Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Volume I
The Ambassador in Italy ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I am enclosing you herewith a copy of a letter which I have just sent to Colonel House relating to the present situation of Italy, regarding the other side of the Adriatic, especially with respect to the City of Fiume, which you will remember was left out of the London Pact by Baron Sonnino who afterwards, as I informed you, claimed considerable credit for his courage in relinquishing a part of “Italy’s territory.”
I am sending you a telegram giving succinctly the steps by which Fiume declared itself an Italian city.24 At present the town is held by the Croatians, while the harbor is held by an Italian squadron under Admiral Renier and both the Italian and the Jugo-Slav flags are flying in the town. The question as to whether or not this somewhat critical situation will result in a clash will be settled long before this letter reaches you.
I will keep you duly informed telegraphically of everything relating to this Italo-Jugo-Slav-Franco-Serb question.
The Ambassador in Italy ( Page ) to the Special Representative ( House )
My Dear Colonel House: I am sending you by this pouch reports made to me daily since the tenth instant by Mr. Gino C. Speranza, who is now attached to this Embassy, which he terms “Daily Italian Political Notes,” and which are made up in part from the leading Italian papers and in part from his knowledge of the situation here, obtained through many sources.25[Page 448]
Speranza has been doing work of this kind for the Embassy for over a year. He is an American gentleman whose father was an Italian, and was for years a professor at Columbia University and, as I recall it, at Yale also. He is a writer of ability and a close and thoughtful student of Italian politics, and although I do not always agree with him in his views, and deductions, I always respect his views and know that they are those of a man who is not only thoroughly reliable but in a certain way better informed, perhaps, on these subjects than any other American in Italy. I may add that he is as absolutely American in every respect as you or I.
So much by way of introduction.
The most interesting elements in the situation here, since the signing of the armistice, are the, perhaps not unnatural, but certainly very changed tone of the Italian press regarding Italy’s claims and rights along the northern and eastern Adriatic, and a certain tone which I will not term imperialistic, but has a tendency in that direction; secondly, the sub-current of feeling against France because of her alleged opposition to Italian ideas regarding the regions mentioned and her alleged part in stirring up opposition to Italy therein. It is said by many persons here that France instigated the Jugo-Slavs along the eastern Adriatic to seize the Austrian ships and mount their flags on them; to organize Jugo-Slav municipalities in cities along that coast and declare themselves units of the Jugo-Slav Government in process of formation, or as they claim, actually formed, and in general to resist Italy.
Without undertaking to go into the merits of what territories will be eventually assigned to one or the other, it is not unnatural that the Italians should feel that the sudden change within twenty-four hours on the part of a lot of Austrian subjects who were engaged in warfare against Italy to a body who termed themselves Allies and take possession not only of ships but of important points which must fall immediately into Italy’s hands as the result of her victories, is not wholly a patriotic move, but is also a political move to deprive her of the fruits of her victories.
On the other hand, the Italian idea, as expressed in the public press here with more and more openness and resolution, is certainly for a greater expansion on the part of Italy than had formerly been openly promulgated. I believe that it is claimed that they are only asking now what was accorded to Italy by the secret Treaty of London of April 26, 1915, with the exception of Fiume, which they now claim as coming within the principle of auto-decision, because Fiume has declared in favor of Italy as her mother country. [Page 449] The press has been quite full of “the revolution” at Fiume by which that City has returned to Italy.
