Apr. 15

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

Sobolev accepts the German position on the demarcation of the German-Soviet boundary, and requests that mixed commissions fix the boundary at once, Tippelskirch warns that any German delay will arouse Soviet mistrust.


Apr. 16

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

The Japanese-Soviet Pact, and Stalin's actions at the rail road station are interpreted as evidence of a desire for Soviet-Axis cooperation.


Apr. 18

Protocol on the Outcome of the Conference Between the Plenipotentiaries of the Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics To Inquire Into the Observance of the Commercial Agreement Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of February 11, 1940

Gives the total of Soviet deliveries.


Apr. 22

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

Reports a formal complaint against violations of the Soviet frontier by German planes.


Apr. 23

The High Command of the Armed Forces to the German Foreign Office

Complains of violations of the German frontier by Soviet planes.


Apr. 24

The Naval Attaché of the German Embassy in the Soviet Union (Baumbach) to the Naval High Command

Rumors of a German-Soviet war are fed by travelers from Germany, the British Ambassador predicts the outbreak for June 22.


Apr. 28

Conversation of the Führer with the Ambassador Count von der Schulenburg, on April 28, 1941

Schulenburg argues that the U.S.S.R. will not attack Germany, but rather wishes to cooperate with the Axis and will make even further concessions to Germany; Hitler argues that the U.S.S.R. cannot be trusted.


Apr. 28

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

Argues that war with the U.S.S.R. would give Britain new moral strength, and that a German advance even to Moscow and beyond would not bring peace but instead would prolong the war and sacrifice the economic advantages Germany now derives from peace with the U.S.S.R.


May 2

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

Every traveler to Moscow brings rumors of war, supported by facts.


May 4

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

Instructions for combating rumors of war.


May 7

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

Believes Stalin has taken the chairmanship of the Council of People's Commissars because he wishes to develop good relations with Germany and because he feels Molotov has failed to achieve this goal.


May 12

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

Maintains that recent events fortify the belief that Stalin took the chairmanship in order to avert a war with Germany.


May 13

The German Consul at Harbin (Ponschab) to the German Foreign Office

Gives the text of an intercepted Soviet dispatch warning that Germany may force a war.


May 15

Foreign Office Memorandum

Schnurre gives a summary of recent German-Soviet commercial negotiations and of Soviet raw material deliveries, he believes that Germany could ask even larger deliveries.


May 15

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

Reports of frontier violations by German planes are being investigated.


May 16

The German Minister in Sweden (Wied) to the German Foreign Office

Minister Kollontay on forces massed on the western frontier of the U.S.S.R.


May 17

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

Oshima asks about German-Soviet relations and receives an evasive reply.


May 17

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

Sobolev says frontier violations by German planes are continuing.


May 24

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

Demarcation of the German-Soviet boundary will be arranged shortly, Woermann explains that the purpose of this telegram is to delay a survey of the boundary by a mixed commission.


May 24

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

Argues that Soviet policy is directed at the avoidance of a conflict with Germany.


June 14

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

Molotov gives the text of a Tass dispatch denying rumors of an impending break between Germany and the U.S.S.R.


June 15

The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Minister in Hungary (Erdmannsdorff)

Hungary is to be prepared for a German-Soviet break.


June 21

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

The text of the German declaration of war.


June 21

Letter from Hitler to Mussolini

Defending the decision to attack the U.S.S.R.


June 21

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

The Soviet Ambassador protests against frontier violations by German planes; Weizsacker maintains that there have been wholesale violations by Soviet planes; the formal protest is attached.


June 22

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

Molotov asks an explanation for German dissatisfaction with the U.S.S.R., he wishes to know what has caused the present situation in German-Soviet relations, Schulenburg says he cannot answer because he lacks the pertinent information.


June 22

Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Reich Foreign Minister and Soviet Russian Ambassador Dekanosov in the Foreign Office at 4 a. m. on June 23 [1941]

Ribbentrop announces that Germany has begun hostilities.


Page 325



Frames 113314-113315, serial 104

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



Moscow, April 15, 1941-9:34 p. m.

Received April 15, 1941-11:45 p. m.

No. 899 of April 15

Reference our telegram of the 7th, No. 823. [14]

The Secretary General of the Office of the Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Sobolev, summoned me to his office today and stated that, by order of Molotov, he had a communication to make on the demarcation of the section of the German-Soviet boundary from the Igorka River to the Baltic Sea. The Secretary General first went briefly into the previous negotiations, in which connection he pointed out that the Soviet proposals had been based on decisions of the Conference of Ambassadors of 1923, while the German side advocated a boundary line corresponding to the one actually existing at present. The Secretary General then declared that the Soviet Government did not wish to delay further the solution of the problem and was accordingly prepared to undertake a drawing of the boundary corresponding to its present course, in conformity with the proposals contained in the memorandum of the Embassy of March 6, 1941. [14]

The Secretary General added that all other proposals thereby lapsed; he requested that his communication be transmitted without delay to the German Government; he hoped the matter would now be brought to a speedy conclusion.

The communication made by Sobolev means the unconditional acceptance of the German demand, as postulated at the end of the memorandum composed by Minister Saucken and transmitted to Molotov through the Ambassador on March 6. Considering the pressure for the view heretofore held by Molotov in this matter, the compliant attitude of the Soviet Government seems very remarkable. Since the

[14] Not printed.

