No. 67 NAI DFA ES Box 33 File 232

Extract from a letter from George Gavan Duffy to Robert Brennan (Dublin)

Rome, 11 March 1921 (received 24 March 1921)

1. Beginning of a new series.
A Chara:-
[Matter omitted]
I have already dealt in detail with persons seen and particular matters raised by the more important of them. I shall try now to give you a general survey of the international position, as it appears to me after the tour, in order to respond to the President's desire in this regard. Your letter as to a visit to Hungary came after I had already got to Denmark and I only saw it on returning here two days ago, so that I was unable to act on it. But I have a friend in Paris, Dr. de Christian, who is the authorised representative of the Slovaks. I wrote you about him last year. He declares that the 6 subject races under the Czechs are combining to overthrow the Czech rule which they all hate and that they will probably unite with Hungary. The Czechs who run the country are a small minority and mostly Hussites, while the Slovaks and other oppressed races are largely Catholic. But I have not seen this gentleman since summer. He is likely to be in Paris still and O'K[elly] has his address.

When I was in France I had some hopes of the Pan-Latin movement which would have united the Catholic parts of Germany with France and Belgium and Italy and Spain and Roumania and what is left of Austria, and the French movers wanted Ireland to join in, and hoped for America - U.S. - as an associate. I have quite come round to the view that this combination is not practical politics and that our interests lie very definitely elsewhere:- France appointed a brilliant man as a consul at Munich to work up the Bavarians to separate, but, though, they may yet do so, if things go badly with Germany I do not think that the French effort was a success and I believe that Bavaria would far rather be linked with Germany so long as she is not made to submit to Prussian Domination. Similar attempts to detach the country along the Rhine have met with even less success. Again, Italy hates the French, for failing to support her at the Peace only less than she hates the English. Spain hates France rather more than she hates England, because the French menace seems closer and there have been constant French aggressions. France itself cannot be depended upon and is now staking everything on the English Alliance, which looks now more like lasting than it did last year, for the good reason that it is more necessary to England than it was when she had hopes of nobbling Germany and Russia. So that the friends of the Pan-Latin Movement have the biggest difficulties to face.

Look at it in another way:- what is to be said of the stuff of which that Alliance is made? France is a decadent and a decreasing country, Italy is in low water, Spain belongs to other days. There is here no vitalising element to give life and strength to the combination. What a contrast to the Teutons, to say nothing of the Slavs or even the Saxons, present! These Latins are all inclined to be friendly to us because they are Catholic and they admire our fight, but they are all afraid of England and that fear surpasses the love of us very considerably.

I think we should back a totally different combination[:] the economic alliance of U.S. and Germany to exploit Russia with German brains and American dollars, an alliance which incidentally will put Berlin on its feet financially and enable it much sooner than it otherwise could to resist the aggression and refuse to submit to the exactions of the Entente. I expect to use developments in this direction before the New Administration in Washington is very old. For remember that Russia is too uneducated and undeveloped to stand on its own feet and must have outside help, that the Germans are the only foreigners at home in Russia, that thousands of them learnt the language as prisoners during the war and that the German Foreign Minister who is one of the four live wires in a tame Cabinet lately offered publicly to treat with Russia 'no matter what her form of Government' provided the Russians on their side undertook to do no Bolshy propaganda in Germany. I am convinced that something on the above lines was arranged when Senator McCormick recently visited Berlin, no doubt on behalf of Harding, and saw Von Stinnes.

Such a combination seems to me to have all the elements of durability and to come most opportunely at this time. And it means the active co-operation of the three big nations who most cleverly have the future in their hands. This is a tremendous menace to the Bulletin. There is nothing in the Latin Basket to compare with it! America thus gets the European outlet she wants and the three countries concerned are all unfriendly to England.

I think our people in the States should be advised to back this combination with all their power for every reason and to co-operate much more closely with the Germans in the States now that anti-German feeling is dying down, for the Germans there need our political help for organisation.

The effect in the Near-East and the Middle-East and India of such a combination will obviously be far reaching: Russia has already been active in those parts and she is in great hope of India, now at last waking up.

England will of course do all she can to prevent such an Alliance, but I think she is too late.

My impression in Germany was very strongly that, while officially they are glad enough to play off England against France as long as they can, yet they see through English Professions and do not trust Albion one inch. In France the impression has been spread abroad that Germany is trying to make up to England and would welcome an English Alliance. I am persuaded that this is not so. There is profound distrust of England and ill-concealed anxiety to punish her in all the circles with which I came in contact. Germany as Ally of the States in case of an Anglo-American War would be an important factor, even were the Alliance only economical and I have come back with the strong conviction that the Germans, who consider the war was lost through bad leadership only, are counting the days till they can start afresh and make no mistake this time.

England has successfully stopped the chances of rapprochement between France and Germany, whereby the twain would have ruled Europe, for to-day Germany hates France for her intransigence more than she hates England! She thinks France hates her fiercely, whereas in truth France is so crushed by War that she can think of nothing but her own safety and the need of avoiding another invasion, and is so entirely overcome with panic as to the future that she has not time to hate anyone. She is convinced that Germany will finish her when she comes back, unless England is there to help her out. And in this conviction she will remain the lap-dog of John Bull, no matter how he whips her.

The French moreover are as anti-American as on the morrow of the armistice, and I see no likelihood of an early reconciliation there, so that all these people have simply been throwing the U.S. into the arms of Germany. Add to this the fact that the Germans have all great qualities to carve out a big future and that they are the obvious and the only people to help out Russia, and they will realise how eager I am to see our people overseas helping them to penetrate the people who hold the future in the Western World.

