The French Yellow Book
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No. 23
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Berlin, November 23, 1938.

YESTERDAY, at Berchtesgaden, I presented my credentials to the Chancellor of the Reich.

The Führer received me affably in his simple and elegant dwelling of the Berghof.

After we had exchanged the usual speeches, he conversed with me for half an hour, and, contrary to his habit-for usually he does not mention politics in the course of these formal visits-he almost immediately attacked the problem of Franco-German relations.

"These relations," the Führer said, "I wish to see peaceable and pleasant, and I see no reason why they should not be so. There is no cause for conflict between Germany and France." He then looked at me insistently, but without trace of harshness, and added, "I hope, in any case, should difficulties arise, that you will do your utmost to smooth them out, in the same spirit as your predecessor and with the same sincerity."

The substance of my reply was that I was bringing with me a certainty and a hope. The certainty of the absolute sincerity dictated by my conscience and by my fervent patriotism. (Here Herr Hitler signified his approval by nodding his head with vivacity.)

I continued: "The hope is that of an effective and enduring rapprochement between the two nations. I have gained this hope both from your speeches, which I have recently read over again, and through which the word 'reconciliation' seemed to shine as a gleam of light as well as in the dispositions evident in France. During my last stay in my country, when I returned from Moscow, I gathered in the most varied circles precise indications that have convinced me of the fact that the vast majority of the French nation wishes for a rapprochement with Germany. France was profoundly stirred by the September crisis; like the German nation, she touched the fringe of war, and like the German people, our people have expressed their gratitude to the leader who preserved them from war. They look upon the Munich Agreement as a possibility for opening up a path for a policy of reconciliation and they wonder whether France and Germany might not in the end reach a mutual understanding, once and for all time, so as to avoid the possibility of a repetition of such a menace."

I concluded that it was the task of the Governments to answer this question, and I alluded to the last conversation of M. Francois-Poncet with the Führer.

Herr Hitler assured me that he shared these feelings, that he, on his side, was anxious without delay to translate into action the good intentions he had expressed to my predecessor, and he repeated that no territorial question remained in suspense between France and Germany.

I then stressed the importance, in order to start the two countries on the path of reconciliation and collaboration, of not delaying too long the first manifestation of the mutual goodwill of the two Governments, otherwise we ran this danger, that the effects of the psychological shock caused by the September crisis would fade out like a photograph which had not been fixed.

The Führer smiled and agreed, then he became more animated, his tone warmed up and he said: "I am an ex-Serviceman, I know what war is. I want to spare my people these trials; even an alteration of the frontier between our two countries would not be sufficient justification for the sacrifices it would entail. That is my opinion, and I know it is also that of President Daladier."

Herr Hitler then bade me good-bye after adding while shaking hands: "We are both ex-Servicemen; if ever difficulties should arise, we will find a way of solving them peacefully."

It is in that spirit, with which the mysticism of the National-Socialist regime is so largely permeated, that as soon as I got back to Berlin, I laid a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior of Germany.

At the luncheon which after I had been received by the Chancellor was offered to me by Herr Meissner, Minister of the Reich Chancellery, Herr Hitler's intimates evinced satisfaction at the progress of the conversations which had gone far beyond a mere expression of courtesy. A high official whom I have known for twenty years said to me: "From this you can infer the Führer's state of mind."

The Counselor and the Military Attaché of this Embassy had accompanied me to Berchtesgaden. During the whole journey we were the guests of the Government of the Reich, and the German authorities did their utmost to show us attentions and courtesy.


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