Revised 22 August 1997

"Conflicts over Possible Alternatives to Appeasement in the 1930s"1

By Michael Jabara Carley(c)

An examination of two separate, but related diplomatic aspects of appeasement, Anglo-French and Franco-Soviet relations, suggest that there were alternate policy options to appeasement being proposed at the time, which would have led either to the deterrence of Nazi Germany or more likely its defeat in war. In essence, this was Winston Churchill's grand alliance of France, Great Britain, and the USSR. Churchill advocated such an alliance in 1935, and it was formed, without France, in 1941, in extremis, and did at great cost defeat Nazi Germany.

        This is not an indulgence in counterfactual history, but rather the lending of attention to less popular and well known policy alternatives being discussed by statesmen and diplomats as they confronted the rising danger of Nazi Germany. Similar arguments have been advanced by R. A. C. Parker in his book on Chamberlain and appeasement, and by Anthony Adamthwaite in his recent synthesis of French policy between the wars.2 This author's recent work, which deals with Anglo-Franco-Soviet relations between the wars, has also stressed the existence of an alternate policy to appeasement.3

        There is no doubt that the Soviet commissar for foreign affairs, Maksim M. Litvinov, along with Churchill, Robert Vansittart, the permanent under-secretary in the Foreign Office, and the French député, Georges Mandel, among others, recognized the Nazi danger from the outset, and sought to counter it by forming a wide coalition of states based on an Anglo-Franco-Soviet alliance. In 1932-34 French foreign ministers Édouard Herriot, Joseph Paul-Boncour, and Louis Barthou supported this policy in France.4 Later on, Mandel and Paul Reynaud, as cabinet ministers, advocated the same course.5 In England Churchill and Vansittart, were important proponents of an Anglo-Soviet rapprochement. Vansittart considered himself to be a "Realist", as he put it. Soviet ambassador in London, I. M. Maiskii, defined Vansittart's Realism as that of someone who recognized the paramount danger of Nazi Germany to European peace and security.6

        In France and Britain the policy failed: from October 1934 in France, after Pierre Laval became minister for foreign affairs, and from January-February 1936 in Britain, after Anthony Eden became foreign secretary.7 And it failed in the USSR in August 1939, a few months after V. M. Molotov succeeded Litvinov as foreign commissar.

        In France and Britain the dates of the shift in policy away from closer relations with the Soviet precede the Popular Front victory, the Spanish civil war, and the Stalinist blood purges of the Red Army high command--at a time, by the way, when British and French military estimates of the Red Army were relatively positive.8 And even when French estimates soured, they were not entirely hostile, not even General Victor-Henri Schweisguth's negative report on Red Army manoeuvres in the autumn of 1936.9 French generals said that the Red Army could not maintain a sustained offensive, but the French army never contemplated offensive operations from behind the Maginot line and the British, with their two ready divisions (and two later), were completely incapable of offensive operations in Europe.10 It sounds like the Anglo-French pot calling Soviet kettle black. The Red Army, however, could be counted on to be formidable in defence of its own territory, and its ability to provide war material and supplies to Poland and Rumania would be crucial in a war against Nazi Germany. Even the anti-Red General Schweisguth conceded it. By the logic of the Anglo-French strategy of the "long war", Soviet assets should have been valuable and worth negotiating for.

        One need only read what Laval or Eden, and many of their colleagues had to say, in 1934-36, to explain why they did not embrace Churchill's grand alliance.11 These explanations were in the main grounded in fear of socialist revolution and the spread of Soviet influence in Europe. Fear of war was equalled by fear of revolution--and fear of victory. An Anglo-Franco-Soviet alliance would certainly triumph, but at what cost? War meant ruin, the decline and collapse of the old order; victory risked the spread of communism on the crest of the advance of the Red Army into Europe. It was a Leninist concept embraced by most of the Anglo-French governing political & economic elites, a unity of views the more remarkable because of other sharp differences in perspective. Martin Alexander has said that French high command's ideological animosity was cloaked in technical arguments about the inadequacies of the Red Army.12 Elisabeth du Réau has noted that the French high command sought to suppress information favourable to the creation of a Franco-Soviet alliance.13

        And then there was the Polish factor. In November 1938 the British ambassador in Warsaw commented that collective security had foundered on Polish opposition.14 Poland signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1934 and blocked an Eastern Pact along with Nazi Germany in 1934-35. The Polish government refused, as early as 1934, to consider passage of Red Army forces across Poland to assist Czechoslovakia in the event of Nazi aggression, and it took part in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