The facts relating to this matter are being set forth in a paper prepared by Mr. H. Nelson Gay26 which will go forward in this pouch and which will give a careful and full account of the episode and of the situation there at present, tinctured perhaps somewhat by Italian predilection. Succinctly, the facts appear to be that a Committee terming itself the National Committee of Fiume, consisting of some 250 Italians by race prepared a proclamation on the 29th of October which was ratified on the 30th at the municipality, which it appears has always been an Italian institution. Five young Irredenti Italians left that night for Trieste by automobile, arriving before Trieste had declared itself for Italy. There they obtained a tug and motor boat and proceeded to Venice where they duly arrived after having been fired on, it being supposed that they were Austrians. At Venice they obtained an audience with the Italian Chief of Staff, Admiral Thaon de Revel, from whom they requested assistance and protection, which was granted and an Italian squadron was immediately sent under Admiral Renier to Fiume, where it was received, according to report, with tremendous enthusiasm. The squadron is still in the port while the town is in the hands of JugoSlavs with a Croatian governor to whom the Hungarian governor turned over such authority as he could when he left. The Italian flag was torn down but was afterwards, on the demand of the Italian Admiral, replaced and saluted by the Jugo-Slavs. The Jugo-Slav flag was in turn torn down by Italians but this also was afterwards replaced with due honors by order of the Italian Admiral. I am informed that both sides are endeavoring to act with moderation and in such a way as not to precipitate a crash. The Italian Committee, appointed there a sort of a delegate plenipotentiary, who was also given authority by the municipality of Fiume to come to Rome representing that city and after visiting General Diaz he came to Rome and has been received by Premier Orlando and the Sindic of Rome, Don Prospero Colonna, at the Campidoglio, where speeches were exchanged declaratory of the resolution of Fiume to become an integral part of Italy and of Italy to accept this crown.
On yesterday I sent you a copy of a telegram sent to Washington27 stating that the Italian Chief of Staff, Admiral Thaon de Revel, has requested the American, French, English and Italian fleets to send ships to Spalato. This telegram is all that I know of that matter. I feel, however, that the situation is in a certain sense critical because in the present state of excitement there is danger of [Page 450] a clash and such an incident would certainly be charged here to French influence.
Baron Sonnino will, I hope, talk fully with you about all these matters while he is in Paris, though it is almost too much to hope. In any event, however, you will be able to form from what he says a fairly accurate idea of what Italy hopes to accomplish in the direction of expansion, and possibly even of control of the Adriatic. No one has ever yet quite ventured to speak of making the Adriatic a mare clausum, but I think some of those who write about the subject have it in their minds as a possibility, though I imagine those who are wise and far-sighted would consider such a thing impracticable, if not impossible.
I hope that you see personally the telegrams which I am sending every day now because they cover many points which I do not afterwards develop in my letters.
This whole question of the other side of the Adriatic, and of the entire Balkan peninsula, ought to be studied carefully and by persons as free from any excessive predilection as possible as the arrangement of the lines of the Balkan countries is possibly going to be the most difficult, complex, and, indeed, perilous part of the work of the Peace Congress.
Yours very sincerely,
Daily Italian Political Notes
1. The very rigor of the conditions of armistice imposed upon Germany is proof eloquent, in Italian opinion, of the completeness of the victory of the Allies and of the United States. They involve, in substance, the expelling of the Hohenzollerns, “the abandonment of Alsace-Lorraine, the evacuation of invaded territories, the establishment of three military bridgeheads on the Rhine, the nullification of the Brest-Litowski and Bukarest treaties, the cession of the best part of the German fleet, the evacuation of German colonies and the return of the gold stolen; they also compel Germany to beg for bread. …”28 Certainly, as the Rome Messaggero says, “Our dead and our mutilated are vindicated.”
On the other hand, the appeal by Solf to Secretary Lansing following almost immediately upon the signing of the armistice and the President’s speech to Congress in announcing the successful close [Page 451] of the war are considered by Italian opinion as clearly defining the position not only of the United States, as distinguished from that of the Allies, but the policy of the new Germany towards our Country. Such American position is taken to be that of moderator and conciliator and such German policy is interpreted as aimed at making Germany found her hopes of reconstruction more and more upon America. The only doubt among Italians is how sincere is the German policy and possibly, how far she can “play us;” that is, whether Solf’s appeal is a request to American magnanimity and humanity or the beginning of a campaign to create differences between the United States and the Allies. For the feeling is growing among Italian observers that while Germany is undoubtedly undergoing a tremendous internal transformation, it is doing so in almost as orderly and meticulous a manner as she prepared for war, or, in other words, that the old “efficiency” is still at work, and that under an apparently revolutionary outward change old mental attitudes still prevail, both as regards keeping the racial unity of the Germans compact, and of securing dominance by creating dissensions among her adversaries.
