The French Yellow Book

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No. 46 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, February 7, 1939.

YESTERDAY afternoon I had an hour's conversation with Herr von Ribbentrop, by whom I had asked to be received. In its essentials the conversation was a long account by the Minister of the Reich's foreign policy, a policy which, as he stressed, was not his, but the Führer's, whose instructions he merely followed.

As I reminded him of the general approval given, in the Chamber of Deputies, to the declarations made by Your Excellency on Franco-German relations, Herr von Ribbentrop made substantially the following statement: "I will speak to you with complete frankness. It is outrageous to maintain, as is often done abroad, that we are pursuing war aims. I myself in 1933 and 1934, offered an agreement in turn to France and Great Britain. All my endeavours were of no avail. The Berlin-Rome Axis was forged. Today that Axis is a fact, and the London-Paris Axis is another. Moreover, the Western Powers have shown themselves unable to understand that our vital interests must be satisfied; the Press of those countries has played its part, together with irresponsible and mischievous elements, and the Czechoslovak crisis arose. Later, Germany did what was in her power to bridge the differences between the two Axes; hence the Anglo-German declaration, and then the Franco-German declaration to which, I insist, we attach the utmost importance. Is this a policy of war or a policy of peace? Nevertheless, in spite of the moderation of the German Press, a great number of British and American newspapers, under the pressure of Jewish and Bolshevising elements, do not stop attacking us; on account of this, we have decided to give our newspapers full liberty to answer back and you will soon see how they do it.

"In foreign policy, our aim is twofold:

(1) To fight Bolshevism by every means, and especially through the operation of the anti-Comintern pact.

(2) To regain our colonies.

"On the first point, believe me, the struggle we have started is merciless. Towards the Soviets, we will remain adamant. We never will come to an understanding with Bolshevist Russia. During the Spanish war some among us had advocated a policy of complete aloofness, hoping to weaken France through the creation of a revolutionary focus on her borders. This was not and is not the Führer's policy. This is the reason why our 'volunteers' went to the help of Franco.

"As to the Colonies, we cannot admit that the riches of the world should be divided between Powers, great and even small ones like Belgium or Holland, and that Germany should be completely deprived of them. One day or another, this colonial question will have to be settled. But, for the time being, the Governments of the countries concerned are too much under the pressure of the opposition parties to allow a free discussion.

"It is just for this reason that we are not prepared, generally speaking, to start negotiations. And why should we, as long as in the democracies the opposition parties are stirred up by the mischievous action of Bolshevism and Jewry? But we are confident that, in those countries, such influences will be gradually reduced and finally suppressed; then it will be possible to negotiate, and satisfactory solutions will probably be found. But, for the time being, should a conference be summoned, it would soon be seen that the only possible course would be to call it off."

I had no opportunity to take up each of the points mentioned by Herr von Ribbentrop during this monologue, which I thought it advisable not to interrupt. I found it expedient to do nothing more than point out to him that the last speech delivered by Your Excellency would provide him with definite information on the general position taken by the French Government.

Then Herr von Ribbentrop took up the sentence in your last speech relating to our agreements with Eastern European countries. One might gather the impression, he remarked, that France has not renounced the policy which brought about the last crisis, and in any case such an interpretation might be given to the declaration in certain countries; recently we had to make certain representations to M. Chvalkovsky. I answered him that France had no intention of giving up either her friendships or her interests in any part of the continent; as a great European Power she would make her presence felt in Europe.

Nothing, however, in her attitude could give rise to suspicion on the part of the Reich; but I had to repeat that if Berlin wished France to show understanding of German vital interests, it was necessary to admit and practice reciprocity; this mutual understanding would be the best safeguarding for Franco-German relations and for peace itself.


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