        The French government was suspicious of Polish intentions even before the Nazi-Polish non-aggression pact. "If Poland does not want to follow France into a military alliance with the Soviets... eh bien, we will do without [Poland]," said General Maxime Weygand in 1933. "We will count on Russia, and not bother any more about Poland," rejoined Barthou in 1934. Tant pis pour la Pologne, said Chief of Staff Maurice Gamelin in 1938, if the Polish government sides with the Nazis in a war against Czechoslovakia. In March 1939 Alexis Léger, the French Vansittart of a sort, said it was time to talk tough to the Poles.15 But it did not happen, tough talk proved to be mere bravado. When it came to the crisis, the French government could not follow its own sound advice. It did not do so because of fear that an alliance with the USSR would induce the Poles to put both feet in the Nazi camp, instead of just the one already planted there. As the French ambassador, Robert Coulondre, noted, the Anglo-Franco-Soviet alliance would win a war against Nazi Germany, but Poland would be crushed by the Red Army, and Soviet influence would extend into central Europe, perhaps into Germany or even into France itself.16 Fear of victory paralyzed the French as much as fear of defeat. Churchill's grand alliance had no chance in 1935-1939 because the arguments of the anti-communist Ideologues prevailed over those of the Realists. But the Realists' alternate policy was advanced at the time by important politicians and statesmen.

        As for Anglo-French relations, these were lamentable during the inter-war years. Austen Chamberlain said that France should be loved like a woman.17 Few British politicians believed it. The French and British were like a married couple-- to borrow a metaphor--who were still intimate, but cheated and bickered constantly.18 France was "a bad show" to most British Tories during the 1930s, though some French politicians returned the compliment.19 They began to think again of the British as perfidious Albion, who wanted France to carry the burden of war, should it come to that, against Nazi Germany.

        The French high command recognized that the British could not make a serious contribution on the ground, and they wondered how the French army could hold off Nazi Germany on its own.20 In London Vansittart warned his masters repeatedly that the French expected a substantial British army on the continent, and that they would take a dim view of a British commitment of primarily naval and air forces, while the French bore the brunt of battle on the ground. Vansittart understood the situation only too well, warning that England could find itself isolated, if Anglo-French relations grew cold.21 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain opposed the despatch of large ground forces to France, and held back financial resources to expand the British army before 1939.22 But Vansittart, Churchill, and others did advance an alternative to appeasement.

        British government policy was to rely on the French army to hold the line against Nazi Germany with a small stiffening of British troops and with the Royal Navy and Air Force. The French view was defensive, and without offensive strategy or ready means to carry it out. Other states, like the USSR, were expected to carry out offensive operations, if there were to be any at all.

        As the 1930s progressed, Anglo-French relations worsened. In 1936 Nazi Germany sent troops into the demilitarized Rhineland; France asked for British support to get them out, but did not want to fight. The British shrugged off the crisis, as though it were an unfortunate incident. Some French diplomats cried betrayal; most British Tories thought "Herr Hitler" was not so bad. He knew how to handle communists and unions.23

        In 1936 the Popular Front electoral victory and ensuing widespread labour unrest worried the British government, which thought France was going Red. The Spanish civil war seemed to offer the spectre of what could happen in France. British Foreign Office officials were ready to and did intervene in French politics. Franco-Soviet relations made the British uneasy, and they applied heavy pressure to block Franco-Soviet military staff talks in 1937. The British treated the French as though they were contemptible and weak, and expected them to follow British policy. The French, who lost their nerve after 1934, felt they had little choice.

    During the 1930s there was a kind of each-for-himself attitude on the part of the great powers which entirely played into the hands of "Herr Hitler". He duped the Anglo-French time after time, and then he duped the USSR. After the Nazi occupation of rump Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Vansittart lamented: "I cannot imagine what figure we shall cut in the world when these [Foreign Office] documents come to be published... I am bound to record ... my deep dejection [at the weak British protest against the occupation]... There seems to be no longer any strength in our loins or capacity for moral indignation in our natures, and I fear that we shall be judged accordingly..."24

        In spite of Vansittart's pessimism, there was a last chance for a grand alliance before the outbreak of war, and it came in April-May 1939. The Soviet documents published in 1992, but little quoted since they became available in North America in 1993, demonstrate that the Soviet government considered a more flexible policy option in the spring of 1939.25 Much of the material to which I will refer was either deleted without ellipses from previously published versions of these documents, or is published for the first time.26

