram Control Office March 25, 8 a. m.
Frames 47400-47417, serial 67
Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Reich Foreign Minister and Japanese Foreign Minster Matsuoka in the Presence of Ambassadors Ott and Oshima at Berlin on March 27, 1941
Aufz. RAM 14/41
The Reich Foreign Minister welcomed Matsuoka cordially as a man who had shown by word and deed that he took the same attitude with regard to the problems of his country as the Führer and his co-workers had been forced to take for Germany and who, as the responsible Foreign Minister of his country, had made possible the conclusion of the Pact with Japan. The Three Power Pact was a very significant instrument for the future of the three countries and represented the basis upon which the future of the three nations could be secured in a form such as the German and Japanese patriots had always envisaged.
Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister gave a summary of the situation as seen from the German point of view.
With regard to the military situation he pointed out that Germany today was in the final phase of its battle against England. During the past winter the Führer had made all necessary preparations, so that Germany stood completely ready today to meet England everywhere. The Führer had at his disposal at the moment perhaps the strongest military power that had ever existed in the world. Germany had 240 combat divisions, 186 of which were first-class assault divisions of young soldiers. Of these 24 were Panzer divisions, supplemented by other motorized brigades.
The Luftwaffe had grown greatly and introduced new models, so that it was a match in the future, as it had been in the past, for competition of any kind; that is, Germany was not only a match for England and America in this field, but was definitely superior to them.
The German Navy, at the outbreak of the war, had had only a relatively small number of battleships. Nevertheless, the battleships under construction had been completed, so that the last of them would shortly be put in service. In contrast to the World War, the German Navy this time did not stay in port, but from the first day of the war had been employed against the foe. Matsuoka probably gathered from the reports of the past few weeks that German large battle units had interrupted the supply lines between England and America with extraordinary success.
The number of submarines heretofore employed was very small. There had been at most 8 or 9 boats in service against the enemy at any one time. Nevertheless even these few U-boats, in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, had sunk 750,000 tons per month in January and February, and Germany could furnish accurate proof of this at any time. This number, moreover, did not include the great additional losses that England had sustained through floating and magnetic mines. At the beginning of April the number of submarines would increase eight to tenfold, so that 60 to 80 U-boats could then be continuously employed against the enemy. The Führer had pursued the tactics of at first employing only a few U-boats and using the rest to train the personnel necessary for a larger fleet, in order then to proceed to a knockout blow against the enemy with a greater number of units. Therefore the figure of tonnage sunk by the German U-boats could be expected in the future greatly to exceed what had already been accomplished. Under these circumstances, the U-boat alone could be designated as absolutely deadly.
Passing on to the subject of the military situation on the continent of Europe, the Reich Foreign Minister observed that through the overthrow of the continental countries Germany had practically no foe of any consequence other than the small British forces that remained in Greece. Germany would fight off-any attempt of England to land on the Continent or entrench herself there. She would not, therefore, tolerate England's staying in Greece. From the military point of view, the Greek question was of secondary importance. The only practical significance was the fact that in the thrust toward Greece, which would probably be necessary, dominant positions in the Eastern Mediterranean would be won that would
be of considerable significance for the development of further operations in these areas.
In Africa the Italians had had bad luck in recent months because the Italian troops there were not familiar with modern tank warfare and were not prepared for antitank defense, so that it was relatively easy for the British armored divisions to capture the not very important Italian positions. Any further advance of the British had been definitively blocked. The Führer had dispatched one of the most able of German officers, General Rommel, to Tripoli with sufficient German forces. The hope that General Wavell would attack had, unfortunately, not been realized. The British had come upon the Germans in some skirmishes at an outpost and had thereupon abandoned any further intention of attacking. Should they by chance attempt another attack upon Tripoli, they would court annihilating defeat. Here, too, the tables would be turned some day, and the British would disappear from North Africa, perhaps even more quickly than they had come.
In the Mediterranean area, the German Luftwaffe had been doing good work for two months and had inflicted heavy shipping losses on the British, who were holding on tenaciously. The Suez Canal had been blocked for a long time and would be blocked again after the removal of the obstacles. It was no longer any fun for the British to hold out in the Mediterranean. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) believed that even before the year's end the Mediterranean would be sealed off so effectively that the English would represent practically no further danger. Their fleet would have to protect their position in Africa.
If, then, we summed up the military situation in Europe, we would come to the conclusion that, practically, in the military sphere the Axis was completely master of the situation in the whole of continental Europe. A huge army, which was practically idle, was at Germany's command and could be employed at any time and at any place the Führer considered necessary.
The political situation was characterized by the adherence of almost the whole of the Balkans to the Three Power Pact. This morning, to be sure, news of a putsch and the formation of a new government had come from Belgrade, but further details were lacking. The political situation in Europe and in the whole world had also contributed to the strengthening of the Three Powers of the Pact. Germany was also still endeavoring to win over to the cause of the Three
Powers one or another of the last countries which still remained outside the Pact. Confidentially he (the Reich Foreign Minister) could inform Matsuoka that Spain, in spirit at least, was with the Three Power Pact. Of the two or three countries yet remaining, Sweden and Turkey were of particular interest. He could state confidentially to Matsuoka that here, too, the attempt would be made to win these countries over to the Three Power Pact.
Certain feelers had already been put out in the direction of Turkey. Even if formally that country had an alliance with England, it was nevertheless at least not entirely impossible that Turkey would in the future move closer and closer to the Three Power Pact.
With Russia, Germany had concluded the well-known treaties. Ambassador Oshima knew how these treaties had come about. Germany, at that time, had the desire to conclude an alliance with Japan. In view of the situation in Japan, it had not been possible to translate this desire into fact. On the other hand, the war clouds in Europe had become more and more threatening. At the Führer's instruction, the Reich Foreign Minister had been prepared for the six months preceding to sign the Italo-Japanese-German alliance. This Ambassador Oshima knew. Since the alliance was unfortunately not possible in that time, Germany, in view of the coming war, had to resolve on the pact with Russia.
Confidentially, he (the Reich Foreign Minister) could inform Matsuoka that present relations with Russia were correct, to be sure, but not very friendly. After Molotov's visit, during which accession to the Three Power Pact was offered, Russia had made conditions that were unacceptable. They involved the sacrifice of German interests in Finland, the granting of bases on the Dardanelles and a strong influence on conditions in the Balkans, particularly in Bulgaria. The Führer had not concurred because he had been of the opinion that Germany could not permanently subscribe to such a Russian policy. Germany needed the Balkan Peninsula above all for her own economy and had not been inclined to let it come under Russian domination. For this reason she had given Rumania a guarantee. It was this latter action, particularly, that the Russians had taken amiss. Germany had further been obliged to enter into a closer relationship with Bulgaria in order to obtain a vantage point from which to expel the British from Greece. Germany had had to decide on this course because this campaign would otherwise not have been possible. This, too, the Russians had not liked at all.
Under these circumstances, relations with Russia were externally normal and correct. The Russians, however, had for some time demonstrated their unfriendliness to Germany wherever they could. The declaration made to Turkey within the last few days was an example of this. Germany felt plainly that since Sir Stafford Cripps became Ambassador to Moscow (he had recently met Eden at Ankara) ties between Russia and England were being cultivated in secret and, at times, even relatively openly. Germany was watching these proceedings carefully. He (the Reich Foreign Minister), who knew Stalin personally, did not assume that the latter was inclined toward adventure, but it was impossible to be sure. The German armies in the East were prepared at any time. Should Russia some day take a stand that could be interpreted as a threat to Germany, the Führer would crush Russia. Germany was certain that a campaign against Russia would end in the absolute victory of German arms and the total crushing of the Russian Army and the Russian State. The Führer was convinced that, in case of action against the Soviet Union, there would in a few months be no more Great Power of Russia. The Reich Foreign Minister stressed the fact, however, that he did not believe that Stalin would pursue an unwise policy. In any case, the Führer was not counting on the treaties with Russia alone, but was relying, first of all, on his Wehrmacht.
It must also not be overlooked that the Soviet Union, in spite of all protestations to the contrary, was still carrying on communistic propaganda abroad. It was attempting not only in Germany, but also in the occupied areas of France, Holland and Belgium, to continue its misleading propagandist activity. For Germany, this propaganda naturally constituted no danger. But what it had unfortunately led to in other countries, Matsuoka well knew. As an example, the Reich Foreign Minister cited the Baltic States, in which today, one year after the occupation by the Russians, the entire intelligentsia had been wiped out and really terrible conditions prevailed. Germany was on guard, and would never suffer the slightest danger to threaten Germany from Russia.
Further, there was the fact that Germany had to be protected in the rear for her final battle against England. She would, therefore, not put up with any threat from Russia if such a threat should some day be considered serious. Germany wanted to conquer England as rapidly as possible and would not let anything deter her from doing so.
In the further course of the conversation, the Reich Foreign Minister spoke of the economic and food situation. It was possible, to be sure, that certain foodstuffs were temporarily in short supply; but he could state definitely that no matter how long the war lasted, food supply difficulties would not occur in Germany. Germany had space enough to produce the necessary foods in her own territory for the duration of the war.
With regard to raw materials, there were certain bottlenecks, as evidenced, for example, by the rubber negotiations with Japan. Here too, however, it might be stated generally that a serious danger to the Reich was entirely out of the question. The Führer had accumulated such vast stockpiles of war materials that the German economy was due for a conversion. The German munitions stores were so great that for years to come not the slightest shortage would be experienced. In the next few months, therefore, a great process of conversion would take place in the economy, and the effort of the German war potential would be utilized for U-boat and airplane production. Since the German Army had practically no opponents left on the Continent with the possible exception of Russia, a high percentage of German production capacity could be used for these two arms.
In summing up, the Reich Foreign Minister declared that the war had already been definitely won for the Axis. It could, in any case, no longer be lost. It was now only a question of time until England would admit to having lost the war. When this would take place, he could of course not predict. This might be very soon, however, under certain circumstances. It would depend upon events of the next three or four months. It was highly probable, however, that England would capitulate in the course of this year.