2. With the quieting down of the rejoicing and excitement over victory and peace, Italian thoughtful opinion begins to look forward to the great problems which confront the new and completed Italy. “Victory having assured us freedom” writes the Radical L’Unita, “we have now the opportunity of devoting ourselves without obstacles from without to the great task of the internal reforms of our country.…29 The war is ended, but a new struggle begins—a longer, harder and harsher struggle. Are we ready to meet the new duties?”
The general Italian answer to this seems to be that the first duty of the people is to observe order and to labor mightily, and the first duty of the Government to promptly solve the problems of alimentation and demobilization. Unemployment on a vast scale, following demobilization, is the great danger to be avoided. “There will be no unemployment—there cannot be unemployment,” comments the Popolo Romano, “if those principles are immediately applied to the transportation of industries which have been suggested by experts in order to place Italy in the position of being able to meet her own industrial and agricultural needs.” The financial problems can only be met by at once providing for the increase of Italian exports; agriculture must be encouraged to intensify production by supplying it with farm machinery, seeds and fertilizers.…,29 As regards industries, the lathes which produced munitions must be employed at once in the labor of manifold small industries to supply the articles [Page 452] which heretofore were imported. The larger industries must find their new activities in home demands, including building trades, agriculture and metallurgical current needs. But all this is possible only if the Gov’ts will at once assure the country of raw materials, coal and cotton. Italy, on her part, has a few “prime materials” indispensable to other countries and these she must use for her exchanges. New tonnage is the supreme demand. “If existing shipyards are insufficient, Italy must improvise new ones as America has done, and thousands of workmen, discharged by the factories can find employment in such dry docks.”
3. The Italian press announces that the Italian authorities, pursuant to the terms of the armistice, have taken over the control of Austria’s railroads, of the principal highway junctions and of the passes “towards the German frontier.” The chief of traffic of the Italian State railroads, Comm. Berrini, has taken charge of the reorganization of railroad traffic in the liberated territories.
4. The Italian Supreme Military Command, “in view of the politico-military situation” has drawn a new boundary for the War Zone in northern Italy, which took effect at midnight on November 10, 1918. The exact boundary along every sector is given by the daily press.
5. The “plenipotentiary delegate” of the city of Fiume, Dr. Gino Antoni, after his interview with Premier Orlando, has addressed a Note, through such Premier, to the Allied Governments which recites that, immediately after freeing itself from the Austro-Hungarian yoke, “the city of Fiume with its territory constituting from ancient times and upon statutory bases a ‘corpus separatum’ of the Crown of St. Stephen proclaimed its autonomy and independence through its legal representatives, the Mayoralty and the National Council. [”] It adds that pursuant to the Wilsonian principle of the rights of people to self-decision, said city has resolved to annex itself to its mother country, Italy. It closes by asking the Italian Government to extend the “necessary protection in this period of transition.”
It is to be noted that under the Pact of London this “corpus separatum” would be on the boundary of the new Italian frontier in the region known as the “Julian Venitia.”
Premier Orlando has telegraphed to Hon. Zanella, deputy of Fiume (refuged in Italy) expressing Italy’s admiration for that city’s “ardent and active patriotism.”
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Daily Italian Political Notes
1. The Italian press points out that the formula used by Charles I of Austria-Hungary in resigning his imperial and kingly position is unprecedented in constitutional or revolutionary annals. He proclaims that he “withdraws from the affairs of state” and then leaves for an unknown destination; but he does not use the word abdication or any equivalent.
