740.00/157: Telegram

The Ambassador in Germany ( Dodd ) to the Secretary of State

93. It is difficult to assess accurately German official opinion with regard to the recent Mussolini–Schuschnigg conversation at Venice and the new status of Belgium and Eden’s visit to Brussels. Our impression, however, is that both are considered generally satisfactory here.

While Mussolini may not have betrayed Austria to the extent which many believe and the German press would seem inclined to imply, yet it is impossible not to feel that the Venice conversation revealed a marked departure from the “watch on the Brenner” attitude and is a strong bid by Mussolini for German support either with regard to Spain or to protection in the event of Anglo-Italian difficulties in the Mediterranean or for both reasons.

The Austrian Legation here, while taking no idealistic view of the unfavorable potentialities of the Venice discussions, feels warranted in still clinging to the one trump card which Austria has, namely, the conviction that Mussolini will always want to avoid actually having Germany at the Brenner if for no other reason than the upper Adige question. The Legation feels, therefore, that while Mussolini will go far in seeming to fall in with German designs as to Austria in particular and Central Europe in general, in the last analysis he does not intend entirely to abandon Austria to her fate. On the other hand as concerns Czechoslovakia, the Legation believes that Mussolini cherishes a personal dislike for Beneš which is translated into hostility toward Czechoslovakia, an unwillingness to see the latter associated with Rome protocol ideas, and quite possibly an Italian acquiescence in any German designs on Czechoslovakia which is more and more isolated and so increasingly tempting to radical German designs.

The Austrian Legation is puzzled properly to estimate innumerable visits between the Italians and Germans such as Goering, Neurath, Blomberg,14 and numerous industrial Commissions, cabinet and army officers, et cetera. We also feel that it is difficult to say whether this evidences an increasing strength in the Berlin–Rome Axis or is a bolstering [Page 83] up effort by one side or the other to give the appearance for tactical reasons of a strength which does not exist in fact. Our conversations with army officers and other officials certainly indicate no change in the fundamental distrust and lack of respect by Germany for Italy’s military capacities and reliability. Yet there is every outward indication of an intensification of Italo-German rapprochement.

Regarding German-Belgian relations and Eden’s recent visit to Brussels editorial comment on Spaaks statement thus far seen confirms the opinion that Germany is generally satisfied. The Belgian position is the natural consequence of French defection with regard to implementation of Covenant in Abyssinia affair and is analogous to Swiss position then and recent statements by Dutch Government. As estimated in 1935, collective security in the present League form and execution becomes an unbearable danger for the smaller states when they are forced to realize that the great powers will only support article 16 as if and when to their individual interests.

Parenthetically Beck’s visit to Bucharest is generally interpreted by the local press as an effort by Poland to assure herself that Rumania still properly estimates the Bolshevik menace and so to strengthen Poland’s flank against the Soviets.

The frequent and repeated interchange of visits, discussions, and negotiations among so many of the European powers prove again how uncertain they all are regarding their own best interests and alignments. Barring accidents and sudden upsets with especial reference to Czechoslovakia, we feel that these contacts will continue increasingly at least during this summer before anything definite may emerge, pointing either towards political economic arrangements in a general framework helpful toward permanent alliances establishing new balances of power after which political and economic stabilization may be feasible among these alliances. The difficulty in the present modern complexities of commerce and proximities of international life and interests as well as the realization of the danger of war and its doubtful effectiveness as an instrument of national policy would seem unconsciously to be prolonging the gropings-about for permanent alliances. It may be that these factors will in the end show that each country’s interests are involved with so many other states that the former clear-cut alliances and balances of power are no longer practicable. This might indicate that blocs whether ideological or otherwise are no longer feasible thus laying the basis for a general cooperation in Europe on compulsory and so on realistic enduring grounds.

Copies mailed to London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Bucharest, Budapest, Moscow, Brussels, Warsaw, Riga, Constantinople, Vienna, Belgrade, Sofia.

  1. Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, German Minister for Defense.