Continuing, the Reich Foreign Minister spoke of America. There was no doubt that the British would long since have abandoned the war if Roosevelt had not always given Churchill new hope. Germany had clear and precise information from England to this effect. What Roosevelt's intention was in the long run, it was difficult to say. It was not clear whether he wished to enter the war or not. It was only certain that the aid promised England in the form of American munitions could not be conjured up from the soil. It would be a long time before this help would really be effective. But even then the question of quality would be very problematical, especially in the sphere of airplane deliveries. At the present stage of development the various models became obsolete very rapidly. From month to month, on the basis of daily experience at the front, improvements were being under
taken on German models, and it was doubtful whether a country far from the war could turn out the highest quality aircraft. What the German fliers had thus far encountered in the way of American machines, they described, at any rate, as "junk." He (the Reich Foreign Minister) therefore believed that quite a considerable time would elapse before American aid to England could make any difference. Germany was endeavoring, in any case, to end the war as soon as possible, in the interest also of its allies and friends.
The Three Power Pact had above all had the goal of frightening America into abandoning the course it had chosen and of keeping it out of the war. This goal was entirely clear and desirable. The Three Power Pact was further to serve the purpose of assuring the future collaboration of the treaty partners in the New Order that Germany and Italy wished to establish in Europe, and Japan in East Asia. The principal enemy encountered in the establishment of the New Order was England. The latter was as much the enemy of Japan as of the Axis Powers. America had to be prevented by all possible means from taking an active part in the war and from making its aid to England too effective.
In examining the possibilities that existed for further collaboration between Germany and Japan, the question had repeatedly come up in the talks with the Führer as to whether, in relation to the New Order-that is, the overthrow of England, which was necessary to the establishment of this New Order-active participation in the war on the part of Japan might not be useful. The Führer had carefully considered this question and believed that it would actually be very advantageous if Japan would decide as soon as possible to take an active part in the war upon England. Germany believed, for instance, that a quick attack upon Singapore would be a very decisive factor in the speedy overthrow of England. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) believed that from there it would be possible to work much more closely with Japan in naval and other matters. It was also certain that the capture of Singapore would be a very serious blow to England. This was of great importance, particularly in view of the rather bad morale already prevailing in the British Isles. He also believed that the capture of Singapore would perhaps be most likely to keep America out of the war, because the United States could scarcely risk sending its fleet into Japanese waters. If today, in a war against England, Japan were to succeed with one decisive stroke, such as the attack on Singapore, Roosevelt would be in a very difficult position. It would be
difficult for him to take any effective action against Japan. If he did so, nevertheless, and declared war upon Japan, then he must expect that the Philippine question, for example, would be resolved in favor of Japan. This would mean a serious loss of prestige for the President, so that he would probably reflect for a long time before taking any action against Japan.
On the other hand, Japan, through the conquest of Singapore, would be in a position to operate quite differently in East Asia than formerly, since it would then command the absolutely dominant position in that part of East Asia. Germany believed, therefore, that if Japan could decide on such a move it would amount to cutting the Gordian knot in East Asia.
Summing up, the Reich Foreign Minister declared that in case Japan adopted such a course the war upon British tonnage could be waged more intensively in East Asia; America would probably be kept out of the war by Japan's bold step; and Japan could secure those positions in East Asia which, in the German view, she must eventually have for the New Order in Greater East Asia. In this connection a number of other questions would surely arise, for the discussion of which he was available at all times.
In conclusion, the Reich Foreign Minister declared that the Three Power Pact could best accomplish its true purpose-that is, to prevent the extension of the war, or, in other words, the entry of the United States into the war-if at the proper time the treaty partners made joint arrangements for the final defeat of England, over and above what had already been agreed upon. In this way the meaning of the Pact could be most effectively demonstrated by all its adherents.
At this moment the Reich Foreign Minister was summoned to the Reich Chancellery. Contrary to his original assumption that this would mean only a short absence, the discussion there lasted quite a while, so that the conversation with Matsuoka could not be continued before lunch.
Thereupon the lunch which was on the program was held in a very intimate circle, at first without the Reich Foreign Minister, who did not appear until later.
BERLIN, March 31, 1941.
Frames 47418-47444, serial 67
Memorandum of the Interview Between the Führer and the Japanese Foreign Minister, Matsuoka, in the Presence of the Reich Foreign Minister and Ambassadors Ott and Oshima, March 27, 1941
After some words of welcome the Führer inquired how Matsuoka had found the long, tiresome journey from Japan to Germany. Matsuoka replied that he had stood the trip very well, since especially on the journey across Siberia he had been completely cut off from the outer world and had only been able to see from time to time a small Siberian provincial newspaper, in which practically no reports on current events appeared. It had been therefore much like being away on a holiday trip.
Then the Führer gave a review of the general situation. Germany had been forced into the war. She had not, however, been surprised by the war; for she had had the chance to observe for years the campaign of hate carried on by certain English, French and American circles, and was accordingly prepared for anything. In spite of this basic preparation the outbreak of war had not been one of the goals of her policy. Germany had had political claims; she had hoped, however, to be able to satisfy them by reasonable methods. In the year 1939 the previously successful methods of securing a peaceful revision of intolerable conditions had been interrupted by the resistance of Poland and the consequences which arose therefrom.
If a person considered the present situation carefully and without illusions, he would have to concede that when the war began in the year 1939, there were in existence on the side of the opposition 60 Polish, 6 Norwegian, 18 Dutch, 22 Belgian, and 138 French divisions. In addition there were 12 or 13 British divisions on the Continent. Yet in scarcely a year and a half 60 Polish divisions had been eliminated with the occupation of Poland, 6 Norwegian divisions with the occupation of Norway, 18 Dutch divisions with the occupation of Holland, and 22 Belgian divisions with the occupation of Belgium, and of the 138 French divisions there remained only 8 weak brigades. All of the English units had been routed and driven out. These were losses which could not be recouped and the position of England was no longer recoverable. Thus the war had been decided, and the Axis Powers had become the dominant combination. Resistance to their will had become impossible.
As Matsuoka knew, Germany had only at the beginning of the war set out to construct a navy. Nevertheless all of the military operations which had necessitated the use of water routes, especially those in Norway, had been carried out without successful opposition by the British. The German U-boats, as well as the surface craft (auxiliary cruisers and battleships), had, in cooperation with the Luftwaffe, caused England losses which amounted in tonnage almost to three-quarters of the English and Allied losses during the World War. At first Germany had produced few U-boats. By far the greater number of them had therefore been used to train new crews for the numerous units which were being constructed by mass production. The real U-boat warfare was just beginning in the present and coming months. England would be damaged to an extent far surpassing her present rate of losses and would no longer be able to threaten the German coasts and shipping routes in any way. Besides, Germany was tying down an increasing percentage of the English Fleet in the North Sea and in the Atlantic. The same was being done by the Italian Fleet and the German Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean.
In the air Germany had absolute supremacy, in spite of all the claims of the English to success. Matsuoka could test this assertion if he looked about in Berlin and compared present-day Berlin with present-day London. The attacks of the Luftwaffe in the coming months would actually grow much stronger. England would suffer even more severe losses in tonnage; and the effectiveness of the German blockade was demonstrated by the fact that in England, rationing was much more severe than in Germany. In the meantime the war would go on in preparation for the final stroke against England.
The Führer then took up the situation in the Mediterranean and declared that Italy had had bad luck in North Africa because the necessary antitank guns had not been available against the British armored forces. Now the danger had been eliminated with the arrival of the first Panzer division in Tripolitania, which would soon be followed by a second division. A further British advance would be impossible; on the contrary, the Axis would in a short time pass over to a counterattack.
Unfavorable weather conditions had hindered Italian operations in the Balkans. In the next few days, however, the joint advance of Germany and Italy would eliminate all difficulties there. There was no military problem since Germany had at her disposal 240 "unemployed" divisions, of which 186 were first-class combat divisions. The losses in personnel and material which had been suffered in the years
1939 and 1940 were very slight, so that in spite of the campaigns just past, Germany was stronger in every respect than in 1939.
The Führer then spoke of his conviction that England had already lost the war. It was only a matter of having the intelligence to admit it. Then would occur the collapse of the individuals and of the government which had been responsible for the insane policy of England.
In her present critical situation England was looking for any straw to grasp. She was relying principally on two hopes:
First, on American help. Germany, however, had taken such help into her calculations in advance. It could appear in tangible form only in the year 1942 at the earliest, but even then the extent of such help would bear no relation to the increased productive capacity of Germany.
The second hope of England was Russia. Both the British Empire and the United States hoped that in spite of everything they would be able to bring Russia in on the side of England. They believed that they could attain this goal, if not this year, perhaps next, and thus produce a new balance of power in Europe.
In this connection it should be noted that Germany had concluded well-known treaties with Russia, but much weightier than this was the fact that Germany had at her disposal in case of necessity some 160 to 180 divisions for defense against Russia. She therefore did not fear such a possibility in the slightest and would not hesitate a second to take the necessary steps in case of danger. He (the Führer) believed, however, that this danger would not arise.
Concerning the German war aims in Europe, the Führer said that under any circumstances British hegemony would be destroyed, British influence would be excluded from Europe, and any attempt at American interference in Europe would be beaten back. In addition, an indispensable element of the New Order on the European Continent would be the limitation of rights and duties to those who lived on the Continent, and the exclusion of all countries who wished only to interfere from the outside, especially England and America.
In the present conflict the Axis Powers were being supported spiritually, morally and, in part, materially by Japan. The Three Power Pact had through the cooperation of Japan made possible, for example, the supplying of German auxiliary cruisers in East Asia. Most important of all, it had had the effect of making America hesitate to enter the war officially. On the other hand, through her effort in the conflict, Germany had brought her Japanese partner appreciable assistance for Japan's own future.
