The French Yellow Book
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No. 17
M. Francois-Poncet, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Berlin, October 19, 1938.

THE Chancellor of the Reich gave me a farewell audience yesterday afternoon, not at Berchtesgaden, but in the eagle's eyrie which he has had built on a rocky spur 6,000 feet high with a view extending over the vast arena of mountains which surround Salzburg. The conversation, at which the Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs was present, soon assumed an interesting and important character.

Referring to the Munich Agreement, Herr Hitler expressed his regret that subsequent events had allowed a dangerous state of tension to continue between the Great Powers, and had not fulfilled his hopes. With regard to France, he took a rather indulgent attitude but on the other hand he insisted bitterly on the fact that he could, so he said, discern in the British attitude the expression of a fundamental antagonism.

Endeavouring to moderate and correct his views, I tried more especially to explain to him the reasons for the currents of opinion in France and in England as a result of the speech at Saarbrucken, and after the conclusion of an agreement which had saved peace, but at the price of heavy sacrifices.

The Chancellor declared in a general way that he was prepared to seek ways and means of improving existing conditions and to develop the potentialities of appeasement and conciliation which the Munich Agreement seemed to contain.

(1) Herr Hitler would consent to sign an agreement by which France and Germany would reciprocally recognize their existing frontiers and express their determination not to attempt to change them.

(2) For his part he believed that this text should be accompanied by an undertaking to hold mutual consultations on all questions likely to have repercussions on the relations between the two countries.

(3) Alluding to the problem of the limitation of armaments, Herr Hitler seemed extremely irritated and greatly impressed by the military measures announced in Great Britain and in the United States. He is of the opinion that, owing to the practical difficulties which would arise if a programme of disarmament were to be set up without further preliminaries, it would be wiser and more opportune to begin with a programme for the humanization of war (bombardment of open cities, etc.).

(4) Speaking of economic questions such as, for instance, the possibility of stabilizing the currencies, Herr Hitler recognizes both their importance and the difficulties they present. But he declared that, having little knowledge of these matters, he would gladly, if need be, have recourse to the services of experts.

At the end of this conversation, and in conclusion, the Chancellor asked the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs to cause the different suggestions that had been examined in the course of the interview to be studied, and more or less detailed plans on their execution to be prepared. The texts thus drawn up would then be communicated to us for careful consideration and eventual correction and criticism.

In view of the conversations I have had with Your Excellency, I took it upon myself to give the assurance that the French Government would consider with the greatest sympathy all proposals or suggestions favourably received by the Chancellor or initiated by him. We agreed that the preliminary study of these questions should remain confidential until further notice, it being understood that we would for our part ascertain the views of the British Government while Germany reserves the right to inform the Italian Government.


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