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In the inclosure is forwarded, for strictly confidential and purely personal information, an extract of a report on my conference with the new Japanese Ambassador Oshima in Fuschl on 23 February 1941. These statements are of fundamental significance for orientation on the general political situation facing Germany in early Spring 1941.Signed: Ribbentrop
After particularly cordial mutual greetings, the RAM (Reich Foreign Minister) declared that Ambassador Oshima had been proved right in the policy he had pursued regarding Germany in the face of the many doubters in Japan. By Germany's victory in the west these policies had been fully vindicated. He (the RAM) regretted that the alliance between Germany and Japan, for which he had been working with the Ambassador for many years already, had come into being only after various detours, but public opinion in Japan had not been ripe for it earlier. The main thing was, however, that they are together now.
Expanding upon the general political situation the Reich Foreign Minister declared: The Fuehrer had always looked for an understanding with England and he (RAM) had himself been sent to England as an ambassador in his time to undertake a last attempt in this direction. A certain possibility had existed in the person of King Edward, even though it had been doubtful from the beginning whether the king would prevail. He (the RAM) had been more than skeptical already at his arrival in London, and had considered the chances for an understanding as 100 to 1. Thus the war-inciter clique in England had then won the upper hand. When he (the RAM) left England, war was unavoidable. Then when it came to war the Fuehrer decided on a treaty with Russia-a necessity for avoiding a two-front war. Perhaps this moment was difficult for Japan. The treaty was, however, in the interest of Japan, for the Japanese empire was interested in as rapid a German victory as possible, which was assured by the treaty with Russia. Furthermore he (the RAM) had made it clear to Stalin as well as to the public that the treaty between the Reich and Russia in no way affected the German-Japanese relationship. Now the German-Japanese alliance has been concluded. Ambassador Oshima is the man who gets credit for it from the Japanese side. After conclusion of the alliance the question of its further development now stands in the foreground. How is the situation in this respect?
As for the war against England, we had poor weather for our bombers during the Fall and Winter to be sure, but in spite of this, heavy damage has been done which has had a strongly retarding effect on English war production, etc. The bombings would continue in increasing measure so that we hope to destroy very much more than America was able to replace. We now had air supremacy over the whole continent. The time when we should win air supremacy over England would depend on further developments.
At sea the commitment of U-boat weapon had thus far been comparatively slight; after the end of March the commitment of the U-boat weapon would multiply in a short time. Then with the combination Air Force-U-Boat weapon we would deal terrible blows to England. The loss of tonnage already was making considerable difficulties for the English food supply. Meat and fats were already scarce. It was now a matter of reducing imports by sinkings to a definite level below the absolute minimum for English existence. Thereby England's situation would take catastrophic shape overnight. The landing in England is prepared; its execution, however, depends on various factors, above all on weather conditions.
Concerning America, the Reich Foreign Minister went on, it must be noted that Roosevelt is the most bitter enemy of Germany and Japan. As far as he was concerned he would like to enter the war. However we have an interest in keeping America out of the war. Should America enter the war in spite of this it could not wage the war militarily at all. The vast spaces of the oceans lying between us and America made this impossible. In East Asia, America would hardly dare to send its fleet beyond Hawaii, as it would then be threatened with destruction by the Japanese fleet. In the Atlantic Ocean there is a lack of commitment possibilities with the exception of England. Landing in Europe is impossible, and Africa also is too far removed. Supply points for the fleet and land troops are lacking. This points to the creation of American air bases in England for practical purposes. But in an air war we are located in a strategically advantageous position with respect to England. We could bomb England concentrically from the broad basis of the European coast while England had to spread out in fanlike fashion in its attacks on Europe and must thereby split up its forces. In an air duel-Europe vs. England-Germany would always be superior. We believed, however, that it should be possible to keep America out of the war by skillfully coordinated politics of the allied powers.
