153 Sir Thomas Inskip, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Circular Cablegram B287 LONDON, 26 August 1939, 3.49 a.m.

Received 26 August 1939

MOST SECRET

Herr Hitler [1] today saw His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin. [2] He said that he wished to make a move towards England as decisive as his recent Russian move. But the incidents in Poland had become intolerable and Germany was determined to abolish these Macedonian conditions on her eastern frontier. The problem of Danzig and the corridor must and would be solved. The Prime Minister's [3] speech was not calculated to induce a change in the German attitude and its results could at the most be only war in which Germany would not have to fight on two fronts. The agreement with Russia, which was unconditional and signified long term change in the policy of the Reich, would render Germany economically secure however long a war might last.

Immediately after the solution of the Polish German problem (and Poland's fate appears to lie between Russia and Germany) Hitler was prepared and determined to approach Great Britain with a comprehensive offer. He was ready to pledge himself personally for the continued existence of the British Empire and to place the power of the German Reich at its disposal if- (1) His limited and negotiable demands were fulfilled (for which he was prepared to fix the longest time limit);

(2) His obligations towards Italy (similar to ours towards France) were respected.

He also stressed the irrevocable determination of Germany never to again enter into conflict with Russia.

On the conclusion of the agreements to the above effect he would be ready to accept reasonable limitation of armaments corresponding to the political and economic situation this created. He was not interested in the Western problems and a frontier modification in the West did not enter into consideration.

If these ideas were rejected there would be war from which Great Britain would in no case emerge stronger.

Hitler made it clear that this was his last attempt to secure good relations with Great Britain which he had always and still desired.

His Majesty's Ambassador repeated to Hitler that Great Britain would not go back on her word to Poland and that Hitler's offer would not be considered unless it meant a negotiated settlement of the Polish question. Hitler refused to guarantee this on the ground that Polish provocation might at any time render German intervention to protect German nationals inevitable.

Other points mentioned by Hitler were that the only winner of another European war would be Japan, that he had no interest in making Great Britain break her word to Poland and that he had no wish to be smallminded in any settlement with Poland. All that he required for an agreement with Poland was a gesture from Great Britain indicating that Poland would not be unreasonable.

Subsequently His Majesty's Ambassador received message from Ribbentrop [4] stating that Hitler had always and still wished for an agreement with Great Britain and urging that we should take the offer very seriously.

H.M. Ambassador is flying to London today (August 26th).

1 Adolf Hitler, German Chancellor.

2 Sir Nevile Henderson.

3 Neville Chamberlain.

4 Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister.

[AA: A981, GREAT BRITAIN 8B, v]