500.A15 Arms Truce/1: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State

119. Grandi44 made an important speech in Assembly today45 of which one section in translation follows and to which I invite your immediate attention.

“In any case I ask myself whether during the preparatory period for the Disarmament Conference46 those states which have definitely promised to participate could not adopt provisional measures. The Council of the League of Nations as you know has suggested to us to establish preliminary contacts. In the spirit of this recommendation we could do a truly useful task if we adopted measures of a practical and immediate character. My idea is that we might reach from this very moment a real and effective truce in armaments prescribed at least for the period of the Conference work, and I believe that I should call your most serious attention to this suggestion.

A general and immediate accord among all the states with a view to agreeing upon a halt in the execution of their programs for new armament not only would give to our peoples a first example of good will but would create about the Conference a calmer and more confident psychological and political atmosphere which more than all declarations of principle would contribute to bringing our labors to a successful conclusion”.

[Paraphrase.] Members of the Italian delegation tell me that Grandi is not entirely clear in his own mind as yet as to the precise form which the proposed truce might take. The delegation informs me that Grandi will wait and see whether the idea suggested above causes favorable comment during the Assembly and if a fair number of declarations are made in support of the general idea he will prepare and introduce a formal resolution.

I have learned from other sources that the speech has met with a high degree of interest and that some states, particularly the Scandinavian, are supporting the idea.

I should be grateful for any guidance you might be able to give me in expressing opinions about this matter. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Dino Grandi, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and head of the Italian delegation to the Twelfth Assembly of the League of Nations.
  2. Fun text in League of Nations, Official Journal, Special Supplement No. 93: Records of the Twelfth Ordinary Session of the Assembly, Plenary Meetings, p. 38.
  3. See pp. 471 ff.