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Sir Eric Phipps diary, a finding aid.

British ambassador in Berlin, 1933-1937

Churchill College, Cambridge: Files PHPP 10/1 Berlin October 1933 - September 1935 ('enclosures from Moley [Sir Orme] Sargent'); and PHPP 10/2, Diary September 1935 - April 1937 (when Phipps was posted to Paris). Note, this is not a complete summary, merely a listing of highlights.

On January 13, 1942 Sargent sent "the two manuscript volumes of your Berlin Diary 1933-37" back to Phipps regretting the FO could give no final answer about publication; the letter is a refusal in fact on the grounds that the diary "reproduces a very considerable number of documents included in the official collection" being readied for publication.

October 24, 1933

[Phipps's first meeting with Hitler.] "Herr Hitler then proceeded, after a long disquisition on Russia and the danger which that country presented to Germany from an industrial, economic and agricultural point of view owing to the lower standard of living existing there, to remark rather vaguely that he sought certain possibilities of expansion in eastern Europe: he disclaimed, however all wish to rectify the 'absurd and unfair corridor question' by force." [A very hostile, sarcastic account].

November 1, 1933

[Neurath orders immediate release of Daily Telegraph's Mr Panter, arrested for spying.] "He did say however that the police had for some time been listening to Mr Panter's telephone conversations, which showed him to be most unfairly prejudiced against the German government. If this be true, he has been imprudent." Suggests advising British correspondents to watch their talk on the phone.

December 5, 1933

[Further meeting with Hitler]. Lengthy account. "The Chancellor, even when frenzied, was friendly."

February 24, 1934

[Eden's visit to Hitler February 20, 21, visit was an undoubted success.]

February 28, 1934

[Release of Bulgarian prisoners, Dimitroff etc.; Göring's views on them, and on Reichstag trial.] "General Göring however seemed to have a greater detestation for what he described as cowardly Communists such as Herr Löbe, who recently expressed himself in an admiring manner in the Belgian press about the Hitler regime, than for Dimitroff and his companions. General Göring felt special contempt for the cowardice of Herr Hentschell, a prominent communist, who recently wrote from his concentration camp to say that he would like to have been behind Hitler's chair in the Reichstag on January 30th last and to serve in future as a pillar of the National Socialist party." [Also talks with Alfred Rosenberg about religion etc]

April 18, 1934

[Bierabend with Rosenberg and Darré]. "The Reichswehr position is also difficult. Röhm is insistent that certain S.A. leaders should be made Generals as soon as expansion begins in order to guarantee the loyalty of the new Army. To this the Reichswehr and President von Hindenburg remain vigorously opposed."

April 25, 1934

"Another wrangle has taken place over the appointment of Herr Himmler as head of the Prussian political police despite the strong opposition of General Göring. Herr Himmler has taken over the political police in almost all the other states and his new appointment constitutes an encroachment on General Göring's preserve." [This was just one example of the friction between the subordinates. In the economic and financial sphere Ley vs Schacht and Dr Schmitt; many were now criticizing Goebbels; "the relations between Stabschef Röhm and General von Reichenau are notoriously bad." Darré's stock was falling. Hitler's personal prestige remains as high as ever, but the public was shaken by these other squabbles.

April 29, 1934

[long talk with Ribbentrop]

May 30, 1934

[More on Hitler-Röhm dispute.]

June 7, 1934

Yesterday we lunched with Herr and Frau von Ribbentrop. [...] Herr Himmler, the head of the SS and newly appointed Chief of the Secret Police, was also present. He told me that the Communist danger was by no means over in Germany, where thousands of Communist propaganda leaflets were still distributed daily. Ten thousand most desperate communists were at large in this country ready to run any risk in their cause. Herr Himmler seems to share Herrn von Papen's views of Russia, and asserted that any communist activities in the British Colonies and the Dominions were due to the inspiration of that Power.

June 10, 1934

[The famous visit to Carinhall]

June 12, 1934

[Dinner with the Goebbels's] "Everything was in perfect taste. Frau Goebbels speaks French well and is an accomplished hostess. Dr Goebbels is to my mind far and away the most intelligent and agreeable member of the Nazi party that I have met. He is also their best orator, but above all he is the only Nazi I know with a sense of humour. He is of course none the less dangerous on that account."

June 25, 1934

[German Derby run at Hamburg yesterday. Episode with Papen and Goebbels. Several prominent Jewish racehorse owners like Weinberg and Oppenheim were present].

