Auf deutsch.

Frames 0433-0451, serial F 5

Letter From the Reich Foreign Minister to Stalin

Berlin, October 13, 1940.

My Dear Herr Stalin : Over a year ago, through your decision and the Führer's, the relations between Germany and Soviet Russia were examined and put on a completely new basis. I believe that the decision to reach an understanding between our two countries—which resulted from the realization that the Lebensräume of our peoples adjoin each other but need not necessarily overlap, and which led to a delimitation of mutual spheres of influence and to the German-Soviet Russian Nonaggression and Friendship Treaties—has proved advantageous to both sides. I am convinced that the consistent continuance of this policy of good neighborliness and a further strengthening of the political and economic collaboration will redound to the greater and greater benefit of the two great peoples in the future. Germany, at any rate, is prepared and determined to work to this end.
With such a goal, it seems to me, a direct contact between the responsible personalities of both countries becomes particularly important. I believe that such a personal contact through other than the customary diplomatic channels is indispensable from time to time in authoritarian regimes such as ours. Today I would, therefore, like to review briefly the events since my last visit to Moscow. Because of the historical importance of these events and in continuation of our exchange of ideas of last year, I would like to review for you the policy which Germany has pursued during this period.
After the conclusion of the Polish Campaign we became aware—and this was confirmed by many reports which were received during the winter—that England, faithful to her traditional policy, was building her whole war strategy on the hope of an extension of the war. The attempts made in 1939 to win over the Soviet Union to a military coalition against Germany had already pointed in this direction. They were frustrated by the German-Soviet Russian Agreement. Later on, the attitude of England and France in the Soviet Russian-Finnish conflict was similar.
In the spring of 1940, these concealed intentions became quite evident. With this began the active phase of the English policy of extending this war to other peoples of Europe. After the end of the Soviet Russian-Finnish War, Norway was selected as the first target. By the occupation of Narvik and other Norwegian bases, Germany's iron ore supplies were to be cut off and a new front established in Scandinavia. It was only due to the timely intervention of the German leadership in Berlin and to the quick blows of our troops—who chased the English and the French out of Norway—that all of Scandinavia did not become a theater of war.
Several weeks later this Anglo-French game was to be repeated in Holland and Belgium. And here, too, Germany was able at the eleventh hour to prevent the contemplated thrust of the Anglo-French armies against the Ruhr Region (of which we had been informed some time before) by decisive victories of our armies. Today, even France, "England's continental sword," it has become apparent to most Frenchmen that their country in the last analysis had to bleed to death as a victim of this traditional "humanitarian" policy of England. As to the present English rulers, who declared war on Germany and who thereby plunged the British people into misfortune, even they themselves were finally no longer able to conceal their traditional British policy and their contempt for their own allies. On the contrary, when fate turned against them, all their hypocritical protestations ceased. With true English cynicism, they have treacherously forsaken their friends. In fact, in order to save themselves they slandered their erstwhile allies, and later on they even openly opposed them by force. Andalsnes, Dunkerque, Oran, Dakar, are names which—it appears to me—could sufficiently enlighten the world on the value of England's friendship. However, on this occasion we Germans, too, learned a lesson: that the English are not only unscrupulous politicians, but also bad soldiers. Our troops have routed them wherever they accepted battle. The German soldier was superior to them everywhere.
In this final phase of the war, to guard against any moves which England might yet make in her desperate situation, the Axis, as an obvious precaution, was forced to secure its military and strategic position in Europe as well as its political and diplomatic position in the world. In addition, it had to safeguard the requirements for maintaining our economic life. Immediately after the end of the campaign in the West, Germany and Italy started with this task, and now they have carried it out in its broad outlines. In this connection there may also be mentioned the—for Germany—unprecedented task of securing her Norwegian coastal positions all the way from the Skagerrak to Kirkenes. Germany has therefore entered into certain purely technical agreements with Sweden and Finland, of which I have already fully informed you through the German Embassy. They are exclusively for the purpose of facilitating supply of the coastal cities in the North (Narvik and Kirkenes)—which are difficult for us to reach by land—by shipping supplies via the territory of these countries.
In summing up, I should like to state that, in the opinion of the Führer, also, it appears to be the historical mission of the Four Powers—the Soviet Union, Italy, Japan, and Germany—to adopt a long-range policy and to direct the future development of their peoples into the right channels by delimitation of their interests on a world-wide scale.
In order further to clarify issues of such decisive importance for the future of our peoples and in order to discuss them in concrete form, we would welcome it if Herr Molotov would pay us a visit in Berlin soon. I should like to extend a most cordial invitation to him in the name of the Reich Government. After my two visits to Moscow, it would now be a particular pleasure for me personally to see Herr Molotov in Berlin. His visit would then give the Führer the opportunity to explain to Herr Molotov personally his views regarding the future molding of relations between our two countries. Upon his return, Herr Molotov will be able to report to you at length concerning the aims and intentions of the Führer. If then—as I believe I may expect—the opportunity should arise for further elaboration of a common policy in accordance with my foregoing statements, I should be happy to come to Moscow again personally in order to resume the exchange of ideas with you, my dear Herr Stalin, and to discuss—possibly together with representatives of Japan and Italy—the bases of a policy which could only be of practical advantage to all of us.
With best regards I remain
Respectfully yours,


Source: Nazi-Soviet relations 1939-1941. Documents from the Archives of The German Foreign Office. Washington, Department of State, publication 3023, 1948. (Also in Documents on German foreign policy, Series D, XI, Nr. 176, HMSO, London 1961). Omissions here by Pauli Kruhse.

Previous document (Oct. 8) | Finland in Great Power politics | Next document (Nov. 2).