File No. 763.72/10103
The Ambassador in Italy ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 20, 7.23 a.m.]
1635. Your 1227, May 17, 1 p.m. (1277, May 11, 3 p.m.] Have seen the Minister for Foreign Affairs who reiterates views expressed in last paragraph my 1570. He thinks that however favorable we may be towards these peoples it is unwise to make at this time new declarations which add to war aims and may add to discussion and even discussions [dissensions] among those now acting with us. He draws distinction between Allies’ relation to Jugo-Slav and Czechoslovak situation. The latter he thinks in a condition to be helpfully encouraged, as substantially all these are against Central Empires. The former on the contrary are divided, some wishing to be close to Austria-Hungary, others not. Very confidentially he evidently [Page 806] thinks a doubtful Jugo-Slav–Servian state would in the future be drawn by commercial and other bonds close to Austria-Hungary and Germany, would become serious rival to Italy and would certainly fall under Austrian influence.
His only suggestion to aid these peoples is that we encourage their co-nationals in America to volunteer in the Czech-Slav Legion now acting in Italy with Italian Army; they number about 12,000, or, as they claim, 17,000. Such volunteers will, he believes, have great effect on their people.
My own opinion is not very different from those expressed above except on point touching Jugo-Slav–Servian state which I do not feel will necessarily fall under Austrian influence. I believe in encouraging generally their aspirations for right but not in declaring in favor of detailed aims which will make Austria more desperate and lead to divisions on peculiarities among those who at present seem fairly solid. I feel that President’s policy has ever been wise in this matter, showing sympathy with oppressed peoples.
The Czecho-Slovaks appear to me to deserve all encouragement possible within above limits. It is believed here that what amounts to revolution is expected in Bohemia where the propaganda for liberty seems making progress.