Few situations could be envisaged which offered greater facilities for the realization of Japanese aims and larger possibility of success. England was completely engaged at sea, in the air, and on land. Increasingly powerful English forces were being pinned down in the Mediterranean. Also on the ocean more powerful units were being required for convoy service. Cruisers and destroyers were often found to be no longer sufficient, since these convoys were being attacked by the Germans with battleships. For in contrast with the World War, Germany possessed today on the long front from Narvik to the Spanish-French frontier numerous bases from which she could attack England and her approaches with naval forces. Thus England was tied down in Europe; the objective was the destruction of the British world empire.
America was confronted by three possibilities: she could arm herself, she could assist England or she could wage war on another front. If she helped England, she could not arm herself. If she abandoned England, the latter would be destroyed and America would then find herself confronting the powers of the Three Power Pact alone. In no case, however, could America wage war on another front.
Thus there could never in human imagination be a better condition for a joint effort of the Three Power Pact countries than the one which had now been produced. On the other hand it was also clear to him that in any historic act some risk had to be taken in the bargain. Seldom in history, however, had a risk been smaller than at present: while war was being fought in Europe and England was occupied there, and while America was only in the initial stages of her own armament, Japan was the strongest power in the East Asia area and Russia could not intervene, since on her western border stood one hundred and fifty German divisions. Such a moment would never return. It was unique in history. The Führer admitted that there was a certain amount of risk, but it was extraordinarily slight at a moment in which Russia and England were eliminated and America was not yet ready. If this favorable moment passed by and the European conflict ended in some fashion with a compromise, France and England after a few years would recover. America would join them as a third enemy of Japan and Japan sooner or later would be confronted with the necessity of undertaking the defense of her Lebensraum, in a struggle against these three powers.
Even from the military point of view there had probably never in the memory of man been a situation so relatively favorable as at
present, even though the military difficulties presented by a combined advance should not be underestimated.
It was especially favorable since between Japan and her allies there were no conflicts of interest. Germany, who would satisfy her own colonial claims in Africa, was as little interested in East Asia as Japan was in Europe. This was the best sort of preliminary condition for the collaboration of a Japanese East Asia and a German-Italian Europe.
Collaboration with the Anglo-Saxons, on the contrary, never represented actual cooperation, but only a playing off of one against the other. Just as England never tolerated the hegemony of one state in Europe, so in East Asia she played off Japan, China and Russia against each other, to further the interests of her own world empire. Just as had England, so would the United States conduct herself, if she inherited the world empire and set up American imperialism in place of British imperialism.
Also on personal grounds a better situation for joint action would scarcely occur again. He (the Führer) had complete confidence in himself, and the German Nation stood united behind him as it had been behind no one in its previous history. He had the necessary power of decision in critical situations, and, finally, Germany had had an unparalleled series of successes such as occurred only once in world history and was unlikely to occur again.
Next the Führer declared that his attitude toward Japan had not been adopted in the year 1941. He had always been in favor of collaboration with that country. Ambassador Oshima knew that he (the Führer) had worked resolutely for many years to that end. He was determined not to depart from that line in the future. Especially favorable for collaboration, as he had said, was the fact that there were no conflicts of interest between Japan and Germany. For, in the long run, interests were stronger than personalities and the will of a leader and could always endanger anew the cooperation of countries in case their interests were contradictory. In the case of Germany and Japan, because of the non-existence of such contradictions, one could make long-term plans. This had been his firm conviction since his earliest youth. The Japanese, German, and Italian peoples would achieve great successes if they drew the necessary conclusions from the present unique situation.
Matsuoka thanked the Führer for his frank presentation, which seemed to him to put the whole situation in a clearer light. He would
think over once more most carefully the arguments which the Führer had advanced, although he had already deliberated at length on these subjects.
On the whole he agreed with the views expressed by the Führer. He was especially of the opinion that any action which was determined upon always carried with it a certain risk. Matsuoka declared-after referring to the reports of Ambassador Ott and the Reich Foreign Minister, through which the Führer would certainly be informed about the current situation in Japan-that he would personally set forth the situation in the frankest fashion. There were in Japan, as in other countries, certain intellectual circles which only a powerful individual could hold firmly under control. He meant by that the sort of person who would like to capture the tiger cub, but who was not prepared to go into the den and take it away from its mother. He had used this line of thought in making the same point in the presence of two princes of the Imperial Family in a conference at headquarters. It was regrettable that Japan had not yet eliminated those elements and that some of these people were even occupying influential positions. Confidentially, he could state that in the interview at headquarters, after an earnest discussion, his point of view had prevailed. Japan would take action, and in a decisive form, if she had the feeling that otherwise she would lose a chance which could only occur once in a thousand years; and in fact Japan would act without consideration of the state of her preparations, since there were always some people who claimed that preparations were insufficient. Matsuoka had also made this point with the two princes. The hesitant politicians in Japan would always delay and act partly from a pro-British or pro-American attitude.
Matsuoka declared that he had come out for the alliance long before the outbreak of the European war. He had been very active at that time to this end, but unfortunately he had had no success. After the outbreak of the European war he personally had held the opinion that Japan should first attack Singapore and bring to an end the British influence in that area and should then join the Three Power Pact, since he did not favor the idea that Japan should join the alliance without having made some contribution toward bringing about the collapse of England. While Germany had been engaged in a titanic struggle against England for a year, Japan, up to the conclusion of the alliance, had contributed nothing. He had therefore come out very strongly for the plan of an attack on Singapore, but he had not
prevailed and, under the force of events, had then reversed his program and had come around to the entry into the alliance first.
He had not the slightest doubt that the South Sea problem could not be solved by Japan without the capture of Singapore. They would have to press into the tiger's den and drag out the young by force.
It was only a question of the time when Japan would attack. According to his idea the attack should come as soon as possible. Unfortunately he did not control Japan, but had to bring those who were in control around to his point of view. He would certainly be successful in this some day. But at the present moment he could under these circumstances make no pledge on behalf of the Japanese Empire that it would take action.
He would, after his interviews with the Führer and the Reich Foreign Minister, and after he had examined the situation in Europe, give his closest attention to these matters on his return. He could make no definite commitment, but he would promise that he personally would do his utmost for the ends that had been mentioned.
Matsuoka then requested urgently that the representations which he had made be treated as strictly confidential, since, if they became known in Japan, those among his Cabinet colleagues who thought differently from him would probably become alarmed and would seek to get him out of office.
In connection with his efforts to bring about the treaty of alliance he had maintained strict secrecy up to the last minute and in order to deceive his opponents he had oftentimes intentionally given the impression of having a pro-American or pro-British attitude.
Shortly before the conclusion of the treaty of alliance it had been reported to him that the British Ambassador was conducting a strong propaganda campaign among the Japanese to the effect that Japan was taking a very risky step in adhering to the Three Power Pact. The American Ambassador also had been active in the same direction. A few days after the conclusion of the treaty of alliance he had asked the American Ambassador whether the reports about these propaganda activities were correct. The latter had admitted everything and had stated as well that every Japanese whom he had met, since the adherence to the treaty of alliance had become known, had expressed the opinion that Germany would win the war. In the opinion of the American Ambassador that was false; Germany had no chance to win the war and therefore in the Ambassador's opinion it actually was a very risky step for Japan if the alliance had been concluded in the expectation of a possible German victory.
Matsuoka continued that he had answered the American Ambassador that only the good God knew who would finally win the war. He (Matsuoka) had, however, not concluded the alliance on the basis of the victory of this or the other power, but he had based his action on his vision of the New Order. He had heard with interest the statements of the Führer on the subject of the New Order and had been fully and completely convinced by them. If, however, he assumed entirely hypothetically that the fortune of war at some period would turn against Germany, he must tell the American Ambassador that in such a case Japan would come at once to the assistance of her ally.
His vision of the New Order had been set forth in the preamble to the Three Power Pact. There was at stake an ideal, which had been handed down from one generation to another from time immemorial. For him personally the realization of this ideal was his life s aim, to which up to the present day he had dedicated his fullest efforts, in order to make on his own part a slight contribution toward its realization. The Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Three Power Pact was also a contribution to such a realization. The consummation of this idea, so Matsuoka went on, would be realized under the slogan: "No conquest, no oppression, and no spoliation." This would not be understood in all quarters in Japan. If, however, Japan seemed likely to depart from this line he would be the first to attempt to prevent it.
In this connection Matsuoka referred to still another principle of the preamble to the Three Power Pact, according to which every people must assume the place they deserved. Although Japan, in the creation of the New Order, if it was necessary, would proceed by force, and although she must sometimes lead with a strong hand the peoples who would be affected by this New Order, nevertheless she had always before her the slogan which he had previously quoted: "No conquest, no oppression, no spoliation."
In the further course of the conversation, Matsuoka referred to his conference with Stalin in Moscow. As an ally he owed an explanation on that subject to the Reich Foreign Minister and he would have given it in the course of the morning's conversation, if the Reich Foreign Minister had not been called away early. Now he would give this information to the Führer.
He had first only wanted to make a courtesy call on Molotov on passing through Moscow. After some consideration, however, he had decided to instruct the Japanese Ambassador to make discreet inquiry of the Soviet Government whether the latter would be interested in an interview between Stalin and himself. However, before the
Japanese Ambassador had been able to carry out his instructions with the Soviet Government, a proposal was made by the Russian Government itself for a meeting between Stalin, Molotov and Matsuoka. He had spoken with Molotov for about 30 minutes and with Stalin for an hour, so that, taking into account the necessary translations, he had conversed with Molotov for perhaps 10 minutes and with Stalin for 25 minutes.
He had told Stalin that the Japanese were moral communists. This ideal had been handed down from father to son from time immemorial. At the same time, however, he had said that he did not believe in political and economic communism, and he rather assumed that his Japanese ancestors had much earlier given up any attempt in that direction and had turned to moral communism.