Page 326

Soviet Government doubtless expects that its attitude will meet with proper appreciation on the part of the Germans, any delay in giving our consent would produce the greatest mistrust in the Soviet Government, as you have already rightly suspected was the case in connection with the delay in the formation of the sub-commission. (See telegraphic instruction No. 456 of March 6 and telegraphic report No. 508, of March 7.) [15]

I request telegraphic instructions.


[15] Neither printed.


Frames 84989-84991, serial 177

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



Moscow, April 16, 1941-12:37 a. m.

Received April 16, 1941-3:10 a. m.


No. 902 of April 15

Reference our telegram No. 884 of the 13th.

The Japanese Ambassador, on whom I called today, told me that the conclusion of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact had created a very favorable atmosphere on the part of the Soviet Government, of which he was convinced by Molotov, who today had asked him to call immediately in order to continue the negotiations regarding a commercial treaty. The conclusion of the treaty had caused disappointment and anxiety in America, where Matsuoka's journey to Berlin and Rome had been followed with interest.

Members of the Japanese Embassy here maintain that the Pact is advantageous not only to Japan but also to the Axis, that the Soviet Union's relations with the Axis will be favorably affected by it, and that the Soviet Union is prepared to cooperate with the Axis.

Stalin's manner toward the Ambassador at the railroad station when Matsuoka left is also interpreted in the same way by the diplomatic corps here. The view is frequently expressed that Stalin had purposely brought about an opportunity to show his attitude toward Germany in the presence of the foreign diplomats and press representatives; this, in view of the persistently circulating rumors of an imminent conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union, is considered to be especially noteworthy. At the same time the

Page 327

changed attitude of the-Soviet Government is attributed to the effect here of the success of the German armed forces in Yugoslavia and Greece.


Marginal Note: Transmitted under No. 1196 to the special train.

Telegram Control. April 16, 1941.


Frame 113391, serial 104


on the outcome of conference between the plenipotentiaries of the Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics to inquire into the observance of the Commercial Agreement between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of February 11, 1940

The plenipotentiaries of the Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics acting in pursuance of article 10 of the Commercial Agreement between Germany and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics of February 11, 1940, have, on the basis of their inquiry into the observance of the above-mentioned agreement as of February 11, 1941, agreed as follows:

According to Soviet calculations, the Soviet deliveries on February 11, 1941, amounted to 310.3 million Reichsmarks. The Germans will by May 11, 1941, make deliveries from Germany in at least this amount.

Two original documents executed, each in the German and Russian languages, both texts having the same validity.

Done in Berlin, April 18, 1941.

For the Government of the German Reich


By authority of the Government of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics


Page 328


Frames 113335-113336, serial 104

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



Moscow, April 22, 1941-12:05 a. m.

Received April 22, 1941-3:30 a. m.

No. 957 of April 21

The Secretary General of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs summoned me to his office today and delivered to me a note verbale in which the urgent request is again made that we take measures against continuing violations of the U.S.S.R. boundary by German planes. Violations had increased considerably of late. From March 27 to April 18, 80 such cases had occurred. The note verbale, to which is attached a detailed statement of the 80 cases mentioned, refers to the case of a plane that landed near Rovno on April 15th, in which were found a camera, some rolls of exposed film, and a torn topographical map of the districts of the U.S.S.R., all of which gives evidence of the purpose of the crew of this airplane.

The note verbale continues verbatim as follows:

"Consequently the People's Commissariat deems it necessary to remind the German Embassy of the statement that was made on March 28, 1940, by the Assistant Military Attaché of the Embassy of the U.S.S.R. in Berlin to Reich Marshal Göring, according to which the People's Commissar for Defense of the U.S.S.R. made an exception to the very strict measures for the protection of the Soviet border and gave the border troops the order not to fire on the German planes flying over Soviet territory so long as such flights do not occur frequently."

At the end, the note verbale again emphasizes particularly the expectation of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs that the German Government will take all the measures necessary in order in future to prevent violation of the national boundaries of the U.S.S.R. by German planes.

The Secretary General asked me to transmit the contents to Berlin, which I promised to do.

In view of the fact that the Soviet note verbale refers to previous memoranda on similar border violations by German airplanes, and also reminds us of the statement of the Assistant Military Attaché, it is very likely that serious incidents are to be expected if German planes continue to fly across the Soviet border.


Page 329


Frames 352987-352988, serial 1337

The High Command, of the Armed Forces to the German Foreign Office

WFST/Abt. L (1 Op)

Field Headquarters, April 23, 1941.

Nr.:00 731 a/41 g Kdos.

Secret Military Document [Geheime Kommandosache]

Subject: Soviet-Russian border violations.

Attention of Ambassador Ritter.

Reports coming in almost daily of further border violations by Soviet Russian planes confirm the view of the High Command of the Armed Forces transmitted to the Foreign Office by letter of March 1, to the effect that it is a matter of conscious provocation on the part of Soviet Russia.

