840.414/5–2645: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

5291. ReDepts 4091, May 24. The microfilms of German FO documents are now undergoing preliminary examination in London and prints are being made for the FO by the Air Ministry. There are 9,725 pages of documents to be gone through, and because of technical differences between the German film and British film it is not possible to make a new microfilm directly from the German one. Prints first have to be made and from these prints a new microfilm is being produced. One copy of the new film is to be left in the FO and one copy will be delivered to the Embassy, probably by May 28, for forwarding to the State Dept.

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Because of the nature of these documents the FO has expressed the opinion that no further distribution should be made until after the FO and the State Dept have had an opportunity to examine the documents fully. Dr. Perkins has made a hasty survey of approximately one-fourth of the total number of documents, and on the basis of this sampling he is convinced of their highly secret nature. Documents he has examined contain comparatively full reports of conversations between Hitler and Ribbentrop and Matsuoka67 during his visit to Berlin in March and April 1941 at which time the Germans strongly urged that Japan attack Singapore. Perkins has also seen records of conversations between Hitler and Ribbentrop and Molotov in which an attempt was made to convince the Russians that the tripartite Axis aimed only at expansion to the south and was not directed against the Soviet Union. The documents contain the text of agreements made between Germany and the Soviet Union in Sept 1939.68 There is also among the documents ample proof of close collaboration between Germany and the Spanish Govt under Franco. A letter dated Feb 26, 1941 from Franco to Hitler includes a pledge of his friendship and the urgent recommendation for the closing of the Straits of Gibraltar.69 There is an agreement signed in 194370 for the defense of Spanish territory and German aid in case the Allies attempted to occupy any Spanish territory as they had French North Africa.

When these films were brought to London for processing it was planned that a copy of the new microfilm would be made available to Ambassador Murphy’s office. As stated above, the FO after preliminary survey of the documents feel that the original distribution should be strictly limited. This is based on the fact that the documents are of purely political character concerning the foreign policy of Germany, that they contain information regarding certain of our present Allies and that they would not be of apparent interest or use in current administration of a defeated Germany. The FO has received a request from the political section of the British element of the Control Commission similar to that received by us from Ambassador Murphy’s office. According to the FO, copies of the new microfilm will not be distributed to any other British agencies until after the FO has made a thorough examination. However, it was made clear by the FO that it considers these documents a joint State Dept–Foreign [Page 1109] Office find, and that if the Embassy requests an additional copy of the new film for Ambassador Murphy’s office it will be made available. Before making such a request the Dept’s instructions are requested.

Winant
  1. Yosuke Matsuoka, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty and protocols; for texts, see Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D. vol. vii, pp. 164–166; for documentation relating to negotiations, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. i, pp. 477482.
  3. For text of letter, see Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. xii, p. 176.
  4. For text of Secret Protocol between the German and Spanish Governments, signed February 10, 1943, see Department of State Bulletin, March 17, 1946, p. 426.