4000bce - 399
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Reference your telegram 179 of August 16.
After I had read to Molotov the supplementary instructions, Molotov declared, without going into their content more closely, that he could give me today the answer of the Soviet Government to my communication of August 15. Stalin was following the conversations with great interest, he was being informed about all their details, and he was in complete agreement with Molotov.
Here Molotov read the answer of the Soviet Government, which in the text given to me is as follows:
"The Soviet Government has taken cognizance of the statement of the German Government transmitted by Count Schulenburg on August 15 concerning its desire for a real improvement in the political relations between Germany and the U.S.S.R.
"In view of the official statements of individual representatives of the German Government which have not infrequently had an unfriendly and even hostile character with reference to the U.S.S.R. the Soviet Government up till very recently has had the impression that the German Government was working for an excuse for a clash with the U.S.S.R., was preparing itself for such a clash, and was basing the necessity of its constantly increasing armament on the inevitability of such a clash. Not to mention the fact that the German Government by means of the so-called 'Anti-Comintern Pact' was attempting to build up a unified front of a group of states against the U.S.S.R., and was attempting with especial persistence to draw Japan in.
"It is understandable that such a policy on the part of the German Government compelled the U.S.S.R. to take serious steps in the preparation of a defense against possible aggression on the part of Germany against the U.S.S.R. and also to participate in the organization of a defensive front of a group of states against such an aggression.
"If, however, the German Government now undertakes a change from the old policy in the direction of a sincere improvement in political relations with the U.S.S.R., the Soviet Government can look upon such a change only with pleasure and is on its own part prepared to alter its policy in the direction of an appreciable [ernsthaften] improvement in relations with Germany.
"If there be added to this the fact that the Soviet Government has never had any sort of aggressive intentions toward Germany and will not have such, and that now as previously the Soviet Government considers a peaceful solution of the questions at issue in the field of relations between Germany and the U.S.S.R. as entirely possible, and that the principle of a peaceful existence of various political systems side by side represents a long established principle of the foreign policy of the U.S.S.R., one comes to the conclusion that for the establishment of new and improved political relations between the two countries, there are now at hand not only a real basis, but the actual prerequisites for undertaking serious and practical steps in that direction.
"The Government of the U.S.S.R. is of the opinion that the first step toward such an improvement in relations between the U.S.S.R. and Germany could be the conclusion of a trade and credit agreement.
"The Government of the U.S.S.R. is of the opinion that the second step, to be taken shortly thereafter, could be the conclusion of a non-aggression pact or the reaffirmation of the neutrality pact of 1926, with the simultaneous conclusion of a special protocol which would define the interests of the signatory parties in this or that question of foreign policy and which would form an integral part of the pact."
Next Molotov supplied the following supplementary information:
1) Economic agreements must be concluded first. What has been begun must be carried through to the end.
2) Then there may follow after a short interval, according to German choice, the conclusion of a non-aggression pact or the reaffirmation of the neutrality treaty of 1926. In either case there must follow the conclusion of a protocol in which, among other things, the German statements of August 15 would be included.
3) With regard to the proposed trip of the Reich Foreign Minister to Moscow, he declared that the Soviet Government was very gratified by this proposal, since the dispatch of such a distinguished public figure and statesman emphasized the earnestness of the intentions of the German Government. This stood in noteworthy contrast to England, who, in the person of Strang, had sent only an official of the second class to Moscow. A journey by the Reich Foreign Minister, however, required thorough preparation. The Soviet Government did not like the publicity that such a journey would cause. They preferred that practical work be accomplished without so much ceremony. To my remark that it was precisely by the journey of the Reich Foreign Minister that the practical goal could be speedily reached, Molotov countered that the Soviet Government nevertheless preferred the other way in which the first step had already been taken.
To my question as to how the Soviet Government reacted to my communication of today, Molotov declared that today's favorable German reply had not been known to the Soviet Government when its answer was prepared and it would still have to be examined, but that today's Soviet answer already contained all the essentials. He suggested that on the German side we take up at once the preparation of a draft for the non-aggression pact or for the reaffirmation of the neutrality treaty, as the case might be, as well as for the protocol; the same would be done on the Soviet side.
I stated that I would report these proposals to my Government. With regard to the protocol, it would be desirable to have more exact information about the wishes of the Soviet Government.
The conversation was concluded with Molotov's expressing the desire to be supplied as soon as possible with our drafts.