On April 11, two 2-motor planes of the type SB 2 flew over the city of Belz at a great height. On April 11, one plane each was sighted at Malkinia and Ostrow-Mazowiki. Also on April 14, a Soviet-Russian plane was reported over Langszorgen. On April 15, several planes flew over the demarcation line in the Dynow-Lodzina area-south of Losko. On April 17 alone, eight planes were identified over German territory-four each near Deumenrode and Swiddern; on April 19, two planes over Malkinia; another at an altitude of 200 meters (!) over Ostrowice.

Besides these, a number of other planes were reported, the nationality of which, however, could not be identified with certainty because of the altitude at which they were flying. There is no doubt, however, from the direction of the flight and the evidence obtained from the German task forces stationed there, that in these cases also, border trespass flights by planes of the U.S.S.R. are involved.

The High Command of the Armed Forces now finds that the steadily mounting number of border trespass flights can only be regarded as the deliberate employment of the air force of the U.S.S.R. over the sovereign territory of the Reich. Since more German units had to be brought up for security reasons because the forces on the other side of the German eastern border were strengthened, we have to reckon with increased danger of grave border incidents.

The orders of the High Command of the Armed Forces for the exercise of the utmost restraint nevertheless continue in force.

The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces

By order: JODL

Page 330


Frame 218002, serial 426

The Naval Attaché of the German Embassy in the Soviet Union (Baumbach) to the Naval High Command


No. 34112/110 of April 24

April 24, [1941.]

For the Navy.

1. Rumors current here speak of alleged danger of war between Germany and the Soviet Union and are being fed by travelers passing through from Germany.

2. According to the Counselor of the Italian Embassy, the British Ambassador predicts June 22 as the day of the outbreak of war.

3. May 20th is set by others.

4. I arm endeavoring to counteract the rumors, which are manifestly absurd.

Naval Attaché


Frames 314-320, serial F 15

Conversation of the Führer with the Ambassador Count von der Schulenburg, on April 28, 1941, From 5:15 p. m. to 5:45 p. m.


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

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

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

Page 331

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

The Führer went on at some length about the nations misled by England, particularly about the development of its political endeavors in Yugoslavia. England had hoped for a Yugoslav-Greek-Turko-Russian front in the southeast and had striven for this broad grouping of powers in memory of the Salonika front in the World War. He regretted exceedingly that-because of these efforts of England-he had now been forced to move against poor little Greece also. It had been repugnant to him to have to strike down, against his natural impulses, this small, plucky nation. The Yugoslav coup d'état had come suddenly out of the blue. When the news of it was brought to him on the morning of the 27th, he thought it was a joke. When one had gone through that sort of thing one was bound to be suspicious. Nations today allowed hatred and perhaps also financial interests to determine their policy rather than good sense and logic, and so it had happened that as a result of the promises and the lies of the British, one after another, the Poles, to whom he had offered the most favorable terms; France, which had not wanted the war at all; Holland and Belgium; Norway, and now Greece and Yugoslavia had plunged to disaster. It

Page 332

might be said that the masses could not help it, but he dealt not with the peoples but with the governments. And Greece had decidedly not been neutral! Its press had been impudent. Greece had always been sympathetic to England and had, above all, placed its shipping and its submarine bases at the disposal of England. Turkey, too, had very nearly taken the same road. He did not, it was true, believe that Russia could be bought to attack Germany, but strong instincts of hatred had survived, nevertheless, and, above all, Russian determination to approach closer to Finland and the Dardanelles was unchanged, as Molotov had allowed clearly to be seen on his visit. When he considered all this, he was obliged to be careful.

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

The Führer then took leave of me.

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

Respectfully submitted to the State Secretary, for his information.


BERLIN, April 29, 1941.

Page 333


Frames 311-312, serial F 15

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


BERLIN, April 28, 1941.

To the Reich Foreign Minister.

Concerning Count Schulenburg's memorandum on German-Russian relations:

I can summarize in one sentence my views on a German-Russian conflict: If every Russian city reduced to ashes were as valuable to us as a sunken British warship, I should advocate the German-Russian war for this summer; but I believe that we would be victors over Russia only in a military sense, and would, on the other hand, lose in an economic sense.

It might perhaps be considered an alluring prospect to give the Communist system its death blow and it might also be said that it was inherent in the logic of things to muster the Eurasian continent against Anglo-Saxondom and its following. But the sole decisive factor is whether this project will hasten the fall of England.

We must distinguish between two possibilities:

a) England is close to collapse: if we accept this [assumption], we shall encourage England by taking on a new opponent ["We shall" is deleted, but the words written in above are illegible.] Russia is no potential ally of the English. England can expect nothing good from Russia. Hope in Russia is not postponing England's collapse. [In handwriting :] With Russia we do not destroy any English hopes.

b) If we do not believe in the imminent collapse of England, then the thought might suggest itself that by the use of force, we must feed ourselves from Soviet territory. I take it as a matter of course that we shall advance victoriously to Moscow and beyond that. I doubt very much, however, whether we shall be able to turn to account what we have won in the face of the well-known passive resistance of the Slavs. I do not see in the Russian State any effective opposition capable of succeeding the Communist system and uniting with us and being of service to us. We would therefore probably have to reckon with a continuation of the Stalin system in Eastern Russia and in Siberia and with a renewed outbreak of hostilities in the spring of 1942. The window to the Pacific Ocean would remain shut.

