Note from the UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the German Ambassador, London
18 June 1935
His Excellency Herr Joachim von Ribbentrop
During the last few days the representatives of the German Government and His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have been engaged in conversations, the primary purpose of which has been to prepare the way for the holding of a general conference on the subject of the limitation of naval armaments. I have now much pleasure in notifying Your Excellency of the formal acceptance by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of the proposal of the German Government discussed at those conversations that the future strength of the German navy in relation to the aggregate naval strength of the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations should be in the proportion of 35:100. His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom regard this proposal as a contribution of the greatest importance to the cause of future naval limitation. They further believe that the agreement which they have now reached with the German Government and which they regard as a permanent and definite agreement as from today between the two Governments, will facilitate the conclusion of a general agreement on the subject of naval limitation between all the naval Powers of the world.
- His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom also agree with the explanations which were furnished by the German representatives in the course of the recent discussions in London as to the method of application of this principle. These explanations may be summarised as follows:
- The ration 35:100 is to be a permanent relationship, ie, the total tonnage of the German fleet shall never exceed a percentage of 35 of the aggregate tonnage of the naval forces, as defined by treaty, of the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations or, if there should in future be no treaty limitations of this tonnage, a percentage of 35 of the aggregate of the actual tonnages of the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
- If any future general treaty of naval limitation should not adopt the method of limitation by agreed ratios between the fleets of different Powers, the German Government will not insist on the incorporation of the ratio mentioned in the preceding subparagraph in such future general treaty, provided that the method therein adopted for the future limitation of naval armaments is such as to give Germany full guarantees that this ratio can be maintained.
- Germany will adhere to the ratio 35:100 in all circumstances, eg, the ratio will not be affected by the construction of other Powers. If the general equilibrium of naval armaments, as normally maintained in the past, should be violently upset by any abnormal and exceptional construction by other Powers, the German Government reserve the right to invite His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to examine the new situation thus created.
- The German Government favour, in the matter of limitation of naval armaments, that system which divides naval vessels into categories, fixing the maximum tonnage and/or armament for vessels in each category, and allocates the tonnage to be allowed to each Power by categories of vessels. Consequently, in principle, and subject to (f) below, the German Government are prepared to apply the 35% ratio to the tonnage of each category of vessel to be maintained and to make any variation of this ratio in a particular category or categories dependent on the arrangements to this end that may be arrived at in a future general treaty on naval limitation, such arrangements being based on the principle that any increase in one category would be compensated for by a corresponding reduction in others. If no general treaty on naval limitation should be concluded, or if the future general treaty should not contain provision creating limitation by categories, the manner and degree in which the German Government will have the right to vary the 35% ratio in one or more categories will be a matter for settlement by agreement between the German Government and His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, in the light of the naval situation then existing.
- If, and for so long as, other important naval Powers retain a single category for cruisers and destroyers Germany shall enjoy the right to have a single category for these two classes of vessels, although she would prefer to see these classes in two categories.
- In the matter of submarines, however, Germany, while not exceeding the ratio of 35:100 in respect of total tonnage, shall have the right to possess a submarine tonnage equal to the total submarine tonnage possessed by the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The German Government, however, undertake that, except in the circumstances indicated in the immediately following sentence, Germany’s submarine tonnage shall not exceed 45% of the total of that possessed by the Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The German Government reserve the right, in the event of a situation arising which in their opinion makes it necessary for Germany to avail herself of her right to a percentage of submarine tonnage exceeding the 45% abovementioned, to give notice to this effect to His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and agree that the matter shall be the subject of friendly discussion before the German Government exercise that right.
- Since it is highly improbable that the calculation of the 35% ratio should give for each category of vessels tonnage figures exactly divisible by the maximum individual tonnage permitted for ships in that category, it may be necessary that adjustments should be made in order that Germany shall not be debarred from utilising her tonnage to the full. It has consequently been agreed that the German Government and His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom will settle by common accord what adjustments are necessary for this purpose and it is understood that this procedure shall not result in any substantial or permanent departure from the ratio 35:100 in respect of total strengths.
- With reference to subparagraph (c) of the explanation set out above, I have the honour to inform you that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have taken note of the reservation and recognise the right therein set out, on the understanding that the 35:100 ratio will be maintained in default of agreement to the contrary between the two Governments.
- I have the honour to request Your Excellency to inform me that the German Government agree that the proposal of the German Government has been correctly set out in the preceding paragraphs of this note.
I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration, Your Excellency’s obedient servant.
Note from the German Ambassador, London, to the UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
18 June 1935
The Right Honourable Sir Samuel Hoare, Bart, GCSI, GBE, CMG, MP
I have the honour to confirm to Your Excellency the receipt of your Note of today’s date in which you were good enough to make the following communication on behalf of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom:
[Here follows text as printed under I.]
I have the honour to confirm to Your Excellency that the proposal of the Government of the German Reich has been correctly set out in the foregoing communication and I am happy to note that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom accepts that proposal.
The Government of the German Reich is also of the opinion that the agreement which it has now reached with His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and which it regards as a permanent and definite agreement as from today between the two Governments, will facilitate the conclusion of a general agreement on these questions between all the naval Powers of the world.
I have the honour to be, etc.
JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the German Reich