Sunday, August 28, 2016
ADSS 1.196 Valeri to Maglione: French perspectives
ADSS 1.196 Valerio Valeri, France, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State
Reference: Report number 9062/292 (AES 6443/39)
Location and date: Paris, 09.09.1939
Summary statement: France is calm. Any peace offer from Hitler would be rejected unless it guaranteed Polish and Czechoslovakian independence. UK has demanded Hitler’s head.
As it is well known to Your Eminence the first days of war have not brought any action worthy of notice on the Franco-German front. The three air raid warnings in Paris, apart form the panic created, were at most due to reconnaissance planes. In fact nobody has spoken of damage to people or property although during the Wednesday warning the anti-aircraft guns went into action, with evident danger to the population, as soon as the sirens started. (1)
It is clear therefore that Hitler’s plan is to offer new negotiations as soon as poor Poland has been liquidated. In this regard the Press here has not yet announced the capture of Warsaw, although neutral radio stations yesterday evening gave it out. Will an offer by Hitler, which is highly probably, be accepted? I very doubt it; such doubt would be confirmed by the retirement, in a future cabinet reshuffle or extension, of M. Bonnet who, in the audience he granted to me on 30 August, let slip the phrase “it is vital to urge counsels of restraint on Poland”. (2)
Nevertheless, if Hitler, while restoring Germany to her 1914 frontiers as far as Poland is concerned, were to guarantee independence to the remainder of the latter, offering for example Memel and a connecting strip of territory along the rim of East Prussia, and to restore full independence to Czechoslovakia, over which he has proclaimed no more than a protectorate, would there not be justifiable hopes of limiting and concluding the conflict? … I believe there would and that the international conference favoured by Mussolini could then take place.
It is true that Britain has more or less officially, as of now, demanded Hitler’s head. This is a somewhat more serious matter … unless the Lord enlightens her and the Führer, after restoring the former Germany, retires from the world scene and leaves to others the task of governing people in peace.
(1) See Canberra Times, Wednesday 06.09.1939, “No air raid on Paris”.
(2) ADSS 1.157