        However discouraged Vansittart may have been in early 1939, he saw Maiskii privately several times in March and April to emphasize that Great Britain was changing course and that the Soviet government should take seriously this shift in policy. Maiskii duly reported his meetings with Vansittart to Moscow.27

        While Vansittart did his best to encourage Maiskii, French foreign minister Georges Bonnet saw Iakov Z. Surits, the Soviet ambassador in Paris, on 5 April to tell him that the French government would have proposals to make to the USSR in a few days concerning security arrangements in eastern Europe.28 Bonnet met the Soviet ambassador many times in April. Surits considered him to be panicky and prostrate--and completely untrustworthy.29

        On 10 April, Litvinov instructed Surits to tell Bonnet that the Soviet government was ready to listen to and to study any concrete French proposals.30 Three days later, Litvinov recommended to Stalin that Maiskii should take a less critical view of British foreign policy in meetings with British officials, and asked in effect for authorization to rebuke Maiskii. Stalin gave his assent apparently because Litvinov promptly reprimanded his ambassador in London.31 The next day, 14 April, the British government issued its invitation to the Soviet government to make unilateral guarantees to Poland and Rumania. On the same day Bonnet handed to Surits a proposal for a Franco-Soviet agreement to support each other in case either side went to war with Germany to support Poland or Rumania. Typically, Bonnet's first draft of this proposal only mentioned Soviet aid for France, not French aid for the USSR.32

        How did the Soviet government react? On 15 April Litvinov recommended to Stalin that the Soviet government take the initiative in making new proposals. The British and French governments were beginning to reveal their positions, said Litvinov, the Soviet government should do the same.33 The next day Litvinov discussed with Stalin his draft of a tripartite alliance with France and Britain; the Soviet 8-point proposal was handed over to the British ambassador, Sir William Seeds, on the following day, 17 April.34

        The British reaction to Soviet offers was privately disdainful and dismissive, but outwardly evasive and polite to the Soviet ambassador.35 The French showed more interest. My first impression, said Bonnet to Surits (18 April), is "very favourable".36 But then there were snags, not least because the British thought the French had responded too positively to the Soviet proposals. There were extensive discussions between the French and British about a response to the Soviet offer. The French government sought unsuccessfully to persuade the British to move off their adamant opposition to a Soviet alliance. Bonnet saw the Soviet ambassador several times during the same period, handing over to him two different propositions for a tripartite agreement. For those interested in the issue of a resumption of French independent action, this was about as independent as French policy was going to become.

        We have some problems with the Soviet proposals, said Bonnet. The French government does not like the idea of guarantees for the Baltic states since there are no corresponding Soviet guarantees for Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland (22 April).37 And three days later Bonnet gave Surits a proposal for a narrow tripartite agreement which would only be activated by Anglo-French initiative.38 Bonnet said subsequently (28 April) that the proposal was only semi-official and "his personal suggestion". I would surmise, Surits told Litvinov, that the British have not agreed to Bonnet's "suggestion".39 He was right, of course.

        Then, on 29 April Bonnet gave Surits a broader proposal with some reciprocity of obligations between the signatories.40 On the same day, British foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, falsely advised Maiskii that the British had been "too busy" to consider Litvinov's "well constructed" proposals even though they had been discussing them with the French from the outset. Still on 29 April Bonnet told the British ambassador in Paris that the French would go along with the British position on unilateral guarantees if the British could get the Soviet to go along, a possibility which Bonnet doubted.41 Saturday, 29 April, was a busy day for Anglo-French flim-flam of the Soviet government. It also marked the end of Bonnet's modest efforts to resume French initiative in negotiations with the USSR.