The Fuehrer would beat England wherever he would encounter her. Besides our strength is not only equal, but superior to a combined English-American air force at any time. The number of pilots at our disposal was unlimited. The same was true for our airplane production capacity. As far as quality is concerned ours was always superior to the English (to say nothing about the American) and we were on the way even to enlarge this lead. By order of the Fuehrer the antiaircraft defense too would be greatly reinforced. Since the army had been supplied far beyond its requirements, and enormous reserves had been piled up (the ammunitions plants have been slowed down because of the immense stock of material), production would now be concentrated on submarines, airplanes and antiaircraft guns.
Every eventuality had been provided for; the war has been won today militarily, economically and politically. We had the desire to end the war quickly and to force England to sue for peace soon. The Fuehrer was vigorous and healthy, fully convinced of victory and determined to bring the war to a quick and victorious end. To this end the co-operation with Japan was of importance. However, Japan, in its own interest, should come in as soon as possible. This would destroy England's key position in the Far East. Japan, on the other hand, would thus secure its position in the Far East, a position which it could acquire only through war. There were three reasons for quick action:
1. Intervention by Japan would mean a decisive blow against the center of the British Empire (threat to India, cruiser-war-fare, etc.). The effect upon the morale of the British people would be very serious and this would contribute toward a quick ending of the war.
2. A surprising intervention by Japan was bound to keep America out of the war. America, which at present is not armed as yet and would hesitate greatly to expose her Navy to any risks West of Hawaii, could do this even less so in such a case. If Japan would otherwise respect the American interests, there would not even be the possibility for Roosevelt to use the argument of lost prestige to make war plausible to the Americans. It was very unlikely that America would declare war if it then would have to stand by helplessly while Japan takes the Philippines without America being able to do anything about it.
3. In view of the coming new world order it seems to be in the interest of Japan also, to secure for herself already during the war the position she wants to hold in the Far East at the time of a peace treaty. Ambassador Oshima agreed with me entirely and said that he would do everything to carry through this policy.
The Reich Foreign Minister mentioned further that, if America should declare war because of Japan's entry into the war, this would mean that America had had the intention to enter the war sooner or later anyway. Even though it would be preferable to avoid this, the entry into the war would, as explained above, be by no means decisive and would not endanger the final victory of the countries of the Three-Power Pact. The Foreign Minister further expressed his belief that a temporary lift of the British morale caused by America's entry into the war would be cancelled by Japan's entry into the war. If, however, contrary to all expectations, the Americans should be careless enough to send their Navy in spite of all, beyond Hawaii and to the Far East, this would represent the biggest chance for the countries of the Three-Power Pact to bring the war rapidly to an end. He, the Foreign Minister, is convinced that the Japanese fleet would then do a complete job. Ambassador Oshima replied to this, that, unfortunately he does not think the Americans would do it, but he is convinced of a victory of his fleet in Japanese waters.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs further explained that closest cooperation was required for the common waging of the war, particularly as far as intelligence service and press were concerned. The cooperation with the Italians is already exemplary; the same is true for the cooperation with Rumania, Hungary and Slovakia. The press, radio, etc. of these countries were already so synchronized with each other that they form one single weapon. The same kind of close contact must be established with Japan. The Ambassador welcomed this and intends to set up a program with our men determining how our Japanese propaganda can be most effectively intensified in all fields.
Ambassador Oshima explained that when the Three-Power Pact was concluded, various opinions were still present in Japan. It was then that the Emporor intervened with an edict. It must be stated, however, that, impressed by the German victory in the West, the Japanese people are now entirely for the Three-Power Pact.
