Memorandum by the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg); April 11, 1940
Previous Document Nazi-Soviet Relations Page Next Document

Frames 210958-210960, serial 384

Tgb. Nr. A. 1833/40
Moscow, April 11, 1940.


For some time we have observed in the Soviet Government a distinct shift which was unfavorable to us. In all fields we suddenly came up against obstacles which were, in many cases, completely unnecessary; even in little things like visas they started to create difficulties; the release of the Volksdeutsche imprisoned by the Poles, which was promised by treaty, could not be achieved; the deportation of the German citizens long imprisoned in Soviet jails suddenly stopped; the Soviet Government suddenly withdrew its promises already given with regard to the "North Base" ["Basis Nord"] in which our Navy is interested, etc. These obstacles, which were apparent everywhere, reached their climax in the suspension of petroleum and grain shipments to us. On the 5th of this month I had a long talk with Herr Mikoyan, during which the attitude of the People's Commissar was very negative. I had to make the most strenuous efforts to get at least some concessions from him.

We asked ourselves in vain what the reason might be for the sudden change of attitude of the Soviet authorities. After all, nothing at all had "happened"! I suspect that the tremendous clamor of our enemies and their sharp attacks on neutrals-particularly on the Soviet Union-and on neutrality in general were not without effect upon the Soviet Government, so that it feared being forced by the Entente into a great war for which it is not prepared, and that for this reason it wanted to avoid anything that might have furnished a pretext to the English and French for reproaching the Soviet Union with unneutral behavior or partisanship for Germany. It appeared to me as though the sudden termination of the Finnish war had come about from similar considerations. Of course, these suspicions could not be proved. However the situation had become so critical that I decided to call on Herr Molotov in order to talk these matters over with him, and after this discussion to notify the Foreign Office. On the 8th of this month I therefore asked for permission to see Herr Molotov-i. e., before the Scandinavian events. Actually, the visit to Herr Molotov did not take place until the morning of the 9th-i. e., after our Scandinavian operations. During this talk it became apparent that the Soviet Government had again made a complete about-face. Suddenly the suspension of the petroleum and grain shipments was termed "excessive zeal of subordinate agencies" which would be immediately remedied. (Herr Mikoyan is Assistant Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, i. e., the highest Soviet personality after Herr Molotov!) Herr Molotov was affability itself, willingly received all our complaints and promised relief. Of his own accord he touched upon a number of issues of interest to us and announced their settlement in a positive sense. I must honestly say that I was completely amazed at the change.

In my opinion there is only one explanation for this about-face: our Scandinavian operations must have relieved the Soviet Government enormously-removed a great burden of anxiety, so to speak. What their apprehension consisted of, can again not be determined with certainty. I suspect the following: The Soviet Government is always extraordinarily well informed. If the English and French intended to occupy Norway and Sweden it may be assumed with certainty that the Soviet Government knew of these plans and was apparently terrified by them. The Soviet Government saw the English and French appearing on the shores of the Baltic Sea, and they saw the Finnish question reopened, as Lord Halifax had announced; finally they dreaded most of all the danger of becoming involved in a war with two Great Powers. Apparently this fear was relieved by us. Only in this way can the completely changed attitude of Herr Molotov be understood. Today's long and conspicuous article in Izvestia on our Scandinavian campaign (already sent to you by wire) sounds like one big sigh of relief. But, at any rate-at least at the moment-"everything is in order" again here, and our affairs are going as they should.


Previous Document Nazi-Soviet Relations Page Next Document

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.