124.84/100: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Ethiopia (Engert) to the Secretary of State

403. Legation’s 399, June 6. Marshal Graziani received me yesterday with the utmost courtesy and began by apologizing if he had in any way seemed discourteous to the diplomatic missions. He explained that his instructions had been extremely vague as to his relations with Diplomatic Corps and he implied that Badoglio had not informed him of the arrangements that had already been made in that direction. But he said he was very anxious to remedy any misunderstandings that may have arisen and hoped I would let him know if he could be of service.

I replied, half in jest, that inasmuch as neither he nor I were called upon to make any decisions which would bind our respective Governments as regards the future of Ethiopia, I saw no reason why we should not have a perfectly friendly working agreement to deal with problems as they arose and to enable me to look after American interests. To this he readily assented.

I then told him how many American citizens we had and he seemed surprised at the relatively large number. I reiterated the remarks I had made to Marshal Badoglio (see last paragraph of Legation’s 342, May 14) regarding our missionaries in the interior but added that I was more anxious than ever to obtain news of their welfare. Incidentally, Graziani and his Chief of Cabinet said they never saw the list I had handed to Badoglio’s son. I am giving him a new list and shall indicate on a map the locations of their stations. The Marshal then agreed to send planes over the principal stations and to drop messages from me but apparently he cannot let them land anywhere nor is he prepared to send any troops.

The inescapable impression obtained from the entire interview was that Graziani must have received very definite instructions from Rome to be polite and decent to the foreign legations and perhaps particularly so to the American Legation. Otherwise his sudden volte-face could hardly be explained.