Comments by Adolf Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop in Black (Except in Hitler meetings where Ribbentrop is in green.)

Vyacheslav Molotov Comments in Red

Subtitles, color coding and bold print have been inserted by us to make the documents easier to follow.  Transcript is the official U.S. State Department translation of official German records.


Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Reich Foreign Minister and the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. and People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, V. M. Molotov, in the Presence of the Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Dekanosov, as Well as Counselor of Embassy Hilger and Herr Pavlov, Who Acted as Interpreters; Held in Berlin on November 12, 1940

Source: Bundesarchiv Koblenz, RM 41/40

After some introductory words the Reich Foreign Minister stated that since the two visits which he had made to Moscow last year much had happened. Referring to the talks which he had had in Moscow with the Russian statesmen, and supplementing what he had recently written in the letter to Stalin, he now wanted to make a few more statements regarding the German view of the general situation and on Russo-German relations, without thereby anticipating the Führer, who would talk in detail with Herr Molotov in the afternoon and would give him his considered opinion regarding the political situation. After this discussion with the Führer, there would be further opportunities for talks with the Reich Foreign Minister, and it might he assumed that this German-Russian exchange of views would have a favorable effect upon the relations between the two countries.

Molotov replied that the contents of the letter to Stalin, which already contained a general review of events since last fall, were known to him, and he hoped that the analysis given in the letter would be supplemented by oral statements of the Führer with regard to the over-all situation and German-Russian relations.

The Reich Foreign Minister replied that in the letter to Stalin he had already expressed the firm conviction of Germany, which he wished to stress again on this occasion, that no power on earth could alter the fact that the beginning of the end had now arrived for the British Empire. England was beaten, and it was only a question of time when she would finally admit her defeat. It was possible that this would happen soon, because in England the situation was deteriorating daily. Germany would, of course, welcome an early conclusion of the conflict, since she did not wish under any circumstances to sacrifice human lives unnecessarily. If, however, the British did not make up their minds in the immediate future to admit their defeat, they would definitely ask for peace during the coming year. Germany was continuing her bombing attacks on England day and night. Her submarines would gradually be employed to the full extent and would inflict terrible losses on England. Germany was of the opinion that England could perhaps be forced by these attacks to give up the struggle. A certain uneasiness was already apparent in Great Britain, which seemed to indicate such a solution. If, however, England were not forced to her knees by the present mode of attack, Germany would, as soon as weather conditions permitted, resolutely proceed to a large-scale attack and thereby definitely crush England. This large-scale attack had thus far been prevented only by abnormal weather conditions.

On the other hand, England hoped for aid from the United States, whose support, however, was extremely questionable. Regarding possible military operations by land, the entry of the United States into the war was of no consequence at all for Germany. Germany and Italy would never again allow an Anglo-Saxon to land on the European Continent. The aid which England could get from the American fleet was also very uncertain. Thus, America would confine herself to sending war materiel, primarily planes, to the British. How much of this materiel would really arrive in England it was difficult to say. It might be assumed, however, that as a result of the measures taken by the German Navy, shipments from America would arrive in England only in very meagre quantities, so that in this respect, too, American support was more than doubtful. Under these circumstances, the question of whether America would enter the war or not was a matter of complete indifference to Germany.

As to the political situation, the Reich Foreign Minister remarked that now, after the conclusion of the French campaign, Germany was extraordinarily strong. The Führer would probably give Herr Molotov further information on this point. The course of the war had brought neither losses of personnel-as regrettable as the sacrifices might be for the families directly afflicted-nor material losses of any importance. Germany, therefore, had at her disposal an extraordinarily large number of divisions, and her air force was constantly growing stronger. The submarines and other naval units were continually being augmented. Under those circumstances, any attempt at a landing or at military operations on the European Continent by England or by England backed by America was doomed to complete failure at the start. This was no military problem at all. This the English had not yet understood, because apparently there was some degree of confusion in Great Britain and because the country was led by a political and military dilettante by the name of Churchill, who throughout his previous career had completely failed at all decisive moments and who would fail again this time.

Furthermore, the Axis completely dominated its part of Europe militarily and politically. Even France, which had lost the war and had to pay for it (of which the French, incidentally, were quite aware) had accepted the principle that France in the future would never again support England and de Gaulle, the quixotic conqueror of Africa. Because of the extraordinary strength of their position, the Axis Powers were not, therefore, considering how they might win the war, but rather how rapidly they could end the war which was already won.

As a result of this whole development, i. e., the natural desire of Germany and Italy to end the war as rapidly as possible, both countries had looked around for friends who pursued the same interest, that is, who were against any extension of the war and aimed at a speedy conclusion of the war. The Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan had been the result of these efforts. The Reich Foreign Minister could state confidentially that a number of other countries had also declared their solidarity with the ideas of the Three Power Pact.

In this connection the Reich Foreign Minister emphasized that during the talks on the Three Power Pact, which were concluded very rapidly, as he had already stated in the letter to Stalin, one idea had been paramount in the minds of all three participants, namely, that the Pact should not in any way disturb the relationship of the Three Powers to Russia. This idea had been advanced by the Reich Foreign Minister and had been at once spontaneously approved by Italy and Japan. Japan, in particular-whose friendship for Germany, in view of the warmongering agitation in the United States, was of special importance in the interest of preventing a spread of the war-had given it her backing. Relations with Russia were clarified in article 5 of the Tripartite Pact of Berlin and had actually been the first subject settled.


The Reich Foreign Minister pointed out that from the very first moment of his Moscow visit he had made clear his view that in the basic foreign policy of the New Germany, friendship with Japan (as expressed in the Tripartite Pact) and friendship with Russia were not only absolutely consistent with each other but could be of positive value in the realization of this foreign policy so far as the desire for a speedy end to the war is concerned-a desire which was surely shared by Soviet Russia. Molotov would recall that the Reich Foreign Minister had stated in Moscow that Germany would very much welcome an improvement in relations between Russia and Japan. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) had taken with him to Germany Stalin's concurrence in the idea that it would also be in the Russian interest if Germany would exert her influence in Tokyo in favor of a Russo-Japanese rapprochement. The Reich Foreign Minister pointed out that he had consistently exerted this influence in Tokyo, and he believed that his work had to a certain degree already been effective. Not only since his Moscow visit, but even seven to eight years ago, he (the Reich Foreign Minister) in conversations with the Japanese had always advocated Russo-Japanese accord. He took the position that just as it had been possible to delimit the mutual spheres of interest between Soviet Russia and Germany, a delimitation of interests could also be achieved between Japan and Russia. With regard to her Lebensraum policy, Japan now was oriented not toward the East and North, but toward the South, and the Reich Foreign Minister believed that by his influence he had contributed something to this development. Another reason why Germany had striven for an understanding with Japan was the realization that England would some day go to war against the Reich. Therefore, in good season Germany had adopted an appropriate policy toward Japan.


The Führer now was of the opinion that it would be advantageous in any case if the attempt were made to establish the spheres of influence between Russia, Germany, Italy, and Japan along very broad lines. The Führer had considered this question long and thoroughly, and he had reached the following conclusion: By reason of the position which the four nations occupied in the world, a wise policy would normally direct the momentum of their Lebensraum expansion entirely southward. Japan had already turned toward the South, and she would have to work for centuries in order to consolidate her territorial gains in the South. Germany had defined her spheres of influence with Russia, and after the establishment of a new order in Western Europe she would also find her Lebensraum expansion to be in a southerly direction, i. e., in Central Africa in the region of the former German colonies. Similarly Italian expansion was to the south in the African portion of the Mediterranean. i.e. North and East Africa. He, the Foreign Minister, wondered whether Russia in the long run would not also turn to the South for the natural outlet to the open sea that was so important for Russia. These were, the Reich Foreign Minister stated in conclusion, the great concerns which during recent months had frequently been discussed between the Führer and himself and which were also to be presented to Molotov on the occasion of the Berlin visit.

To a question by Molotov as to which sea the Reich Foreign Minister had meant when he had just spoken of access to the sea, the latter replied that according to German opinion great changes would take place all over the world after the war. He recalled the fact that he had declared to Stalin in Moscow that England no longer had the right to dominate the world. England was pursuing an insane policy, for which she would some day have to pay the cost. Germany believed, therefore, that great changes would occur in the status of British imperial possessions. Thus far, both partners had benefited from the German-Russian Pact, Germany as well as Russia, which was able to carry out her rightful revisions in the West. The victory of Germany over Poland and France had contributed considerably to the successful achievement of these revisions. Both partners of the German-Russian Pact had together done some good business.

This was the most favorable basis for any pact. The question now was, whether they could not continue in the future also to do good business together and whether Soviet Russia could not derive corresponding advantages from the new order of things in the British Empire, i.e., whether in the long run the most advantageous access to the sea for Russia could not be found in the direction of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, and whether at the same time certain other aspirations of Russia in this part of Asia-in which Germany was completely disinterested-could not also be realized.


The Reich Foreign Minister further brought up the subject of Turkey. Thus far that country had outwardly had an alliance with France and England. France had been eliminated by her defeat, and England's value as an ally would become more and more questionable. Therefore, Turkey had been clever enough in recent months to reduce her ties with England to a level that amounted really to nothing more than the former neutrality. The question arose as to what interest Russia had in Turkey. In view of the imminent end of the war, which was in the interest of all countries, including Russia, he believed that Turkey should be induced to free herself more and more from the tie with England. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) did not want to pass final judgment on details, but he believed that with the adoption of a common platform by Russia, Germany, Italy, and Japan Turkey ought gradually to be steered toward these countries. Thus far, he had not discussed these matters with the Turks in any concrete way. He had only stated in a confidential talk with the Turkish Ambassador that Germany would welcome it if Turkey, by pursuing in intensified degree her present political line, would arrive at absolute neutrality, and he had added that Germany did not make any claims whatsoever to Turkish territory.