In connection with what he called moral communism, Matsuoka cited several examples from his own family. This Japanese ideal of moral communism had been overthrown by the liberalism, individualism, and egoism introduced from the West. At the moment the situation in Japan in this field was extraordinarily confused. However, there was a minority which was strong enough to fight successfully for the restoration of the "Old Ego" ["alten Ichs"] of the Japanese. This ideological struggle in Japan was extremely bitter. But those who were fighting for the restoration of the old ideals were convinced that they would be finally victorious. The Anglo-Saxons were basically responsible for the entry of the new philosophy which he had mentioned and, in order to restore the old traditional Japanese ideals, Japan was compelled to fight against the Anglo-Saxons, just as in China they were not fighting against the Chinese but only against Great Britain in China and capitalism in China.
Matsuoka then continued that he had discussed with Stalin his ideas about the New Order and had stated that the Anglo-Saxon represented the greatest hindrance to the establishment of this order and that Japan therefore was compelled to fight against them. He had told Stalin that the Soviets on their part also were coming out for something new and that he believed that after the collapse of the British Empire the difficulties between Japan and Russia could be eliminated. He had represented the Anglo-Saxons as the common foe of Japan, Germany, and Soviet Russia.
Stalin had arranged to give him an answer when he passed through Moscow again on his return journey to Japan; he had, however, after some reflection stated that Soviet Russia had never gotten along well with Great Britain and never would.
Matsuoka in the further course of the conversation made several remarks about the status of the Tenno. The Tenno was the State, and the life and the property of every Japanese belonged to the Tenno, that is to the State. That was, in a way, the Japanese version of the idea of the totalitarian state.
Further, Matsuoka expressed himself as marvelling over the way in which the Führer with decisiveness and power was leading the German people, who stood completely united behind him through this great period of upheaval, a period without parallel in previous history. A people found such a Führer once in a thousand years. The Japanese people had not yet found their Führer. He would, however, certainly appear in time of need and with determination take over the leadership of the people.
BERLIN, April 1, 1941.
Frames 47376-47389, serial 67
Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Reich Foreign Minister and Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka on March 28, 1941
Auf. RAM Nr. 18/41
The Reich Foreign Minister expressed his gratification at being able to speak with Matsuoka a second time. The Führer would have liked to define his attitude even more fully with respect to the questions under consideration, but his time had been very much taken up by developments in Yugoslavia. The details, however, were not so important. The essential thing was the question of the possibilities and prospects of a closer cooperation between Japan and Germany, that is, the transition from a passive to an active collaboration of Japan in the common cause. It was with great satisfaction that the Germans had heard of the spirit in which Matsuoka was approaching these matters. It was a question of the greatest opportunity that had ever existed for the attainment of Japanese aims, and it would be well to make use of this opportunity before it was lost. The Tripartite Pact was a most important treaty and formed a basis for relations between Japan and Germany for hundreds of years. There existed no conflicts of interest.
The situation was such that a New Order could be established only when Great Britain was completely defeated. This applied with even greater force to Japan than to Germany, who at present already dominated the European Continent and by the end of this year would also
bring the Mediterranean region and Africa, to the extent that Germany was interested in them, under her domination. Germany, then, had everything that she needed. She was not striving for world domination, as Roosevelt falsely asserted. The Führer wished to end the war as soon as possible in order to devote himself again to his work of reconstruction. The goal that he had set for himself-that is, to provide the maximum security for the Reich-had, essentially, already been attained.
On the other hand, the New Order in the Greater East Asian sphere could be established only if Japan also dominated the South. For this, however, the capture of Singapore was necessary.
With reference to Russia the Reich Foreign Minister stated that the Germans did not know how matters would develop in this direction. It was possible that Russia would set out upon the wrong road, although he did not really expect this from Stalin. But one could not know. In any case Germany would immediately strike if Russia should undertake anything against Japan, and thereby keep Japan free in the rear with respect to Russia. In this way one of the misgivings of Japanese statesmen, but especially of the Japanese Army, reported by Ambassador Ott, would be eliminated with the help of the German Army. The second misgiving with reference to the English Home Fleet and the English Mediterranean Fleet, which had been voiced particularly by the Japanese Navy, he (the Reich Foreign Minister) could answer by the fact that both of these English fleets would be tied down by Germany in European and Mediterranean waters. Finally, the Japanese had also expressed concern on account of America. The United States, however, would not risk its fleet against Japan and would not send it beyond the Hawaiian Islands. A great Japanese success at Singapore would, on the contrary, strengthen American neutrality. Roosevelt would then hesitate to undertake anything rash.
Although he (the Reich Foreign Minister) fully understood the situation in Japan, which Matsuoka had illustrated by his story about the tiger and her cubs, he nevertheless had to point out again that two of the strongest countries in the world, which possessed a youthful, strong, and fearless spirit, were now offered a chance by Providence which probably occurred only once in a thousand years. Germany's great opportunity was the Führer, whose co-workers carried out his will only as his instruments. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) had repeatedly declared to the Ambassadors of England and France that
they should not fall into the error of confusing present-day Germany with that of 1919-1918. Even then the Reich had held out for four years against a world of enemies; only because of its disunity and its internal weakness had it lost the war. Now, however, it was united and consequently had twice the strength-which was again increased twofold by the genius of Adolf Hitler's leadership, so that henceforth one would have to reckon with a Germany which was four times as strong as in the World War. The Ambassadors had disregarded these warnings. The predictions had, however, come true, and nothing in the world would prevent Germany and Italy from dominating the European-African Hemisphere absolutely. When under such circumstances an opportunity was offered Japan, she ought to weigh matters very carefully and not let the opportunity slip out of her hand.
When the present conflict would end, could not, of course, be predicted with certainty; he (the Reich Foreign Minister) had the feeling, however, that England might perhaps collapse sooner than was generally expected. If the English should suddenly ask for peace, it would be very desirable if Germany and Japan could establish this peace jointly.
The Reich Foreign Minister then spoke about his family traditions, which had always been pro-Japanese. Moreover, he had had an important conversation with the Führer as early as 1934 on German-Japanese collaboration. The Führer's high esteem for Japan had begun with the Russo-Japanese War. Now the most important thing was not to lose the common opportunity which presented itself in the year 1941.
Matsuoka replied that he was of the same opinion. For logical reasons, as well as from an inner feeling, he also believed that 1941 would go down in history as a fateful year. In it the greatest tragedy, the fall of the British Empire, would be consummated. The German Nation in Europe and the Japanese in the Far East were, he felt, acting almost under a divine command to break up the British Empire and establish a New Order.
Matsuoka then asked what attitude Germany would take toward the United States if England should be brought to its knees during the summer but America was not yet in the war.
The Reich Foreign Minister replied that this would depend on the attitude of the United States. The possibility of an occupation of the British Isles required, to be sure, a period of good weather, and the English would possibly try to set up a new government in the United States. But in his opinion this could not be done.
Matsuoka then made his question specific as follows: When England was crushed, the United States in his opinion would not continue to support the British Empire. Canada would simply be more or less annexed. Would Germany under these circumstances leave the United States in peace? The Reich Foreign Minister replied that Germany did not have the slightest interest in a war against the United States. Matsuoka noted this with satisfaction, remarking that one had to reckon with the Anglo-Saxons as a whole; if it should not be possible to convert America to our way of thinking, no New Order could be established. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that each would exercise dominion in its own sphere. Germany, together with Italy, would do this in the European-African sphere; the United States would have to limit itself to the American Continent; and the Far East was reserved for Japan. As far as Russia was concerned, it would be very carefully watched and would in no case be permitted any kind of subversive propaganda. In the future only the three aforesaid spheres of interest would remain as great centers of power. The British Empire would disappear.
Matsuoka replied that the only big problem still remaining would then be Russia. Japan was prepared to permit Russia an ice-free outlet to the sea by way of India or Iran, but would not tolerate the Russians on the Chinese coast. Matsuoka then asked whether the Führer had ever considered the possibility of a Russian-Japanese-German alliance. The Reich Foreign Minister denied this and said that a closer collaboration with Russia was an absolute impossibility, since the ideological bases of the army, as well as of the rest of the nation, were completely incompatible. The Soviet Union was still internationally minded while Japan and Germany thought nationally. Russia was undermining the family; Germany championed it. A union was just as impossible here as between fire and water. Stalin was very clever and had therefore concluded the pact with Germany under the circumstances then prevailing. Russia would also have joined the Tripartite Pact, but her conditions could not be met. The whole matter was now being handled in a quite dilatory manner by Germany, as he could now inform Matsuoka confidentially. Moreover, Germany was watching the Soviet Union closely, and-this Matsuoka should realize clearly-she was prepared for any eventuality. Germany would not provoke Russia; but if the policy of Stalin was not in harmony with what the Führer considered to be right, he would crush Russia. Matsuoka replied that Japan was now taking pains not to provoke Russia. Japan was waiting for the completion of the German victory in the
Balkans. Without the good offices of Germany and without her strength there was no chance for Japan to mend Russo-Japanese relations completely.
Matsuoka also spoke of the long-term trade agreement which would be concluded with Russia. He then asked the Reich Foreign Minister whether on his return trip he should remain in Moscow for a somewhat longer period in order to negotiate with the Russians on the Non-aggression Pact or the Treaty of Neutrality. He emphasized in this connection that direct acceptance of Russia into the Tripartite Pact would not be countenanced by the Japanese people. It would on the contrary call forth a unanimous cry of indignation all over Japan. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that such an adherence of Russia to the Pact was out of the question and, moreover, recommended that Matsuoka, if possible, should not bring up the above-mentioned questions in Moscow, since this probably would not altogether fit into the framework of the present situation.
In reply to a further remark by Matsuoka that the conclusion of a fishing and trade agreement would improve the feeling between Russia and Japan, the Reich Foreign Minister replied that there were no objections to the conclusion of such purely commercial agreements. Matsuoka mentioned in this connection that America was observing Japanese-Russian relations closely and was trying on her part to conclude an agreement with Russia against Japan.