I have in a previous [letter?]1 emphasised the urgency and importance of real, hard work on our behalf in Germany. I feel that believing in the rise of Germany as I do, I can hardly exaggerate either the importance of this or its urgency. I found the Germans exceedingly friendly, but the agencies are bad and knowledge scanty. There is a certain amount of sentimental admiration, as everywhere else, for the magnificent bravery of our fight, but I think the predominant factor in sustaining interest is a lively sense of our potential value to the enemies of England. But in Germany, as elsewhere I found some scepticism as to our power of holding out or as to our persistence as to no compromise against such odds, a feeling that I have had to combat everywhere.

I suppose 322 is the best man for the post, but he is not ideal and I feel I must report that 10 told me that it was 32 who gave 310 away. 32 is alleged to be fond of a glass. At all events he was told everything by 310 and proceeded to repeat what he knew under pledge that if it would not be published to a journalist who was secretary to the representative of 1200; the latter repeated it to his master who promptly cabled home ... 32 discovered this and asked 10 to go with him to see the delinquent; 10 did so and the delinquent admitted having repeated the story and claimed that he was entitled to do so, in as much as he was a journalist and had undertaken merely not to 'publish' it and in fact had not published it. I believe 10 to be absolutely straight and thoroughly reliable and it seems to me necessary that this statement of the matter should be known in inner circles at home.

As to Spain, there is a big field open and untilled. Here we have the entrée to all circles, as in Germany, an advantage we have not in France and scarcely in Italy. This is a big asset, and we stand very high. I believe our most sincere friends in Europe are here and if A could go out for 6 months or 12 months, you would reap a big harvest. I need not say that enemy propaganda is very active and quite uncheckered. The appointment of Miss [Maire] O'B[rien] for Press work for Madrid would be a good step anyway. The line I took with the principal persons seen, as mentioned in my report, was this:- England has no sincere friend left unless it be Japan. Being derelict, she is making up to Spain though she shows no signs of giving up Gibraltar (a very sore point), but Spain's true interest lies elsewhere. The big coming combination is bound to be U.S. and Germany and Russia; nothing equally strong can stand up against such a group; Spain should see that her policy is directed along that line and give up the hallucination which directs her foreign policy, to the effect that England is now almighty. We can help Spain; for instances in the States it would be a big asset to Spain to have the Irish (to say nothing of the German) influence behind the movement for an economic alliance of N and S America, which would rebound to the prestige and prosperity of Spain, but which will be vehemently opposed by the English and the protestant Interests. I found this line took well and I am convinced it is our interest to take it in the U.S. for it would certainly injure England in South America. I also pointed out that in making advances to Spain England had the ulterior motive of improving her own position at the Vatican. I do not think the Anglo-Spanish Alliance will go through at present, but if it did the effect in Rome would be most deplorable.

The position in Rome continues to be bad and I await instructions in response to the suggestions I put forward in my general report from Paris and to the information that has reached you abundantly from our friends here during my absence! There is to be at long last a public meeting for us on the 3rd. inst. but the position continues very menacing in the highest quarters and the sooner a prelate comes out the better!

Let me take the opportunity of adding that Hales also gives a bad account of the Over Seas Trading Co; no doubt, it is working under great difficulties but the results are apt to injure us abroad; perhaps, the suggestion for changing its office to a convenient place across the water is worth considering.

I trust the above appreciations are what you want; they are necessarily somewhat speculative; before, I used to be pro-French bad as France was, because there seemed no alternative but the tour has given me a very different opinion of the real intentions and sincerity of the Germans and the chance of American co-operation with them seems to offer a good opportunity for us to take up a very definite line of foreign policy with fruitful results to all concerned.

Hales is in touch with some of D'Annunzio's people who tell me the poet wants a new field and thinks of Ireland, India and Egypt. On the whole his help in Italy would be good, though it would offend some elements, is he to be seen hereon and encouraged? If so he should be invited to Dublin on a visit formally. He is by a long way the biggest figure in Italy and he is popular for what he did at Fiume, in spite of having outstayed his welcome there. His open and active support would mean a great deal in Italy and I do not think there is much risk that it would lose us our present friends or any of them to speak of. He is now bitterly against the King of Italy for firing him out of Fiume and signing the Treaty of Rapallo. He is a man of notoriously bad life. But weighing pros and cons, I think that as things now stand when the Italian press is for the most part boycotting us under orders inspired by England, we would gain by his companionship and the Vatican would be likely to treat us with a little more respect, if with less affection. If there is anything doing in this direction, I think I should go to him with a written invitation, from DAIL.

I say nothing of other plans here, as it is premature, but I think I shall write you on this after settling down and taking my bearings.

I beg to suggest that a letter from the President to Very Rev. D. J. O'Doherty to thank him for the invaluable help which he gave at great trouble to himself on the occasion of your Envoy's extraordinary recent visit to Spain would be a fitting tribute and one likely to be greatly appreciated. I should also like a letter of thanks to be sent to the Traveller - or to be authorised myself to thank him on behalf of the DAIL - for his great services in Germany without which it is not too much to say my visit there would have been quite barren; he has the entrée practically everywhere and, moreover, uses it, and does a great deal of very useful, quiet unofficial propaganda for us all the time, unasked, and he is very popular with our various people in Berlin as well as with the Germans.

1 Word missing.

2 No key to these codes has been located.

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