2. The new Military Clauses to the Austro-Hungarian armistice contains nothing of note as modifying substantially the conditions of the original document. But some Italian correspondents from the front claim that Austro-Hungary (through its military representatives) is already raising objection to and trying to give peculiar and restricted interpretation to certain clauses of the armistice, evasions and objections which seem to some Italians to indicate the equivocal diplomacy which the enemy will attempt at the peace conference. Thus it is reported that the Austrian claims that certain of the Italian conquests are illegal because they took place between 3 p.m. of November 3rd and 3 p.m. of November 4th, the date agreed on for the suspension of hostilities, the Austrians now claiming that the armistice took effect on the signing thereof, to-wit, at 3 p.m. of the 3rd of November. It is said that this point was raised at the armistice conference by General Ziverkowsky and refused by General Badoglio who insisted on the Italian interpretation of Article I of the armistice. The report is important, if at all, as possibly showing the spirit of the enemy in any future peace discussion and the necessity of guarding against it.
3. The matter of the relief to and of organization of the liberated and the conquered Italian provinces is receiving much attention by Italian public men. As regards the conquered or “redeemed” territories it is probable that they will be divided into four provinces with at least four Prefectures: at Trento, Trieste, Bolzano and Gorizia. Practically since the war; began the Italian Government has been actively planning and organizing every branch of Government in and for the territories to be annexed to Italy, the work being largely undertaken by the Segretariato degli Affari Civili of the Italian Supreme Military Command, under the very able direction of Dr. Agostino d’Adamo, ex-secretary at the Ministry of the Interior and a man with whom this Embassy has established friendly relations.
As to the condition of the Italian provinces which the enemy had invaded, reports agree that the enemy has destroyed or removed everything of any value. Here are some important examples: at [Page 454] Portogruaro station all the great depots and the junction railroad system have been blown up; the railroad line from Portogruaro to Cervignano is practically wholly out of commission. Tossalta, Latisana and other railroad stations in the Veneto are destroyed. Most of the bridges across the Tagliamento and the Stella, Turgnino, Corno and Anssa streams are still serviceable. The civilian population has been despoiled of everything by very methodical methods of looting; conditions are especially hard at Portogruaro, San Dona, San Giorgio, Torre and Zuino, where medicines, doctors, bread and even water are sorely needed, reservoirs and wells having been destroyed by the enemy. Supplies, it is said, can be most easily sent by water to the “ports” of Portogruaro and Anssa.
Deputy Giulio Alessio on his return from a visit to the liberated provinces has published a long account of what he saw there. He says that the conditions in the districts of Conegliano, Oderzo, Vittorio and of the Province of Adene “are very grave.” First the Germans, then the Hungarians and lastly the Austrians successively deprived the population of all they owned from foodstuffs to metal articles, from wood for fuel to the cattle—stocks with which these districts were splendidly supplied. All means of transportation and of traffic have either been removed or are in need of repairs.
Deputy Alessio considers the urgent needs as follows: the immediate feeding and physical protection of the civilian populations, local relief agencies, Italian and Allied, however worthy being insufficient and unable to reach the most needy who are scattered in not easily accessible farm districts. Transports are most urgently needed. The need for the return of the local civilian officials is also great for the re-establishment of civil order, but a difficulty is found to this in the fact that many such ex-employees are now employed at such higher salaries elsewhere and are not willing to return; the Government must find a way of compelling them.
The Government is also urged to greater activity in the ascertainment of the damages caused by the war and the enemy and the establishment of financial credits on a patriotic and now [less?] speculative basis. The financial difficulties are made worse by the enormous quantity of Austrian paper in circulation there and the adjustment of such paper to Italian Currency values.
As to the actual physical reconstruction, Deputy Alessio suggests the employment of the Italian engineering troops which have rendered such splendid services in the line of public works during the war.
3. [4?] The Dalmatian question is assuming daily more importance among Italians and feeling is waxing warmer and more intense. It is a complex and delicate problem towards whose solution there seems little disposition on either side to be calm. We can only here present, from day to day, as they come up some of the Italian arguments. It appears [Page 455] that the Jugo-Slavs are exercising a kind of police power over some of the towns claimed by or aspired to by the Italians. In whose name, asks Italian opinion, do such Jugo-Slavs attempt to exercise such power and by what right? For it must be borne in mind constantly that up to the present time the Jugo-Slavs have not been recognized as a State, but merely as a movement for the organization of a State.