July 4, 1934

I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he could give me any information regarding recent events; Baron von Neurath said that it was now clear from seized document that a Putsch was to have taken place in August, but that the culprits having learned that certain details had reached Hitler's ears, decided to strike at 4 p.m. on June 30th, and to form a completely SA ministry, except for the Vice Chancellorship, which was to have been taken by general; von Schleicher.

Röhm was to have combined the offices or Minister for War and Head of the SA, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs being taken by Herrn von Detten. It was hoped to sweep Hitler off his legs, rescue him from the non-Nazi members of the Government and induce him to remain on as Chancellor. At Breslau events had developed so quickly that the Reichswehr and the SA were already facing one another across barricades.

[Neurath added that 44 or 46 had been executed. SA would be reorganised as purely political body.] "The SS on the other hand, young men in the prime of life, will doubtless gain in prestige and importance.... Anxiety is now felt in the ranks of the SS lest their brown shirted rivals should seek to avenge themselves not so much on the Führer as on Dr Goebbels and General Göring, Röhm's enemies. The surviving associates of murderers like Heines and supergangsters like Killinger, who planned and carried out the Rathenau murder, Schneidhuber , Schmid of Munich and others , are themselves redoubtable gangsters." "Something has changed since this last weekend and this was clear on Monday afternoon when Hitler and Baron von Neurath drove past the Embassy through the deserted Wilhelmstrasse to make their first official visit to the King and Queen of Siam. The Führer looked pale and strange in his high hat. The police had cleared the street and had even forbidden the people to open their windows. The public were herded behind a cordon of police at a respectable distance from the Adlon Hotel at the corner of the Linden. I heard some cheering as the Dictator, followed by several motors with SS guards, debouched from the empty Wilhelm Strasse, but I missed the usual note of tremulous enthusiasm."

July 17, 1934

[Blomberg justifies "last week" to Phipps the killing of the Schleichers]. "If General von Schleicher had not drawn his revolver when the police came to his house he would, nevertheless have been shot the same evening for treachery to Herr Hitler and treasonable plotting with a foreign Power."

September 12, 1934

[Hitler receives the diplomatic corps]

November 27, 1934

[Is received by Hitler to give UK views on current German rearmament]

December 15, 1934

[Lunches with Ribbentrops and Goebbels's]

January 2, 1935

[At New Year reception Hitler talks with great warmth of the British people]

January 23, 1935

[Has long talk with Hitler: Saar, Austria, Memel, desire for agreement with UK, welfare of the British Empire, "fervent hope that India would never be lost to it."]

January 31, 1935

[Yesterday's talk of Hitler with Lord Lothian and Mr Evans. Lothian impressed by Hitler's desire for peace with Britain, fleet no greater than 33% of British.]

February 28, 1935 et esq.

[Proposed visit by Eden and Simon to Berlin]

March 16, 1935:

[Göring throws a dinner for 40 including Goebbels's and Himmlers.] "General Göring thus resumed the series of sumptuous repasts inaugurated by the late Captain Rohm in February 1934 interrupted by the 'blood bath' of June 30th and contemptuously described by the Führer in the Reichstag in July as 'so called diplomatic banquets.'" [Description of lavish surroundings, Emmy Sonnemann announced as fiancée, white marble hall, Gobelins, invisible string band, Hitler had ordered him to marry Emmy; Göring showed Phipps and François Poncet over the vast residence. ]

March 16 1935

[Hitler tells Phipps and Francois Poncet of introduction of conscription]

[Eden and Cranborne visit to Berlin. Göring's happiness at.]

March 29, 1935:

[Goebbels invites him March 28 to premiere of Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens]. "No educated person should fail to see it before reaching a definite opinion on Germany and her present leaders."

April 17, 1935

[Göring invites him to opera on April 9 on eve of his wedding. Description of the Göring wedding.]

October 8, 1935:

[Lunch with Blomberg: Italy, Mussolini, German colonies]

December 3, 1935:

[Lunch with Schacht: colonial demands, Schacht claims credit for having diverted Hitler towards colonial demands and away from expansion in the east]. Hitler's antisemitism. "Dr Schacht pointed out to me that, apart from the fact that antisemitism was a cardinal principle of her Hitler's policy, it was practically impossible for him to enforce moderation on all his subordinates. For instance, he knew for a fact that certain of the Gauleiter who had recently been admonished by Herr Hitler in the sense of moderation had told their subordinates that they felt certain despite the Führer's orders, that they would be interpreting his true wishes if they continued their persecution of the Jews."

