No. 137 NAI DFA 219/4

Extracts from a confidential report from William Warnock to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 16 March 1940

The conclusion of peace between Finland and Russia1 formed the main item of news during the week. It was of great importance from the German point of view, not only economically, but also politically, as the Western Powers can be represented as having had a first-class diplomatic defeat. What surprised people here was that Monsieur Daladier did not make his notorious speech concerning the French expeditionary force until peace had almost been arranged. Mr. Chamberlain's declaration in the British House of Commons at a very late stage also caused some surprise, but I may say in all seriousness that speeches by British Ministers are now treated by the German press more as a joke than anything else, as they have so often been proved either equivocal or totally misinformed.

The Scandinavian countries, which had been receiving warnings for months past in the German press, are now praised for their wisdom in having avoided the transfer of Europe's major war to their territories.

It is said here that the French expeditionary force to Finland would have consisted of Poles and other refugees, and that it would have taken a considerable time before British volunteers could have been trained. The much publicised schemes of the Western Powers are thought to have been propaganda for home consumption rather than anything else.

[matter omitted]

Yesterday, the 15th March, was the anniversary of the incorporation of Bohemia and Moravia in the Reich as a Protectorate. Messages were exchanged between the Reichsprotector, Baron von Neurath,2 and the Chancellor, and between the Czech President, Dr. Hacha,3 and the Chancellor. I have unfortunately never had an opportunity to visit the Protectorate myself, but I hear that the general attitude of the population is one of sullen acceptance of the present state of affairs, and of thankfulness that they are not directly involved in the present war. All signs of the former Czech rule have completely disappeared in the Sudetenland.

Nothing much is known about Mr. Sumner Welles' discussions here, though it is said in diplomatic circles that Mr. Welles went away convinced of the Unity of Germany behind the present leadership.4

The visit of Herr von Ribbentrop to Rome is thought to have been – as much as anything else – a demonstration that the 'Berlin-Rome Axis' still exists. The Foreign Minister's audience with the Pope was reported in a few lines, and, in my own opinion, somewhat misleadingly. It is stated that Herr von Ribbentrop had 'Called' on His Holiness. The Nuncio said to me this morning that though he was unaware of the subjects of discussion he was very glad that the audience had been arranged. The German annexation of Bohemia and Moravia increased the Nuncio's work considerably, and he has now, in addition, the very difficult task of watching the rights of the Catholic Church in the occupied areas of Poland. The Polish hierarchy has now no channel of communication with Rome save through the Nunciature here.

Every few months a new rumour begins to circulate concerning the probable date of the end of the war. After the conclusion of peace in Finland some people suggested that perhaps the bigger war could be settled by negotiation, too; the ordinary people are being led to believe that in any case the war will be over by the autumn, even if a military decision is needed.

To-morrow our colony and some German friends will foregather here to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in our family circle. One of the advantages of our small size is that we all know one another very intimately. We shall miss the usual supply of shamrock, but that will not hinder our remembrances of home. In times like these St. Patrick's Day means more to us than ever.

[signed] W. Warnock

1 The Russo-Finnish War of November 1939 to March 1940 saw initial Finnish successes give way to eventual Russian victory, with Finland ceding strategic territory to Russia through the 12 March 1939 Russo-Finnish Treaty signed in Moscow. When Germany attacked Russia in 1941 Finland declared war on Russia.

2 Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath (1873-1956), German Minister for Foreign Affairs (1932-9), Reichsprotektor (Nazi-represenatative) to Bohemia and Moravia (1939-41).

3 Emil Hacha (1872-1945), President of Czechoslovakia (1938-9), State President of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (1939-45).

4 Benjamin Sumner Welles (1892-1961), United States Under-Secretary of State (1937-43).

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