No. 6 NAI DFA Paris Embassy 19/34A

Confidential report from Seán Murphy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Paris, 4 September 1939

1. The difference in time in the expiration of the British and French ultimatum to Germany was explained on the French radio last evening as being due to a deliberate concertation between the British and French authorities who wished to give Herr Hitler every opportunity of making a peaceful arrangement possible. St. Brice in this morning's Journal states that the reasons which prompted this difference must remain secret but are certainly good ones. He contends that in the rejection of both ultimatums by the Germans, there were different nuances which, in his opinion, were nothing less than a manoeuvre to separate France and England. When replying to the British Ambassador Herr von Ribbentrop1 handed him a long memorandum endeavouring to place the responsibility for the war on England on the ground that it was her granting of a free hand to Poland that encouraged her to resist. In his reply to M. Coulondre he developed the thesis that Germany was very sorry to see her hope of living on good terms with France deceived, that Germany did not consider that France had any responsibility in the present conflict and suggested that England had refused to admit the Italian mediation which France was disposed to accept.2 The comment of St. Brice is that such an interpretation is quite fantastic as France as well as England always considered that the general settlement suggested by Mussolini could only be considered if Germany began by ceasing hostilities, withdrawing her troops and accepting a free discussion with a fully independent Poland. His judgment is that it is Germany who ruined the work of conciliation which Mussolini carried out unceasingly and that Italy can now see that a general war has been deliberately sought by Germany, and provoked by her. This latter opinion is also that of Bailby3 in Le Jour who suggests that Hitler 'who wanted his war and now has it' must be very sorry that he did not bring it about a year earlier when French preparations were less ready.

2. There were conflicting accounts on Friday and Saturday as to the French attitude towards the Italian mediation alluded to by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax on Saturday evening. While the radio (which is of course subject to a strict censorship) stated that the French reply delivered on Friday was one of acceptance of such mediation, one of the correspondents of the semi-official Le Petit Parisien of Saturday claimed en passant that the Italian mediation was inacceptable.

3. Cardinal Verdier24 has announced that he intends to deliver a broadcast to the world today over the French system protesting against the barbarity of the Germans in bombing Czestochowa,5 the Polish Lourdes. Cardinal Lienart (of Lille) addressed a message to his diocese in connection with the German mobilisation in which he stated that 'at the moment the German aggression against Poland risks unloosening on the world another war. We desire to condemn loudly the injustice of which the present leader of Germany has been guilty. If in spite of the efforts

of the Holy Father, Sovereigns and the Heads of States, Governments and the

peoples attached to peace, the violent attacks against the independence of Poland should continue, France would enter into the struggle strong in right and resolved to reduce to impotence the unjust aggressor'.

4. M. Daladier spoke over the radio to the French people last evening. He asserted inter alia that 'the issue of peace rested in the hands of Hitler: he has desired war' and that 'the cause of France is identical with that of justice. It is that of all peaceful and free nations; it shall be victorious'.

5. Most of the press reports on the neutrality of the 'neutral' states, Holland, Denmark, the Baltic States, Switzerland and Belgium. The report as to the neutrality of Japan is reproduced prominently. All the press announces that Turkey will be on the side of France and Great Britain. There is an absence of press comment as to the positions of Rumania and Italy.

6. Although I have seen no comment on the subject yet it is not unlikely that French opinion will be somewhat disappointed with the tenor of President Roosevelt's speech this morning. The Jour which apparently had not available when going to press the text of the speech prints a Havas despatch from Washington (as does Le Matin) suggesting that President Roosevelt is preparing to give effect to his policy which consists in preventing U.S. participation in the war and the grant to France and Great Britain of the greatest possible measure of material and moral support. The Journal which prints most of the text of the speech underlines that section in which President Roosevelt said that he could not of course compel people to take up mentally a neutral attitude in regard to the conflict.

7. M. Daladier is reported in some of the press to have informed the Finance Commission of the Chamber that the Government intends to remain in Paris and to share whatever risks exist with the population which remains behind.

The atmosphere in Paris is very normal except for the fact that the city is rather empty and that at night practically all street lighting is extinguished. Restaurants have been ordered to close at 11 p.m. There is as yet relatively little evidence of extensive military activity in the city.

[stamped] (Signed) Seán Murphy

1 Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893-1946), German Ambassador to Britain (1936-8), German Foreign Minister (1938-45), found guilty at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and hanged in October 1946.

2 See No. 4.

3 Léon Bailby, editor of Le Jour.

4 Cardinal Jean Verdier (1864-1940), Archbishop of Paris (1929-40).

5 The southern Polish town of Czestochowa was occupied by German forces on 3 September 1939 and renamed Tschenstochau.

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