The Reich Foreign Minister further declared that in this connection he understood completely Russia's dissatisfaction with the Straits Convention of Montreux. Germany was even more dissatisfied, for she had not been included in it at all. Personally he (the Reich Foreign Minister) was of the opinion that the Montreux Convention, like the Danube Commissions, must be scrapped and replaced by something new. This new agreement must be concluded between those powers that were particularly interested in the issue, primarily Russia, Turkey, Italy, and Germany. It was clear that Soviet Russia could not be satisfied with the present situation. Germany found the idea acceptable that in the Black Sea Soviet Russia and the adjacent countries should enjoy certain privileges over other countries of the world. It was absurd that countries that were thousands of miles away from the Black Sea should claim to have the same rights as the Black Sea powers. The new Straits agreement with Turkey would, moreover, have to secure certain special privileges to Russia, on the details of which he could not yet comment at the moment, but which would have to grant to the warships and merchant fleet of the Soviet Union in principle freer access to the Mediterranean than heretofore. Russia was entitled to that. He (the Reich Foreign Minister) had already discussed these matters with the Italians, and the arguments which he had just indicated had received most sympathetic consideration in Italy. It appeared advisable to him that Russia, Germany, and Italy should pursue a common policy toward Turkey in order to induce that country without loss of face to free herself from her ties with England, which could hardly be pleasing to the three countries. Turkey would thereby not only become a factor in the coalition of powers against the spread of war and for an early establishment of peace, but she would also be prepared to scrap the Montreux Convention voluntarily and, in conjunction with these three countries, to create a new Straits convention which would satisfy the just demands of all and give Russia certain special privileges. In this matter they might consider jointly whether it would not be possible to recognize the territorial integrity of Turkey.

The Reich Foreign Minister summed up the matter by stating that the following issues were involved:

1. To consider jointly how the countries of the Tripartite Pact could reach an agreement of some kind with the Soviet Union, expressing the Soviet Union's solidarity with the aim of the Tripartite Pact, namely the prevention of the spread of war and the early establishment of world peace.

Moreover, other common issues could be designated on which the countries wished to collaborate and, finally, mutual respect for one another's interests might be agreed upon. These were approximately the guide lines for such a contemplated agreement. The details would have to be discussed further. If these arguments appeared acceptable to the Soviet Government, a joint declaration by the Soviet Government and the powers of the Tripartite Pact pledging the early restoration of peace would in effect result.

2. Joint examinations as to whether in some way the interests of the four countries could be clarified for the future on a very long-range scale.

3. The issue of Turkey and the Straits question were also involved.

On all these points, it was to be kept in mind that the Reich Foreign Minister did not yet wish to make any concrete proposals; he had only presented a summary of the ideas which the Führer and he had in mind when the letter to Stalin was sent. If, however, these ideas appeared feasible to the Soviet Government, the Reich Foreign Minister would be quite ready to come to Moscow himself and discuss the matters personally with Stalin. He wondered whether the simultaneous presence of his Italian and Japanese colleagues, who, as far as he knew, were also prepared to come to Moscow, could be of advantage in the matter. Of course, the relationship of Russia to the Axis, as well as relations between Russia and Japan, would first have to be clarified through diplomatic channels.

At the end the Reich Foreign Minister added another remark regarding his recent conversation with the Chinese Ambassador. He had not been prompted from any direction to hold this conversation, but he had had indications that the Japanese would not have any objections to it. In line with the efforts to bring about a speedy end to the war, he had asked himself whether there was not the possibility of reconciling the differences between Chiang Kai-shek and Japan. He had not, by any means, offered Germany's mediation, but, in view of the long and friendly relations existing between Germany and China, had merely informed Marshal Chiang Kai-shek of the German view. Japan was about to recognize the Nanking Government; on the other hand, reports were current to the effect that Japan as well as China desired to seek a compromise. Whether these reports were based on fact could not be definitely ascertained. It would undoubtedly be well, however, if a compromise between the two countries could be found. For this reason he (the Reich Foreign Minister) had summoned the Chinese Ambassador in order to communicate to him the German position on this question, since he did not consider it impossible that something was being initiated between Japan and China of which he wished to inform Molotov during this exchange of ideas.


Molotov agreed with the remark concerning the advantages of a Sino-Japanese accord and replied to the statements of the Reich Foreign Minister by saying that they had been of great interest to him and that an exchange of ideas regarding the great problems concerning not only Germany and Soviet Russia but also other states as well might, indeed, be useful. He had well understood the statements of the Reich Foreign Minister regarding the great importance of the Tripartite Pact. As the representative of a non-belligerent country, however, he had to ask for a number of explanations in order to ascertain more clearly the meaning of the Pact. When the New Order in Europe and the Greater East Asian Sphere were discussed in the Treaty, the concept of a "Greater East Asian Sphere" was quite vague, at least for a person who had not participated in the preparation of the Pact. Therefore, it would be important for him to obtain a more accurate definition of this concept. Moreover, the participation of the Soviet Union in the actions envisaged by the Reich Foreign Minister must be discussed in detail, and that not only in Berlin, but also in Moscow.

The Reich Foreign Minister replied that the concept of the Greater East Asian Sphere had been new to him, too, and that it had not been defined to him in detail either. The formulation had been suggested in the last few days of the negotiations, which, as already mentioned, had proceeded very rapidly. He could state, however, that the concept of a "Greater East Asian Sphere" had nothing to do with the vital Russian spheres of influence. During the pact negotiations, as already mentioned, the first matter discussed was that nothing aimed directly or indirectly against Russia might be included in the Pact.

Molotov replied that precision was necessary in a delimitation of spheres of influence over a rather long period of time. Therefore, he had asked to be informed of the opinion of the authors of the Pact or, at least, of the opinion of the Reich Government on this point. Particular vigilance was needed in the delimitation of the spheres of influence between Germany and Russia. The establishment of these spheres of influence in the past year was only a partial solution, which had been rendered obsolete and meaningless by recent circumstances and events, with the exception of the Finnish question, which he would discuss in detail later. It would necessarily take some time to make a permanent settlement. In this connection, in the first place, Russia wanted to come to an understanding with Germany, and only then with Japan and Italy, after she had previously obtained precise information regarding the significance, the nature, and the aim of the Tripartite Pact.

At this point the conversation was interrupted in order to give the Russian delegates time for breakfast in a small circle before the conversation with the Führer began.



BERLIN, November 13, 1940.


Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Führer and the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Molotov, in the Presence of the Reich Foreign Minister, the Deputy People's Commissar, Dekanosov, as Well as of Counselor of Embassy Hilger and Herr Pavlov, Who Acted as Interpreters, on November 12, 1940


Füh. 32/40 g. Rs.

After some words of welcome, the Führer stated that the idea that was uppermost in his mind in the conversations now taking place was this: In the life of peoples it was indeed difficult to lay down a course for development over a long period in the future and the outbreak of conflicts was often strongly influenced by personal factors; he believed, nevertheless, that an attempt had to be made to fix the development of nations, even for a long period of time, in so far as that was possible, so that friction would be avoided and the elements of conflict precluded as far as humanly possible. This was particularly in order when two nations such as the German and Russian nations had at their helm men who possessed sufficient authority to commit their countries to a development in a definite direction. In the case of Russia and Germany, moreover, two very great nations were involved which need not by nature have any conflict of interests, if each nation understood that the other required certain vital necessities without the guarantee of which its existence was impossible. Besides this, both countries had systems of government which did not wage war for the sake of war, but which needed peace more than war in order to carry out their domestic tasks. With due regard for vital needs, particularly in the economic field, it should really be possible to achieve a settlement between them, which would lead to peaceful collaboration between the two countries beyond the life span of the present leaders.

After Molotov had expressed his entire agreement with these arguments, the Führer continued that it was obviously a difficult task to chart developments between peoples and countries over a long period. He believed, however, that it would be possible to elaborate clearly and precisely certain general points of views quite independently of personal motives and to orient the political and economic interests of peoples in such a manner as to give some guarantee that conflicts would be avoided even for rather long periods. The situation in which the conversation of today was taking place was characterized by the fact that Germany was at war, while Soviet Russia was not. Many of the measures taken by Germany had been influenced by the fact of her belligerency. Many of the steps that were necessary in the course of the war had developed from the conduct of the war itself and could not have been anticipated at the outbreak of war. By and large, not only Germany but also Russia had gained great advantages. On further consideration, the political collaboration during the one year of its existence had been of considerable value to both countries.

Molotov stated that this was quite correct.

The Führer declared further that probably neither of the two peoples had realized its wishes 100 percent. In political life, however, even a 20-25 percent realization of demands was a good deal. He believed that not every wish would be fulfilled in the future either, but that the two greatest peoples of Europe, if they went along together, would, in any case gain more than if they worked against each other. If they stood together, some advantage would always accrue to both countries. If they worked against each other, however, third countries would be the sole gainers.

Molotov replied that the argument of the Führer was entirely correct and would be confirmed by history; that it was particularly applicable to the present situation, however.

The Führer then went on to say that proceeding from these ideas he had again quite soberly pondered the question of German-Russian collaboration, at a time when the military operations were in effect concluded.

