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World War II: British Press Response to Germany's Armament

(April 29, 1935)

Message from the Charge D'affaires in Great Britain to the Foreign Ministry:

Airgram en clair
No. 110
LONDON, April 29, 1935.
II Abr. 1052.
Received April 30 - 8:50 a.m.
With reference to my telegram No. 109.

In its comments on Germany's armament policy and in particular the announcement of German submarine construction, the Sunday press repeated the purely sensational treatment of the previous day. The principal papers, the Observer and the Sunday Times, tacked on to the announcement extremely hostile comments on Germany, going in fact so far as to threaten cancellation of the naval conversations. MacDonald's article was overshadowed by this, and now appeared mainly as a skirmish in the general campaign against Germany's armaments policy.

Today's press is by contrast certainly less agitated, particularly with regard to submarine and naval questions. The original announcement on this subject was magnified, probably not without Foreign Office inspiration, into a first-rate political sensation; the line taken was to ascribe to Germany a further unilateral breach of the Versailles Treaty and so to create a basis for a further large-scale political campaign against Germany. This line was also apparent in the report sent to you by the Naval Attaché (Mar. No. 295 of April 27) about the outcome of the press conference at the Foreign Office. By contrast, a calmer attitude has prevailed over the weekend; this is expressed today by the whole press in the form of statements (combined with more or less severe criticism of German tactical procedure) that the German action over submarines can hardly cause any surprise after all that has happened and therefore does not represent any new development of fundamental political importance. There is an interesting reference in some papers to the effect of German naval rearmament on the forthcoming general naval negotiations regarding the expiry of the Washington Agreement. The Times, as usual, is very reserved and refrains from a leader, but allows some criticism to appear in editorial comment, while the Berlin correspondent tries to achieve a calming effect in a factual message.

The general effect is that in today's press there is little enthusiasm for the attempt by certain circles to exploit the submarine question in order to alert British public opinion on a grand scale; on the other hand, the campaign already mentioned, designed to treat the rearmament question sensationally with a slant against Germany as a prelude to the foreign affairs debate of May 2, continues unchanged.

Certified: Treger (Consular Secretary)

Source: "Documents on German Foreign Policy," Vol. IV, p. 93.

Source: Yad Vashem