A German attack on Russia would only give the British new moral strength. It would be interpreted there as German uncertainty as to the success of our fight against England. We would thereby not

Page 334

only be admitting that the war was going to last a long time yet, but we might actually prolong it in this way, instead of shortening it.


This position is drafted in very brief form, since the Reich Foreign Minister wanted it within the shortest possible time. Weizsäcker.


Frame 365359, serial 1448

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

Tgb. Nr. A/g/229/41

MOSCOW, May 2, 1941.


Subject: Rumors of German-Russian military showdown.

Reference instruction Pol. V 1490g of April 16, 1941. [16]

I and all the higher officials of my Embassy have always combated rumors of an imminent German-Russian military show-down, since it is natural that rumors of that kind constitute a great hazard for the continued peaceful development of German-Soviet relations. Please bear in mind, however, that attempts to counteract these rumors here in Moscow must necessarily remain ineffectual if such rumors incessantly reach here from Germany, and if every traveler who comes to Moscow or travels through Moscow not only brings these rumors along, but can even confirm them by citing facts.


[16] Not printed.


Frames 218003-218004, serial 426

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


No. 878 of May 3

BERLIN, May 4, 1941-5:45 a. m.

Received Moscow, May 4, 1941-10 a. m.

Secret. To be decoded only by the officer in charge of State Secret documents. Reply via courier or secret code. For Military Attaché. Secret Military document No. 602/41 G. Kdos. Att Abt O Qu 4, for Herr Osten, Military Attaché, Moscow . . . OKW Wf St/ Abt. L, advises on May 3 under No. 902/41g Kdos., as follows: Re: Telegram Naval Attaché of April 24, No. 34112/110. [17]

[17] Ante, p. 330.

Page 335

Instruction on No. 1: The same war rumors are current here as in Russia so we suspect a renewed attempt on the part of England to poison the wells. Reports that are without any foundation-as, for example, stories about extensive map making (the Ukraine) in Prague, or about the landing of more than 12,000 German soldiers in Finland-confirm these suspicions. Moreover, currency is given to such rumors by substantial Russian troop concentrations near the border, especially since they are without military justification, since on the German side, only such forces are posted at the border as are absolutely necessary as rear cover for the Balkan operations.

On No. 4: The quashing of rumors by the German officials there is very desirable, in which connection use can be made in suitable form of the fact that German troop transports are being carried out from east to west, which in the first half of May will reach considerable proportions (added only for personal information: (8 divisions). General Staff of the Army, Attaché Division T. No. 602/41 G. Kdos.



Frames 113418-113419, serial 105

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



Moscow, May 7, 1941-2:02 p. m.

Received May 7, 1941-3:10 p. m.


No 1092 of May 7

Stalin has taken over the chairmanship of the Council of People's Commissars in place of Molotov and thereby has become head of the Government of the Soviet Union. Molotov received the rank of Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and will remain People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs. This change is being explained by the pressure of work on Molotov, but it actually means a considerable abridgment of his former authority. The reason for it may be sought in the recent mistakes in foreign policy which led to a cooling off of the cordiality of German-Soviet relations, for the creation and preservation of which Stalin had consciously striven, while Molotov's own initiative often expended itself in an obstinate defense of individual issues.

In his new capacity as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, that is, as Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, Stalin assumes responsibility for all acts of the Government, in both the

Page 336

domestic and foreign fields. This will put an end to the unnatural situation wherein the position of the recognized and undisputed leader of the peoples of the Soviet Union was nowhere established in the Constitution. The centralization of all the powers in the hands of Stalin means a consolidation of governmental authority in the U.S.S.R. and a further advancement of the position of Stalin, who obviously felt that, in a situation which he considered serious, he personally had to assume full responsibility for the fate of the Soviet Union. I am convinced that Stalin will use his new position in order to take part personally in the maintenance and development of good relations between the Soviets and Germany.



Frames 365383-365388 serial 1448

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

Tgb. Nr. Ag/259/41

Moscow, May 12, 1941.


Subject: Appointment of Stalin as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars.

With reference to telegram No. 1092 of May 7 and also to Nos. 1113 of May 8, 1124 of May 10, 1115 of May 9, 1120 of May 9, and 1137 of May 12. [18]

The present political position of the Soviet Union is illustrated by the appointment of Stalin as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. Stalin's decision to take over this office, which V. I. Lenin was the first to fill after the Bolshevist Revolution, gains especial significance from the fact that Stalin had previously avoided taking a government post. Stalin won his position of power in party and state solely by his personal authority and by the aid of men devoted to him. No problems of domestic or foreign policy had heretofore been able to induce Stalin to abandon this characteristic attitude. Even when the Stalin constitution, his personal work, went into effect, he had apparently deliberately refrained from occupying the highest government post by allowing himself to be elected chairman of the presidium of the Supreme Soviets.

The reasons that now caused Stalin to make this decision cannot be ascertained, for example, by direct questioning of competent Soviet officials, because of the peculiar conditions here. The new French

[18] No. 1113. 1115, 1120, 1124, and 1137 not printed.

