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PRO file FO371/19923

[Himmler's reference to "the recent crisis" indicates that the memorandum was probably written after May 21, 1938. Lord Halifax thanks Sir Philip Gibbs for this note in a letter dated May 27, 1938.]

Extract of Conversation with Herr Himmler.

by Sir Philip Gibbs.

In an interesting conversation I had with Herr Himmler in Berlin on April 29 last [1938], he asked why England was so hostile to Germany and seemed to think war was inevitable, whereas Germany was very anxious for friendship with England.

I said that certain sections of opinion in England believed that Hitler intended to play the role of Napoleon and would invade, or dominate other countries one by one until he was omnipotent in south-east Europe.

"You people have got it all wrong," answered Herr Himmler, "that is absolutely opposed to the central idea of our National-Socialism. We are bound by the framework of ours race ideas - which you think so mad. We do not want to incorporate within the German Reich Czechs or Poles, or Hungarians or Roumanians, or any other race. On the contrary our whole purpose is to keep the German Folk within its own framework. For that reason we respect other people 's races. As for the Napoleonic idea of conquest that is a ridiculous anachronism as far as we are concerned. We have read a little history. We know that if we advanced into other people's territories it would be a weakness which would destroy us. We are not going to do so. Can you not get that into the heads of your people? It is the honest truth."

He did not see why England should begrudge Germany economic advantages in Danubian countries. The British Empire with the Ottawa agreement [of 1936] limited Germany's trade possibilities. Could not Germany seek such advantages elsewhere without being accused of brutal domination? It was necessary for her economic life and would be good for the whole of Europe.

Speaking of the Sudeten-Deutsch (before this question had boiled up to its recent crisis) he said:

"We might have expected that the English people, above all, would understand Germany's sympathy with those three and a half million Germanic folk who have been very badly treated and oppressed. England would be the first to give protection to their own kinsfolk. Wherever there are English the power of England is behind them. In any case what has England to do with these Sudeten-deutsch? We don't interfere in Ireland or Palestine."

I understood from him and many other influential people in Berlin, including Dr. Woermann, ex-acting ambassador in London, that Hitler would be satisfied with autonomy for the Sudeten-deutsch on the Swiss model.

Himmler told me however that Hitler was getting impatient with the continual hostility of the English Press but added; "Nevertheless every German wants friendship with England as I want it."

Several members of the German Foreign Office told me (just before the recent crisis) that the Government were sending people down to the Sudeten-deutsch to prevent explosive incidents which might lead to a risk of war. "They did not want," they said, "that risk to happen."

By many influential Germans, including Baron Marschall von Bieberstein, Baron H. Geyr of the Foreign Office and Prince Solm, I was told that they longed for some act or gesture from England which would break the evil spell of suspicion and misunderstanding between our two countries. They thought it would happen if by any possible chance our King and Queen would visit Germany.

"Germany would go mad," they said. "From one end of Germany to the other there would be a demonstration of enthusiasm beyond all bounds." If only word could be sent that such a thing were possible an official invitation would be made by Hitler without a moment's delay. But this private word must come first.

Index on Heinrich Himmler

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