reference to "the recent crisis" indicates that the
memorandum was probably written after May 21, 1938.
Lord Halifax thanks Sir Philip Gibbs for this note
in a letter dated May 27, 1938.]
Conversation with Herr Himmler.
by Sir Philip Gibbs.
In an interesting conversation I had with
Herr Himmler in Berlin on April 29 last
he asked why England was so hostile to Germany and
seemed to think war was inevitable, whereas Germany
was very anxious for friendship with England.
I said that certain sections of opinion in
England believed that Hitler intended to
play the role of Napoleon and would invade,
or dominate other countries one by one until he was
omnipotent in south-east Europe.
"You people have got it all wrong," answered
Herr Himmler, "that is absolutely opposed to the
central idea of our National-Socialism. We are
bound by the framework of ours race ideas - which
you think so mad. We do not want to incorporate
within the German Reich Czechs or Poles, or
Hungarians or Roumanians, or any other race. On the
contrary our whole purpose is to keep the German
Folk within its own framework. For that reason we
respect other people 's races. As for the
Napoleonic idea of conquest that is a ridiculous
anachronism as far as we are concerned. We have
read a little history. We know that if we advanced
into other people's territories it would be a
weakness which would destroy us. We are not going
to do so. Can you not get that into the heads of
your people? It is the honest truth."
He did not see why England should begrudge
Germany economic advantages in Danubian countries.
The British Empire with the Ottawa agreement
[of 1936] limited Germany's trade
possibilities. Could not Germany seek such
advantages elsewhere without being accused of
brutal domination? It was necessary for her
economic life and would be good for the whole of
Speaking of the Sudeten-Deutsch (before this
question had boiled up to its recent crisis) he
"We might have expected that the English people,
above all, would understand Germany's sympathy with
those three and a half million Germanic folk who
have been very badly treated and oppressed. England
would be the first to give protection to their own
kinsfolk. Wherever there are English the power of
England is behind them. In any case what has
England to do with these Sudeten-deutsch? We don't
interfere in Ireland or Palestine."
I understood from him and many other influential
people in Berlin, including Dr. Woermann,
ex-acting ambassador in London, that Hitler would
be satisfied with autonomy for the Sudeten-deutsch
on the Swiss model.
Himmler told me however that Hitler was getting
impatient with the continual hostility of the
English Press but added; "Nevertheless every German
wants friendship with England as I want it."
Several members of the German Foreign Office
told me (just before the recent crisis) that the
Government were sending people down to the
Sudeten-deutsch to prevent explosive incidents
which might lead to a risk of war. "They did not
want," they said, "that risk to happen."
By many influential Germans, including Baron
Marschall von Bieberstein, Baron H.
Geyr of the Foreign Office and Prince
Solm, I was told that they longed for some
act or gesture from England which would break the
evil spell of suspicion and misunderstanding
between our two countries. They thought it would
happen if by any possible chance our King and Queen
would visit Germany.
"Germany would go mad," they said. "From one end
of Germany to the other there would be a
demonstration of enthusiasm beyond all bounds." If
only word could be sent that such a thing were
possible an official invitation would be made by
Hitler without a moment's delay. But this private
word must come first.