December 10, 1935

[Many leading Germans including Ausw Amt favour return to Rapallo, an entente with Moscow].

December 13, 1935:

"I had a long and most unsatisfactory interview with the Chancellor today." France's bilateral pact with Russia. The air pact with Britain. "He referred to Russia's enormous strength on land and in the air and remarked that Berlin might easily in a few hours be reduced to a heap of ashes by a Russian air attack before the League or any other body had even begun to discuss the question of how to deal with it." Hitler remarks that on March 16, 1935 he could "quite well have proceeded to reoccupy the demilitarised zone" without provoking war. He had however been content to [...] Locarno and had therefore abstained. "He said that Russia was a foul and unclean inhabitant of the house with whom the other dwellers should have no political truck whatever." (Though he would enter into commercial transactions with him). "In fact the Russians were noxious microbes who should be politically isolated." Hitler's lack of love for Italy since her press campaign of 1934. Hitler mutters throughout. "At times he ground the floor with his heel as though crushing a worm."

December 14, 1935

[Reflecting on that talk] "He ... struck a cynical note of regret at having failed to reoccupy the zone on March 16th last year. It seems probable that he will proceed to that reoccupation whenever a favourable opportunity presents itself."

January 12, 1936

[Description of Göring's January 11, 1936 lavish ball at the new Aeroklub]

January 28, 1936

[Hitler attends funeral service for late King George V at British embassy church]

March 12, 1936

[Speculates on reasons and policies and conferences underlying Hitler's remilitarisation of Rhineland; strong opposition of German generals to the move.]

April 19, 1936

[Represents King at the Dresden funeral of Botschafter von Hoesch; ambassador had died in England.]

May 14, 1936

[Hitler receives him with Ribbentrop; reply to France; Spanish civil war; Russia had occupied Czech airfields. Air treaty impossible given the size of Russia's huge air force. "He again urged general prohibition of bombing altogether as being far more practical." Attack on Gleichberechtigung.

[Italy's surprising victory in Abyssinia, "Hitler is clearly lost in admiration of Mussolini."]

June 17, 1936

[Hitler embarrassed by Italian advances to him, presence in Berlin of Edda Ciano, he hankers after exclusive Anglo-German entente.]

October 21, 1936:

[Hitler tremendously impressed by energy of Lloyd George who visited Berghof early September.]

October 21, 1936:

[Ribbentrop came to farewell dinner October 20.] "He told Frances [Phipps] that on the whole he did not really know whether [Sir Oswald] Mosley sprang from the soul of the English people. Frances replied that he undoubtedly did not. Mosley was here incognito the other day and did not, it seems, make a favourable impression."

October 22, 1936

[Schacht and the Colonies, and Mein Kampf.]

October 30, 1936

[Again Schacht and the colonies. Threatens a deal with Russia, if Britain won't play ball. Schacht's character assessed: not a real Nazi at all. "One might compare Dr Schacht's position to that of a skilled navigator who in a moment of pique joined a pirate vessel, confident that he would reform the pirate captain and his crew."

November 10, 1936

[Regrets the flow of English visitors from Mayfair to Germany.

December 9, 1936:

[Fury that Schacht in speech at Frankfurt today refers to Phipps' remarks, without identifying him.]

February 4, 1937

[Last night Hitler took him to a room for 20 minute talk after dinner for the ambassadors. Nothing very new.] Spain: "The Reds would end by murdering the entire 'intelligentsia' in their part of the country, His information was that they had already murdered nearly 180,000." West pact, armaments, colonies.

April 9, 1937:

[Farewell visit to Görings. Latter's grandiose plans for reconstruction of Berlin, the Elbe bridge at Hamburg, and at Nuremberg. Four year Plan. Buna. Oil. Fats. Labour shortage. If only Britain had accepted Germany's offer of rapprochement. Degenerate France in decay. Strikes in Britain. Then tea with the Goebbels family, "with the little children of our amiable host and hostess executing dances to the strains of an old-world musical box."]

April 15, 1937

[Hitler invites the Phipps's to a farewell tea on April 14. Forty minutes alone with him.] Spain: Franco would probably win, "but it might last a long time." Hitler talks with fanatical violence about Austria. Had abandon claim to Alsace Lorraine. "The era of surprises, he said, was over." War tribute to "the courage and efficiency of the British troops in the trenches facing him during the war."

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