File No. 763.72119/1669

The Minister in Switzerland ( Stovall) to the Secretary of State


3391. Ackerman’s1 views concerning the attitude that our Government could advantageously adopt towards the Austrian nationalities transmitted in my telegram 3346, May 13, noon,2 coincide with mine. I believe that present is psychological moment for America to influence claims of oppressed nationalities because:

Especially hostile attitude recently shown by Austrian Government towards Czech and Yugoslav demands;
Adjournment of Austrian Parliament which is open admission that Government is unable to control nationalities or carry through promised constitutional reform;
Threatened division of Bohemia into Czech and German districts which would be a blow to Czech ambitions to restore historical kingdom of Bohemia;
Meeting of German and Austrian Emperors at general headquarters and reported renewing and widening of scope of the alliance between the German and Austro-Hungarian Governments;
Roumanian peace which crushes hope of creation of state including Roumanian populations;
Present food conditions in Austria which are more critical than at any previous moment;
The effect of the Rome conference of oppressed nationalities which is beginning to be felt and for which propaganda is advanced on the Italian front;
Reenforced domination of Magyars in Hungary through apparent defeat of projected electoral reform.

I believe that delay is inadvisable because:

There are repeated rumors that Germany and Austria are searching for an immediate and definite solution of the Polish question in their own interests and to present fait accompli to Allies;
Since conclusion of Eastern and Roumanian peace Austria and Germany will undoubtedly attack Servian problem and endeavor to force solution in way to thwart Yugoslav ambitions and here also to present fait accompli at peace conference.

In addition to the obvious military advantages of the break-up of Austria, such a dissolution appears to offer the most effective barrier to German ambitions after the war. The hostility to Germany which is apparent in the non-Germanic races and even to a lesser extent in a minority of the Austrian Germans was a known fact before [Page 805] the war and has certainly existed since its beginning. The Allies’ hopes of detaching Austria have been based on the possibility that this hostility would control the action of the Austrian Government. Such hopes have not only been fruitless before the war, but the Austrian Government, which was well controlled by Germany before 1914, has since that date fallen even more under the domination of her more powerful neighbor. Apparently therefore further hopes based on this hostility are groundless.

But the hostility of the Yugoslavs, Czechs and Poles to the Germans and Magyars is a tangible factor which, instead of being weakened as this war progresses, has increased its menace to Austro-Hungarian Government until at present, I learn from confidential source, Bohemia is fully prepared for a revolutionary outbreak when signal is given. The Yugoslavs are in a lesser state of preparation, but are actively perfecting their arrangements. Is it not therefore clear that every possible effort should be made to fan the hostility which appears capable of bringing results rather than that which has been tried and found wanting? In this connection it should be borne in mind that every effort to separate Austria from Germany through the Austro-Hungarian Government, or to show sympathy for that Government, by so much discourages the ambitions of the oppressed nationalities who look toward us.

Admitting that we should favor the oppressed nationalities and that the time is ripe for such action I can only reiterate Ackerman’s statement that a public declaration by President Wilson is the only means of assuring the dissemination of a message from America in the Central Powers.

  1. Carl W. Ackerman, correspondent of the Saturday Evening Post.
  2. Not printed.