        On 3 May Litvinov, in his last day as foreign commissar, sent a memorandum to Stalin on British policy. The British are in no hurry to reply to us, he said: they are apparently going to repeat their proposal for unilateral guarantees. Litvinov categorically rejected these, but recommended Soviet guarantees for Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland as a quid pro quo to obtain agreement for a guarantee of the Baltics and to meet Bonnet's objections.42

        Litvinov must have cleaned out his desk at the Narkomindel after writing these lines. His departure caused speculation in the west that the USSR might entertain better relations with Nazi Germany and abandon collective security. Soviet diplomats assured their western counterparts that Litvinov's departure did not signal a change in policy, and Maiskii later said that the resignation was only the result of a personal quarrel between Litvinov and Stalin.43 In fact, there was no immediate change of policy, and the Soviet government's decision to conclude a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany came during a fortnight in August.44

        On 4 May, as Litvinov had anticipated, the British renewed their proposal for unilateral guarantees. What followed, however, was not so predictable. The Turkish president, Ismet Inonu, recommended to the Soviet government that it accept the French proposals or at the worst the British concept of unilateral guarantees (5 May). Acceptance, said Inonu, would not be incompatible with Soviet "dignity".45 Molotov, the new foreign commissar, asked for advice from his ambassadors and from his deputy foreign commissar, V. P. Potemkin, who was visiting Turkey and eastern Europe. Potemkin and Surits both recommended accepting either the French proposals or even the British scheme as a basis for discussion.46

        Not Maiskii, who opposed the acceptance of the British position. He reported a conversation with Halifax wherein the foreign secretary tried to reassure the Soviet government against fear that the British would leave it in the lurch against Germany. If you don't like our ideas, said Halifax, then make counter-proposals. Accept Halifax's offer, Maiskii advised, it's not the last British word.47

        Molotov also had policy alternatives before him in early May 1939, and he seemed to waver. On 10 May he instructed Potemkin, then in Warsaw, "to hint" to Colonel Jozef Beck, the Polish foreign minister, that if Poland wanted Soviet help, the USSR could give it. Potemkin carried out his instructions doing more than just hinting.48 The next day, however, the Polish ambassador in Moscow said that Poland was not interested, and there was also more evidence of British equivocation.49 Les intentions se jugent aux actes was an axiom the Soviet government had long applied in its relations with France and Britain. On 14 May, Molotov rejected the British proposals, and insisted on a formal, tripartite agreement with full reciprocity and joint guarantees to all countries bordering on the USSR.50

        There were thus alternate policies, which the French, British, and Soviet governments did consider and could have followed. Circumstances proved unfavourable in the late 1930s for Churchill's grand alliance, until it was almost too late. Ideologues in the west prevailed over Realists who said that the Nazi danger outweighed any communist threat. Important politicians and statesmen advanced to no avail the Realists' arguments. As for Molotov and Stalin, after five years of Anglo-French rebuffs, one could hardly expect obsessively suspicious men not to be suspicious. Maiskii had it about right when he observed in mid-May that Chamberlain could not "psychologically digest" a pact with the USSR because its conclusion would mean an end to appeasement. "So Chamberlain haggled... like a gypsy, and repeatedly tried to palm off on us... a lame horse."51 A trenchant comment, and to the point, but great statesmen are able to overcome long held beliefs and prejudices in politics and diplomacy. The Soviet also had a choice whether to stick to Litvinov's policy or try its own appeasement of Nazi Germany. It is not, therefore, a historian's facile hindsight to question whether Anglo-French appeasement or a Soviet hard line on a tripartite alliance and later the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact were the most acceptable foreign policy options, or less risky than the Realists' alternatives.


1.. I would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada of its support for my research.

2. R. A. C. Parker, Chamberlain and Appeasement: British Policy and the Coming of the Second World War (London, 1993); and Anthony Adamthwaite, Grandeur & Misery: France's Bid for Power in Europe, 1914-1940 (London, 1995).

3. Carley, "Fearful Concatenation of Circumstances: the Anglo-Soviet Rapprochement, 1934 - 1936," Contemporary European History, vol. 5, no. 1 (March 1996), pp. 29-69; "Prelude to Defeat: Franco-Soviet Relations, 1919 - 1939", Historical Reflections, vol. 22, no. 1 (winter 1996), pp. 159-88; "Generals, Diplomats, and International Politics in Europe, 1898 - 1945", Canadian Journal of History, vol. XXX, no. 2 (August 1995), pp. 289-321; "Down a Blind-Alley: Anglo-Franco-Soviet Relations, 1920 - 1939," Canadian Journal of History, vol. XXIX, no. 1 (April 1994), pp. 147-72; "End of the 'Low, Dishonest Decade': Failure of the Anglo-Franco-Soviet Alliance in 1939," Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 45, no. 2 (1993), pp. 303-41; and "Five Kopecks for Five Kopecks: Franco-Soviet Trade Relations, 1928 - 1939," Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, vol. XXXIII, no. 1 (janv.- mars 1992), pp. 23-58.

