Foreign Office Memorandum : May 17, 1939
Previous Document Nazi-Soviet Relations Page Next Document

To W IV 1870/39

The Soviet Charge, Counselor of Embassy Astakhov, called on me today in order to talk to me about the legal status of the Soviet Trade Mission in Prague, established there on the basis of the Soviet-Czechoslovak Trade Agreement of 1935. The Soviet Union wants to leave the Trade Mission in Prague as a section of the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin, and requests that it be given temporarily the same legal status that it had under the Soviet-Czechoslovak Trade Agreement. Herr Astakhov invoked the German declaration, according to which the present Czechoslovak trade agreements would continue to be applied to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia until something new had replaced them.

I received this request and promised an early answer. I told him as my personal opinion that there would hardly be any objections to the Soviet request.

During the subsequent conversation Astakhov again referred in great detail to the development of German-Soviet relations, as he had already done two weeks ago. He remarked that the German press for some weeks looked entirely different. The attacks hitherto directed against the Soviet Union were missing, reports were objective; in an industrial newspaper of the Rhineland he had even seen some photographs of Soviet installations. Of course, the Soviets could not judge whether this was only a temporary break that was used for tactical reasons. However, it was hoped that a permanent state of affairs would result from it. Astakhov stated in detail that there were no conflicts in foreign policy between Germany and Soviet Russia, and that therefore there was no reason for any enmity between the two countries. It was true that in the Soviet Union there was a distinct feeling of being menaced by Germany. It would undoubtedly be possible to eliminate this feeling of being menaced and the distrust in Moscow. During this conversation, he also again mentioned the Treaty of Rapallo. In reply to my incidental question, he commented on the Anglo-Soviet negotiations to the effect that under the present circumstances the result desired by England would hardly be achieved.

To substantiate his opinion concerning the possibility of a change in German-Soviet relations, Astakhov repeatedly referred to Italy and stressed that the Duce, even after the creation of the Axis, had implied that there were no obstacles to a normal development of the political and economic relations between the Soviet Union and Italy.

In my replies I was reserved and induced Astakhov, by means of incidental remarks only, to further elaborate his viewpoint.

BERLIN, May 17,1939.

Previous Document Nazi-Soviet Relations Page Next Document

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.