Matsuoka then began to speak of Singapore again. The Japanese were not worried on account of the British Navy. But there were Japanese circles which viewed a conflict with America with great misgivings, since they assumed that this would involve a five-or ten-year war with the United States. He would readily admit that America would not risk its fleet in a war against Japan, but for that very reason these Japanese circles were worried, because under these circumstances the war would last for years. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that in his opinion Roosevelt would not let it come to war since he was well aware of the impossibility of any action against Japan. Japan, on the other hand, could occupy the Philippines and in this way deal a severe blow to Roosevelt's prestige. If Japan captured Singapore, the greater part of the world would have come under the control of the Tripartite Powers, and America would find itself in an isolated position.
Matsuoka expressed himself as personally very strongly in favor of the Reich Foreign Minister's line of reasoning. If Japan did not assume the risk connected with the capture of Singapore, he was of
the opinion that it would thereby become a third-rate power. The blow would therefore have to come some day in any event. If he could succeed in keeping the United States quiet for six months, all difficulties would be overcome. A nation which continued to hesitate in a matter of such fundamental national importance thereby only showed that it lacked the most important quality, power of decision.
Berlin, March 31, 1941.
Frames 47357-47375, serial 67
Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Reich Foreign Minister and Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka in Berlin on March 29, 1941
Auf. RAM 18/41
The Reich Foreign Minister referred to the earlier discussion with Matsuoka concerning the latter's impending conversations with the Russians in Moscow. He expressed the opinion that in view of the general situation it might be best not to go into things too deeply with the Russians. He did not know how the situation would develop. But one thing was certain: if Russia should ever attack Japan, Germany would strike immediately. He could give this firm assurance to Matsuoka, so that Japan could push southward toward Singapore without fear of any complications with Russia. As it was, the greater part of the German Army was on the eastern boundary of the Reich and was ready to attack at any time. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) believed, however, that Russia would not occasion any military action. But if Germany should become involved in a conflict with Russia, the Soviet Union would be finished within a few months. In that case, Japan would, of course, not have anything at all to fear, if she wanted to advance toward Singapore. So, in any case, she need not be kept from that undertaking by any fears of Russia.
Of course, we could not tell how matters would develop with Russia. It was uncertain whether or not Stalin would accentuate his present policy of unfriendliness toward Germany. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) in any event wanted to point out to Matsuoka that a conflict with Russia was always within the realm of possibility. At any rate, Matsuoka could not report to the Japanese Emperor, upon his return, that a conflict between Germany and Russia was inconceivable. On the contrary, as matters stood, such a conflict, though not probable, still would have to be designated as possible.
With regard to Russian adherence to the Three Power Pact, as had been offered to Molotov by Germany, the Reich Foreign Minister remarked that there had been no question of the direct admission of Russia into the Pact, but rather of a different grouping. As already stated, however, the Russians had set conditions for their adherence which Germany could not accept, so that matters were now in suspense.
In reply to a question interpolated by Matsuoka, whether that meant that Germany would perhaps again seek, after the lapse of some time, to get Russia to adhere to the Three Power Pact, the Reich Foreign Minister replied that an attempt of that kind would probably not be made for some time, since the conditions submitted by Russia were irreconcilable with the German view, particularly those concerning Finland and Turkey.
In reply to an inquiry by Matsuoka for further details on the Russian conditions, the Reich Foreign Minister responded that German resistance to the Soviet demands with respect to Finland was based on economic considerations, and also on sentiment. Germany had fought on the side of the Finns in the World War. Matsuoka put in here that the Finns apparently laid great stress on being considered as belonging on the German side. The Japanese Minister in Helsinki, whom he had recalled in connection with the recent shifting of diplomats, told a newspaperman at Manchuli on the trip homeward that Finland now appeared to have placed herself on Russia's side. Some time later, the Finnish Minister in Tokyo protested officially to Matsuoka against that statement and declared that Finland would never place herself on Russia's side.
The Reich Foreign Minister pointed out that the Social-Democratic governments in Finland had always been against the Führer, so that there was no reason for Germany to help them during the Russo-Finnish War. Besides, Germany had to assume an absolutely neutral position, because in the conversations with Molotov and Stalin, Finland had been designated as not lying within the German sphere of interest. But when the Finns defended themselves so valiantly against the Russians, strong feeling for them sprang up in Germany, so that it was now impossible to give up Finland, since an occupation by Russia would lead to complete destruction of the country, as was shown by the example of the Baltic States.
The second Russian condition dealt with the guarantee to Bulgaria, together with occupation of the country by Russian troops, concerning which he had already been informed in detail in the earlier conversations.
The third condition had as its subject the establishment of bases on the Dardanelles. Matsuoka was already informed on that point too. At any rate, Germany preferred the Dardanelles to remain in the hands of the Turks. Besides, she could not permit a penetration of the Russians into the Balkans. However, Russia kept trying to push forward in that direction. Thus, in connection with recent happenings in Yugoslavia, activity was now increasing partly with the aid of the Sokol organization or through direct Communist influence. At any rate, the discussions with the Russians on those conditions had not been taken up again. We had merely told the Soviet Union that Germany could not allow any new conflict in Finland or the Balkans. Since then all these questions were, as stated, in suspense, and no favorable development was to be expected.
During the further course of the conversation, the Reich Foreign Minister imparted to the Japanese Foreign Minister, in confidence, his view of the true Russian interest. The Soviet Union wanted the war to last as long as possible. It knew that it could not itself gain anything by military attacks. Therefore the exceedingly rapid defeat of France did not suit that sly politician Stalin very well. He wanted a long war that would tire out the peoples and make them ripe for Bolshevik influence. That was the true aim of Russian policy, which should never be lost sight of.
Matsuoka agreed with these ideas and cited the situation in China as an example. Chiang Kai-shek, with whom he was in personal touch, who knew him and trusted him, was greatly alarmed as to the further increase of the influence of the Red Army in China.
The Reich Foreign Minister said that it was entirely possible that the conditions previously described would lead rather rapidly to a conflict between Germany and Russia. If Germany should feel herself endangered, she would immediately attack and put an end to Bolshevism.
To a suggestion by Matsuoka, not to allow the Anti-Comintern Pact to expire, but to renew it, the Reich Foreign Minister replied that he could not take a definitive position on the matter yet, since the situation as it would appear in the autumn, at the expiration of the Pact, could not be foreseen at the present time. As a matter of principle, however, Germany's stand was always in the sense of the Anti-Comintern Pact.
When Matsuoka asked the Reich Foreign Minister to inform him in good time, before the expiration of the Anti-Comintern Pact, regard-
ing the German stand with respect to a possible extension of the Pact, the Reich Foreign Minister rejoined that by October the situation would certainly have been clarified to such an extent that a definite stand by Germany would be possible.
Thereupon the Reich Foreign Minister spoke once more of the question of Singapore. In view of the fears expressed by Japan of possible submarine attacks from the Philippines and of the intervention of the British Mediterranean Fleet and Home Fleet, he had discussed the situation once again with Admiral Raeder. The latter had told him that the British Fleet would be so fully occupied this year in British home waters and in the Mediterranean that it could not send a single ship to the Far East. The American submarines were designated by Admiral Raeder as so poor that Japan need not concern herself about them at all.
Matsuoka at once rejoined that the Japanese Navy considered the danger from the English Navy as very slight, and was also of the opinion that in case of a clash with the American Navy it could destroy the latter without trouble. It did fear, however, that the Americans would not give battle with their fleet, and that in that way the conflict with the United States would perhaps last for five years. They were very uneasy over that in Japan.
The Reich Foreign Minister replied that America could not do anything at all against Japan in case of the capture of Singapore. For that very reason Roosevelt would perhaps think twice before deciding actually to move against Japan. For while he could not do anything against Japan, there was the probability that the Philippines would be taken by Japan; this would naturally entail great loss of prestige for the American President, since, as a result of insufficient American military preparation, he could not retaliate.
Matsuoka pointed out in this connection that he was doing everything to soothe the British with regard to Singapore. He was acting as if Japan had no designs whatsoever on this key point of England in the East. It might therefore be that in his words and acts he would assume a friendly manner toward the English. But Germany should not be misled by that. He was assuming that manner not only in order to soothe the British, but to mislead the pro-British and pro-American elements in Japan, until he should one day suddenly attack Singapore.
With regard to this, the Reich Foreign Minister stated that in his opinion the declaration of war by Japan against England should follow from an attack on Singapore.
Matsuoka remarked in this connection that his tactics were based upon the safe assumption that the whole Japanese Nation would be united at one stroke by the sudden attack on Singapore. ("Nothing succeeds like success," the Reich Foreign Minister interjected here) He (Matsuoka) was here following the words of a famous Japanese statesman addressed to the Japanese Navy at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War: "Open fire, and the Nation will then be united." The Japanese had to be shaken up to rouse them. Lastly, as an Oriental he also believed in fate, which comes whether we want it or not.
As the conversation went on, it turned to the question of rubber shipments. The Reich Foreign Minister asked Matsuoka to test the practicability of shipment to Lisbon or France by one or two Japanese auxiliary cruisers.
Matsuoka agreed to this and said that immediately after the step taken by Ambassador Ott with respect to the rubber question, he had proposed having Japan provide certain amounts for Germany from her own rubber stocks and later filling up the resulting gaps with rubber from Indo-China.
In this connection the Reich Foreign Minister pointed out that traffic over the Siberian Railroad was not adequate and that, besides, 18,000 tons of French rubber from Indo-China would be delivered to Japan through the mediation of Germany. In this connection also he inquired as to the size of the auxiliary cruisers that might be available for the rubber shipments. Matsuoka, who said that he was not accurately informed, estimated the size at 10,000 tons.
