740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Eastern Locarno)/5: Telegram

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

129. I had a long conversation this morning with Suvich11 as a result of which I am able to amplify and clarify some of the statements in my No. 126, June 20, 1 p.m.,12 which reported shorter and less conclusive conversations.

Suvich still says that the conversations between Hitler and Mussolini were inconclusive and that no engagements or definite agreements were arrived at. The two men were in actual personal conversation for a total period of 4½ hours. The subjects covered were: (1) Austrian relations, (2) disarmament, (3) Germany’s relations with the League, (4) Germany’s relations with Russia, (5) Germany’s relations with the Vatican, (6) Danubian relations.

(1)
As regards Austria, the attitude of Hitler was that he was not responsible for the atrocities and for the subversive acts directed against the Dollfuss13 Government which he maintained were the result of Austrian Nazis. He proposed the necessity of an election to be held in Austria to determine some successor to Dollfuss who should not be a member of any of the warring parties so that there could come out of it a government which would be directly representative of an independent Austria. He further said that he was not interested in Anschluss, partly for the reason that he had too many other troubles and did not care to complicate the situation or add an additional difficulty but he did not definitely renounce Anschluss as a German objective. On the other hand, Mussolini maintained that it was not opportune to hold elections in Austria and that it would be impractical to get a true expression of the popular will as long as subversive acts continued to agitate the people and to disturb the economic and political situation in that country. Consequently Mussolini opposed and definitely declined the idea of an election and insisted that the situation must develop naturally so that there would come out of the complicated affair in Austria a government which would be a definite realization of Austrian independence. In response to my direct question as to whether there would be an election in Austria in the fall Suvich said definitely there would not be. He further said, however, that the meeting of the two men had done a great deal to clarify the views of each of them, and that he thoroughly believed that there would be a gradual cessation of the difficulties in Austria if Hitler [Page 492] should control the forces operating in the name of the Nazis in Germany. Suvich expressed himself as pleased with the prospect for the future and as being hopeful that the Nazi anti-Dollfuss activities would gradually calm down.
(2)
As concerns disarmament Hitler said that he was not opposed to a convention along the lines of the British proposal14 but that he could not recede from the position which he had taken in view of the fact other nations were fully armed with offensive weapons and he must insist for Germany an equality in defensive weapons and a minimum of 300,000 effective national defences but would be willing to scale down somewhat provided the other powers would take some steps in limitation of their own armaments. His position in that respect has not changed.
(3)
As regards Germany’s relations with the League Hitler said that there was no obstacle in German policy to a return to the League except the question of disarmament and if that question was settled Germany would be also glad to consider the proposal of full cooperation with the other nations and her reentry into the League but it could not be considered until she was accorded what the people of the nation felt were their rights in the premises.
(4)
As regards Russia and the recent proposals made by Litvinov for an Eastern Locarno, Hitler said that he had not declined the suggestion of Russia but that he had decided not to last summer and that he thought his answer would be in the negative largely because he accepted the Italian point of view that regional pacts were contrary to the best policy of Europe. He said that he would probably make that answer to Litvinov and would couple with it the other reason that from the German point of view, it would seem to complicate the political situation of Europe rather than to help it. Mussolini said that that was the Italian point of view, that there were already enough pacts such as the Kellogg Pact,15 the League of Nations16 itself and a Western Locarno,17 and that a multiplication of pacts could only detract from the seriousness of those already existing.
(5)
As regards the Vatican Suvich said that Mussolini had advised Hitler that it was unwise to antagonize the Catholic Church and had remarked that it was fairly simple to oppose the tangible organizations of a political or military character but very difficult to antagonize [Page 493] the sentiments and religious feelings of man. I asked directly whether there had been an offer of mediation on the part of Mussolini vis-à-vis the disagreement between Hitler and the Vatican. Suvich answered positively that there had been no offer of mediation and no discussion.
(6)
Concerning the Danubian States the statement stands as made in my original telegram under reference to the effect that the general subject of economic rehabilitation was discussed but no specific arrangement concluded.

Speaking generally Suvich said that he got the impression that Germany was in a bad situation economically and financially and that there were additional signs of political unrest. He said that he did not now know whether Hitler was strong enough to run the machine or whether the machine was going to run Hitler. He added pointedly “Hitler is not a Mussolini.”

Suvich was pointed in his statements to the effect that there had been no attempt at definite agreements and no intention to arriving at any specific engagements, and expressed himself as very well pleased with the general outcome of the conversations. He said that it did Hitler a lot of good to get a different point of view and see a different set-up and to have a political experience outside of the confines of Germany. He further said that there was no definite arrangement that Mussolini would return the visit and go to Germany and that it was not probable that it would happen at all, and denied that there was any definite arrangement for the return visit.

Copies mailed to Berlin, Vienna, Geneva, Moscow, European Information Center.

Long
  1. Fulvio Suvich, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Vol. ii, p. 27.
  3. Engelbert Dollfuss, Chancellor of Austria.
  4. League of Nations, Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments: Conference Documents, vol. ii, pp. 476–493.
  5. For correspondence relating to the Kellogg Pact, see Foreign Relations, 1928, vol. i, pp. 1235; for text, see ibid., p. 153.
  6. Treaties, Conventions, etc. Between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1910–1923 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1923), vol. iii, p. 3336.
  7. For correspondence relating to the Locarno Pact, see Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. i, pp. 16 ff.; for texts of agreements (October 16, 1925), see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. liv, pp. 289–363.