Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)
At Mr. Welles’1 request I asked the Albanian Minister to call this morning. I told him that Mr. Welles had undertaken to pass on to him any important information respecting Albania which we might receive, and then gave him the gist of Mr. Grant’s telegram no. 13 of April 3rd.
The Minister said that he had every reason to believe that a crisis was fast approaching. He thought it even possible that he would soon “join Mr. Hurban”.2 Not only was Mussolini forced to deliver something to his people that would gratify their vanity,—and for this purpose Albania would probably cause the fewest international complications,—but a distinct hint had been given in one of Mussolini’s recent speeches when he no longer referred to the Adriatic as “an Italo-Albanian lake”.
The great tragedy of the situation, according to the Minister, was that the present Foreign Minister had been in Italian pay and might still be. The Minister had urged Bang Zog the last time he saw him to put the Minister of Foreign Affairs in a penitentiary. The Bang had replied that the Minister was a figurehead and that he himself would direct Albanian foreign affairs. The King had then given him a private cipher, which had later been cancelled when it became apparent that the Italians had the key thereto. There was not an Albanian pouch going into or out of the country which was not opened by the Italians and its contents photographed.
The Minister concluded by saying that Italy could probably capture Albania with relative ease, but that when it came to holding the country the task would be a constant and perpetual drain on Italian vitality. The Albanians would never accept Italian domination, and they were a compact, war-like, and tenacious people.
I told the Minister that we would endeavor to keep in close touch with him through this critical time.