The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Kennedy ) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 8—3:10 p.m.]
455. My 454, April 7, 6 p.m.31 I have just seen Halifax. They had a meeting of the Ministers in town this morning and decided to suggest to the Prime Minister, subject to his determination, to come back to London tonight. He also said that Attlee32 had requested Parliament to be called at once. Halifax favored calling it but not for 2 or 3 days. He also said that Perth called on Ciano again. Ciano had just returned from a flight in an airplane over the Albanian country to see how his men were doing. Ciano again repeated that Zog was acting badly and would not make any reasonable agreements with Italy and they were obliged to go in there to throw Zog out, but they had no intention of changing the status quo of this territory. Halifax does not believe a word of this.
The striking part so far is that Yugoslavia refuses to lift a finger. Halifax does not know whether they are in on the deal with the Italians or whether they are playing it safe. His recommendation to the Prime Minister is that they make the same type of deal with Greece and Turkey that they have made with Poland.33 In other words, strengthen their lines in that part of the country to prevent Italy moving any further.
At a meeting with the naval board this morning they dismissed the idea that the Adriatic was of any importance to them; that previous to this time it has all been in Italy’s hands anyway. They have just sent instructions to their naval vessels which were calling at the Italian ports to return at once. They do not see much sense in having their ships in Naples and other ports holding dinners with Italians, principally because of the effect it might have on the Labor Party and their own followers, and they thought also that the United States would not be too pleased either.
Halifax says that they have written another sharp note to Italy and included this item in the note, but he says words do not amount to anything any more. He does not feel that the Albanian situation can be the cause of a world war and should not be, but he is convinced that this was timed (1) to occur when Parliament has risen during the [Page 388] Easter holidays, and (2) that it was a move designed to offset psychologically the British agreement with Poland, and as such he deems it a gesture on Mussolini’s part to widen his sphere in this part of the Balkans, while Hitler goes on his own merry way.
I saw the Albanian Minister, and of course any news he has is just too pitiful. They have no money, no weapons and no morale to fight the Italians, and they believe that this is just Italy’s entering wedge into the Balkans.
- Not printed.↩
- Clement Richard Attlee, Member of British Parliament, leader of Labor Party.↩
- On April 6, Mr. Chamberlain read in the House of Commons a joint declaration of the British and Polish Governments announcing the exchange of mutual guarantees and leaving the formal conclusion of an agreement to subsequent negotiations. For agreement of mutual assistance reached on August 25, 1939, see British Cmd. 6101, or League of Nations Treaty Series, Vol. cxcix, p. 57.↩