Page 337

Ambassador, who was ignorant of this situation, attempted to do so nevertheless, and asked this question on the occasion of his initial visits to First Deputy Foreign Commissar Vishinsky, Secretary General of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs Sobolev, and Division Chief Kusnetzov. The three gentlemen interrogated expressed themselves spontaneously and unanimously to the effect that the appointment of Stalin to the chairmanship of the Council of People's Commissars was the greatest historical event in the Soviet Union since its inception. Asked as to the reasons for this appointment, the three gentlemen declared after brief hesitation that the appointment of Stalin had been occasioned by the all too heavy burden carried by Molotov. When the disparity between cause and effect was pointed out to them, the gentlemen consulted could make no further reply.

There can be no doubt that the assumption of the chairmanship of the Council of People's Commissars by Joseph Stalin constitutes an event of extraordinary importance. That this event was brought about by problems of domestic policy, as was first asserted here, especially among correspondents of the foreign press, I do not consider correct. I do not know of any problem that could have been raised as a result of domestic conditions in the Soviet Union of such importance as to necessitate such a step on Stalin's part. It can rather be stated with great certainty that if Stalin decided to take over the highest government office, it was done for reasons of foreign policy. In order to clarify the specific circumstances that must have influenced Stalin's decision, one must refer to some occurrences that took place in the days previous. It was generally noticed that at the great review of May 1 the Soviet Ambassador to Berlin, Dekanosov, stood directly next to Stalin, on his right, on the Government reviewing stand. This prominence given to Dekanosov must be regarded as a special mark of confidence on the part of Stalin. Also, a remarkably large number of generals and admirals of the Red Army and the Red Fleet participated in the review and the large reception in the Kremlin that followed. Finally, on May 5, the graduation exercises of the War Academy were the occasion of a rather large ceremony, at which Stalin made an address of some 40 minutes' duration. Since the appointment of Stalin was announced by the Kremlin on May 6, the obvious assumption is that the conversations with the Soviet Ambassador to Germany and the mingling with representatives of the staff of generals precipitated Stalin's decision to take over the Chairmanship of the Council of People's Commissars. No other reason for this action could have applied than a revaluation of the international situation on the basis of the magnitude

Page 338

and rapidity of German military successes in Yugoslavia and Greece and the realization that this makes necessary a departure from the former diplomacy of the Soviet Government that had led to an estrangement with Germany. Probably, also, conflicting opinions that were noted among the party politicians and high-ranking military men, confirmed Stalin in the decision to take the helm himself from now on.

If one reviews the pronouncements and decrees that have been promulgated since Stalin's assumption of office, insofar as they enter into consideration, one can state that the point of the matter was undoubtedly missed by the version originally circulated by foreign correspondents, especially by the Japanese Domei agency, to the effect that the appointment of Stalin legalizes an existing condition and that everything otherwise remains the same. The pronouncements and decrees in question are all in the realm of foreign policy The matters involved are:

1. The Tass denial of alleged strong concentrations of military forces on the western border of the Soviet Union, etc.

2. The decree regarding the restoration of diplomatic ranks (Ambassador, Minister, Chargé).

3. The decision regarding the closing of the Embassies of Belgium, Norway, and Yugoslavia, and

4. The government decision regarding the opening up of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Iraq.

These manifestations of the intention of the Stalin government are calculated in the first place, while safeguarding its own interests, to relieve the tension between the Soviet Union and Germany and to create a better atmosphere for the future. We must bear in mind particularly that Stalin personally has always advocated a friendly relationship between Germany and the Soviet Union.

It is self-evident that in the diplomatic corps here there is a great amount of guess-work being done as to what could have induced Stalin at this time to take over a government office created by the constitution. It is remarkable that groups representing the most divergent opinion agree in the presumption that Stalin is pursuing a policy of rapprochement with Germany and the Axis.

In my opinion, it may be assumed with certainty that Stalin has set himself a foreign policy goal of overwhelming importance for the Soviet Union, which he hopes to attain by his personal efforts. I firmly believe that, in an international situation which he considers

Page 339

serious, Stalin has set himself the goal of preserving the Soviet Union from a conflict with Germany.



Frame 113434, serial 105

The German Consul at Harbin (Ponschab) to the German Foreign Office



HARBIN, May 13, 1911-12:50 a. m.

Received May 13, 1941-10:30 a. m.


No. 39 of May 13

Reference my telegram No. 37 of the 11th. [19]

Circular instructions from Moscow of May 9:

Although German-Russian negotiations are proceeding normally, it has become imperative for the Soviets. in view of Germany's dictatorial attitude, to warn Germany that the Soviets are prepared to protect their interests, if (this group missing in the original telegram) they are violated. Under the circumstances it is very important to learn the attitude of all other countries in the event of a German-Russian conflict. It is necessary to proceed with the greatest caution. A survey of the situation and prompt report are requested.


[19] Not printed.


Frames 24524-24527, serial 34

Foreign Office Memorandum

Ha Pol 294/41 g RS



1) The discussions concluded a few days ago with Krutikov, First Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Trade of the U.S.S.R., were conducted in a notably constructive spirit by Krutikov. It was therefore possible to settle satisfactorily difficult points in the Trade Agreement of January 10, 1941, such as delivery of oil seed, nonferrous metals, petroleum, and transit of raw rubber from East Asia through the territory of the U.S.S.R. Despite his constructive attitude, Kruti-

* My first memorandum on the same subject, of April 5, is attached. [Footnote in the original. For this memorandum, see ante, p. 318.]

