740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Eastern Locarno)/15: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

204. I discussed today with Litvinov the status of the Eastern Locarno negotiations. He said that he had received formal promises [Page 497] from the French and Czechoslovak Governments to enter into a pact of mutual assistance even though any or all other governments concerned should reject such a pact. The French Ambassador, Alphand, has given me the same information.

Litvinov pointed out that Germany was thus confronted with acceptance of the Eastern Locarno or the alternative of a defensive agreement between France, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. He added that Mussolini had instructed his Ambassador in Berlin22 to advise the German Government in the strongest possible terms to accept the Eastern Locarno and to point out that the alternative was a French-Czech-Russian alliance which he, Mussolini, desired to avoid.

Litvinov expressed the opinion that there was a good chance that Germany would accept after bargaining with the French calling for an increase of German armaments. He said he felt that the Poles also could not in the long run afford to stay out, that Polish-German flirtation was based on some sort of a gentlemen’s understanding between Pilsudski23 and Hitler of which he had been unable to get the text. The same statement was made to me by Alphand. Litvinov said that Pilsudski had been greatly upset by the decrease in Hitler’s power as he had based his policy of the past few months on the assumption that Hitler would control Germany for the foreseeable future.

Litvinov said that he was bringing no pressure to bear on Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to obtain their adhesion to the pact, that he felt sure they would come in when they realized that a pact would be concluded either with or without them. I pointed out the difficulty of Lithuania with regard to definition of the Polish boundary. He replied that Lithuania could never attack Poland and that he believed a form of words could be found to cover this obstacle.

He expressed the hope more or less as a joke that the Government of the United States would follow the example of the British Government and give its public endorsement to the Eastern Locarno proposal. In reply I merely smiled.

Litvinov said that further negotiations with Germany and Poland were entirely in the hands of the French, that the Soviet Government had left that part of the work to Barthou, but that the Italian negotiations were being handled largely by the Soviet Ambassador in Rome.24

  1. Vittorio Cerruti.
  2. Marshal Josef Pilsudski, Polish Minister of War.
  3. Vladimir Petrovitch Potemkin.