The war had, moreover, led to complications which were not intended by Germany, but which had compelled her from time to time to react militarily to certain events. The Führer then outlined to Molotov the course of military operations up to the present, which had led to the fact that England no longer had an ally on the continent. He described in detail the military operations now being carried out against England, and he stressed the influence of atmospheric conditions on these operations. The English retaliatory measures were ridiculous, and the Russian gentlemen could convince themselves at first hand of the fiction of alleged destruction in Berlin. As soon as atmospheric conditions improved, Germany would be poised for the great and final blow against England. At the moment, then, it was her aim to try not only to make military preparations for this final struggle, but also to clarify the political issues which would be of importance during and after this showdown. He had, therefore, reexamined the relations with Russia, and not in a negative spirit, but with the intention of organizing them positively-if possible, for a long period of time. In so doing he had reached several conclusions:

1. Germany was not seeking to obtain military aid from Russia;

2. Because of the tremendous extension of the war, Germany had been forced, in order to oppose England, to penetrate into territories remote from her and in which she was not basically interested politically or economically;

3. There were nevertheless certain requirements, the full importance of which had become apparent only during the war, but which were absolutely vital to Germany. Among them were certain sources of raw materials which were considered by Germany as most vital and absolutely indispensable. Possibly Herr Molotov was of the opinion that in one case or another they had departed from the conception of the spheres of influence which had been agreed upon by Stalin and the Reich Foreign Minister. Such departures had already occurred in some cases in the course of Russian operations against Poland. In a number of cases, on calm consideration of the German and Russian interests, he (the Führer) had not been ready to made concessions' but he had realized that it was desirable to meet the needs of Russia half-way, as, for instance, in the case of Lithuania. From an economic point of view, Lithuania had, it is true, had a certain importance for us, but from a political point of view, we had understood the necessity of straightening out the situation in this whole field in order thereby to prevent in the future the spiritual revival of tendencies that were capable of causing tension between the two countries of Germany and Russia. In another case, namely, that of the South Tyrol, Germany had taken a similar position. However, in the course of the war, factors had arisen for Germany which could not have been anticipated at the outbreak of the war, but which had to be considered absolutely vital from the standpoint of military operations.

He (the Führer) now had pondered the question how, beyond all petty momentary considerations, further to clarify in bold outline the collaboration between Germany and Russia and what direction future German-Russian developments should take. In this matter the following viewpoints were of importance for Germany:

1. Need for Lebensraum [Raumnot]. During the war Germany had acquired such large areas that she would require one hundred years to utilize them fully.

2. Some colonial expansion in Central Africa was necessary.

3. Germany needed certain raw materials, the supply of which she would have to safeguard under all circumstances. And

4. She could not permit the establishment by hostile powers of air or naval bases in certain areas.

In no event, however, would the interests of Russia be selected. The Russian empire could develop without in the least prejudicing German interests. (Molotov said this was quite correct.) If both countries came to realize this fact, they could collaborate to their mutual advantage and could spare themselves difficulties, friction, and nervous tension. It was perfectly obvious that Germany and Russia would never become one world. Both countries would always exist separate from each other as two powerful elements of the world. Each of them could shape its future as it liked, if in so doing it considered the interests of the other. Germany herself had no interests in Asia other than general economic and commercial interests. In particular, she had no colonial interests there. She knew, furthermore, that the possible colonial territories in Asia would probably fall to Japan. If by any chance China, too, should be drawn into the orbit of the awakening [erwachenden] nations, any colonial aspirations would be doomed to disappointment from the start in view of the masses of people living there.

There were in Europe a number of points of contact [Berührungsmomenten] between Germany, Russia, and Italy. Each one of these three countries had an understandable desire for an outlet to the open sea. Germany wanted to get out of the North Sea, Italy wanted to remove the barrier of Gibraltar, and Russia was also striving toward the ocean. The question now was how much chance there was for these great countries really to obtain free access to the ocean without in turn coming into conflict with each other over the matter. This was also the viewpoint from which he looked upon the organization of European relations after the war. The leading statesmen of Europe must prevent this war from becoming the father of a new war. The issues to be settled had, therefore, to be settled in such a manner that, at least in the foreseeable future, no new conflict could arise.

In this spirit, he (the Führer) had talked with the French statesmen and believed that he had found among them some sympathy for a settlement which would lead to tolerable conditions for a rather long period and which would be of advantage to all concerned, if only to the extent that a new war did not again have to be feared immediately. Referring to the preamble of the Armistice Treaty with France, he had pointed out to Pétain and Laval that, as long as the war with England lasted, no step might be taken which would in any way be incompatible with the conditions for ending this war against Great Britain.

Elsewhere, too, there were problems such as these, but ones which arose only for the duration of the war. Thus, for instance, Germany had no political interests whatsoever in the Balkans and was active there at present exclusively under the compulsion of securing for herself certain raw materials. It was a matter of purely military interests, the safeguarding of which was not a pleasant task, since, for instance, a German military force had to be maintained in Rumania, hundreds of kilometers away from the supply centers.

For similar reasons the idea was intolerable to Germany that England might get a foothold in Greece in order to establish air and naval bases there. The Reich was compelled to prevent this under any circumstances.

The continuation of the war under such circumstances was of course not desirable. And that is why Germany had wanted to end the war after the conclusion of the Polish campaign. At that time England and France could have had peace without personal sacrifices; they had, however, preferred to continue the war. Of course, blood also creates rights, and it was inadmissible that certain countries should have declared and waged war without afterward paying the cost. He (the Führer) had made this clear to the French. At the present stage of developments, however, the question was which of the countries responsible for the war had to pay more. At any rate, Germany would have preferred to end the war last year and to have demobilized her army in order to resume her peacetime work, since from an economic point of view any war was bad business. Even the victor had to incur such expenses before, during, and after the war that he could have reached his goal much more cheaply in a peaceful development.

Molotov concurred in this idea, stating that in any case it was vastly more expensive to attain a goal by military measures than by peaceful means. The Führer pointed out further that under the present circumstances Germany had been forced by wartime developments to become active in areas in which she was politically disinterested but had at most economic interests. Self-preservation, however, absolutely dictated this course. Nevertheless, this activity of Germany-forced upon her in the areas in question-represented no obstacle to any pacification of the world which would later be undertaken, and which would bring to the nations working toward the same end that for which they hoped.

In addition, there was the problem of America. The United States now pursuing an imperialistic policy. It was not fighting for England, but only trying to get the British Empire into its grasp. They were helping England, at best, in order to further their own rearmament and to reinforce their military power by acquiring bases. In the distant future it would be a question of establishing a great solidarity among those countries which might be involved in case of an extension of the sphere of influence of this Anglo-Saxon power, which had a more solid foundation, by far, than England. In this case, it was not a question of the immediate future; not in 1945, but in 1970 or 1980, at the earliest, would the freedom of other nations be seriously endangered by this Anglo-Saxon power. At any rate, the Continent of Europe had to adjust itself now to this development and had to act jointly against the Anglo-Saxons and against any of their attempts to acquire dangerous bases. Therefore, he had undertaken an exchange of ideas with France, Italy, and Spain, in order with these countries to set up in the whole of Europe and Africa some kind of Monroe Doctrine and to adopt a new joint colonial policy by which each of the powers concerned would claim for itself only as much colonial territory as it could really utilize. In other regions, where Russia was the power in the foremost position, the interests of the latter would, of course, have to come first. This would result in a great coalition of powers which, guided by sober appraisal of realities, would have to establish their respective spheres of interest and would assert themselves against the rest of the world correspondingly. It was surely a difficult task to organize such a coalition of countries; and yet, to conceive it was not as difficult as to carry it out.

The Führer then reverted to the German-Russian efforts. He understood thoroughly Russia's attempts to get ice-free ports with absolutely secure access to the open sea. Germany had enormously expanded her Lebensraum in her present eastern provinces. At least half of this area, however, must be regarded as an economic liability. Probably both Russia and Germany had not achieved everything they had set out to do. In any case, however, the successes had been great on both sides. If a liberal view were taken of the remaining issues and due regard were taken of the fact that Germany was still at war and had to concern herself with areas which, in and for themselves, were of no importance to her politically, substantial gains for both partners could be achieved in the future, too. In this connection the Führer again turned to the Balkans and repeated that Germany would at once oppose by military action any attempt by England to get a foothold in Salonika. She still retained unpleasant memories from the last war of the then Salonika Front.

To a question of Molotov's as to how Salonika constituted a danger, the Führer referred to the proximity of the Rumanian petroleum fields, which Germany wished to protect under all circumstances. As soon as peace prevailed, however, the German troops would immediately leave Rumania again.

In the further course of the conversation, the Führer asked Molotov how Russia planned to safeguard her interests in the Black Sea and in the Straits. Germany would also be prepared at any time to help effect an improvement for Russia in the regime of the Straits.

Molotov replied that the statements of the Führer had been of a general nature and that in general he could agree with his reasoning. He was also of the opinion that it would be in the interest of Germany and the Soviet Union if the two countries would collaborate and not fight each other. Upon his departure from Moscow, Stalin had given him exact instructions, and everything that he was about to say was identical with the views of Stalin. He concurred in the opinion of the Führer that both partners had derived substantial benefits from the German-Russian agreement. Germany had received a secure hinterland that, as was generally known, had been of great importance for the further course of events during the year of war. In Poland, too, Germany had gained considerable economic advantages. By the exchange of Lithuania for the Voivodeship of Lublin, all possible friction between Russia and Germany had been avoided.

Finland Question: Molotov questions German good faith.

The German-Russian agreement of last year could therefore be regarded as fulfilled, except for one point, namely, Finland. The Finnish question was still unsolved, and he asked the Führer to tell him whether the German-Russian agreement, as far as it concerned Finland, was still in force. In the opinion of the Soviet Government, no changes had occurred here. Also, in the opinion of the Soviet Government the German-Russian agreement of last year represented only a partial solution. In the meanwhile, other issues had arisen that also had to be solved.

