File No. 763.72/12043

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


2274. An intercepted radio message reported to me by naval attaché:

To Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, and to the champions of liberty throughout the world. At midnight of October 30–31, the National Jugo-Slav Committee, after having broken the chains of age-long oppression, and acting in accord with the officers and soldiers of the Czecho-Slovaks, Poles, and the Italian element of the inhabitants of Pola, appeal to the sublime idealism of the President.1 From this moment we consider ourselves comrades of those fighting for justice and for the liberty of the peoples and we would esteem ourselves happy to be able to salute with grateful hearts both as an ally and friend a naval division of the United States or of an Allied Power not interested in our national problems [Page 863] which will arrive shortly in the fortified port of Pola. Signed for the National Council at Zagreb, the local committee of Pola, per Lozre Scalieza as President and captain of frigate Metod, Koch, as head of the national defense. Postscript: Koch is a Jugo-Slav.

Colosimo, Minister of the Colonies, who represents Orlando as Premier in the latter’s absence, has just shown me a copy of the foregoing radio and appears to be much disturbed by it. He has requested me to bring matter to the attention of my Government as it is one which concerns Italy deeply; that Italy is the Allied Power interested in the problems referred to in the message; and that it would be [proper] to reply that on the basis of the deliberations of the Paris conference the Austrian fleet will be subject to the conditions adopted there and consequently it will be the Italian fleet which will present itself at Pola to take the appropriate measures.

No one knows whom this committee at Pola represents and it can hardly be expected that Italy in the moment of victory will sit by and see a new flag hoisted on the ships of her defeated enemy by those who have been hitherto members of the enemy’s forces.

I learn further that Italy has just torpedoed Austria’s largest dreadnaught and that some committee of Jugo-Slavs have protested claiming that the Austrian vessels are now ships of a friendly power.

Nelson Page

[For a description of political conditions in Czecho-Slovakia and Jugo-Slavia, see telegram from the Minister in Switzerland, No. 5543, November 2, 1918, received November 3, ante, page 445.]

  1. Jumbled phrases rearranged.