The British War Bluebook
Sir N. Henderson to Viscount Halifax. August 25, 1939.
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No. 69.

Sir N. Henderson to Viscount Halifax (received 7 p. m.).

(Telegraphic.) Berlin, August 25, 1939.

IN my immediately preceding telegram I give text of a verbal communication which Chancellor made to me this morning. He was absolutely calm and normal and spoke with great earnestness and apparent sincerity. Minister for Foreign Affairs was present but took practically no part in the conversation.

2. Herr Hitler began by saying that he had always and still desired good relations with Great Britain, and his conscience compelled him to make this final effort to secure them. It was his last attempt. He suggested that I should fly to England myself in order to put the case to His Majesty's Government.

3. Conversation lasted an hour, my attitude being that Russian Pact in no way altered standpoint of His Majesty's Government, and that I must tell him quite honestly that Britain could not go back on her word to Poland and that I knew his offer would not be considered unless it meant a negotiated settlement of the Polish question. Herr Hitler refused to guarantee this on grounds that Polish provocation might at any moment render German intervention to protect German nationals inevitable. I again and again returned to this point but always got the same answer.

4. I told Herr Hitler that I could not discuss rights and wrongs of mutual provocation and incidents: that was for the Polish Ambassador to discuss with Herr von Ribbentrop and I suggested that he should do so. Herr Hitler's reply was that M. Lipski had seen Field-Marshal Goring, but had not been able to propose anything new.

5. I told Herr Hitler that we could not abandon Poland to her fate, but I made the entirely personal suggestion that M. Beck and Herr von Ribbentrop should meet somewhere and discuss the way out which alone might save Europe from war. Herr Hitler's reply was that he had invited M. Beck to come and talk the matter over last March only to have his invitation flatly refused. Only intervention by Herr von Ribbentrop in the discussion was to confirm this and to say that M. Lipski, who had had to convey this message, was obliged to put it in other words to soften the abruptness of it.

6. When I kept saying that His Majesty's Government could not in my opinion consider his offer unless it meant at the same time a peaceful settlement with Poland, Herr Hitler said: "If you think it useless then do not send my offer at all." He admitted the good intentions of M. Beck and M. Lipski, but said they had no control over what was happening in Poland. Only signs of excitement on Herr Hitler's part were when he referred to Polish persecutions. He mentioned that Herr von Ribbentrop on his return to Germany from Russia had had to fly from Konigsberg over the sea to avoid being shot at by the Poles, who fired at every German aeroplane that flew over normal routes across Polish territory. He also said that there had been another case of castration.

7. Among various points mentioned by Herr Hitler were: that the only winner of another European war would be Japan; that he was by nature an artist not a politician, and that once the Polish question was settled he would end his life as an artist and not as a war-monger; he did not want to turn Germany into nothing but a military barracks and he would only do so if forced to do so; that once the Polish question was settled he himself would settle down; that he had no interest in making Britain break her word to Poland; that he had no wish to be small-minded in any settlement with Poland and that all he required for an agreement with her was a gesture from Britain to indicate that she would not be unreasonable.

8. After I had left, Herr von Ribbentrop sent Dr. Schmidt to the Embassy with text of verbal statement and also a message from him to the effect that Herr Hitler had always and still wished for an agreement with Britain and begging me to urge His Majesty's Government to take the offer very seriously.

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