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MY DEAR HERR VON WEIZSACKER: May I thank you very much for your kind and very interesting letter of the 27th of last month.
It is obvious that Japan would not like to see even the smallest agreement between us and the Soviet Union. The less our pressure becomes upon the western boundary of Russia, the stronger the might of the Soviet Union will make itself felt in Eastern Asia. The Italians really ought to welcome a German-Russian arrangement; they themselves have always avoided clashing with Moscow, and the Reich could take a stronger stand toward France if Poland were kept in check by the Soviet Union, thus relieving our eastern boundary. If the Italians nevertheless are "pretty reserved," the reason may be that they are not pleased to see the importance of the Reich within the Axis increase through an improvement in German-Soviet relations and the resulting automatic increase in our power.
It appears to me that they have gained the impression in Berlin that Herr Molotov had rejected a German-Soviet arrangement during the discussion with me. I have read through my telegram once again and compared it with my letter to you and my memorandum. I cannot discover what has given rise to this opinion in Berlin. (2) In reality, the fact is that Herr Molotov almost invited political discussions. Our proposal of conducting only economic negotiations appeared insufficient to him. Of course, there was and is the danger that the Soviet Government will utilize German proposals for pressure on the English and French. Herr Molotov in his speech at once utilized tactically our offer to begin economic negotiations. Caution on our part was and is therefore necessary, but it appears clear to me that no door has been shut and that the way is open for further negotiations.
We have heard and read with the very greatest interest of your conversation with Herr Astakhov. Incidentally, several days after having mailed my last letter to you I had occasion to talk again with Herr Potemkin about Soviet-German relations. I told him that I had racked my brains as to what positive steps could be taken to realize the suggestions of Herr Molotov. There were no points of friction, no controversial issues, between Germany and the Soviet Union. We had no border incidents to eliminate and no dispute to settle. We were asking nothing from the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union nothing from us, apparently. I asked Herr Potemkin, with whom -in private- I can talk much more freely, whether he could now tell me anything about the ideas of Herr Molotov. Herr Potemkin answered this in the negative; unfortunately, he could not add anything to the statements of Herr Molotov, who had spoken for the Soviet Government. (3)
I am curious whether your conversation with Astakhov will help the matter. Herr von Tippelskirch in my opinion was justified in calling attention to the fact that, through our nonaggression treaties with the Baltic countries, Russia has received from us, free of charge, increased security and thereby a German political down payment.
I would like to call attention to the fact that Herr Molotov mentioned in his speech three conditions, which must be met under any circumstances in order to achieve the English-French-Soviet alliance. In none of the three points is it stated that the demands of the Soviet Union refer exclusively to Europe. The Far East is not named, to be sure, but it is not excluded, either. As far as I know, however, Great Britain wants to assume new obligations only in Europe. From this a new controversy may result, if the guarantee of the Baltic countries is achieved. The Soviet Russians are full of distrust toward us, but they do not much trust the democratic powers, either. Distrust is aroused very easily here and, once aroused, can be removed only with great difficulty.
It is significant that Molotov, in speaking of relations with England, did not mention the invitations which the British Government has extended to Mikoyan and recently to Voroshilov, too, following the visit of Mr. Hudson in Moscow.
I learn from a generally reliable source that Herr Potemkin was sent to Ankara in such a hurry in order to prevent Turkey from signing with the English. Herr Potemkin prevented the signature of the treaty, but not the "declaration." The Soviet Government is reported not to be opposed in principle to an English-Turkish agreement, but is said to consider it important that Turkey should not dash ahead, but should act at the same time and in the same manner as the Soviet Union.
The most recent border incidents on the Mongolian-Manchurian frontier seem to have been quite serious. According to Japanese reports, the "Mongols" on May 28 employed one hundred airplanes, forty-two of which the Japanese claim to have shot down. They claim that seventeen airplanes had been shot down previously. I believe that the Soviets are responsible for these serious incidents. They represent aid to China; they are to prevent the Japanese from withdrawing their very strong troop contingents from Manchuria to China.
With most cordial regards and Heil Hitler, I remain, my dear Herr von Weizsacker,
Yours most respectfully,