No. 23: Message from Viscount Halifax to Sir N. Henderson
Foreign Office, June 16, 1939.Sir,
THE German Ambassador called at the Foreign Office this morning to sign a technical agreement of no great importance between the two Governments, and I had a few moments' conversation with him afterwards. In part this followed the familiar line of assertion on his part of the effect that was being produced in Germany by encirclement. The Ambassador expressed the view that, just as the old phrase "The Fleet in being" suggested pressure even without overt action, so now the regrouping of Powers that we were organising was, in fact, designed to operate as coercive pressure on Germany, and it was this which was resented. His Excellency said, and made the same observation at a later stage in our conversation, that much of the feeling at the present time was due to all the discussion about our anti-aggression negotiations with Russia. In his view the situation would be easier when these negotiations were settled one way or the other. I thought this observation perhaps not without significance.
2. I replied by saying that, if anybody was encircling Germany, it was herself by the policy that she persisted in pursuing. Whatever might be thought about the policy now being pursued by this country, it seemed to us quite plain that the German Chancellor had broken the china in Europe and it was only he who could put it together again. We repeatedly made efforts from this side to open the way to a diminution of tension and improvement of relations, but this had so far elicited nothing in the nature of response from Herr Hitler.
3. I told Herr von Dirksen that I hoped he would let me know if at any time he had anything that he might wish to communicate to me that he thought of value, and he replied by expressing a similar wish that I would not hesitate at any time to send for him.
I am, &c.
Source: The British War Bluebook; courtesy of Yale Law School Avalon Project
Added By: C. Peter Chen
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Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945