Molotov then turned to the matter of the significance of the Tripartite Pact. What was the meaning of the New Order in Europe and in Asia, and what role would the U.S.S.R. be given in it? These issues must be discussed during the Berlin conversations and during the contemplated visit of the Reich Foreign Minister to Moscow, on which the Russians were definitely counting. Moreover, there were issues to be clarified regarding Russia's Balkan and Black Sea interests with respect to Bulgaria, Rumania, and Turkey. It would be easier for the Russian Government to give specific replies to the questions raised by the Führer, if it could obtain the explanations just requested. It would be interested in the New Order in Europe, and particularly in the tempo and the form of this New Order. It would also like to have an idea of the boundaries of the so-called Greater East Asian Sphere.

The Führer replied that the Tripartite Pact was intended to regulate conditions in Europe as to the natural interests of the European countries and, consequently, Germany was now approaching the Soviet Union in order that she might express herself regarding the areas of interest to her. In no case was a settlement to be made without Soviet Russian cooperation. This applied not only to Europe, but also to Asia, where Russia herself was to cooperate in the definition of the Greater East Asian Sphere and where she was to designate her claims there. Germany's task in this case was that of a mediator. Russia by no means was to be confronted with a fait accompli.

When the Führer undertook to try to establish the above-mentioned coalition of powers, it was not the German-Russian relationship which appeared to him to be the most difficult point, but the question of whether a collaboration between Germany, France, and Italy was possible. Only now that he believed this problem could be solved, and after a settlement in broad outlines had in effect been accepted by the three countries, had he thought it possible to contact Soviet Russia for the purpose of settling the questions of the Black Sea, the Balkans, and Turkey.

In conclusion, the Führer summed up by stating that the discussion, to a certain extent, represented the first concrete step toward a comprehensive collaboration, with due consideration for the problems of Western Europe, which were to be settled between Germany, Italy, and France, as well as for the issues of the East, which were essentially the concern of Russia and Japan, but in which Germany offered her good offices as mediator. It was a matter of opposing any attempt on the part of America to "make money on Europe." The United States had no business either in Europe, in Africa, or in Asia.

Molotov expressed his agreement with the statements of the Führer regarding the role of America and England. The participation of Russia in the Tripartite Pact appeared to him entirely acceptable in principle, provided that Russia was to cooperate as a partner and not be merely an object. In that case he saw no difficulties in the matter of participation of the Soviet Union in the common effort. But the aim and the significance of the Pact must first be more closely defined, particularly because of the delimitation of the Greater East Asian Sphere.

In view of a possible air raid alarm the talk was broken off at this point and postponed until the following day, the Führer promising Molotov that he would discuss with him in detail the various issues which had come up during the conversation.


BERLIN, November 16, 1940.


Memorandum of the Conversation Between the Führer and the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars Molotov in the Presence of the Reich Foreign Minister and the Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Dekanosov, as Well as of Counselor of Embassy Hilger and Herr Pavlov, Who Acted as Interpreters, in Berlin on November 13, 1940

Füh. 33/40

The Führer referred to the remark of Molotov during yesterday's conversation, according to which the German-Russian agreement was fulfilled "with the exception of one point: namely, of Finland."

Molotov explained that this remark referred not only to the German-Russian agreement itself, but in particular to the Secret Protocols too.

The Führer replied that, in the Secret Protocol, zones of influence and spheres of interest had been designated and distributed between Germany and Russia. In so far as it had been a question of actually taking possession, Germany had lived up to the agreements, which was not quite the case on the Russian side. At any rate, Germany had not occupied any territory that was within the Russian sphere of influence.

Lithuania had already been mentioned yesterday. There could be no doubt that in this case the changes from the original German-Russian agreement were essentially due to Russian initiative. Whether the difficulties-to avoid which the Russians had offered their suggestion-would actually have resulted from the partition of Poland, could be left out of the discussion. In any case, the Voivodeship of Lublin was no compensation, economically, for Lithuania. However, the Germans had seen that in the course of events a situation had resulted which necessitated revision of the original agreement.

The same applied to Bucovina. Strictly speaking, in the original agreement Germany had declared herself disinterested only in Bessarabia. Nevertheless, she had realized, in this case too, that revision of the agreement was in certain respects advantageous for the other partner.

The situation regarding Finland was quite similar. Germany had no political interest there. This was known to the Russian Government. During the Russo-Finnish War Germany had meticulously fulfilled all her obligations in regard to absolutely benevolent neutrality.

Molotov interposed here that the Russian Government had had no cause for criticism with regard to the attitude of Germany during that conflict.

In this connection the Führer mentioned also that he had even detained ships in Bergen which were transporting arms and ammunition to Finland, for which Germany had actually had no authority. Germany had incurred the serious opposition of the rest of the world, and of Sweden in particular, by her attitude during the Russo-Finnish War. As a result, during the subsequent Norwegian campaign, itself involving considerable risks, she had to employ a large number of divisions for protection against Sweden, which she would not have needed otherwise.

The real situation was as follows: In accordance with the German-Russian agreements. Germany recognized that, politically, Finland was of primary interest to Russia and was in her zone of influence. However, Germany had to consider the following two points:

1. For the duration of the war she was very greatly interested in the deliveries of nickel and lumber from Finland, and

2. She did not desire any new conflict in the Baltic Sea which would further curtail her freedom of movement in one of the few merchant shipping regions which still remained to her. It was completely incorrect to assert that Finland was occupied by German troops. To be sure, troops were being transported to Kirkenes via Finland, of which fact Russia had been officially informed by Germany. Because of the length of the route, the trains had to stop two or three times in Finnish territory. However, as soon as the transit of the troop contingents to be transported had been completed, no additional troops would be sent through Finland. He (the Führer) pointed out that both Germany and Russia would naturally be interested in not allowing the Baltic Sea to become a combat zone again. Since the Russo-Finnish War, the possibilities for military operations had shifted, because England had available long-range bombers and long-range destroyers. The English thereby had a chance to get a foothold on Finnish airports.

In addition, there was a purely psychological factor which was extremely onerous. The Finns had defended themselves bravely, and they had gained the sympathies of the world-particularly of Scandinavia. In Germany too during the Russo-Finnish War, the people were somewhat annoyed at the position which, as a result of the agreements with Russia, Germany had to take and actually did take. Germany did not wish any new Finnish War because of the aforementioned considerations. However, the legitimate claims of Russia were not affected by that. Germany had proved this again and again by her attitude on various issues, among others the issue of the fortification of the Aaland Islands. For the duration of the war, however, her economic interests in Finland were just as important as in Rumania. Germany expected consideration of these interests all the more, since she herself had also shown understanding of the Russian wishes in the issues of Lithuania and Bucovina at the time. At any rate, she had no political interest of any kind in Finland, and she fully accepted the fact that that country belonged to the Russian zone of influence.

In his reply Molotov pointed out that the agreement of 1939 had referred to a certain stage of the development which had been concluded by the end of the Polish War, while the second stage was brought to an end by the defeat of France, and that they were really in the third stage now. He recalled that by the original agreement, with its Secret Protocol, the common German-Russian boundary had been fixed and issues concerning the adjacent Baltic countries and Rumania, Finland, and Poland had been settled For the rest, he agreed with the remarks of the Führer on the revisions made. However, if he drew up a balance sheet of the situation that resulted after the defeat of France, he would have to state that the German-Russian agreement had not been without influence upon the great German victories.

As to the question of the revision of the original agreement with regard to Lithuania and the Voivodeship of Lublin, Molotov pointed out that the Soviet Union would not have insisted on that revision if Germany had not wanted it. But he believed that the new solution had been in the interest of both parties. At this point the Reich Foreign Minister interjected that, to be sure, Russia had not made this revision an absolute condition, but at any rate had urged it very strongly.

Molotov insisted that the Soviet Government would not have refused to leave matters as provided in the original agreement. At any rate, however, Germany, for its concession in Lithuania, had received compensation in Polish territory.

The Führer interjected here that in this exchange one could not, from the point of view of economics, speak of adequate compensation.

Molotov then mentioned the question of the strip of Lithuanian territory and emphasized that the Soviet Government had not received any clear answer yet from Germany on this question. However, it awaited a decision.


Regarding Bucovina, he admitted that this involved an additional territory, one not mentioned in the Secret Protocol. Russia had at first confined her demands to Northern Bucovina. Under the present circumstances, however, Germany must understand the Russian interest in Southern Bucovina. But Russia had not received an answer to her question regarding this subject either. Instead, Germany had guaranteed the entire territory of Rumania and completely disregarded Russia's wishes with regard to Southern Bucovina.

The Führer replied that it would mean a considerable concession on the part of Germany, if even part of Bucovina were to be occupied by Russia. According to an oral agreement, the former Austrian territories were to fall within the German sphere of influence. Besides, the territories belonging to the Russian zone had been mentioned by name: Bessarabia, for example. There was, however, not a word regarding Bucovina in the agreements. Finally, the exact meaning of the expression "sphere of influence" was not further defined. At any rate, Germany had not violated the agreement in the least in this matter. To the objection of Molotov that the revisions with regard to the strip of Lithuanian territory and of Bucovina were not of very great importance in comparison with the revision which Germany had under taken elsewhere by military force, the Führer replied that so-called "revision by force of arms" had not been the subject of the agreement at all.

Molotov, however, persisted in the opinion previously stated: that the revisions desired by Russia were insignificant.

The Führer replied that if German-Russian collaboration was to show positive results in the future, the Soviet Government would have to understand that Germany was engaged in a life and death struggle, which, at all events, she wanted to conclude successfully. For that, a number of prerequisites depending upon economic and military factors were required, which Germany wanted to secure for herself by all means. If the Soviet Union were in a similar position, Germany on her part would, and would have to, demonstrate a similar understanding for Russian needs. The conditions which Germany wanted to assure did not conflict with the agreements with Russia. The German wish to avoid a war with unforeseeable consequences in the Baltic Sea did not mean any violation of the German-Russian agreements according to which Finland belonged in the Russian sphere of influence. The guarantee given upon the wish and request of the Rumanian Government was no violation of the agreements concerning Bessarabia. The Soviet Union had to realize that in the framework of any broader collaboration of the two countries advantages of quite different scope were to be reached than the insignificant revisions which were now being discussed. Much greater successes could then be achieved, provided that Russia did not now seek successes in territories in which Germany was interested for the duration of the war. The future successes would be the greater, the more Germany and Russia succeeded in fighting back to back against the outside world, and would become the smaller, the more the two countries faced each other breast to breast. In the first case there was no power on earth which could oppose the two countries.