Ambassador Oshima remarked further that in Japan, under the influence of the events, the hard feelings against America had risen considerably. The Reich Foreign Minister referred to the recent statement of Nomura, the Japanese Ambassador in the U.S.A., concerning Japan's attitude in case of America's entry into the war, and mentioned that he considered it appropriate to talk plain language with the U.S.A. Ambassador Oshima remarked hereto that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had given instructions to that effect. The Minister for Foreign Affairs pointed out that particularly in view of the desire to keep America out of the war, plain language must be used. Only if the U. S. realized that they were confronting firm determination, would they hold back. The people in the U. S. did not like National Socialism. However, they were not willing to sacrifice their sons and therefore were against an entry into the war. The American people felt instinctively that they were drawn into the war for no reason, by Roosevelt and the Jewish wire-pullers. Therefore were against an entry into the war. The American people felt instinctively that they were drawn into the war for no reason, by Roosevelt and the Jewish wire-pullers. Therefore, our, politics with the U. S. should be plain and firm, but, of course, not aggressive. In the U. S. they must realize that Germany, Italy and Japan had no hard feelings for the American people, but that should the U.S.A. have any aggressive desires, they would confront an iron front of determined people, a front, at that, which includes practically the whole world. One would therefore have to work in close cooperation against the attempts of misrepresentation by the British propaganda. As far as speeches and addresses of a principle nature are concerned it would be necessary to keep up a continuous exchange of ideas. In this connection the Minister for Foreign Affairs referred to a recent remark by Matsuoka concerning Japanese willingness to act as mediator for peace negotiations. This remark had been extensively exploited by the enemy propaganda.
The Reich Foreign Minister continued by saying that it was Japan's friendship which had enabled Germany to arm after the Anti-Comintern Pact was concluded. On the other hand, Japan had been able to penetrate deeply into the English sphere of interest in China. Germany's victory on the continent has brought now, after the conclusion of the Three Power Pact, great advantages for Japan. France, as a power, was eliminated in the Far East (Indochina). England too was considerably weakened, Japan had been able to close in steadily on Singapore. Thus, Germany had already contributed enormously to the shaping of the future fate of the two nations. Due to our geographical situation we should have to carry the main burden of the final battle in the future, too. If an unwanted conflict with Russia should arise we should have to carry the main burden also in this case. If Germany should ever weaken, Japan would find itself confronted by a world-coalition within a short time. We were all in the same boat. The fate of both nations was being determined now for centuries to come. The same was true for Italy. The interests of the three countries would never intersect. A defeat of Germany would also mean the end of the Japanese imperialistic idea.
Ambassador Oshima definitely agreed with these statements and emphasized the fact that Japan was determined to keep its imperial position. The Reich Foreign Minister then discussed the great problems which would arise after the war for the parties of the Three Power Pact from the shaping of a new order in Europe and East Asia. The problems arising then would require a bold solution. Thereby no overcentralization should take place, but a solution should be found on a basis of parity, particularly in the economic realm. In regard to this the Reich Foreign Minister advanced the principle that a free exchange of trade should take place between the two spheres of interest on a liberal basis. The European-African hemisphere under the leadership of Germany and Italy, and the East-Asian sphere of interest under the leadership of Japan. As he conceived it, for example, Japan would conduct trade and make trade agreements directly with the independent states in the European hemisphere, as heretofore, while Germany and Italy would trade directly and make trade agreements with the independent countries within the Japanese orbit of power, such as China, Thailand, Indochina, etc. Furthermore, as between the two economic spheres, each should fundamentally grant the other preferences with regard to third parties. The Ambassador expressed agreement with this thought.
The Reich Foreign Minister then touched upon the question, explicitly pointed out as theoretical, that the contracting powers might be required, on the basis of new affronts by the U.S.A., to break off diplomatic relations. Germany and Italy were fundamentally determined on this; after signing of the Three-Power Pact we should proceed if the occasion arises, but also jointly in this matter. Such a lesson should open the eyes of the people in the U.S.A. to the situation and under certain conditions bring about a swing toward isolation in public opinion. Naturally a situation had to be chosen in which America found herself entirely in the wrong. The common step of the signatory powers should be exploited correspondingly in propaganda. The question, however, was in no way acute at the time.
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946