In addition, referring to the discussion with Reich Minister Funk, the Reich Foreign Minister turned the conversation to future trade relations between Japan and Germany. He explained that the trade between the great economic areas of the future, that is, Europe and Africa on the one side and the Far East on the other side, would have to be developed on a relatively free basis, while the American Hemisphere, at any rate as far as the United States was concerned, would remain more to itself, as it had everything that it needed in its own territory and therefore was not to be considered for interchange with other economic areas. In South America, however, things were different. Possibilities of exchange with other economic areas actually presented themselves there.
Matsuoka replied that, for her own reconstruction and for the development of China, Japan needed cooperation with Germany. Some time before, he had given written instructions to the Japanese missions in China to grant preferred treatment to German and Italian
economic interests, as had already been done in Manchukuo and North China. Japan was not in a position to develop the gigantic territories of China without the assistance of German technical skill and German enterprise. Outwardly, of course, Japan would declare the open-door policy, but in reality would grant preferential treatment to Germany and Italy.
Besides, he had to admit openly that Japanese business circles were afraid of their German competitors, whom they considered very clever, while they only smiled at British and American competition. German business circles probably took a similar stand with regard to the Japanese, and therefore complaints came from both sides. He was of the opinion, however, that the reciprocal interests could be brought into harmony, and he told Japanese businessmen that they should not be afraid of German competition, but should endeavor to grapple with the problem with equal cleverness. At any rate the Japanese Government would do everything to equalize the interests of the two sides.
Then the Reich Foreign Minister went on to speak of Matsuoka's possible trip to Vichy, which was being considered. In this connection he said that of course he left it entirely to Matsuoka to decide whether he wanted to go to Vichy or not. If he considered this trip advisable, the German Government would not have anything against it. It would by no means stand in his way if, for instance, he wanted to talk to the French about Indo-China.
Matsuoka replied that above all else the respect which he felt for old Marshal Pétain had given him the idea of going to Vichy. The Emperor, who as Crown Prince had once been a guest of Pétain, was also among the admirers of the Marshal. Besides, he (Matsuoka) would like to go to Paris, and in that case a visit to Vichy would probably be unavoidable. However, in view of the extraordinary tension between Italy and France, he hesitated a great deal to undertake this visit, and in any event he wanted to ask the Duce and Count Ciano beforehand. He was certain that in her position of power Germany would have nothing against such a visit, but he did not know if he would hurt Italian feelings by going.
Going on, Matsuoka again spoke of Japanese-Russian relations. He pointed out that he had proposed a non-aggression pact to the Russians, to which Molotov had replied with the proposal of a neutrality agreement. During his stay in Moscow he, as the one who had made the original non-aggression proposal, would be forced to take a stand in some way with respect to these matters. On that occasion
he also intended to attempt to get the Russians to give up the northern half of the Sakhalin Peninsula. There were important oil deposits there, the exploitation of which was hampered in every conceivable way by the Russians. In all, Matsuoka calculated the maximum amount to be procured from these oil deposits at 2 million tons. He would propose to the Russians acquiring northern Sakhalin by purchase.
In reply to a question by the Reich Foreign Minister, as to whether the Russians would be ready to sell these regions, Matsuoka answered that it was extremely doubtful. At a hint to the same effect, Molotov had asked the Japanese Ambassador whether "that was meant for a joke." At any rate Japan was ready in return to replace the treaties of Portsmouth and Peking by other agreements and also to give up her fishing rights. In any event he would have to take up these matters and, in particular, the question of the non-aggression pact during his stay in Moscow. He asked the Reich Foreign Minister whether he should go very deeply into these questions or treat them only superficially.
The Reich Foreign Minister replied that in his opinion only a purely formal, superficial handling of these points was advisable. The question mentioned by Matsuoka with regard to Sakhalin could also be settled later. Further, if the Russians should pursue a foolish policy and force Germany to strike, he would-knowing the sentiments of the Japanese Army in China-consider it proper if that army were prevented from attacking Russia. Japan would best help the common cause if she did not allow herself to be diverted by anything from the attack on Singapore. With a common victory, the fulfillment of the wishes named above would, so to speak, fall into Japan's lap like ripe fruit.
Matsuoka went on to speak of German help in the blow against Singapore, regarding which he had received repeated assurances, and in that connection he mentioned the offer of a written promise of German help.
The Reich Foreign Minister replied that he had already discussed these things with Ambassador Oshima. He had asked him to supply maps of Singapore, so that the Führer, who certainly must be considered the greatest expert of modern times on military matters, could advise Japan as to the best method for the attack on Singapore. German aviation experts would also be available and, on the basis of experience gained in Europe, could advise the Japanese regarding the
use of dive bombers against the British Fleet in Singapore from air bases nearby. The British Fleet would then be compelled to disappear from Singapore at once.
Matsuoka interjected here that Japan was less concerned about the British fleet than about the capture of the fortifications.
The Reich Foreign Minister replied that here too the Führer had developed new methods for the German attacks on strongly fortified positions, such as the Maginot Line and Fort Eben Emael, which he could place at the disposal of the Japanese.
Matsuoka replied, in this connection, that some junior naval officers who were experts on such matters and who were good friends of his were of the opinion that it would take three months for the Japanese forces to capture Singapore. As a cautious Minister of Foreign Affairs, he had doubled that time. He believed that for six months they could ward off any danger threatening from America. But if the capture of Singapore should take still longer and were perhaps protracted for as long as a year, an extremely critical situation with America would develop, which he did not yet know how to meet.
If it could somehow be avoided, he would not touch the Dutch East Indies, as he feared that in case of a Japanese attack on those regions the oil fields would be set on fire. Then they could not be brought into production again for one or two years.
The Reich Foreign Minister remarked on that point that with the capture of Singapore, Japan would also gain control of the Dutch East Indies at the same time.
Matsuoka then mentioned also that the desire for air bases in French Indo-China and Thailand had been expressed among Japanese officers. He had rejected this, however, since he was by no means willing to undertake anything that might betray Japanese intention with regard to Singapore.
In conclusion, the Reich Foreign Minister took up once more the question of Germany's assistance to Japan. Something could perhaps be done in that field also. Japan had to understand, however, that in this war the heaviest burden was resting on Germany's shoulders. The Reich was fighting against the island of Great Britain and was tying up the British Mediterranean Fleet. Japan, on the other hand, was fighting only on the periphery. Besides, the main Russian forces were on the European side. The chivalrous Japanese Nation would surely recognize this state of affairs.
Matsuoka agreed to these ideas, in closing, and gave the assurance that Japan would always be a loyal ally, which would devote its efforts fully and entirely to the common cause and not merely in a half-hearted way.
BERLIN, March 31, 1941.
Frames 47334-47347, serial 67
Memorandum of the Interview Between the Führer and the Japanese Foreign Minister, Matsuoka, in the Presence of the Reich Foreign Minister and Minister of State Meissner at Berlin, April 4, 1941
Aufz. Füh 20/41
Matsuoka first thanked the Führer for the gifts which had been presented to him in the Führer's name, which he said he would treasure forever in an honored place as a perpetual remembrance of his stay in Berlin. At the same time he expressed his thanks for the friendly reception which he had received in Germany from the Führer, the Reich Foreign Minister, and the whole German people. As long as he lived he would never forget the sympathy which had been displayed toward him here on all sides. On his return to Japan he would exert himself with all his power to convince the Japanese people of the honored friendship and esteem in which they were held by the German people.
Next Matsuoka reported concerning his conversations with the Duce and the Pope.
With the Duce he had discussed the European situation in general and the state of the war, as well as the relationship of Italy to Germany and the future course of world development. The Duce had informed him (Matsuoka) of his views of the situation of the war in Greece, Yugoslavia, and North Africa and of the part which Italy herself had in these events. Finally the Chief of the Italian Government had spoken of Soviet Russia and America. He had said that one must have a clear notion of the importance of one's opponents. The enemy No. 1 was America, and Soviet Russia came only in second place. By these remarks the Duce had given him to understand that America as enemy-No. 1 would have to be very carefully observed, but should not be provoked. On the other hand one must be thoroughly prepared for all eventualities. Matsuoka had agreed in this line of thought.
With regard to Soviet Russia the Duce had spoken only briefly and to the same effect as had the Führer and the Reich Foreign Minister. In that connection also Matsuoka had agreed with him.
As the deepest impression which he was bringing back from his conversation with the Duce, Matsuoka mentioned the sense of complete unity between Italy and Germany, whose relations, in his opinion, could never be disturbed. Both countries were at one and firmly determined not to let this position be shaken. Matsuoka had felt this previously, but his conviction after his conversation with the Duce was stronger than ever. On his return to Japan he would try to drive home this fact, especially with those Japanese who continued to believe that Italy could be persuaded by Great Britain, perhaps not to become detached from Germany completely, but at least to cease to fight with her whole heart for the common cause.
Count Ciano, with whom he was personally friendly, had informed him that he did not always completely understand the policy of the
Führer, but that nevertheless he had implicit confidence in him and his decisions.
With the Pope he had had an open and friendly conversation lasting for an hour and a quarter, which was concerned in a more theoretical fashion with the present situation and the future development of civilization. They had not spoken of the war, so that it would be hardly useful to describe the conversation any further to the Führer. At his departure Matsuoka had asked the Pope whether or not the latter perceived any opportunity or chance for bringing about peace. After brief consideration the Pope had said "No," and on his part asked Matsuoka whether or not he discerned any possibilities of peace. Matsuoka had also replied in the negative. The Pope had added only that nevertheless he prayed daily for peace and he requested Matsuoka to do the same, which the latter promised to do. In addition the Pope declared that if Japan saw any possibility of peace he would be glad to give his assistance.
Matsuoka further reported that he had told the Pope that during the World War he had served in the Foreign Office in Tokyo as private secretary to the then Prime Minister, and that, in that capacity, he had sought to persuade the Prime Minister and Field Marshal Yamagata to establish communication with the Vatican for the purpose of bringing about peace. Both had been favorable in principle but they had not had the boldness to put the idea into actual operation.
Matsuoka added that he had been led to undertake these peace efforts principally in view of the personality of Cardinal Gaspari.