In his reply Molotov voiced his agreement with the last conclusions of the Führer. In this connection he stressed the viewpoint of the Soviet leaders, and of Stalin in particular, that it would be possible and expedient to strengthen and activate the relations between the two countries. However, in order to give those relations a permanent basis, issues would also have to be clarified which were of secondary importance, but which spoiled the atmosphere of German-Russian relations. Finland belonged among these issues. If Russia and Germany had a good understanding, this issue could be solved without war, but there must be neither German troops in Finland nor political demonstrations in that country against the Soviet-Russian Government.

The Führer replied that the second point could not be a matter for debate, since Germany had nothing whatsoever to do with these things. Incidentally, demonstrations could easily be staged, and it was very difficult to find out afterward who had been the real instigator. However, regarding the German troops, he could give the assurance that, if a general settlement were made, no German troops would appear in Finland any longer.

Molotov replied that by demonstrations he also understood the dispatch of Finnish delegations to Germany or receptions of prominent Finns in Germany. Moreover, the circumstance of the presence of German troops had led to an ambiguous attitude on the part of Finland. Thus, for instance, slogans were brought out that "nobody was a Finn who approved of the last Russo-Finnish Peace Treaty", and the like.

The Führer replied that Germany had always exerted only a moderating influence and that she had advised Finland and also Rumania, in particular, to accept the Russian demands.


Molotov replied that the Soviet Government considered it as its duty definitively to settle and clarify the Finnish question. No new agreements were needed for that. The old German-Russian agreement assigned Finland to the Russian sphere of influence.

In conclusion the Führer stated on this point that Germany did not desire any war in the Baltic Sea and that she urgently needed Finland as a supplier of nickel and lumber. Politically, she was not interested and, in contrast to Russia, had occupied no Finnish territory. Incidentally, the transit of German troops would be finished within the next few days. No further troop trains would then be sent. The decisive question for Germany was whether Russia had the intention of going to war against Finland.

Molotov answered this question somewhat evasively with the statement that everything would be all right if the Finnish Government would give up its ambiguous attitude toward the U.S.S.R., and if the agitation against Russia among the population (bringing out of slogans such as the ones previously mentioned) would cease.

To the Führer's objection that he feared that Sweden might intervene in a Russo-Finnish War the next time, Molotov replied that he could not say anything about Sweden, but he had to stress that Germany, as well as the Soviet Union, was interested in the neutrality of Sweden. Of course, both countries were also interested in peace in the Baltic. but the Soviet Union was entirely able to assure peace in that region.

The Führer replied that they would perhaps experience in a different part of Europe how even the best military intentions were greatly restricted by geographical factors. He could, therefore, imagine that in the case of a new conflict a sort of resistance cell would be formed in Sweden and Finland, which would furnish air bases to England or even America. This would force Germany to intervene. He (the Führer) would, however, do this only reluctantly. He had already mentioned yesterday that the necessity for intervention would perhaps also arise in Salonika, and the case of Salonika was entirely sufficient for him. He had no interest in being forced to become active in the North too. He repeated that entirely different results could be achieved in future collaboration between the two countries and that Russia would after all, on the basis of the peace, receive everything that in her opinion was due her. It would perhaps be only a matter of six months or a year's delay. Besides, the Finnish Government had just sent a note in which it gave assurance of the closest and friendliest cooperation with Russia.

Molotov replied that the deeds did not always correspond with the words, and he persisted in the opinion which he had previously expressed: that peace in the Baltic Sea region could be absolutely insured, if perfect understanding were attained between Germany and Russia in the Finnish matter. Under those circumstances he did not understand why Russia should postpone the realization of her wishes for six months or a year. After all, the German-Russian agreement contained no time limits, and the hands of none of the partners were tied in their spheres of influence.

With a reference to the changes made in the agreement at Russia's request, the Führer stated that there must not be any war in the Baltic. A Baltic conflict would be a heavy strain on German-Russian relations and on the great collaboration of the future. In his opinion, however, future collaboration was more important than the settlement of secondary issues at this very moment.

Molotov replied that it was not a matter of war in the Baltic, but of the question of Finland and its settlement within the framework of the agreement of last year. In reply to a question of the Führer he declared that he imagined this settlement on the same scale as in Bessarabia and in the adjacent countries, and he requested the Führer to give his opinion on that.


When the Führer replied that he could only repeat that there must be no war with Finland, because such a conflict might have far-reaching repercussions, Molotov stated that a new factor had been introduced into the discussion by this position, which was not expressed in the treaty of last year.

The Führer replied that during the Russo-Finnish War, despite the danger that in connection with it Allied bases might be established in Scandinavia, Germany had meticulously kept her obligations toward Russia and had always advised Finland to give in.

In this connection the Reich Foreign Minister pointed out that Germany had even gone so far as to deny to the Finnish President the use of a German cable for a radio address to America.

Then the Führer went on to explain that just as Russia at the time had pointed out that a partition of Poland might lead to a strain on German-Russian relations, he now declared with the same frankness that a war in Finland would represent such a strain on German-Russian relations, and he asked the Russians to show exactly the same understanding in this instance as he had shown a year ago in the issue of Poland. Considering the genius of Russian diplomacy, ways and means could certainly be found to avoid such a war.

Molotov replied that he could not understand the German fear that a war might break out in the Baltic. Last year, when the international situation was worse for Germany than now, Germany had not raised this issue. Quite apart from the fact that Germany had occupied Denmark. Norway, Holland, and Belgium, she had completely defeated France and even believed that she had already conquered England. He (Molotov) did not see where under those circumstances the danger of war in the Baltic Sea should come from. He would have to request that Germany take the same stand as last year. If she did that unconditionally, there would certainly be no complications in connection with the Finnish issue. However, if she made reservations, a new situation would arise which would then have to be discussed.

In reply to the statements of Molotov regarding the absence of military danger in the Finnish question, the Führer stressed that he too had some understanding of military matters, and he considered it entirely possible that the United States would get a foothold in those regions in case of participation by Sweden in a possible war. He (the Führer) wanted to end the European War, and he could only repeat that in view of the uncertain attitude of Sweden a new war in the Baltic would mean a strain on German-Russian relations with unforeseeable consequences. Would Russia declare war on the United States, in case the latter should intervene in connection with the Finnish conflict?


When Molotov replied that this question was not of present interest, the Führer replied that it would be too late for a decision when it became so. When Molotov then declared that he did not see any indication of the outbreak of war in the Baltic, the Führer replied that in that case everything would be in order anyway and the whole discussion was really of a purely theoretical nature.

Summarizing, the Reich Foreign Minister pointed out that

(1) the Führer had declared that Finland remained in the sphere of influence of Russia and that Germany would not maintain any troops there;

(2) Germany had nothing to do with demonstrations of Finland against Russia, but was exerting her influence in the opposite direction, and

(3) the collaboration of the two countries was the decisive problem of long-range importance, which in the past had already resulted in great advantages for Russia, but which in the future would show advantages compared with which the matters that had just been discussed would appear entirely insignificant. There was actually no reason at all for making an issue of the Finnish question. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding only. Strategically, all of Russia's wishes had been satisfied by her peace treaty with Finland. Demonstrations in a conquered country were not at all unnatural, and if perhaps the transit of German troops had caused certain reactions in the Finnish population they would disappear with the end of those troop transits. Hence, if one considered matters realistically, there were no differences between Germany and Russia.

The Führer pointed out that both sides agreed in principle that Finland belonged to the Russian sphere of influence. Instead, therefore, of continuing a purely theoretical discussion, they should rather turn to more important problems.


After the conquest of England the British Empire would be apportioned as a gigantic world-wide estate in bankruptcy of 40 million square kilometers. In this bankrupt estate there would be for Russia access to the ice-free and really open ocean. Thus far, a minority of 40 million Englishmen had ruled 600 million inhabitants of the British Empire. He was about to crush this minority. Even the United States was actually doing nothing but picking out of this bankrupt estate a few items particularly suitable to the United States. Germany, of course, would like to avoid any conflict which would divert her from her struggle against the heart of the Empire, the British Isles. For that reason, he (the Führer) did not like Italy's war against Greece, as it diverted forces to the periphery instead of concentrating them against England at one point. The same would occur during a Baltic war. The conflict with England would be fought to the last ditch, and he had no doubt that the defeat of the British Isles would lead to the dissolution of the Empire. It was a chimera to believe that the Empire could possibly be ruled and held together from Canada. Under those circumstances there arose world-wide perspectives. During the next few weeks they would have to be settled in joint diplomatic negotiations with Russia, and Russia's participation in the solution of these problems would have to be arranged. All the countries which could possibly be interested in the bankrupt estate would have to stop all controversies among themselves and concern themselves exclusively with the partition of the British Empire. This applied to Germany, France, Italy, Russia, and Japan.

Molotov replied that he had followed the arguments of with interest and that he was in agreement with everything that he had understood. However, he could comment thereon less than the Führer, since the latter had surely thought more about these problems and formed more concrete opinions regarding them. The main thing was first to make up their minds regarding German-Russian collaboration, in which Italy and Japan could be included later on. In this connection nothing should be changed that had been started rather, they should only contemplate a continuation of what had been begun.

