No. 356 NAI DFA 19/50A

Confidential report from Charles Bewley to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 29 August 1936

The increase of the duration of military service to two years has been the subject of comparatively little discussion in Germany, where naturally no opposition would be permitted in the press. I do not however think that, even if entire freedom of criticism existed, there would be any serious opposition. The course of events in Spain and the increase of the armed forces of Soviet Russia have created here a genuine sense of alarm, and it is realized that Germany must be prepared to make sacrifices in order to be able to defend herself from possible attacks.

In addition to the actual increase of the Russian army, emphasis is laid on the strategic railways being now built on Russia's western frontiers, the increased Bolshevist influence in Czechoslovakia and above all the growing communist influence in France. The people, and I think also the Government, genuinely believes in the possibility of a concentrated attack on Germany by France and Russia. In this it agrees with the French press of the Right, the only difference being the motive ascribed to Stalin: here his aim is believed to be the annihilation of Germany, whereas in France it is stated to be that of diverting the German aggression from Russia to France. Possibly both views are correct, as in the event of a German-Franco war, the only certain winner would be international communism, irrespective of the nominal victor.

Moreover, public opinion has been profoundly shocked by the accounts of the atrocities committed by the Government of Madrid, and surprise is expressed at their approval by liberal and democratic circles in France and England. As I pointed out recently, the people is probably now more solidly in favour of the régime then it has been for years, and minor dissatisfactions are forgotten in the consideration that Hitler has at least saved Germany from a criminal régime such as that at present dominating portions of Spain.

I recently visited the Spanish Ambassador here, who resigned some weeks ago. All the members of the Embassy except two have resigned: I understand that the former commercial counsellor, who has been made chargé d'affaires by the Madrid Government, is being kept at arm's length by the German Government, which is awaiting the best moment for formally recognizing the Burgos Government. Whether this step would be taken in consent with the Italian Government or independently I have not been able to find out.

The Ambassador, who is anti-Monarchist and was regarded with great disfavour in Monarchist circles for not resigning when the Republic was declared in 1931, expressed very great bitterness against France and also, though not so strongly, against England for their support, direct or indirect, of the communist forces. In the latter opinion he is at one with the German Press, which states that it is clear that England would prefer a Red Government in Spain to one based on the authoritative principle. He also mentioned that the Minister in Dublin1 had always been inclined to be Red, and that he was not surprised that he had not resigned.

Having regard to the state of opinion here, I do not think that the various internal difficulties reported in the foreign press will have any political effect. The shortage of meat, for example, which undoubtedly exists, will be borne more or less patiently until it again becomes more plentiful. Nor will the degradation of Kube, ex-Gauleiter for Brandenburg, or the various functionaries implicated in his offences (which are mainly of a financial order) alter the general opinion. Undoubtedly the growth of Bolshevism in France and in all the 'democratic' countries has played into Hitler's hands and stabilized for an indefinite time a system of Government, which otherwise might or might not have endured. It is also clear that the opinion has become more and more prevalent, even among enemies of National Socialism, that only an absolute authority can protect a country from communism, and that systems of parliamentary democracy, with liberty to all to attack the state, the Christian system of morals and European civilization, only serves to pave the way to the tyranny of Bolshevism.

Considerable prominence has been given in the Press here to the report that 5000 volunteers in Ireland are ready to go to the assistance of the anti-Red forces in Spain. No comment has appeared in the papers for obvious reasons, but I have been frequently asked about it in conversation. The general feeling of the persons who have spoken was one of general warm approval, but the Spanish Ambassador remarked that they had no difficulties in want of men but only of material and ammunitions.

[signed] C. Bewley

1 Alvaro de Aguilar Gomez Acebo, Spanish Minister in Dublin (Dec. 1935-Sept. 1936).

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