Further, he had sought to convince the Pope that the United States and especially the American President were prolonging the war in Europe and in China. It was not a matter of proving whether
America and her President were right or wrong. They would certainly have definite grounds for their policy. Entirely apart from the question of right or wrong, the fact would have to be recognized that they were prolonging the war in Europe and in China. In connection with China he had sought to convince the Pope that Japan was not fighting against the Chinese or China herself, but only against Bolshevism, which was threatening to spread over China and the whole Far East. It was regrettable that America and England stood on the side of Bolshevism.
The Führer here interjected that both countries had stood on the side of Bolshevism in Spain as well.
Matsuoka then advanced the request that the Führer should instruct the appropriate authorities in Germany to meet the desires of the Japanese Military Commission as fully as possible. Especially in the field of U-boat warfare, Japan required German help in the way of furnishing the latest operational experience and the newest technical improvements and discoveries. Japan would do everything in her power to avoid a war with the United States. In case his country determined on a stroke against Singapore, the Japanese Navy must, of course, also make preparations against the United States, for in such a case America might possibly come out on the side of Great Britain. Personally he (Matsuoka) believed that the entry of the United States into the war on the side of Great Britain could be avoided. The army and navy must, however, prepare for the worst, i. e., for a war against America. They believed that such a war would last over five years and would be fought out as a guerrilla war in the Pacific Ocean and South Seas. For this reason the experience derived by Germany in her guerrilla war would be most important for Japan. It was a matter of how such a war could best be carried on and how all the technical improvements of the U-boats, down to individual parts, such as periscopes and the like, could be made useful by Japan.
Summing up, Matsuoka asked the Führer to see to it that the improvements and discoveries in the naval and military fields should be made available to the Japanese by the competent German authorities
The Führer agreed to this and added that Germany also considered a war with the United States to be undesirable, but that it had already been included in his calculations. In Germany the viewpoint was that America's performance depended upon her transport capabilities, which in turn would be limited by the tonnage available. Germany's warfare against shipping tonnage represented an appreciable weakening not only of England but of America also. Germany had made
her preparations so that no American could land in Europe. She would wage a vigorous war against America with the U-boats and the Luftwaffe, and with her greater experience, which the United States had still to achieve, would be more than a match for America, entirely apart from the fact that the German soldiers were, obviously, far superior to the Americans.
In the further course of the conversation the Führer declared that if Japan got into a conflict with the United States, Germany on her part would take the necessary steps at once. It made no difference with whom the United States first came into conflict, whether it was with Germany or with Japan. They would always be intent upon disposing of one country first, not with the idea of then coming to an agreement with the other country, but with the idea of disposing of it next. Therefore Germany would, as he had said, promptly take part in case of a conflict between Japan and America, for the strength of the allies in the Three Power Pact lay in their acting in common. Their weakness would be in allowing themselves to be defeated separately.
Matsuoka again repeated his request that the Führer should give the necessary instructions, so that the competent German authorities would make available to the Japanese the latest inventions and improvements of interest to them, for the Japanese Navy must make preparations at once for a conflict with the United States.
With regard to Japanese-American relations Matsuoka continued that in his own country he had always declared that if Japan continued in the same fashion as at present, a war with the United States sooner or later would be unavoidable. In his view this conflict might better occur sooner than later. Accordingly, so his argument had run, should not Japan decide to act with determination at the proper moment and take the risk of a war against America? Exactly by such means the war might perhaps be postponed for generations, especially if Japan secured domination in the South Seas. In Japan, however, many people refused to follow this line of thought. In those circles Matsuoka was considered to be a dangerous man with dangerous ideas. He declared, however, that if Japan proceeded further along the present course she would some day have to fight and that this might happen under more favorable circumstances then than at present.
The Führer replied that he had much sympathy for Matsuoka's position, since he had found himself in similar situations (the occupation of the Rhineland, and the resumption of full military independence). He had also come to the conclusion that in a period when
he was still young and vigorous he should make use of favorable circumstances and take upon himself the risk of a war which was eventually unavoidable. That he had been right in taking this position had been demonstrated by events. Europe was now free. He would not hesitate a moment to reply at once to any extension of the war whether by Russia or by America. Providence favored those who did not let perils overtake them, but who confronted them courageously.
Matsuoka replied that the United States, or rather the statesmen who were in control there, had lately undertaken a last maneuver with respect to Japan, in which they declared that America would not fight Japan on account of China or the South Pacific, on condition that Japan should permit shipments of rubber and tin from these areas to proceed unhindered to their points of destination in America. America would, however, fight Japan the moment she felt that Japan intended to enter the war with the intention of assisting in the destruction of Great Britain. With the English-oriented education which many Japanese had received, this sort of argument naturally was not without effect on the Japanese.
The Führer declared in this connection that this attitude of America meant no more than that, as long as the British Empire remained, the United States would cherish the hope of one day being able to proceed together with Great Britain against Japan, while, with a collapse of the Empire they would be completely isolated as against Japan and could accomplish nothing against her.
The Reich Foreign Minister here interjected that the Americans under any circumstances would seek to uphold the English power position in East Asia; that, however, this attitude showed how much they feared joint action on the part of Japan and Germany.
Matsuoka continued that it seemed important to him to give the Führer the true story about the actual situation in Japan. Therefore he must inform him of the regrettable circumstances that he (Matsuoka), as Japanese Foreign Minister, in Japan itself did not dare to say a word about the plans which he had set forth to the Führer and the Reich Foreign Minister. In political and financial circles it would do him much harm. He had once, previously, before he had become Japanese Foreign Minister, made the mistake of telling a close friend something about his intentions. The latter had apparently spread the matter about, so that every kind of rumor arose, which, although he always otherwise spoke the truth, as Foreign Minister he was bound energetically to contradict. Also, under these circumstances, he could not state how soon he would be able to hold a conference with the
Japanese Prime Minister or with the Emperor about the questions which had been discussed. He would first have to go into developments in Japan closely and carefully, in order to determine a favorable occasion on which to give Prince Konoye and the Emperor the true picture about his real plans. The decision would then have to follow in a few days, for otherwise the problems would be talked to pieces. If he were not able to put through his plans, it would be an indication that he lacked sufficient influence, power of persuasion and tactical ability. But if he could put them through, it would show that he had attained great influence in Japan. He personally believed that he would be able to put them through.
On his return he would admit to the Emperor, the Prime Minister, and the Navy and War Ministers, if they asked, that the matter of Singapore had been discussed. He would, however, declare that this had only been done in a hypothetical way.
In addition Matsuoka expressly requested that nothing be cabled on the subject of Singapore, since he feared that by use of telegrams something might slip out. In case of necessity, he would send a courier.
The Führer agreed and assured him that he could rely fully and completely on German discretion.
Matsuoka replied that he had confidence in German discretion, but he could not, unfortunately, say the same thing for Japan.
After some personal farewell greetings the conversation came to a close.
BERLIN, April 4, 1941.
Frames 113240-113241, serial 104
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
Moscow, April 4, 1941-10:28 p. m.
Received April 5, 1941-12:55 a. m.
No. 796 of April 4
For the Reich Minister personally.
Molotov just summoned me to the Kremlin to inform me of the following, in accordance with the agreement to consult existing between Germany and the Soviet Union:
The Yugoslav Government had proposed to the Soviet Government the negotiation of a treaty of friendship and non-aggression, and the Soviet Government had accepted the proposal. This agreement would be signed today or tomorrow. In its decision to accede to the proposal of the Yugoslav Government, the Soviet Government had been actuated solely by the desire to preserve peace. It knew that in this desire it was in harmony with the Reich Government, which was likewise opposed to an extension of the war. The Soviet Government therefore hoped that the German Government, too, in its present relations to Yugoslavia, would do everything to maintain peace. The agreement between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia was analogous to the Turco-Soviet Agreement of 1925, and relations of the Soviet Union to other countries were not affected by the agreement with Yugoslavia. The Soviet-Yugoslav Agreement was directed against no one and was not aimed at any other state.
I replied to Molotov that in my estimation the moment chosen by the Soviet Union for the negotiation of such a treaty had been very unfortunate, and the very signing would create an undesirable impression in the world. The policy of the Yugoslav Government was entirely unclear, and its attitude, as well as the behavior of the Yugoslav public toward Germany, was challenging.
Molotov replied that Yugoslavia had concluded a treaty with Germany regarding accession to the Three Power Pact, and the Yugoslav Envoy here, who was at the same time a member of the new Cabinet, had assured the Soviet Government that the new Yugoslav Government was observing this treaty. Under these circumstances, the Soviet Government had thought that it could, for its part, conclude an agreement with Yugoslavia that was not even as far-reaching as the German-Yugoslav Treaty.
To my objection that, to my knowledge, we had thus far received no statement from the Yugoslav Government regarding the observance of its accession to the Three Power Pact and had been given every reason to doubt its goodwill, Molotov countered with the assertion that he was convinced of the peaceful intentions of the Yugoslav Government. The latter had restored peace and order to its country and strove to create good relations with all its neighbors.
At my objection that the behavior of the new Yugoslav Government actually revealed no striving toward good relations with Germany-and despite all my efforts to obtain from Molotov the promise that the Soviet Government might reconsider the matter-Molotov repeatedly stated that the Soviet Government had reached its decision
after mature deliberation. It was convinced that the step it had taken was a positive contribution to peace, which was also desired by Germany. To this Molotov added the repeated and urgent request that Germany also do all she could to preserve peace in the Balkans.
Frames 113249-113250, serial 104
Foreign Office Memorandum
MEMORANDUM ON THE PRESENT STATUS OF SOVIET DELIVERIES OF RAW MATERIALS TO GERMANY
1) After the conclusion of the German-Soviet Commercial Agreement of January 10, 1941, there could at first be observed on the Soviet side a noticeable restraint with regard to the practical carrying out of the Soviet deliveries, which was probably attributable in part to the cooling off of political relations with the Reich. The conclusion of the individual commercial contracts also-as usual-caused great difficulties. In consequence, imports of raw materials from the U.S.S.R. remained relatively slight in January and February (17 million RM and 11 million RM; including, to be sure, as the largest and most important item, 200,000 tons of Bessarabian grain).
