Memorandum by the American Chargé in Lithuania (Kuykendall) of a Conversation With the Soviet Minister in Lithuania (Podolsky), February 25, 193763
Immediate reference was made to the length of time which Mr. Mikhail Karsky, the predecessor of Mr. Podolsky, had spent as Minister [Page 57] of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to Lithuania. Mr. Karsky served as Soviet Minister in Kaunas for more than six years, and inquiry was made if Mr. Podolsky anticipated such a length of service here. The new Soviet Minister replied without hesitation that he did not expect to represent his country for that length of time, for he was sure that war would break out before the expiration of that period. At the rate which the various European countries are arming, it is not possible to expect that the war can be postponed that length of time. When hostilities begin, Mr. Podolsky stated, the conflict will involve every European country, Lithuania included.
Mr. Podolsky admitted that it is still impossible to foresee the alignment of each country in the conflict. Attempts are being made to have each country make the decision as to which side it will take in the forthcoming hostilities, just as was done in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the World War. Blocks of nations are now being formed, with a view to the determining on which side individual countries will fight in the next war.
Mr. Podolsky made the rather significant statement that while Herr Hitler was making frequent hostile references to the Soviet Union, it must be admitted that the traditional enemy of Germany is France. Germany is exerting every effort to increase its influence in Rumania and Yugoslavia and to weaken French influence in those two countries. German-Italian relations change almost from day to day, and the Italian decision as to the block to which it will adhere will determine the Yugoslavia’s decision as to which side it will favor. Mr. Podolsky did not have a very high opinion of the Rumanian Army and thought that it would not offer prolonged resistance to any invasion from an enemy.
Poland, stated Mr. Podolsky, is wavering between Germany and France and is attempting to strengthen its international position. As to whether or not Poland would be able to survive the next war, Mr. Podolsky expressed his opinion that Poland will continue to exist as a nation. The Polish Government has visions of a Greater Poland extending from the Baltic to the Black Seas, and including all of Lithuania and part of Latvia as well as the eastern part of Czechoslovakia. The greater part of Czechoslovakia would go to Germany.
The stand which Poland will take in the war will be of vital importance to Germany, in view of the often expressed policy of the “Drang nach Osten”. Germany is now arming with such rapidity that the economy of the country can never be readjusted to peace time industry. The momentum is so great that Germany cannot do otherwise [Page 58] than continue its armament activity* until such time as the conflict breaks out.
The new Soviet Minister appears to be very friendly disposed towards the United States, and I shall make further effort to obtain his views regarding Soviet participation in the War which he considers inevitable.
- Transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in his despatch No. 149 (Diplomatic), February 26; received March 9.↩
- Mr. Francesco Fransoni, Italian Minister to Lithuania, made the statement to me while calling at this Legation on Washington’s birthday, that the lack of money never prevented a war but the lack of money might hasten the conclusion of a war. He made reference to the Italian conquest of Ethiopia which was undertaken despite the financial difficulties of Italy. [Footnote in the original.]↩