File No. 763.72/11613

The Ambassador in Italy ( Page ) to the Secretary of State


2056. Referring to Embassy’s No. 2051, September 26, 4 p.m. In interview with Baron Sonnino yesterday, Jugo-Slav problem was taken up. He said he had no right or wish to prevent any people from rising or developing their nationality; that his wish was simply to secure Italy against peril from the outside; that he favored the League of Nations, but that the League of Nations of the world resembled protective power in a state where it was necessary to have a police organization and other organizations for the protection of the people, and that even the police required that the people whom they protected should shut their doors in the evening so as at least to [Page 827] keep out intruders until the police could be [effective]. So in this manner it was necessary for Italy to have frontier which she could protect, at least until the international police, which might be at a great distance, could be put into effective activities.

He said that there were two movements now in Austria which might or might not develop into successful movements. One represented those who desired to be autonomous, but have their state or states united with Austria and Hungary as a triple or a quadruple monarchy, if there should be more than one; the other which was for a Pan-Servia. His conviction is that in either case owing to the geographic and other conditions there, Austria will in time become so potent that even if she does not absorb them through economic and other relations, they will fall greatly under Austrian influence or power, and thus the great highways to the east which play so notable a part in this war. In view of this, he feels it essential for [Italy to] keep in security that frontier.

He added with great earnestness that it is necessary for Italy to have a frontier taking in the Brenner; that there is a little strip there under the Brenner which is occupied by German people, but that he must have the Brenner to make Italy safe in the future, even though they have an international police, for Italy may be swamped before the police begin.

I gather that he has doubts about the Jugo-Slav great hostility to Austria. He mentioned that Servia in exchanging prisoners with Austria exchanged none who did not wish to be exchanged and thought that most of the Jugo-Slavs did not wish to be so, but it turned out differently and a large number of those exchanged were Jugo-Slavs who wished to go back in Austria and have gone back.

Nelson Page