2) A change took place in this respect in the month of March. Deliveries in March rose by leaps and bounds, especially in grains, petroleum, manganese ore, and the nonferrous and precious metals. The grain contract, which we had struggled so hard to get, was closed in the amount of 1.4 million tons of grain, at relatively favorable prices, for delivery by September of this year. The Soviets have already made available 110,000 tons of grain on this contract and have promised firmly to deliver 170,000 to 200,000 tons of grain in April.
3) The situation as regards the German counter-deliveries is favorable in this quarter, since, in accordance with the provisions of the contracts, we only have to deliver in this quarter the balances due on the first year of the contract. It will not be possible to adhere to the later German delivery periods because of a shortage of labor and priority of the military programs.
4) Transit traffic through Siberia is proceeding favorably as usual. At our request, the Soviet Government even put a special freight train for rubber at our disposal at the Manchurian border. Negotiations are now in progress in Moscow regarding the increase in Soviet tariff rates.
To sum up, it may be said that after an initial lag Russian deliveries at the moment are quite considerable, and the Commercial Agreement of January 10th of this year is being observed on the Russian side.
BERLIN, April 5, 1941.
Frames 365281-365282, serial 1448
The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)
BERLIN, April 6, 1941-4:30 a.m.
Received Moscow, April 6-9:35 a. m.
No. 703 of April 6
State Secret. Strictly secret. To be decoded only by the officer in charge of state secret documents. To be submitted at once to the Chief of the Mission personally. Reply by courier or secret code.
For the Ambassador personally.
Please call on Herr Molotov early Sunday morning, April 6th, and tell him that the Government of the Reich had felt itself compelled to proceed to military action in Greece and Yugoslavia. The Government of the Reich had been forced to take this step because of the arrival of British military forces on the Greek mainland in ever increasing numbers, and because of the fact that the Yugoslav Government which had come to power illegally by the coup d'état of March 27 had made common cause with England and Greece. The Reich Government had accurate information for several days to the effect that the Yugoslav General Staff, in conjunction with the Greek General Staff and the High Command of the British Expeditionary Army that had landed in Greece, had prepared for joint operations against Germany and Italy, which were on the verge of being carried out. Moreover, the constantly increasing number of reports on excesses against Germans in Yugoslavia had made it impossible for the Government of the Reich to remain inactive further in the face of such developments. The new Yugoslav Government had taken this course contrary to all law and reason, after Germany had for years pursued a policy of friendship with this country, which was to have reached its culmination in the recent accession to the Three Power Pact. Moreover, I would ask you in this connection to refer to the communications made
to Herr Molotov on various occasions, which you had already made to the Soviet Government, regarding the aims and intentions of the German Government on the Balkan Peninsula: that is, that German activity in this area is directed solely to prevent England from gaining another foothold on the Continent; that Germany has absolutely no political or territorial interests in this area; and that German troops would be withdrawn when their tasks in the Balkans are finished. Please make these statements without any special emphasis, in an objective and dispassionate manner.
Please do not on this occasion mention the communication made to you by Molotov regarding the conclusion of a Soviet-Yugoslav Friendship Pact. Should Molotov, on his part, speak of it, then please confine yourself to the comment that you have transmitted his communication to Berlin, but have not yet received any reply.
Send telegraphic report on execution hereof.
Frame 113266, serial 104
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
Moscow, April 6, 1941-7 p. m.
Received April 6, 1941-10:25 p. m.
No. 818 of April 6
Reference your telegram of the 5th [6th], No. 703.
For Reich Minister personally.
Since Molotov always spends Sunday out of town, I was only able to speak with him this afternoon at 4 o'clock. Molotov came to Moscow expressly for this purpose.
After I had made to Molotov the communications prescribed, he repeated several times that it was extremely deplorable that an extension of the war had thus proved inevitable after all.
Molotov did not on this occasion mention the negotiation of the Soviet-Yugoslav Pact. Therefore I, too, as instructed, did not revert to this subject.
Frames 84963-84964, serial 177
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
Moscow, April 9, 1941-9:03 p. m.
Received April 9, 1941-11:05 p. m.
No. 843 of April 9
Reference my telegram No. 832 of the 7th. 
Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka will have a further conversation with Molotov this afternoon in the Kremlin. After the dinner which Molotov arranged for him this evening, Matsuoka will leave for Leningrad and spend Thursday there. Matsuoka has delayed his departure till Sunday. I have had several conversations with Matsuoka, but have not yet been able to obtain any straightforward statement from him regarding his conversations with Molotov and their concrete results. In my opinion Matsuoka went very much into detail in the conversations with Molotov, and it might well depend now essentially on the Soviet Government whether there will be any written agreements. Matsuoka promised to inform me before his departure for Tokyo.
Matsuoka also related the following: At a breakfast which Steinhardt, the American Ambassador here, gave for Matsuoka by reason of his previous personal relations with him, Steinhardt tried time and again to find out from him whether a Japanese attack on America had been decided upon in Berlin. Matsuoka added that he had the impression that Steinhardt had been directly requested by Roosevelt to do this. Naturally he had replied that this was entirely out of the question.
 Not printed.
Frame 84967, serial 177
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
Moscow, April 10, 1041-12:25 a. m.
Received April 10, 1941-5:20 a. m.
No. 851 of April 9
This evening, shortly before his dinner with Molotov, Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka sent Minister Nischi, First Counselor of
Embassy at the Japanese Embassy here, who was likewise invited by Molotov, to give me the following information:
Today Matsuoka had again conferred for three hours with Molotov. The result was: Matsuoka waived the original Japanese demand for a non-aggression pact and the purchase by Japan of North Sakhalin; at present it was a question of concluding a neutrality pact, to include the following main points:
2. Respect for each other's territory
3. Neutrality in case of war
The Soviet Government was still insisting on the abandonment of Japanese concessions in North Sakhalin as the price of a neutrality pact, while the Japanese Government was proposing that this point be settled later. Should the Soviet Government persist in this viewpoint, Matsuoka would leave here without accomplishing anything. If the Soviet Government gave in, a neutrality pact would probably be concluded.
Matsuoka is leaving for Leningrad today; upon his return Friday the decision may be made known.
Frames 131706-131707, serial 165
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
[Moscow], April 13, 1941-6 p. m.
No. 883 of April 13
For the Reich Foreign Minister personally.
Matsuoka has just visited me in order to make his farewell call. He stated to me that a Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact had been arranged at the last moment and, in all likelihood, would be signed this afternoon at 2 p. m. local time. The Soviet Government had originally insisted that Japan should at the same time give up her concession in North Sakhalin, and that this be included in an annex to the treaty. Matsuoka absolutely rejected this demand. Last evening he had a conversation with Stalin, in which Stalin, at the conclusion, had given up the demand for the elimination of the Japanese concession. Stalin declared characteristic-ally that Herr Matsuoka was "choking him"
and he made the appropriate gesture. Herr Matsuoka promised that he would do his best in Tokyo to bring the Japanese Government and Japanese public opinion around to giving up the concession. With regard to the episode, Herr Matsuoka made the following remarks:
1) In Berlin he had told the Reich Foreign Minister that in Moscow he probably would not be able to avoid discussing the question, which had been pending for a long time, of a Japanese-Soviet Non-aggression or Neutrality Pact. He would, of course, show no eagerness in the matter, but he would be compelled to do something in case the Russians were willing to agree to Japanese wishes. The Reich Foreign Minister had agreed in this point of view.
2) The forthcoming conclusion of the Pact, of course, in no way affects the Three Power Pact. My inquiry as to whether the Pact which was being concluded had any provision to this effect in it, was answered by Matsuoka in the negative, and he added that the Russians had not brought up this question, and accordingly he had not gone into it either.
3) Matsuoka emphasized that the conclusion of the Neutrality Pact was of very great importance for Japan. It would make a powerful impression on Chiang Kai-shek and would appreciably ease Japanese negotiations with him. Also it would result in an appreciable strengthening of the position of Japan as over against America and England. Matsuoka added that the American and English journalists, who had reported yesterday that his journey to Moscow had been a complete failure, would be compelled today to acknowledge that the Japanese policy had achieved a great success, which could not fail to have its effect on England and America.
Frames 131704-131705, serial 165
The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office
Moscow, April 13, 1941-9 p. m.
No. 884 of April 13
For the Reich Foreign Minister personally.
Reference my telegram of today No. 883.
1. According to a statement of Matsuoka to the Italian Ambassador at this capital, Matsuoka's assurance that he would do his best
to bring about the elimination of the Japanese concession in North Sakhalin has been confirmed in writing by a letter of Matsuoka to Molotov.
2. To a question from the Italian Ambassador to Matsuoka as to whether at the conversation between Matsuoka and Stalin the relations of the Soviet Union with the Axis had been taken up, Matsuoka answered that Stalin had told him that he was a convinced adherent of the Axis and an opponent [Gegner] of England and America.
3. The departure of Matsuoka was delayed for an hour and then took place with extraordinary ceremony. Apparently completely unexpectedly for both the Japanese and the Russians, both Stalin and Molotov appeared and greeted Matsuoka and the Japanese who were present in a remarkably friendly manner and wished them a pleasant journey. Then Stalin publicly asked for me, and when he found me he came up to me and threw his arm around my shoulders: "We must remain friends and you must now do everything to that end!" Somewhat later Stalin turned to the German Acting Military Attaché, Colonel Krebs, first made sure that he was a German, and then said to him: "We will remain friends with you-in any event [auf jeden Fall]!" Stalin doubtless brought about this greeting of Colonel Krebs and myself intentionally, and thereby he consciously attracted the general attention of the numerous persons who were present.