Again, the Italians are claiming rights on towns not included in the Pact of London, such as the City of Fiume and Zara. They justify this and their claims to occupy them on the ground that the Pact of London antedates not only the acceptance but even the announcement of the Wilsonian principle of auto-decision which is to-day the basic principle for the establishment of a durable and just peace. That Pact, moreover, was agreed upon when there was no Allied or American policy favoring or contemplating the dismemberment of Austro-Hungary and was based on principles of equilibrium rather than of justice. But now that the Hapsburg Empire is destroyed an entirely new situation arises in which Italy has distinct and worthy claims. Races now count more than political equilibriums and the principles of racial liberty and of auto-decision cannot be invoked, say the Italians, by every racial group except those of Italian origin and Italian aspirations. It is pointed out that in the case of the Italians the “territorial boundaries coincide with the ethnical boundaries” a splendid proof that the “racial nationalism” of the Italians has maintained itself inviolate even when under foreign oppression. Upon this theory not only Fiume is claimed, but Spalato, Arbe and Trani also should “re-enter into the Italian family.”
One important fact in the current situation is that everywhere the Italian armies are welcomed in the occupied formerly Austrian territories because of the order they bring and the liberal government they establish. Even in the new Tyrolese Republic at Insbruck the near presence of Italian troops appears welcome. This capacity for prompt and yet not oppressive establishment of order by the Italian military commanders is an element of practical importance which should not be excluded for the purely political aims of other nations; that is, if Italy, at this moment, is the only Power which can bring order and relative freedom of Government in debatable frontier centres, the Allies should not, it seems, stop her simply because of the fear that she might refuse later to evacuate them. The supreme thing at this moment would seem to be the necessity of maintaining order and preventing disorder.
Certainly, the Italian Government makes no attempt to conceal its aid to the movement among the Italians in Dalmatia to assert their rights and make known their desire to be united to Italy. The Italian destroyer Andace has gone to Zara with supplies for the population and disembarked police forces which were received with [Page 456] great enthusiasm. Yesterday at the Campidoglio in Rome the Mayor, Prince Colonna, with a number of Italian Senators and Deputies officially received Dr. Gino Antoni, “Delegate of the City of Fiume to the Italian Government.” Dr. Antonio Vio, Mayor of Fiume, Andrea Bellen, ex-Mayor of Fiume, and a number of municipal officers of that city who expressed the desire of their constituents to be annexed to Italy.
As further evidence of activity in this line, the Italian Institute for Colonial and Commercial Expansion and the Commercial Museum of Venice have joined in a call for a national gathering at which to study various Adriatic problems, economic and political.
But of special interest would seem the reports coming from the front on the attitude of the Italian troops regarding the general question herein discussed in outline. What the soldiers think is a very important item in the present situation and it is an item upon which there has been little reliable information. “The Italian Army” justly observes an Italian daily, “is not a military machine but a conscious organism which reacts to current situations with great promptness.” Recent newspaper correspondence from the front, whose reliability we cannot gauge, say that the soldiers feel keenly the problem of Italy’s boundaries and that among the thinking elements such interest is based on the consciousness that Italy, by her victories, has risen to a position of guardian and of leader among the small States arising out of the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire and also of a really Great Power in the responsible duty of helping to assure the peace of Europe. As such she needs in a very real sense to have absolutely safe strategic boundaries, for at the north she will have the pressure of a probably greater Germany and to the east the danger of a number of Slav States in the unstable process of formation.
Lastly the soldiers are the best reporters of the real feeling of the “liberated populations;” they are the first to enter the new territories, they see the actual situation before political and diplomatic machinations and intrigues, local and external, are set in motion, and can really feel the pulse of the people. For this reason it would seem most advisable to get all information possible as to their point of view.