Page 340

kov's stand when defending Russian interests was firm. He showed no extreme willingness to give way which might have been construed as weakness.

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

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


208,000 tons


90,000 tons


8,300 tons

Nonferrous metals

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

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

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

Total deliveries in the current year amount to:


632,000 tons


232,000 tons


23,500 tons

Manganese ore

50,000 tons


67,000 tons


900 kilograms

4) Great difficulties are created by the countless rumors of an imminent German-Russian conflict. Official sources are in large measure

Page 341

responsible for the persistence of these rumors. These rumors are causing grave anxiety to German industry, which is eager to withdraw from its engagements with Russia and in some cases already refuses to dispatch to Moscow the personnel needed for the execution of the contracts.

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

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


BERLIN, May 15, 1941.


Frame 217951 serial 426

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


No. 938 of May 14

BERLIN, May 15, 1941-6:27 p. m.

Received Moscow, May 15, 1941-10:30 p. m.

Confidential material. Secret. To be decoded only by officials authorized to handle confidential material. Reply via courier or secret code.

In reference to telegraphic report No. 957 of April 21, and written report No. A: 1408 of April 22, 1941. [20]

Please inform the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs that the seventy-one cases mentioned of border violations by Germans are being investigated. The investigation will require some time as the

[20] Latter not printed.

Page 342

air force units and crews concerned will have to be interrogated individually. Please effect the early release by the Soviet Government of the plane that made the emergency landing near Rovno on April 15.



Frame 217944, serial 426

The German Minister in Sweden (Wied) to the German Foreign Office


Pol. I M 3378 g

STOCKHOLM, [May 16, 1941.]

No. 534 of May 16

I have learned that the Soviet Russian Minister here, Frau Kollontay, said recently that at no time in Russian history have there been stronger troop contingents assembled on Russia's western border than now.



Frame 113436, serial 105

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

St. S. Nr. 340

BERLIN, May 17, 1941.

Ambassador Oshima asked me today in the course of a conversation on Japanese-American negotiations whether an "easing of tension" had occurred in German-Russian relations. I replied that German-Russian relations were unchanged. We were observing Russia carefully. Russian concentration at our border was a matter of common knowledge. That we had also sent German troops to the East in reply, was natural. We had not exactly liked everything the Russians had been doing in the last few months. I would not, however, call it a state of "tension."

In the diplomatic corps, the subject of Russia is much discussed. I recently told the Swedish Minister, in reply to a direct question, that developments between Germany and Russia depended on Stalin's conduct.


Page 343


Frame 217949, serial 426

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


No. 1193 of May 18

Moscow, May 17, 1941.

Reference your telegram No. 938 of May 14.

The case of the German plane that made the emergency landing near Rovno, with which the liaison staff of the Red Army and the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs are already occupied, was also brought up today with Secretary General Sobolev, with the request for early release of the airplane. At the same time, the communication ordered by you regarding the investigation of border violations by the Germans was made. S[obolev] countered that the Soviet Government awaited the German reply, and referred gravely to the fact that border violations by German planes were continuing and were still frequent.



Frames 24480-24482, serial 34

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


BERLIN, May 24, 1941.

Reference your telegram No. 1192 of May 17. [21]

I. BY Sobolev's reply, our wishes regarding the final demarcation of the boundary from the Igorka River to the Baltic Sea have been satisfactorily met. Since, however, the settlement of our claims under the treaty of January 10, 1941, has been protracted for months due to no fault of ours, both Minister von Saucken and Departmental Counselor Conrad had to be employed at other urgent tasks and are therefore not available at this time. We are trying to release them as soon as possible in order that they may resume their work in the Central Boundary Commission and we will shortly make a proposal for another date.

Since, under the circumstances, Assistant Wieber would have to remain idle there for some time, while he is urgently needed here, please arrange for his return.

[21] Not printed.

Page 344

II. The instrument of ratification for the treaty of January 10, 1941, has been executed by the Führer. Kindly notify the Soviet Government so that preparations for the exchange of documents can be made.



Note for the Office of the Reich Foreign Minister, Fuschl

Berlin, May 24, 1941.

The intent of the attached telegram to Moscow is a further effort to treat in a dilatory manner the matter of the boundary commission, since otherwise the next step would be a survey of the boundary by a Mixed Commission.

On the other hand, Soviet wishes are deferred to, in that we have now declared ourselves prepared to exchange instruments of ratification for the boundary treaty of January 10, 1941.



Frame 113450, serial 105

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



MOSCOW, May 24, 1941-3:45 p. m.

Received May 24, 1941-6:15 p. m.


No. 1223 of May 24

Reference my telegram No. 1099 of the 7th.

On May 22 I called on Molotov to discuss with him current negotiations on cultural questions, release of prisoners, etc. Molotov received me in the same study that he had formerly, surrounded by his usual staff in the Kremlin. He was as amiable, self-assured and well-informed as ever. The only difference was the name-plate at the entrance, bearing the new inscription "Molotov, Deputy Chairman, Council of People's Commissars." There was nothing to indicate that his position with Stalin was shaken or that his influence as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs had suffered any diminution.

