|The Ambassador in Great Britain to the Foreign Ministry
Source : Documents on German Foreign Policy vol. V, p.92. A999
LONDON, March 10, 1936 II R 367 Received March 11
Subject: The mood and situation in England. In order to obtain an idea of Britain's present attitude towards the great events of the last few days, the elements which go to form British opinion must be delivered approximately into the following four categories:
The broad mass of the people.
They are the most favourably disposed towards the action taken by the Reich Government. The so-called "man in the street" generally takes the view that he does not care a damn if the German occupy their own territory with military forces, which is a thing which all the other States do anyway. He has not the slightest intention of getting himself involved and possibly even allowing himself to be drawn into a war over these questions, and he is thoroughly at the French starting such a "hullaballoo" again and apparently trying, by their clamour, to harness the British people once again to French interests. I have on a number of occasions satisfied myself personally that this attitude exists, and have, moreover, now and then noted downright approval of the German action and of the proposals for securing peace which are associated with it. Of particular significance in this respect, however, seems to me to be the outcome of an enquiry which is published by the News Chronicle today and of which I enclose a copy. The views, which are there expressed, and which by and large follow the line I have indicated above, seem to me not to be based on any tendentious selection, but accurately and truthfully to reflect what "the man in the street" is thinking.
As the Foreign Minister knows from the reports of the Deutsches Nachrichtenbuero, the attitude of the press can on the whole be described as satisfactory. It is true that sharp criticism of Germany's so-called treaty violation is to be found in many newspapers. On the other hand there are also many gratifying indications of sympathy for the German point of view, and, in general, of a tendency towards objective assessment and calm reflection.
As was again apparent yesterday in the House of Commons, Parliament is several degrees more critical and nervous than is the press, or indeed the broad masses of the people. The atmosphere there is charged with disquiet, anxiety and indeed, perplexity. Criticism of the German action is very marked there. Indignation at Germany's alleged treaty violation is profound. This is adversely influencing the effect made by the German proposals, since doubts are felt as to the value of any future German promises and, indeed, as to whether there is any point in making fresh agreements with Germany. Nonetheless, Parliament also realises the necessity for remaining calm and sees that efforts to eliminate, as far as possible the risk of war now or in the future by maintaining contact with Germany, must not be abandoned.
Government authorities and other leading political personages.
Among these persons, both treaty and moral obligations, and the desire to maintain stability in British policy, play an important part. For them Locarno, as the foundation of the Western system of safeguarding peace, upon which Great Britain has based her policy over and over again, is a factor of political value, the sudden disappearance of which might of itself weld them and the other Locarno Powers together in joint action. In addition, there is the embarrassing pressure by France, who, recalling the support which she gave, however hesitantly, to the sanctions campaign against Italy, is now vehemently demanding that this debt be rapid in connection with Germany's alleged crime. British statesmen feel as a heavy burden the responsibility that rests upon them to steer Europe through the dangers arising, on the one hand from France's vehement insistence on making impossible demands of Germany and on embarking upon a new sanctions war, on the other from the British efforts not to impair Anglo-French co-operation, and finally also from the aversion, shared by the British, to a policy of so-called resignation, which, by the simple acceptance of the alleged treaty violation by Germany, might constitute another precedent for the vitiation of every treaty. Germany is reproached not so much for our thesis that the Franco-Russian Treaty of Alliance is incompatible with Locarno nor for our insistence on the abolition of the previous discrimination on the Rhine, but rather for the circumstance that, as it is put here, Germany has made herself the judge of her own case instead of putting forward her complaints and demands, which might perhaps be justified, through negotiations or by going to arbitration.
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