4. For earlier accounts of Franco-Soviet relations in the 1930s, see William E. Scott, Alliance Against Hitler: The Origins of the Franco-Soviet Pact (Durham, N.C., 1962); and Jonathan Haslam, Soviet Foreign Policy, 1930-33: the Impact of the Depression (London, 1983), and The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security in Europe, 1933-39 (New York, 1984).

5. John Michael Sherwood, Georges Mandel and the Third Republic (Stanford, 1970), p. 202.

6. Carley, "Fearful Concatenation of Circumstances," p. 45.

7. Ibid. and Carley, "Prelude to Defeat".

8. Keith Neilson, "`Pursued by a Bear': British Estimates of Soviet Military Strength and Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1922-1939," Canadian Journal of History, vol. XXVIII, no. 2 (Aug. 1993), pp. 189-221; and Neilson, "The Role of the Soviet Union in British Foreign and Defence Policy, 1930-1939", paper delivered at the meetings of the Canadian Historical Association, St. Catherines, Ontario, 2 June 1996.

9. "URSS, Manoeuvres de Russie blanche de septembre 1936," Schweisguth, 5 Oct. 1936, S[ervice] h[istorique de l'] A[rmée de] t[erre, Vincennes], 7N 3184.

10. Martin Alexander, The Republic in Danger: General Maurice Gamelin and the Politics of French Defence, 1933-1940 (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 242, 296, & passim.

11. See "Fearful Concatenation of Circumstances" and "Prelude to Defeat".

12. Alexander, Gamelin, p. 292.

13 Elisabeth du Réau, Édouard Daladier, 1884-1970 (Paris, 1993), p. 348.

14. Carley, "Low, Dishonest Decade," p. 316.

15. Pertinax (André Giraud), Les fossoyeurs: défaite militaire de la France, Armistice, contre-révolution 2 vols. (New York, 1943), II, p. 43; Geneviève Tabouis, They Called Me Cassandra (New York, 1942), p. 207; Maurice Gamelin, Servir 3 vols. (Paris, 1946), II, p. 360; and Carley, "Low, dishonest Decade," p. 316.

16. Robert Coulondre, De Staline à Hitler: souvenirs de deux ambassades, 1936-1939 (Paris, 1950), pp. 21, 197.

17. Jon S. Jacobson, Locarno Diplomacy: Germany and he West, 1925-1929 (Princeton, 1972). p. 125.

18. See, e.g., Sally Marks, "Mésentente Cordiale: The Anglo-French Relationship, 1921-1922," in A Missed Opportunity? 1922: The Reconstruction of Europe (Berne, 1995), pp. 33-45.

19. Sir Robert Vansittart, The Mist Procession: The Autobiography of Lord Vansittart (London, 1958), p. 474.

20. Alexander, Gamelin, pp. 242, 247, & passim; and P. M. H. Bell, France and Britain, 1900-1940: Entente & Estrangement (London, 1996).

21. Carley, "Generals, Statesmen", pp. 310-11.

22. Gaines Post, Jr., Dilemmas of Appeasement: British Deterrence and Defense, 1934-1937 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1993).

23. Harold Nicolson, Diaries and letters, 1930-1939 (New York, 1966), pp. 248-54; also Stephen A. Schuker, "France the Remilitarization of the Rhineland, 1936," French Historical Studies, vol. XIV, no. 3 (spring 1986), pp. 229-338; Peter Neville, "The Rhineland Crisis of 1936. Sixty Years On", 12pp., paper presented at the meetings of the Society for French Historical Studies, Boston, Mass., 23 March 1996; and Adamthwaite, Grandeur & Misery, pp. 202-05.

24. "S. of S.," Vansittart, 15 March 1939, C3202/15/18, P[ublic] R[ecord] O[ffice, London], F[oreign] O[ffice] 371 22966.

25. Ministerstvo inostrannykh del, Rossiiskoi Federatsii, D[okumenty] v[neshnei] p[olitiki, 1939 god], vol. XXII, books 1 & 2 (Moscow, 1992); and also Ministerstvo inostrannykh del SSSR, God krizisa, 1938-1939, 2 vols. (Moscow, 1990).

26. Compare with V. M. Falin, et al., Soviet Peace Efforts on the Eve of World War II (September 1938 - August 1939) parts 1 & 2 (Moscow, 1973).

