550.E1/183: Telegram

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


1. There were no high lights at the opening session of the Conference with the exception of Chicherin’s2 speech. This speech asserted too strongly what Soviet Russia could offer the world and demanded disarmament. It was considered so braggart that it gave the impression here that the Russians had come to Genoa more to carry on propaganda and to lay the basis for separate commercial agreements than with the thought of giving guarantees so that the Russian problem could be dealt with as a whole by the Conference. In reply to Russian suggestion of departing from the agenda, Barthou3 entered upon a provocative debate. This was in line with his whole conduct in all the preliminary and later conferences. It has led many to think that there will be an attempt to break up the proceedings or to render them futile. Lloyd George4 is reported as showing personal bitterness at the absence of America from the Conference, when he is not with persons associated with the United States. The reason given for this is that he desires support for an economic as against a political European program and that he is irritated at French independence and uncompromising attitude. There was a lengthy and dull speech by Wirth5 and from all the evidence it appears that Germany will show a completely supine attitude. Benes6 and the Japanese delegates Hayashi7 and Ishii8 are not optimistic. It may be that they believe that the Conference [Page 771] will finish with a sharp controversy that will be used by Lloyd George to show where the responsibility for the woes of Europe lies or that the Conference will become sidetracked on detailed academic discussions of economics, leaving untouched and unaffected the glaring fundamental troubles which no one has the courage to discuss as the real issues.

You may reach me at the Hotel Bristol, Genoa, with the … code. In using any other code address the Embassy at Rome.

  1. George V. Chicherin, acting head of the Soviet delegation.
  2. Louis Barthou, head of the French delegation.
  3. David Lloyd George, head of the British delegation.
  4. Joseph Wirth, German Chancellor, head of the German delegation.
  5. Edward Beneš, principal Czechoslovak delegate.
  6. Baron Gonsuke Hayashi, head of the Japanese delegation.
  7. Viscount Kikujiro Ishii.