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236 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Lt Col W. R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs

Memorandum H150 LONDON, 3 August 1938



VISIT OF MR MENZIES To BERLIN, 27TH TO 31ST JULY, 1938 The Rt Hon. R. G. Menzies, K.C., M.P., Attorney-General and Minister for Industry, left London for Germany by air on Wednesday, 27th July, and remained in Berlin for four days. Mr Menzies himself described his visit as being undertaken for the purpose of general observation at first hand, and with a view to contacts with representative men in Germany. The visit attracted considerable notice in both the London and German press. The 'Times' Parliamentary Correspondent on 28th July, commented that 'it was a minor landmark in the progress of the Dominions towards an individual European policy'.

The Attorney-General was accompanied by Mrs Menzies, and his staff comprised Mr Heydon, Private Secretary, and Mr Stirling, who had been seconded for the visit. The Minister took an early opportunity of establishing contact with the British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, with whom he had long conferences on each of the four days of his visit. [1] The Ambassador gave a dinner at the Embassy on 28th July in honour of Mr and Mrs Menzies.

The German Foreign Office put a senior officer at the Minister's disposal throughout his stay in Berlin. Calls were made on several departmental heads at the Wilhelmstrasse. Among those whom the Minister saw were Herr von Weizsacker, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Herr von Woermann, Assistant Secretary and lately Charge d'Affaires in London, Herr von Rinteln of the Western European Department, and Herr Wiehl, director of the Trade section. Before leaving London Mr Menzies also saw the German Ambassador, Herr von Dircksen. Dr Schacht, President of the Reichsbank, gave a luncheon for Mr Menzies on 28th July, at which the British Ambassador, the State Secretary, the other directors of the Reichsbank and representatives of all the leading German banks and industrial organisations were present. A dinner was given jointly on 29th July by Herr Brinckmann, head of the Reichswirtschafts Ministerium, and Herr Herbert Goering.

Among others with whom Mr Menzies had discussions during the course of his visit were the Financial Adviser to the Embassy, (Mr G. H. S. Pinsent of the United Kingdom Treasury), the British Counsellor, Sir G. Ogilvie-Forbes, the Military Attach&, Colonel Mason MacFarlane, Sir Edward Reid, director of Baring Bros who was in Berlin in connection with the recent financial negotiations, and the South African Minister to Germany, Dr Gie.

Although the principal object of his visit was to observe the political situation, Mr Menzies also made arrangements to see something of German industry. A visit was paid to Siemensstadt, and a whole morning was spent in inspecting the Siemens works, an organisation employing Some 120,000 men and women. The Minister first saw over the Metallwerk and Kabelwerk which turn out cables for heavy and light-current engineering and the accessories necessary for their installation. A visit was then paid to the Dynamowerk where the largest electrical machines are manufactured, including the alternators which have supplied Ireland with electricity since 1929. The staff club houses and dining rooms, and the colonies of workers' flats, houses and gardens in. the vicinity of Siemensstadt, were all inspected, and a lunch was given by the directors at which Mr Menzies spoke.

To see something of the work of smaller industries Mr Menzies visited the Lindner works at Wittenau. Here machine tools are manufactured, a particular feature being the use of the latest optical measuring instruments as part of the actual process of manufacture instead of their being applied only to the finished piece.

Mr Menzies also drove out into the country to see examples of the new State highways which radiate from Berlin all over Germany, and to try the 'Arvus' track, where a speed of just under 100 m.p.h.

was reached. On the way a visit was paid to the recently erected Olympic Stadium, the swimming pool and open air theatre, which form part of the 'Kraft durch Freude' movement, and the Tempelhof airport.

Mr Menzies left Berlin on the evening of Saturday, 30th July, by air for the Netherlands. He spent two days at Amsterdam, making brief journeys to the Hague and Haarlem and renewing contacts made on his visit to the Netherlands in June, 1936. The party returned to London by air on Monday, 1st August.

From the point of view of the Department the visit enabled the making, or renewing, by two officers of a large number of contacts with the British Embassy in Berlin, the German Foreign Office, and elsewhere. It will be of great value, in the case of the London Office, to have direct contacts with the present staff of the Berlin Embassy on a similar basis to those already existing with the Embassies at Paris and Rome.


1 This document and Document 237 are the only records found of Menzies's discussions in Berlin.

[AA : A981, GERMANY 43, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History