860M.01 Memel/152

The Minister in Latvia (Skinner) to the Secretary of State

No. 96

Sir: I have already telegraphed the Department briefly, pointing out that there are reasons why it might be undesirable for me to proceed to Kovno just now for the special purpose of disseminating moderate views respecting the Memel question. I have returned from Kovno within the past few days and while there, in the course of private conversation, expressed such reflections as I judged would meet with the Department’s approval.

I do think, however, that I should return to Kovno somewhat later when matters have quieted down a little, because the two political issues which obsess the governing circles in that city, namely Kovno and Memel, may at any moment become of outstanding importance to Europe and therefore to the world at large, and furthermore I believe it desirable that I keep in closer touch with the Lithuanian Government, than has been the case in the past.

As respects most recent developments in the Memel district, our Chargé d’Affaires at Kovno, Mr. Fullerton, is reporting fully to the Department. There appears to be no reason to suppose that the Lithuanians, now having the upper hand in the controversy, are likely to resort to further extraordinary measures. They will simply provide a new Directorate in the hope that the business administration of the region may proceed without disturbance. The real danger, apparently, arises from the German attitude, which is looked upon here as provocative and susceptible of bringing about an invasion from East Prussia—something which might lead to lamentable results. From a purely economic point of view, and it is surprising that so little stress is placed upon it, the Memel people have gained considerably through the annexation of their town to the Lithuanian State. When I resided in Germany years ago, Memel was an obscure Baltic port of no importance, except to a few people who liked to go there to take the baths. At present it is quite active, and the Lithuanians, who have go-ahead inclinations, have made it a busy seaport with prospects of steady improvement if politics do not interfere.

At this moment the Lithuanians unquestionably feel that European sympathy is running in their favor as regards Memel, otherwise Klaipeda.

Respectfully yours,

Robert P. Skinner