Source 5

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


The Secretary of State for Foregin Affairs’ suggestion was as follows:

To send for the German Ambassador that very evening To tell him of the acute consciousness of His Majesty’s Govermnent of the very grave situation created by the German action, and to speak quite plainly as to the feelings of His Majesty’s Government and of the House of Commons on the subject. He would point out the difficulties into which the Germans had plunged His Majesty’s Government and would remind him of our own guarantee under the Treaty of Locarno and of what our obligations are, as well as of our reputation for fulfilling our obligations. To emphasise how inexcuseable the German action was vis-a-vis Belgium who had no part in the Franco-Soviet Alliance. He would emphasise that despite all this we were anxious to obtain a peaceful settlement; that we were not asking for anything impossible; but that we wanted some contribution from Germany to give our efforts some prospect of success in the difficult circumstances.

What he would ask Hitler to say would be that, having stated that he wanted to negotiate a series of new pacts as a basis for peace in Europe, he would, as proof of his intentions, withdraw all his forces from the Rhineland over and above the troops necessary for a symbolic occupation. In addition that, pending the conclusion of the new pacts, for the regularisation of the situation, he should not reinforce the “symbolic” troops, nor build fortifications in the demilitarised zone. He proposed to fortify this request by reminding the German Ambassador that in his first communication he had stated that the number of troops would be small and limited to a symbolic occupation.

« Return to German occupation of the Rhineland

5. The Foreign Secretary puts forward his suggestion for dealing with the situation:

  • What deal does Anthony Eden want to offer Germany?
  • What do you think were Eden’s motives in making this offer to Germany?
  • Did this deal abide by the terms of the Treaties of Versailles and Locarno?
  • Why do you think he didn’t consult the League of Nations?