The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg)
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BERLIN, August 3, 1939-3:47 p. m.
Received Moscow, August 4, 1939-4:30 a. m.

No. 166 of August 3

For the Ambassador personally!

Last evening I received the Russian Chargé, who had previously called at the office on other matters. I intended to continue with him the conversations with which you are familiar, that had previously been conducted with Astakhov by members of the Foreign Office with my permission. I alluded to the trade agreement discussions, which are at present progressing satisfactorily, and designated such a trade agreement as a good step on the way toward a normalization of German-Russian relationships, if this was desired. It was well known that the tone of our press with regard to Russia had for over half a year been a very different one. I considered that, insofar as the desire existed on the Russian side, a remolding of our relations was possible, on two conditions:

a) noninterference in the internal affairs of the other country (Herr Astakhov believes he can promise this forthwith);

b) abandonment of a policy directed against our vital interests. To this, Astakhov was unable to give any clear-cut answer, but he thought his Government had the desire to pursue a policy of mutual understanding with Germany.

I continued that our policy was a direct and long-range one; we were in no hurry. We were favorably disposed toward Moscow; it was therefore a question of what direction the rulers there wanted to take. If Moscow took a [negative] (1) attitude, we would know where we stood and how to act. If the reverse were the case there was no problem from the Baltic to the Black Sea that could not be solved between the two of us. I said that there was room for the two of us on the Baltic and that Russian interests by no means needed to clash with ours there. As far as Poland was concerned, we were watching further developments attentively and dispassionately. In case of provocation on the part of Poland, we would settle matters with Poland in the space of a week. For this contingency, I dropped a gentle hint at coming to an agreement with Russia on the fate of Poland. I described German-Japanese relations as good and friendly; this relationship was a lasting one. As to Russian-Japanese relations, however, I had my own ideas (by which I meant a long-range modus vivendi between the two countries).

I conducted whole conversation in an even tone and in conclusion again made it clear to the Chargé that in international politics we pursued no such tactics as the democratic powers. We were accustomed to building on solid ground, did not need to pay heed to vacillating public opinion, and did not desire any sensations. If conversations such as ours were not handled with the discretion they deserved, they would have to be discontinued. We were making no fuss about it; the choice lay, as mentioned, with Moscow. If they were interested there in our ideas, why then Herr Molotov could shortly pick up the thread again with Count Schulenburg (this superseded by telegram No. 164).

Conclusion of the conversation.

Note for Count Schulenburg:

I conducted the conversation without showing any haste. The Chargé, who seemed interested, tried several times to pin the conversation down to more concrete terms, whereupon I gave him to understand that I would be prepared to make it more concrete as soon as the Soviet Government officially communicated its fundamental desire for a new relationship. Should Astakhov be instructed in this sense, we for our part would be interested in an early definite settlement. This exclusively for your personal information.



(1) This word, missing in the telegram as received in the Moscow Embassy, has been supplied from the German Foreign Office file copy. Back

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