This and other observations made here since Stalin took over the supreme power of the state, show that the two strongest men in the Soviet Union-Stalin and Molotov-hold positions which are decisive for the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. That this foreign policy is, above all, directed at the avoidance of a conflict with Germany, is proved by the attitude taken by the Soviet Government during the last few weeks, the tone of the Soviet press, which treats all

Page 345

the events which concern Germany in an unobjectionable manner, and the observance of the trade agreements concluded with Germany.



Frames 113497-113499, serial 105

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


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

Received June 14, 1941-8 a. m.

No. 1368 of June 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tass declares that:

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

2. According to the evidence in the possession of the Soviet Union both Germany and the Soviet Union are fulfilling to the letter the

Page 346

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

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

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



Frame 103716, serial 93

The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Minister in Hungary (Erdmannsdoff)



VENICE, June 15, 1941-9:40 p. m.

Received Berlin, June 15, 1941-10:15 p. m.

No. 552 of June 10

Transmitted to Budapest under No. 1021

For the Minister personally.

Please inform the Hungarian Minister President as follows:

In view of the heavy concentration of Russian troops at the German eastern border, the Führer will probably be compelled, by the beginning of July at the latest, to clarify German-Russian relations and in this connection to make certain demands. Since it is difficult to foretell the outcome of these negotiations, the German Government considers it necessary for Hungary to take steps to secure its frontiers.

The above order is of a strictly confidential nature. Please also mention this fact to the Hungarian Minister President.


Page 347


Frames 113558-113562, serial 105

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



BERLIN, June 21, 1941.


BY radio

For the Ambassador personally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 348

countries in order the more easily to demoralize them and, at a given time, to crush them.

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

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

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

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

Page 349

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

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

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

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

End of declaration.

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



Frames 038-031 [sic], serial F 20

Letter From Hitler to Mussolini

June 21, 1941.


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

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

Both countries, Soviet-Russia and England, are equally interested in a Europe fallen into ruin, rendered prostrate by a long war. Behind these two countries stands the North American Union goading them on and watchfully waiting. Since the liquidation of Poland, there is evident in Soviet-Russia a consistent trend, which, even if cleverly and cautiously, is nevertheless reverting firmly to the old

Page 350

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

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

Page 351

Duce, that I am hereby rendering probably the best possible service to our joint conduct of the war this year. For my over-all view is now as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have decided under these circumstances, as I already mentioned, to put an end to the hypocritical performance in the Kremlin. I assume, that is to say, I am convinced, that Finland, and likewise Rumania, will forthwith take part in this conflict, which will ultimately free Europe, for the future also, of a great danger. General Maras informed us that you, Duce, wish also to make available at least one corps. If you have that intention, Duce-which I naturally accept with a heart filled with gratitude-the time for carrying it out will still be sufficiently long, for in this immense theater of war the troops cannot be assembled at all points at the same time anyway. You, Duce, can give the decisive aid, however, by strength-

Page 352

ening your forces in North Africa, also, if possible, looking from Tripoli toward the West, by proceeding further to build up a group which, though it be small at first, can march into France in case of a French violation of the treaty; and finally, by carrying the air war and, so far as it is possible, the submarine war, in intensified degree, into the Mediterranean.

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

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

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

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

Whatever may now come, Duce, our situation cannot become worse as a result of this step; it can only improve. Even if I should be obliged at the end of this year to leave 60 or 70 divisions in Russia, that

Page 353

is only a fraction of the forces that I am now continually using on the eastern front. Should England nevertheless not draw any conclusions from the hard facts that present themselves, then we can, with our rear secured, apply ourselves with increased strength to the dispatching of our opponent. I can promise you, Duce, that what lies in our German power, will be done.

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

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

With hearty and comradely greetings, Your



Frames 24545-24548, serial 34

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

St. S. Pol. No. 411

BERLIN, June 21, 1941.


The Russian Ambassador, who had wanted to call on the Reich Foreign Minister today and had been referred to me instead, called on me this evening at 9:30 p. m. and handed me the attached note verbale. This note refers to a complaint of the Russian Government of April 21 of this year, regarding 80 cases of flights of German aircraft over Soviet territory in the spring of this year. In the meanwhile, says the note, 180 more flights of this kind had taken place, against which the Soviet Border Patrol had each time filed a protest with the German representatives at the border. Moreover, the flights had assumed a systematic and intentional character.

In conclusion, the note verbale expresses confidence that the German Government will take steps to put an end to these border violations.

I replied to the Soviet Ambassador as follows: Since I was not acquainted with the details and in particular was not conversant with

Page 354

the protests allegedly filed at the border between the local authorities, I would have to refer the note verbale to the competent offices. I did not wish to anticipate the German reply. I should like to say only this much in advance, namely, that I, on the contrary, had been informed of wholesale border violations by Soviet aircraft over German territory; it was therefore the German and not the Russian Government that had cause for complaint.

When Herr Dekanosov tried to prolong the conversation somewhat, I told him that since I had an entirely different opinion than he and had to await the opinion of my Government, it would be better not to go more deeply into the matter just now. The reply would be forthcoming later.

The Ambassador agreed to the procedure and left me.