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Daily Italian Political Notes
1. Deputy Perolini, who is a sort of Republican whip in the Italian Chamber, made a speech the other day in which he stated that the [Page 457] old “truce” between the Republicans and the Monarchy was at an end now that Italy’s unification had been completed. The “truce” dates back to the decision by the greatest practical political leader of Italian Republicanism—Francesco Crispi, who though a Mazzinian, labored in the building up of monarchical Italy on the well-known theory that “the Republic would divide us while the Monarchy unites us.” The practical importance of Perolini’s declaration is very limited except as a “sign of the times.” The Italian Republican Party is a mere ghost of a political organization, and the danger of any political upheaval in Italy, if it exists, is not to be sought among the Republicans. On the other hand, the popular demonstration yesterday when Victor Emmanuel III arrived in Rome seems an eloquent proof of how strong and spontaneous is the popular affection for the King. The demonstration, wholly unofficial, showed the temper of the people, at least in Rome. As one paper puts it: “To-day the King represented to all the Head of the State, the personification of the Patria in its new union, its new larger expansion, its greater prestige and more widespread respect of to-day.…31 That is why the crowds to-day were so large and their enthusiasm beyond description.…31 Although the Constitution grants to the Crown the prerogative of declaring war, our King did not take it upon himself to decide upon this war; he merged his aspirations with those of the people, and at the right moment he expressed the will of the people.”
2. It is officially announced that the Italian Parliament will open on November 20th, the Cabinet being expected to be present in full except possibly the Foreign Minister who is in Paris and may be detained there at the Versailles Conference on the Allied peace proposals. The official announcement of the opening simply states that the Government will make some communications to the two Houses. The session is expected to be a brief one and to be devoted largely to a patriotic expression of national approval and resolve to profit by the great opportunities opened to the nation. So far only one Deputy has entered his name to discuss the Government’s communication, the regular Socialist, Turati. The budget will have to be approved and a number of legislative measures regarding the organization of the redeemed provinces in relation to the national organization will be submitted by the Cabinet for discussion and approval. A certain activity of political groups is evidently aimed at “bucking up” the government against any weakness or compromise in case the extreme or revolutionary elements should attempt to make trouble. The Fascio in the Senate and the Intesa Democratica in the Chamber have passed resolutions to such effect. Interest centres as to what will be done to establish the parliamentary representative for the redeemed provinces. The [Page 458] most recent precedent is that of 1866 when, after the armistice of Cormons, the Veneto was annexed to Italy. In that case after the treaty of peace was signed with Austria under which such new provinces became an integral part of the Kingdom of Italy, a plebiscite was decreed. The result of the plebiscite was an overwhelming decision in favor of annexation to Italy. The Italian Parliament then adjourned and parliamentary elections were ordered to take place in such new provinces, while the Crown appointed a number of most prominent citizens of those territories as members of the Italian Senate. The elections were held and on December 15th the King Victor Emmanuel II, opened a new session of the Italian Parliament (IX Legislative Session) at which the deputies and senators from the new provinces participated.
The extreme parties are also active, though there seems to be little question that the report of the Socialist and labor riots at Milan, are greatly exaggerated. Yesterday representatives of the Regular Socialists of the Communist and Anarchical elements, and of labor organizations met in Rome and after protesting against “the systematic persecution of the Confederated Chamber of Labor from which soldier-members are forcibly excluded from entering to discuss their economic interests” passed resolutions asking the Government to stop such “persecutions,” demanded a general amnesty for all political crimes, the abolition of the censorship and the re-establishment of the right of assembly. It was further decided to call a general meeting of labor organizations to protect and organize against the activities of reactionary forces.
The Executive Committee of the Press Correspondents’ Association of Rome also passed resolutions against the “arbitrary decisions of the Italian censorship” and asking for its suppression.
The Italian Republican Party has called a national party gathering at Florence for December 8th and 9th.