The Führer mentioned here that the further efforts in the sense of the opening up of great prospects would not be easy and emphasized in this connection that Germany did not want to annex France as the Russians appeared to assume. He wanted to create a world coalition of interested powers which would consist of Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Soviet Russia, and Japan and would to a certain degree represent a coalition-extending from North Africa to Eastern Asia-of all those who wanted to be satisfied out of the British bankrupt estate. To this end all internal controversies between the members of this coalition must be removed or at least neutralized. For this purpose the settlement of a whole series of questions was necessary. In the West, i.e. between Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, he believed he had now found a formula which satisfied everybody alike. It had not been easy to reconcile the views of Spain and France for instance, in regard to North Africa; however, recognizing the greater future possibilities, both countries finally had given in. After the West was thus settled, an agreement in the East must now be reached. In this case it was not a matter of relations between Soviet Russia and Turkey only, but also of the Greater Asian Sphere. The latter consisted not only of the Greater East Asian Sphere, but also of a purely Asiatic area oriented toward the south, that Germany even now recognized as Russia's sphere of influence. It was a matter of determining in bold outlines the boundaries for the future activity of peoples and of assigning to nations large areas where they could find an ample field of activity for fifty to a hundred years.


Molotov replied that the Führer had raised a number of questions which concerned not only Europe but, beyond that, other territories too. He wanted to discuss first a problem closer to Europe, that of Turkey. As a Black Sea power, the Soviet Union was tied up with a number of countries. In this connection there was still an unsettled question that was just now being discussed by the Danube Commission. Moreover, the Soviet Union had expressed its dissatisfaction to Rumania that the latter had accepted the guarantee of Germany and Italy without consultation with Russia. The Soviet Government had already explained its position twice, and it was of the opinion that the guarantee was aimed against the interests of Soviet Russia, "if one might express oneself so bluntly." Therefore, the question had arisen of revoking this guarantee. To this the Führer had declared that for a certain time it was necessary and its removal therefore impossible. This affected the interests of the Soviet Union as a Black Sea power.

Molotov then came to speak of the Straits, which, referring to the Crimean War and the events of the years 1918-19, he called England's historic gateway for attack on the Soviet Union. The situation was all the more menacing to Russia, as the British had now gained a foothold in Greece. For reasons of security the relations between Soviet Russia and other Black Sea powers were of great importance.


 In this connection Molotov asked the Führer what Germany would say if Russia gave Bulgaria, that is, the independent country located closest to the Straits, a guarantee under exactly the same conditions as Germany and Italy had given one to Rumania. Russia, however, intended to agree beforehand on this matter with Germany and, if possible, with Italy too.

To a question by Molotov regarding the German position on the question of the Straits, the Führer replied that the Reich Foreign Minister had already considered this point and that he had envisaged a revision of the Montreux Convention in favor of the Soviet Union.

The Reich Foreign Minister confirmed this and stated that the Italians also took a benevolent attitude on the question of this revision.

Molotov again brought up the guarantee to Bulgaria and gave the assurance that the Soviet Union did not intend to interfere in the internal order of the country under any circumstances. "Not a hairs-breadth" would they deviate from this. Regarding Germany's and Italy's guarantee to Rumania, the Führer stated that this guarantee had been the only possibility of inducing Rumania to cede Bessarabia to Russia without a fight. Besides, because of her oil wells, Rumania represented an absolute German-Italian interest, and, lastly, the Rumanian Government itself had asked that Germany assume the air and ground protection of the oil region, since it did not feel entirely secure from attacks by the English. Referring to a threat of invasion by the English at Salonika, the Führer repeated in this connection that Germany would not tolerate such a landing, but he gave the assurance that at the end of the war all German soldiers would be withdrawn from Rumania.

In reply to Molotov's question regarding Germany's opinion on a Russian guarantee to Bulgaria, the Führer replied that if this guarantee was to be given under the same conditions as the German-Italian guarantee to Rumania, the question would first arise whether Bulgaria herself had asked for a guarantee. He (the Führer) did not know of any request by Bulgaria. Besides, he would, of course, have to inquire about the position of Italy before he himself could make any statement.

However, the decisive question was whether Russia saw a chance to gain sufficient security for her Black Sea interests through a revision of the Montreux Convention. He did not expect an immediate answer to this question, since he knew that Molotov would first have to discuss these matters with Stalin.

Molotov replied that Russia had only one aim in this respect. She wanted to be secure from an attack by way of the Straits and would like to settle this question with Turkey; a guarantee given to Bulgaria would alleviate the situation. As a Black Sea power Russia was entitled to such security and believed that she would be able to come to an understanding with Turkey in regard thereto.

The Führer replied that this would conform approximately with Germany's views, according to which only Russian warships might pass freely through the Dardanelles, while the Straits would be closed to all other warships.

Molotov added that Russia wanted to obtain a guarantee against an attack on the Black Sea via the Straits not only on paper but "in reality" and believed that she could reach an agreement with Turkey in regard thereto. In this connection he came back again to the question of the Russian guarantee to Bulgaria and repeated that the internal regime of the country would remain unaffected, whereas on the other hand Russia was prepared to guarantee Bulgaria an outlet to the Aegean Sea. He was again addressing to the Führer-as the one who was to decide on the entire German policy-the question as to what position Germany would take with regard to this Russian guarantee.

The Führer replied with a counter-question as to whether the Bulgarians had actually asked for a guarantee, and he again stated that he would have to ask the Duce for his opinion.

Molotov stressed that he was not asking the Führer for a final decision, but that he was asking only for a provisional expression of opinion.

The Führer replied that he could not under any circumstances take a position before he had talked with the Duce, since Germany was interested in the matter only secondarily. As a great Danubian power, she was interested only in the Danube River, but not in the passage into the Black Sea. For if she were perchance looking for sources of friction with Russia, she would not need the Straits for that.

The talk then turned again to the great plans for collaboration between the powers interested in the British Empire's bankrupt estate. The Führer pointed out that he was not, of course, absolutely sure whether these plans could be carried out. In case it was not possible, a great historical opportunity would be missed, at any rate. All these questions would perhaps have to be examined again in Moscow by the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Italy, and Japan together with Herr Molotov, after they had been appropriately prepared through diplomatic channels.

At this point in the conversation the Führer called attention to the late hour and stated that in view of the possibility of English air attacks it would be better to break off the talk now, since the main issues had probably been sufficiently discussed.

Summarizing, he stated that subsequently the possibilities of safeguarding Russia's interests as a Black Sea power would have to be examined further and that in general Russia's further wishes with regard to her future position in the world would have to be considered.

In a closing remark Molotov stated that a number of important and new questions had been raised for Soviet Russia. The Soviet Union, as a powerful country, could not keep aloof from the great issues in Europe and Asia.

Finally he came to speak of Russo-Japanese relations, which had recently improved. He anticipated that the improvement would continue at a still faster pace and thanked the Reich Government for its efforts in this direction.

Concerning Sino-Japanese relations, it was certainly the task of Russia and Germany to attend to their settlement. But an honorable solution would have to be assured for China, all the more since Japan now stood a chance of getting "Indonesia."


BERLIN, November 15, 1940.


Memorandum of the Final Conversation Between Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop and the Chairman of the council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. and People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Herr Molotov, on November 13, 1940


Source: Bundesarchiv Koblenz, RM 42/40

Duration of conversation: 9:46 p. m. until 12 midnight.

Because of the air raid alert that had been ordered, Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs von Ribbentrop and Herr Molotov went into the Reich Foreign Minister's air raid shelter after the supper at the Embassy of the U.S.S.R. at 9:40 p. m. on November 13, 1940, in order to conduct the final conversation.

The Reich Foreign Minister opened the conversation with the statement that he wanted to take the opportunity to supplement and give more specific form to what had been discussed thus far. He wanted to explain to Herr Molotov his conception of the possibility of establishing a joint policy of collaboration between Germany and the Soviet Union for the future and to enumerate the points which he had in mind in this connection. He had to stress explicitly however, that this was merely a matter of ideas which were still rather rough, but which might perhaps be realized at some time in the future. By and large, it was a matter of achieving future collaboration between the countries of the Tripartite Pact-Germany, Italy, and Japan-and the Soviet Union, and he believed that first a way must be found to define in bold outlines the spheres of influence of these four countries and to reach an understanding on the problem of Turkey. From the very beginning it was clear in this connection that the problem of the delimitation of the spheres of influence concerned all four countries, whereas only the Soviet Union, Turkey, Italy, and Germany were interested in the settlement of the Straits question. He conceived the future developments as follows: Herr Molotov would discuss with Herr Stalin the issues raised in Berlin; then, by means of further conversations, an agreement could be reached between the Soviet Union and Germany; thereupon the Reich Foreign Minister would approach Italy and Japan in order to find out how their interests with respect to the delimitation of spheres of influence could be reduced to a common formula. He had already approached Italy as to Turkey. The further modus procedendi between Italy, the Soviet Union, and Germany would be to exert influence upon Turkey in the spirit of the wishes of the three countries. If they succeeded in reducing the interests of the four countries concerned to a common denominator-which, given good will, was entirely possible-it would undoubtedly work to the advantage of all concerned. The next step would consist in attempting to record both sets of issues in confidential documents. If the Soviet Union entertained a similar view, that is, would be willing to work against the extension, and for the early termination of the war (the Reich Foreign Minister believed that Herr Molotov had indicated his willingness in the previous discussions), he had in mind as the ultimate objective an agreement for collaboration between the countries of the Tripartite Pact and the Soviet Union. He had drafted the contents of this agreement in outline form and he would like to inform Herr Molotov of them today, stressing in advance that he had not discussed these issues so concretely either with Japan or with Italy. He considered it necessary that Germany and the Soviet Union settle the issues first. This was not by any means a matter of a German proposal, but-as already mentioned-one of still rather rough ideas, which would have to be deliberated by both parties and discussed between Molotov and Stalin. It would be advisable to pursue the matter further, particularly in diplomatic negotiations with Italy and Japan, only if the question had been settled as between Germany and the Soviet Union.