As a German interpreter for Russian could not be located at the time, I had Minister von Grundherr attend the conversation as a witness.

Submitted herewith to the Reich Foreign Minister.



The Soviet Embassy in Germany to the German Foreign Office

No. 013166


By order of the Soviet Government, the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Germany has the honor to make the following statement to the German Government:

The People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. by note verbale of April 21 [22] informed the German Embassy in Moscow of the violations of the border of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by German aircraft, which in the period from March 27 to April 18 of this year amounted to 80 cases registered by the Soviet Border Guard. A reply to the foregoing note has not yet been received from the German Government. On the contrary, the Soviet Government must state that violations of the Soviet boundary by German aircraft during the last two months, namely, from April 19 of this year up to and including June 19 of this year, have not only not ceased, but are increasing and have assumed a systematic character, attaining the number of 180 in this period, regarding each of which a protest was made

[23] For contents, see telegram No. 957 of April 21 from the German Chargé in the Soviet Union, ante, p. 328.

Page 355

by the Soviet Border Guard to the German representatives at the border. The systematic nature of these flights and the fact that in several cases German aircraft penetrated 100 to 150 kilometers and more into the U.S.S.R. preclude the possibility that these violations of the border of the U.S.S.R. by German aircraft could have been accidental.

In drawing the attention of the German Government to this situation, the Soviet Government expects the German Government to take measures toward putting an end to the violations of the Soviet border by German aircraft.

BERLIN, June 21, 1941.


Frame 113550, serial 105

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



Moscow, June 22, 1941-1:17 a. m.

Received June 22, 1941-2:30 a. m.


No. 1424 of June 21

Molotov summoned me to his office this evening at 9:30 p. m. After he had mentioned the alleged repeated border violations by German aircraft, with the remark that Dekanosov had been instructed to call on the Reich Foreign Minister in this matter, Molotov stated as follows:

There were a number of indications that the German Government was dissatisfied with the Soviet Government. Rumors were even current that a war was impending between Germany and the Soviet Union. They found sustenance in the fact that there was no reaction whatsoever on the part of Germany to the Tass report of June 13; that it was not even published in Germany. The Soviet Government was unable to understand the reasons for Germany's dissatisfaction. If the Yugoslav question had at the time given rise to such dissatisfaction, he-Molotov-believed that, by means of his earlier communications, he had cleared up this question, which, moreover, was a thing of the past. He would appreciate it if I could tell him what had brought about the present situation in German-Soviet Russian relations.

I replied that I could not answer his question, as I lacked the per-

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tinent information; that I would, however, transmit his communication to Berlin.



Frame 47072-47075, serial 67

Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Reich Foreign Minister and Soviet Russian Ambassador Dekanosov in the Foreign Office at 4 a. m. on June 22, [1941]

Aufz. RAM 37/41

The Reich Foreign Minister began the conversation with the remark that the hostile attitude of the Soviet Government toward Germany and the serious threat that Germany saw in the Russian concentration on the eastern border of Germany, had forced the Reich to military countermeasures. Dekanosov would find a detailed statement of the reasons for the German attitude in the memorandum, which the Reich Foreign Minister then handed him. [23] The Reich Foreign Minister added that he regretted very much this development in German-Russian relations as he in particular had made every attempt to bring about better relations between the two countries. It had, however, unfortunately transpired that the ideological conflict between the two countries had become stronger than common sense, upon which he, the Reich Foreign Minister, had pinned his hopes. He had nothing further, the Reich Foreign Minister said in conclusion to add to his remarks.

Dekanosov replied that he had asked for an interview with the Reich Foreign Minister because, in the name of the Soviet Government, he wanted to pose a few questions that, in his opinion, required clarification.

The Reich Foreign Minister thereupon replied that he had nothing to add to what he had already stated. He had hoped that the two countries would contrive a sensible relationship with each other. He had been deceived in this great hope for reasons that were explained in detail in the memorandum just delivered. The hostile policy of the Soviet Government toward Germany, which had reached its climax in the conclusion of a pact with Yugoslavia at the very time of the German-Yugoslav conflict, had been evident for a year. At a moment when Germany was engaged in a life-and-death struggle, the attitude of Soviet-Russia, particularly the concentration of the Russian military forces at the Soviet border, had presented so serious a threat to

[23] Not printed here.

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the Reich that the Führer had to decide to take military countermeasures. The policy of compromise between the two countries had therefore been unsuccessful. This was, however, by no means the fault of the Reich Government, which had carried out the German-Russian treaty in detail, but was attributable rather to a hostile attitude of Soviet Russia toward Germany, that had existed for some time. Under the pressure of a serious threat of a political and military nature which was emanating from Soviet Russia Germany had since this morning taken the appropriate counter-measures in the military sphere. The Reich Foreign Minister regretted not to be able to add anything to these remarks, especially since he himself had had to conclude that, in spite of earnest efforts, he had not succeeded in creating sensible relations between the two countries.

Dekanosov replied briefly that, for his part too, he exceedingly regretted this development, which was based on a completely erroneous conception on the part of the German Government, and, in view of this situation, he had nothing further to say except that the status of the Russian Embassy would now be arranged with the competent German authorities.

He thereupon took leave of the Reich Foreign Minister.


BERLIN, June 22, 1941.