3. The real and most serious question before the Italian Parliament is and will be the urgent matter of solving the complicated and delicate problems connected with demobilization and the adjustment of the nations to the new peace situation. There are the clearest signs that the Government is not only having difficulties in this trying line, but has not been sufficiently foresighted and forearmed. The difficulty is complicated by the efforts of the old bureaucracy and of the “organisms” created by the war to keep control of the situation by trying to undertake the handling of these problems without any adequate preparation or technical ability. This struggle to hold on to office to the great detriment of the nation is well summarized by Deputy Cabrini in an article in the Rome Epoca. “Not only the organisms created for the war are making desperate efforts to survive the war’s [Page 459] end, but in the various Ministries which have had to put up with such organisms furious struggles are breaking out to capture for their respective and old established departments the functions of such war organisms which heretofore enjoyed a certain autonomy. While this struggle waxes …32 old organisms which antedate the war, are attempting, under external pressure, to re-establish their functions, but without success because the end of the war finds them suffering from the same defects which rendered them impotent …32 to exercise any influence upon those events which disturbed our body-social during the period of Italian neutrality.” Deputy Cabrini appeals to Premier Orlando to imitate [initiate?] the New Italy, now completely united, by chopping off at the root the ancient evils and handicaps of the Italian bureaucracy.
4. A correspondent to the Italian press from the Italian Army Headquarters gives the following summarized information regarding the situation at Fiume: When, on October 28th, the constitution of the new Jugo-Slav State, including Fiume, was proclaimed at Zagabria, the Italians of Fiume immediately protested, declared their intention to annex their City to Italy and appealed for Italian intervention to prevent disorder. The Italian Admiral Rainer went into Fiume harbor on the cruiser Emanuele Filiberto and established relations with the municipal authorities. On November 4th he landed, welcomed by the Italians, but being received frigidly by the Jugo-Slavs Committee at the City Hall he ordered the Italian flag raised, and, shortly thereafter said flag having been torn down, he gave the opponents just one hour to replace it honorably in default of which he announced that he would “resort to energetic measures.” The flag was replaced. This incident is ascribed to the activities of an intransigent element among the Croats and is alleged to have been the only outward sign of turbulence in Fiume.
On or about November 11th, two French torpedo boats approached the Adamich pier in the Fiume harbor; the Croats invited the Commander of one of these French boats to pay his respects to their so called “government” but the French captains instead visited Admiral Rainer aboard his flag ship and a few hours after such French boats left the harbor. Another Italian cruiser, the Terruccio, has since arrived at Fiume and received an enthusiastic welcome. The correspondent concludes by saying, “Aside from the incident above described, there does not exist a real and fundamental dissension; and no one has any interest to create one.”
5. The press discusses some of the questions which are supposed to be engaging Sonnino and the other Allied representatives at Versailles to-day. “To fix the preliminaries of peace,” writes the Milan Corrieredella [Page 460] Sera, “means to fix the major lines of the future economic, political and territorial situation of to-morrow’s world.” The conferees at Versailles have to settle all the complicated and delicate problems upon which hangs the future international situation and in this respect their decisions are more important than those which await the Peace Conference itself which will, largely, accept what the Conferees at Versailles agree upon.
A fundamental preliminary question to be decided is “who will be admitted to the Peace Conference and who will be excluded?” To understand the difficulty of even the preliminary question, it is enough to consider the present condition of two of the belligerents of 1914—Russia and Austro-Hungary. The component parts of the latter will have to be represented; and yet the old Austro-Hungary is still a “diplomatic fiction” which may create difficulties in the very task of liquidating it. As regards Russia, her people are certainly entitled to participate in the Peace Conference, as are also the German people now that the Hohenzollerns have been sent away, but who shall be accepted as their real and reliable representatives? That is the question.
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- See telegrams No. 2363, Nov. 16, 1918, 11 a.m., and No. 2376, Nov. 18, 1918, 11 p.m., from the Ambassador in Italy, vol. ii, pp. 294 and 296.↩
- No enclosures with file copy of this letter. The “Daily Italian Political Notes” for Nov. 13, 14, and 15, 1918, filed separately under file No. 763.72/12510, are here printed as subenclosures.↩
- Ante, p. 442.↩
- Telegram No. 2351, Nov. 14, 8 p.m., vol. ii, p. 293.↩
- Omission indicated in the original.↩
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