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In a conference of 1 1/4 hours today, Molotov abandoned his usual reserve and appeared unusually open. I referred to my last conversation with M. and said that in the meantime economic negotiations had been resumed in Berlin and were apparently proceeding in a promising manner. we were consequently expecting an early conclusion. An exchange of ideas had further taken place between Schnurre and Soviet representatives in Berlin, as to the contents of which M. was surely informed. M. confirmed the fact that "by and large" he was posted in the matter. Referring to Astakhov's question as to whether Schnurre's statements would, if the occasion arose, be backed up by a qualified German personage, I declared that I was authorized to confirm explicitly the train of thought developed by Schnurre. I then explained how, on the basis of the three steps mentioned by Schnurre, we contemplated the normalization and improvement of our relations with the Soviet Union. In continuation I stated that from the Baltic to the Black Sea, in our opinion, no opposition of interests existed between Germany and the Soviet Union, that the Anti-Comintern Pact was not directed against the Soviet Union, that by concluding non-aggression pacts with the Baltic countries we had proven our decision to respect their integrity, and that our well-known demands on Poland meant no impairment of Soviet interests. We therefore believed that adjustment of interests was entirely possible and were asking the opinion of the Soviet Government in this matter.
M. answered point by point at some length. He stated that the Soviet Government had always desired the conclusion of an economic agreement and if a like desire existed on the German side, he considered the prospects for realization of an economic agreement as entirely favorable. So far as the attitude of the Soviet press was concerned, he considered our reproaches-with some exceptions-unjustified. But he took the stand that the press of both countries must desist from anything that might tend to exacerbate their relations. He considered the gradual resumption of cultural relations necessary and expedient and believed that a gratifying start had already been made toward improvement.
Going on to the question of political relations, M. declared that the Soviet Government also desired normalization and improvement of mutual relations. It was not its fault that relations had so deteriorated. The reason for this he saw, firstly, in the conclusion of the Anti-Comintern Pact and in everything that had been said and done in this connection. To my objection that the Anti-Comintern Pact was not directed against the Soviet Union and had been designated by M. himself on May 31st as an alliance against the Western democracies M. said that the Anti-Comintern Pact had nevertheless encouraged the aggressive attitude of Japan toward the Soviet Union. In the second place, Germany had supported Japan, and thirdly, the German Government had repeatedly shown that it would not participate in any international conferences in which the Soviet Union participated. M. cited the meeting in Munich as an example.
I answered M. in detail, stressing that it was not a matter of discussing the past but of finding new ways.
M. replied that the Soviet Government was prepared to participate in the quest for such ways; yet he must insist on asking how my statements of today are to be reconciled with the three points mentioned by him. Proofs of a changed attitude of the German Government were for the present still lacking.
I thereupon again stressed the absence of opposition of interests in foreign policy and mentioned German readiness so to orient our behavior with regard to the Baltic States, if occasion arose, as to safeguard vital Soviet Baltic interests.
At the mention of the Baltic States, M. was interested in learning what States we meant by the term and whether Lithuania was one of them.
On the Polish question I stated that we persevered in our well-known demands on Poland but strove for a peaceful solution. If on the other hand a different solution were forced on us, we were prepared to protect all Soviet interests and come to an understanding with the Soviet Government on this matter.
M. showed evident interest but said that a peaceful solution depended first of all on us.
I vigorously contradicted this and pointed out that the British guarantee had unfortunately brought it about that the decision lay with the Polish authorities.
I then repudiated Molotov's assertion that Germany alone was to blame for deterioration in German-Soviet relations. I reminded him of the fateful consequences of the conclusion of the treaty of 1935 with France and added that the possible new participation by the Soviet Union in a combination hostile to Germany might play a similar role. M. replied that the present course taken by the Soviet Union aimed at purely defensive ends and at the strengthening of a defensive front against aggression. In contrast to this, Germany had supported and promoted the aggressive attitude of Japan by the Anti-Comintern Pact and in the military alliance with Italy was pursuing offensive as well as defensive aims.
In conclusion M. assured me that he would apprise his Government of my statements and repeated that the Soviet Government also desired normalization and improvement of relations.
From M.'s whole attitude it was evident that the Soviet Government was in fact more prepared for improvement in German-Soviet relations, but that the old mistrust of Germany persists. My over-all impression is that the Soviet Government is at present determined to sign with England and France if they fulfill all Soviet wishes. Negotiations, to be sure, might still last a long time, especially since mistrust of England is also great. I believe that my statements made an impression on M.; it will nevertheless take considerable effort on our part to cause the Soviet Government to swing about.