740.0011 Mutual Guarantee (Eastern Locarno)/65

The Ambassador in Poland (Cudahy) to the Secretary of State

No. 448

Sir: I have the honor to report that at a meeting yesterday with Minister for Foreign Affairs Colonel Józef Beck, the Minister discussed the Eastern European Pact for Mutual Assistance (Eastern Locarno).

He said that the conception originated with Litvinoff but that Barthou had developed and expanded it. The Russian interest was [Page 518] centered upon opposition to Germany but Barthou had expanded the original thought to a security Pact embracing the different countries now mentioned as proposed parties. In reality the pact was not an Eastern Pact at all but a Northeastern Pact, one affecting only northeastern Europe.

In response to Barthou’s request, the Minister said he had reduced to writing the objections of Poland. This opposition had not varied from the outset. Fundamentally, Poland considered Germany as the base of the proposed agreement and since the attitude of that country remained unknown there was no foundation upon which to proceed. Also Poland was unable, after repeated interrogatories, to ascertain why the treaty comprised certain states and omitted others. Nor had any satisfactory method been suggested whereby Poland and Lithuania could become parties to the agreement without exchanging diplomatic representation. These were the objections, the Minister said, he had set forth in writing and had transmitted to the French Government.

He said Litvinov had expressed himself at Geneva as unconvinced regarding the desirability of any Eastern Locarno as presently proposed and that he would study the matter further before making any further commitment.

The Minister said that Poland’s guiding foreign policy was to maintain, as far as possible, peaceful relations with its two traditional enemies, Germany and Russia. He was happy to assure me that at the present time such relations were more satisfactory than they had been for some time. Poland put its faith in bilateral agreements rather than in comprehensive treaties which include a number of countries with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests. It was for this reason that Poland had never become a member of the Little Entente. Its controlling foreign policy was to maintain friendly relations with all European countries, and particularly, it cultivated the good will of the Danubian nations. Therefore Poland could not consistently become a party to any international agreement which arbitrarily included Czechoslovakia and did not include Rumania, Hungary and Austria.

The Minister characterized the French position in seeking to make the Eastern Locarno so comprehensive, as one not guided by practical considerations and intimate knowledge of the countries affected. He said it was not so serious a matter for France, territorially far removed from countries like Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, and the other Baltic nations, to enter into an agreement imposing serious responsibilities upon the contracting governments, but for Poland, a next door neighbor to such countries, it was a very serious matter. The attitude of Finland towards the proposed pact definitely “negative”, likewise the Governments of Estonia and Latvia, expressing themselves [Page 519] as unwilling to participate unless Germany and Poland became parties to it, had also influenced the Polish Government.

Respectfully yours,

John Cudahy