Source 1

The Foreign Secretary describes a meeting he has had with the French, Belgian and Italian governments (FO 371/19892)



The Locarno Treaty

German Re-occupation of the Demilitarised Zone.

(Previous Reference : Cabinet 17(36) conclusion 1).

1. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave the Cabinet an account of the conversations he and the Lord Privy Seal had held with representatives of the French, Belgian and Italian Governments in Paris on the previous day. Both Ministers were impressed by the complexity and gravity of the situation which confronted Europe, and more expecially our own counrty as one of the guarantors of Locarno. On the outcome of the present situation depended the course of events in Europe over the next ten years, and it had to be remembered that our influence was greater than that of any other nation.

The Ministers had soon discovered that our policy of condemning the German action and then developing a constructive policy to re-establish the European situation had no chance of acceptance. he thought it inevitable that the French and Belgians would both announce their intention – if Germany could not be persuaded to evacuate the demilitarised zone – to ask the Council of the League of make a pronouncement. Then if Germany was still obdurate, they would proceed to military measures and ask us to do the same. In that case we should have to decide whether we intend to fulfil our Treaty obligation – and we should be in an impossible position if we refused.

« Return to German occupation of the Rhineland

1. This is a document where the Foreign Secretary describes a meeting he has had with the French, Belgian and Italian governments.

  • What clues are there that the British Cabinet thought the situation was serious?
  • What was British policy for dealing with the crisis?
  • How did this policy go down with our allies?
  • Why do you think they reacted in this way?
  • What did Anthony Eden expect the allies to do next?
  • Why would this put Britain ‘in an impossible position’?