27. Maiskii to Narkomindel (Soviet commissariat for foreign affairs), immediate, very secret, 14 March 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 183-84; Maiskii to Narkomindel, immediate, very secret, 17 March 1939, ibid., pp.196-97; Maiskii to Narkomindel, highest priority, very secret, 20 March 1939, ibid., pp. 211-12; and Maiskii to Narkomindel, highest priority, very secret, 14 April 1939, pp. 273-74.

28. Surits to Narkomindel, immediate, very secret, 6 April 1939, ibid., p. 257.

29. See, e.g., Surits to Narkomindel, highest priority, 10 April 1939, God krizisa, I, p. 367.

30. Litvinov to Surits, very secret, 10 April 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 263.

31. "To the general secretary TsK VKP(b) I. V. Stalin," secret, Litvinov, 13 April 1939, ibid., p 270; and Litvinov to Maiskii, very secret, 13 April 1939, ibid., pp. 270-71.

32. Bonnet to Jean Payart, French chargé d'affaires in Moscow, nos. 129-36, 14 April 1939, Documents diplomatiques français, 2e série, XV, pp. 628-29; Surits to Narkomindel, 14 April 1939, God krizisa, I, pp. 380-81.

33. "To the general secretary TsK VKP(b) I. V. Stalin," secret, Litvinov, 15 April 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 277-78.

34. "To the general secretary, TsK VKP(b), secret, Litvinov, 17 April 1939, ibid., p. 283.

35. Carley, "Low, Dishonest Decade".

36. Surits to Narkomindel, 18 April 1939, God krizisa, I, p. 388.

37. Surits to Narkomindel, very secret, 22 April 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, p. 307.

38. Surits to Narkomindel, 25 April 1939, God krizisa, I, 399.

39. Surits to Litvinov, very secret, 28 April 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 316-7.

40. Surits to Narkomindel, 29 April 1939, God krizisa, I, p. 413.

41. Maiskii to Narkomindel, 29 April 1939, ibid., p. 410-12; and Sir Eric Phipps, British ambassador in Paris, no. 192, 30 April 1939, C6213/3356/18, PRO FO 371 23064.

42. "To the general secretary TsK VKP(b) I. V. Stalin," secret, Litvinov, 3 May 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 325-26.

43. "Conversation between Lord Strabolgi and Mr. Maisky... 20th September 1939," private and confidential, C14877/13953/18, PRO FO 371 23103.

44. E.g., Geoffrey Roberts, The Soviet Union and the Origins of the Second World War: Russo-German Relations and the Road to War, 1933-1941 (London, 1995), pp. 68-91.

45. V. P. Potemkin, deputy commissar for foreign Affairs (in Ankara), to Narkomindel, highest priority, very secret, 5 May 1939, ibid. pp. 332-35.

46. V. M. Molotov to Surits, very secret, 8 May 1939, ibid., 342; Molotov to Maiskii, 8 May 1939, ibid. p. 546; Potemkin (Warsaw) to Molotov, highest priority, very secret, 10 May 1939, ibid. pp. 352-54; and Surits to Molotov, highest priority, very secret, 10 May 1939, ibid. pp. 354-55. Cf., Geoffrey Roberts, "The Alliance that Failed: Moscow and the Triple Alliance Negotiations, 1939," European History Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 3 (1996), pp. 383-414.

47. Maiskii to Narkomindel, highest priority, very secret, 9 May 1939, ibid., pp. 348-49; cf., Halifax to Seeds, no. 351, 9 May 1939, C6812/3356/18, PRO FO 371 23065.

48. Molotov to Potemkin, highest priority, very secret, 10 May 1939, ibid., p. 352; Potemkin to Molotov, 10 May 1939, God Krizisa, I, p. 444.

49. "Record of conversation... of V. M. Molotov with the Polish ambassador in the USSR, V. Gzhibovskii," 11 May 1939, God Krizisa, I, pp. 448-49; and Maiskii to Narkomindel, highest priority, very secret, 11 May 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 357-58 (cf., Halifax to Seeds, no. 366, 11 May 1939, C6922/3356/18, PRO FO 371 23065).

50. "Record of conversation... of V. M. Molotov with... W. Seeds," secret, 14 May 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, p. 364; and Seeds, no. 93, 14 May 1939, C7065/3356/18, PRO FO 371 23066.

51. Excerpt from Maiskii's journal, secret, 18 May 1939, DVP, XXII, 1, pp. 382-83.