Then the Reich Foreign Minister informed Herr Molotov of the contents of the agreement outlined by him in the following words:

The Governments of the states of the Three Power Pact Germany, Italy, and Japan on the one side, and the Government of the U. S. S. R. on the other side, motivated by the desire to establish in their natural boundaries an order serving the welfare of all peoples concerned and to create a firm and enduring foundation for their common labors toward this goal, have agreed upon the following:


In the Three Power Pact of September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan agreed to oppose the extension of the war into a world conflict with all possible means and to collaborate toward an early restoration of world peace. They expressed their willingness to extend their collaboration to nations in other parts of the world which are inclined to direct their efforts along the same course as theirs. The Soviet Union declares that it concurs in these aims and is on its part determined to cooperate politically in this course with the Three Powers.


Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union undertake to respect each other's natural spheres of influence. In so far as these spheres of influence come into contact with each other, they will constantly consult each other in an amicable way with regard to the problems arising therefrom.


Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union undertake to join no combination of powers and to support no combination of powers which is directed against one of the Four Powers.

The Four Powers will assist each other in economic matters in every way and will supplement and extend the agreements existing among themselves.

The Reich Foreign Minister added that this agreement was intended for a period of ten years, with the provision that the Governments of the Four Powers, before the expiration of this term were to reach an understanding regarding the matter of an extension of the agreement.

The agreement itself would be announced to the public. Beyond that, with reference to the above-mentioned agreement, a confidential (secret) agreement could be concluded-in a form still to be determined-establishing the focal points in the territorial aspirations of the Four Countries.

As to Germany, apart from the territorial revisions to be made in Europe at the conclusion of the peace, her territorial aspirations centered in the Central African region.

The territorial aspirations of Italy, apart from the European territorial revisions to be made at the conclusion of the peace, centered in North and Northeast Africa.

The aspirations of Japan would still have to be clarified through diplomatic channels. Here too, a delimitation could easily be found, possibly by fixing a line which would run south of the Japanese home islands and Manchukuo.

The focal points in the territorial aspirations of the Soviet Union would presumably be centered south of the territory of the Soviet Union in the direction of the Indian Ocean.

Such a confidential agreement could be supplemented by the statement that the Four Powers concerned, except for the settlement of individual issues, would respect each other's territorial aspirations and would not oppose their realization.

The above-mentioned agreements could be supplemented by a second secret protocol, to be concluded between Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union. This second secret protocol could perhaps read that Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union, on the occasion of the signing of the agreement between Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union, were agreed that it was in their common interest to release Turkey from her previous ties and win her progressively to a political collaboration with them.

They declare that they would pursue this aim in close contact with each other, in accordance with a procedure to be established.

Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union would jointly exert their influence to the end that the Straits Convention of Montreux, presently in force, would be replaced by another convention which would accord to the Soviet Union the unrestricted right of passage through the Straits for her warships at any time, whereas all other powers except the other Black Sea countries, but including Germany and Italy, would renounce in principle the right of passage through the Straits for their warships. Transit through the Straits for merchant ships would, of course, have to remain free in principle.

In this connection, the Reich Foreign Minister stated as follows:

The German Government would welcome it if the Soviet Union were prepared for such collaboration with Italy, Japan, and Germany. This matter was to be clarified in the near future by the German Ambassador in Moscow, Count von der Schulenburg, and the Soviet Ambassador in Berlin. In conformity with the statement contained in Herr Stalin's letter, that he was not adverse to a fundamental examination of the question, which had been confirmed by Herr Molotov during his stay in Berlin, a conference of the Foreign Ministers of Germany, Italy, and Japan for the purpose of signing such an agreement might be envisaged as the ultimate goal. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, was of course aware that such questions required careful examination; he did not, therefore, expect any answer from Herr Molotov today, but he was happy to have had the opportunity to inform Herr Molotov in this slightly more concrete form of the thoughts that had recently been motivating Germany. Furthermore, he wished to tell Herr Molotov the following:

As Herr Molotov knew, he (the Reich Foreign Minister) had always shown a particular interest in the relations between Japan and the Soviet Union. He would appreciate it if Herr Molotov could say what the state of these relations was at the present time. As far as the German Government was informed, Japan was anxious to conclude a non-aggression treaty. It was not his intention to interfere in matters which did not directly concern him, but he believed that it would be useful if this question were also discussed between him and Molotov. If a mediating influence on the part of Germany were desired, he would be glad to undertake this office. To be sure, he still clearly recalled Herr Stalin's remark, when Herr Stalin said that he knew the Asiatics better than Herr von Ribbentrop did. Nevertheless, he wished to mention that the willingness of the Japanese Government to come to a broad understanding with the Soviet Union was known to him. He also had the impression that if the non-aggression pact materialized the Japanese would be prepared to settle all other issues in a generous manner. He wished to stress explicitly that Japan had not asked the German Government to mediate. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, was, however, informed of the state of affairs, and he knew that, in case of the conclusion of a non-aggression pact, Japan would be willing to recognize the Russian spheres of influence in Outer Mongolia and Sinkiang, provided an understanding with China were reached. An agreement could also be reached on possible Soviet aspirations in the direction of British India, if an understanding were reached between the Soviet Union and the Tripartite Pact. The Japanese Government was disposed to meet the Soviet wishes half-way in regard to the oil and coal concessions on Sakhalin Island, but it would first have to overcome resistance at home. This would be easier for the Japanese Government if a non-aggression pact were first concluded with the Soviet Union. Thereafter, the possibility would undoubtedly arise for an understanding on all other points also.

The Reich Foreign Minister concluded by requesting Herr Molotov to inform him of his views on the issues presented by him.

Herr Molotov replied that, concerning Japan, he had the hope and conviction that they would now make more progress on the road to understanding than had previously been the case. Relations with Japan had always been fraught with difficulties and reverses. Nevertheless, there now seemed to be prospects of an understanding. The Japanese Government had suggested the conclusion of a non-aggression treaty to the Soviet Government-in fact, even before the change of government in Japan-in which connection the Soviet Government had put a number of questions to the Japanese Government. At present, the answer to these questions had not yet been received. Only when it arrived could negotiations be entered into-negotiations which could not be separated from the remaining complex of questions. The solution of the problem would therefore require some time.

As for Turkey, the Soviet Union assumed that they would have to reach an understanding with Turkey on the Straits question first of all. Germany and the Soviet Union were agreed that the Convention of Montreux was worthless. For the Soviet Union, as the most important Black Sea power, it was a matter of obtaining effective guarantees of her security. In the course of her history, Russia had often been attacked by way of the Straits. Consequently paper agreements would not suffice for the Soviet Union; rather, she would have to insist on effective guarantees of her security. Therefore, this question had to be examined and discussed more concretely. The questions which interested the Soviet Union in the Near East, concerned not only Turkey, but Bulgaria, for instance, about which he, Molotov, had spoken in detail in his previous conversation with the Führer. But the fate of Rumania and Hungary was also of interest to the Soviet Union and could not be immaterial to her under any circumstances. It would further interest the Soviet Government to learn what the Axis contemplated with regard to Yugoslavia and Greece, and, likewise, what Germany intended with regard to Poland. He recalled the fact that, regarding the future form of Poland, a Protocol existed between the Soviet Union and Germany for the implementation of which an exchange of opinion was necessary. He asked whether from the German view-point this Protocol was still in force. The Soviet Government was also interested in the question of Swedish neutrality, and he wanted to know whether the German Government still took the stand that the preservation of Swedish neutrality was in the interest of the Soviet Union and Germany. Besides, there existed the question of the passages out of the Baltic Sea (Store Belt, Lille Belt, Oeresund, Kattegat, Skagerrak). The Soviet Government believed that discussions must be held regarding this question similar to those now being conducted concerning the Danube Commissions. As to the Finnish question, it was sufficiently clarified during his previous conversations with the Führer. He would appreciate it if the Reich Foreign Minister would comment on the foregoing questions, because this would facilitate the clarification of all other questions which Herr von Ribbentrop had previously raised.

In his answer the Reich Foreign Minister stated that he had no comment to make on the Bulgarian question, other than what the Führer had already told Herr Molotov; that, first, it would have to be determined whether Bulgaria desired a guarantee at all from the Soviet Union, and that, moreover, the German Government could not take a stand on this question without previously consulting Italy. On all other questions he felt he had been "queried too closely" ["überfragt"], by Herr Molotov. As to the preservation of Sweden's neutrality, we were just as much interested in it as the Soviet Union. As to the passages out of the Baltic Sea, the Baltic Sea was at present an inland sea, where we were interested in the maintenance of the free movement of shipping. Outside of the Baltic Sea, however, there was war. The time was not yet ripe for discussing the new order of things in Poland. The Balkan issue had already been discussed extensively in the conversations. In the Balkans we had solely an economic interest, and we did not want England to disturb us there. The granting of the German guarantee to Rumania had apparently been misconstrued by Moscow. He wanted to repeat again, therefore, that at that time it was a matter of averting a clash between Hungary and Rumania through quick action. If he, the Reich Foreign Minister, had not intervened at that time, Hungary would have marched against Rumania. On the other hand, Rumania could not have been induced to cede so much territory, if the Rumanian Government had not been strengthened by the territorial guarantee. In all its decisions, the German Government was guided solely by the endeavor to preserve peace in the Balkans and to prevent England from gaining a foothold there and from interfering with supplies to Germany. Thus our action in the Balkans was motivated exclusively by the circumstances of our war against England. As soon as England conceded her defeat and asked for peace, German interests in the Balkans would be confined exclusively to the economic field, and German troops would be withdrawn from Rumania. Germany had-as the Führer had repeatedly declared-no territorial interests in the Balkans. He could only repeat again and again that the decisive question was whether the Soviet Union was prepared and in a position to cooperate with us in the great liquidation of the British Empire. On all other questions we would easily reach an understanding if we could succeed in extending our relations and in defining the spheres of influence. Where the spheres of influence lay had been stated repeatedly. It was therefore-as the Führer had so clearly put it-a matter of the interests of the Soviet Union and Germany requiring that the partners stand not breast to breast but back to back, in order to support each other in the achievement of their aspirations. He would appreciate it if Herr Molotov would comment on this matter. Compared to the great basic issues, all others were completely insignificant and would be settled automatically as soon as an over-all understanding was reached. In conclusion, he wished to remind Herr Molotov that the latter owed him an answer to the question of whether the Soviet Union was in principle sympathetic to the idea of obtaining an outlet to the Indian Ocean.

