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

No. 557

Sir: I have the honor to report that today I called upon Minister for Foreign Affairs, Colonel Józef Beck, and discussed with him the attitude of the Polish Government toward the reported Danubian Accord between France and Italy.3

The Minister stated that contrary to the attitude of Poland toward the Eastern European Pact for Mutual Assistance, the so-called Eastern Locarno (despatch No. 533, December 13, 19344), the Polish Government greeted the present understanding between France and Italy with genuine enthusiasm. He said that his Government had only been advised of the general character of the proposed accord and awaited the specific text but that he could tell me in great confidence that the Polish Government would rejoice at the execution of such an agreement and he was hopeful that it would be executed.

The only possible objection on the part of Poland would be based upon any discrimination against Hungary and a failure adequately to secure the territorial integrity of that country. This guarantee of the Hungarian frontiers would be the crucial point as far as Poland was concerned, but if these frontiers were assured and if the agreement assumed the character it now proposes to assume, Poland would eagerly become a party upon the assumption that it made for stability and the assurance of future, peace in Central Europe.

Asked why the accord contemplated the adherence of Poland and Rumania after execution by the other countries parties thereto, the Minister pointed out that the participation of Poland is contemplated for an agreement concerning the preservation of the existing status of the Danubian countries. The accord reached between Italy and France concerned the independence of Austria. Another agreement entirely independent of this one concerned the stability of the existing status of the Danubian countries, and this second agreement had two phases; first, participation by all countries bordering upon Austria with the exception of Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Hungary, [Page 172] Czechoslovakia, and Germany. When these countries had agreed to lend their assistance toward the maintenance of existing national territorial divisions, Poland and Rumania would then be asked to adhere to the same agreement. He said the decision of Poland, as he indicated at the outset, would be dependent upon unreserved participation by Hungary and the assurance of the other nations that the existing national integrity of Hungary be preserved.

The Minister said this proposed agreement, in his opinion, was a workable one and he heartily approved its broad outline. It was comprehensive and expressed a purpose rather than a specific program; programs where different national units were involved were always difficult of execution. This agreement was of an entirely different nature than the proposed Eastern European Pact for Mutual Assistance, which arbitrarily included some countries and excluded others, and proposed a definite program rather than a general scheme. He expressed himself as sanguine regarding its realization and told me I could report to my Government that Poland would join the proposed agreement with enthusiasm, provided the rights of Hungary were preserved in all respects, as he had mentioned.

Asked if Poland’s decision would be in any way contingent upon participation by Germany, the Minister said that it would, of course, make the agreement more effective if Germany became a party thereto, but he did not consider the fate of the agreement dependent upon Germany. As far as Poland was concerned, he repeated that Poland’s action would be determined by the participation of Hungary. He said the situation was entirely different from that which existed when the Eastern European Pact for Mutual Assistance was considered, for in that case Germany’s adherence was essential and the success of the proposal depended upon German participation. But in the present Danubian accord, while it would be helpful to have Germany as one of the signatories, it was not absolutely essential.

Asked if he considered the proposal as an Italian-French movement directed against Germany, the Minister said that he did not so consider it. He said that while the reception of the news announcing the agreement was not received with friendly enthusiasm in Germany, one could not describe the German attitude as one of hostility. He said that Laval5 exhibited the most conciliatory attitude towards Germany of any French Foreign Minister within his acquaintance, and he was certain the proposed Danubian understanding, as well as the agreement of France and Italy concerning the independence of Austria, were not directed primarily against Germany.

Asked if Soviet Russia had been consulted before execution of the agreements, he said he could not answer that question since the Polish [Page 173] Ambassador in Moscow was ill and he had not discussed the matter with him. His only knowledge came from Russian press reports, which he construed as unfavorably disposed and distinctly hostile.

Asked if this Danubian accord meant the end of the Eastern European Pact for Mutual Assistance, the Minister said he did not think so. He said that the international politics of Italy consisted in experimenting with one line of policy which, if it was found to be ineffective, was abandoned and another tried, but that the Russian policy was rigidly to adhere to a certain proposal and to continue to advocate such a policy, regardless of difficulties and discouragements encountered.

Respectfully yours,

John Cudahy
  1. Supra.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 521.
  3. Pierre Laval, French Minister for Foreign Affairs.