In his reply Molotov stated that the Germans were assuming that the war against England had already actually been won. If, therefore, as had been said in another connection, Germany was waging a life and death struggle against England, he could only construe this as meaning that Germany was fighting "for life" and England "for death." As to the question of collaboration, he quite approved of it, but he added that they had to come to a thorough understanding. This idea had also been expressed in Stalin's letter. A delimitation of the spheres of influence must also be sought. On this point, however, he (Molotov) could not take a definitive stand at this time. since he did not know the opinion of Stalin and of his other friends in Moscow in the matter. However, he had to state that all these great issues of tomorrow could not be separated from the issues of today and the fulfillment of existing agreements. The things that were started must first be completed before they proceeded to new tasks. The conversations which he-Molotov-had had in Berlin had undoubtedly been very useful, and he considered it appropriate that the questions raised should now be further dealt with through diplomatic channels by way of the ambassadors on either side.

Thereupon Herr Molotov cordially bade farewell to the Reich Foreign Minister, stressing that he did not regret the air raid alarm, because he owed to it such an exhaustive conversation with the Reich Foreign Minister.


Moscow, November 18, 1940.


The State Secretary in the German Foreign Office (Weizsäcker) to All German Diplomatic Missions and the Offices in Paris and Brussels

BERLIN, November 15, 1940.

The conversations between the German and the Soviet-Russian Governments on the occasion of the presence of Molotov in Berlin were conducted on the basis of the treaties concluded last year and resulted in complete agreement regarding the firm determination of both countries to continue in the future the policy inaugurated by these treaties. Beyond that, they served the purpose of coordinating the policy of the Soviet Union with the policy of the Tripartite Pact. As already expressed in the final communiqué regarding the visit of Molotov, this exchange of views took place in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and resulted in agreement by both sides on all important questions of interest to Germany and the Soviet Union. This result clearly proves that all conjectures regarding alleged German-Russian conflicts are in the realm of fantasy and that all speculations of the foe as to a disturbance in the German-Russian relationship of trust and friendship are based on self-deception.

This is particularly stressed by the friendly visit of Molotov in Berlin. [This sentence added in Ribbentrop's handwriting.]

Same text to all missions.

Please acknowledge receipt.


Draft [3]

[3] This draft was found in the secret files of the German Embassy in Moscow. It bears no date, apparently it formed the basis for Schulenburg's conversation with Molotov reported on November 26, 1940.


The Governments of the states of the Three Power Pact, Germany, Italy and Japan, on the one side,


the Government of the U. S. S. R. on the other side, motivated by the desire to establish in their natural spheres of influence in Europe, Asia, and Africa a new order serving the welfare of all peoples concerned and to create a firm and enduring foundation for their common labors toward this goal, have agreed upon the following:


In the Three Power Pact of Berlin, of September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan agreed to oppose the extension of the war into a world conflict with all possible means and to collaborate toward an early restoration of world peace. They expressed their willingness to extend their collaboration to nations in other parts of the world which are inclined to direct their efforts along the same course as theirs. The Soviet Union declares that it concurs in these aims of the Three Power Pact and is on its part determined to cooperate politically in this course with the Three Powers.


Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union undertake to respect each other's natural spheres of influence. In so far as these spheres of interest come into contact with each other, they will constantly consult each other in an amicable way with regard to the problems arising therefrom.

Germany, Italy, and Japan declare on their part that they recognize the present extent of the possessions of the Soviet Union and will respect it.


Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union undertake to join no combination of powers and to support no combination of powers which is directed against one of the Four Powers.

The Four Powers will assist each other in economic matters in every way and will supplement and extend the agreements existing among themselves.


This agreement shall take effect upon signature and shall continue for a period of ten years. The Governments of the Four Powers shall consult each other in due time, before the expiration of that period, regarding the extension of the agreement.

Done in four originals, in the German, Italian, Japanese, and Russian languages.

Moscow, 1940



Upon the signing today of the Agreement concluded among them, the Representatives of Germany, Italy, Japan and the Soviet Union declare as follows:

1) Germany declares that, apart from the territorial revisions in Europe to be carried out at the conclusion of peace, her territorial aspirations center in the territories of Central Africa.

2) Italy declares that, apart from the territorial revisions in Europe to be carried out at the conclusion of peace, her territorial aspirations center in the territories of Northern and Northeastern Africa.

3) Japan declares that her territorial aspirations center in the area of Eastern Asia to the south of the Island Empire of Japan.

4) The Soviet Union declares that its territorial aspirations center south of the national territory of the Soviet Union in the direction of the Indian Ocean.

The Four Powers declare that, reserving the settlement of specific questions, they will mutually respect these territorial aspirations and will not oppose their achievement.



On the occasion of the signing today of the Agreement among Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Soviet Union, the Representatives of Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union declare as follows:

1) Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union agree in the view that it is in their common interest to detach Turkey from her existing international commitments and progressively to win her over to political collaboration with themselves. They declare that they will pursue this aim in close consultation, in accordance with a common line of action which is still to be determined.

2) Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union declare their agreement to conclude, at a given time, a joint agreement with Turkey, wherein the Three Powers would recognize the extent of Turkey's possessions.

3) Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union will work in common toward the replacement of the Montreux Straits Convention now in force by another convention. By this convention the Soviet Union would be granted the right of unrestricted passage of its navy through the Straits at any time, whereas all other Powers except the other Black Sea countries, but including Germany and Italy, would in principle renounce the right of passage through the Straits for their naval vessels. The passage of commercial vessels through the Straits would, of course, have to remain free in principle.

Moscow, 1940.


The German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Schulenburg) to the German Foreign Office



Moscow, November 26, 1940-5:34 a. m.

Received November 26, 1940-8:50 a. m.


No. 2362 of November 20

For the Reich Minister in person.

Molotov asked me to call on him this evening and in the presence of Dekanosov stated the following:

The Soviet Government has studied the contents of the statements of the Reich Foreign Minister in the concluding conversation on November 13 and takes the following stand:

"The Soviet Government is prepared to accept the draft of the Four Power Pact which the Reich Foreign Minister outlined in the conversation of November 13, regarding political collaboration and reciprocal economic [support [4]] subject to the following conditions:

1) Provided that the German troops are immediately withdrawn from Finland. which, under the compact of 1939, belongs to the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. At the same time the Soviet Union undertakes to ensure peaceful relations with Finland and to protect German economic interests in Finland (export of lumber and nickel).

"2) Provided that within the next few months the security of the Soviet Union in the Straits is assured by the conclusion of a mutual assistance pact between the Soviet Union and Bulgaria, which geographically is situated inside the security zone of the Black Sea boundaries of the Soviet Union, and by the establishment of a base for land and naval forces of the U.S.S.R. within range of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles by means of a long-term lease.

[4] "Unterstützung" in Moscow Embassy draft; garbled in text as received in Berlin.

"3) Provided that the area south of Batum and Baku in the general direction of the Persian Gulf is recognized as the center of the aspirations of the Soviet Union.

"4) Provided that Japan [renounces [5]] her rights to concessions for coal and oil in Northern Sakhalin.

"In accordance with the foregoing, the draft of the protocol concerning the delimitation of the spheres of influence as outlined by the Reich Foreign Minister would have to be amended so as to stipulate the focal point of the aspirations of the Soviet Union south of Batum and Baku in the general direction of the Persian Gulf.

"Likewise, the draft of the protocol or agreement between Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union with respect to Turkey should be amended so as to guarantee a base for light naval and land forces of the U.S.S.R. On [am] the Bosporus and the Dardanelles by means of a long-term lease, including-in case Turkey declares herself willing to join the Four Power Pact-a guarantee of the independence and of the territory of Turkey by the three countries named.

"This protocol should provide that in case Turkey refuses to join the Four Powers, Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union agree to work out and to carry through the required military and diplomatic measures, and a separate agreement to this effect should be concluded.

"Furthermore there should be agreement upon:

"a) a third secret protocol between Germany and the Soviet Union concerning Finland (see Point 1 above).

"b) a fourth secret protocol between Japan and the Soviet Union concerning the renunciation by Japan of the oil and coal concession in Northern Sakhalin (in return for an adequate compensation).

"c) a fifth secret protocol between Germany, the Soviet Union, and Italy, recognizing that Bulgaria is geographically located inside the security zone of the Black Sea boundaries of the Soviet Union and that it is therefore a political necessity that a mutual assistance pact be concluded between the Soviet Union and Bulgaria, which in no way shall affect the internal regime of Bulgaria, her sovereignty or independence."

In conclusion Molotov stated that the Soviet proposal provided five protocols instead of the two envisaged by the Reich Foreign Minister. He would appreciate a statement of the German view. [6]


[5] "Verzichtet" in Moscow Embassy draft; omitted in text as received in Berlin.

[6] The next account of a discussion of the proposed treaty found in the German Foreign Office files appears in Ambassador Schulenburg's telegram to the Foreign Office No. 122 of January 17, 1941, post, p. 270.