No. 233 NAI DFA 26/78

Letter from Patrick J. O'Byrne to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Rome, 28 August 1934

In reply to your cable of August 25 (no. 17)1 I yesterday sent you the following wire in reply:

'20 Your cable 17 report sent yesterday, will write further Wednesday'.

I visited the Vatican yesterday morning and had a talk with Mon. Pizzardo. I mentioned the Osservatore Romano article of August 18 and he immedi- ately asked me if I had read the one in the Avenire d'Italia of 22nd. I replied that I had and furthermore that I had sent translations to the Department. He inquired if the articles were quite clear. I said that the question of 'conditions' in the Osservatore article was somewhat vague and might be shown more clearly. I then asked him if the Vatican would consider that conditions similar to those required by England and the U.S.A. (as mentioned in the article) were sufficient to admit Russia to the League with satisfactory hopes for the future. He replied by partly shaking his head and said: 'Russia is everywhere going ahead; she is using every means of furthering her policy in Europe; she is working her way into all countries, and this is her great effort at Geneva'. I said that France seemed to be very prominent in backing her candidature, but that there seemed to be some doubt regarding Italy's attitude. He replied that France was at the back of the whole movement, that she was 'the leader'. Regarding Italy he said that he thought it would be impossible for her to 'opporsi all'ammissione per ragioni puramente economiche'. He implied a distinction between French and Italian motives: in the case of the former it was a case of European policy; in the latter an economic necessity. I remarked that in the case of Italy the necessity might be subordinated to considerations of the general welfare of Nations, especially in Europe. He replied that there was only one consideration in Italy today, a very pressing one: it was a case of providing food for a rapidly growing population and of solving the serious unemployment problem. The Italian people as a whole would approve of any policy regarding Russia so long as it solved or helped to solve the problem of finding food for the stomach; 'it is a case of the stomach; the Faith is held firmly by the people as in Ireland, but when it is a question of providing the necessaries of life, everything else is of little consequence'. He then made a very complimentary remark about the Irish people who subor-dinate everything to the Faith, 'who keep it continually present in all their actions'. He said: 'you are a great missionary people and naturally you view world events from the standpoint of Catholic doctrine'. He added that my inquiry about the conditions of Russia's admission to the League 'was extremely welcome' and that he would like me to go to the Vatican again tomorrow (Wednesday) to talk further on the matter. Returning to the subject of Italy, I said that it might be supposed that the price of Italy's support at Geneva would be an extension of her trade with Russia. He replied 'absolutely; Russia wants immense quantities of aeroplanes, and Italy requires the orders; it will help to solve her unemployment problem'.

I will send you a further minute tomorrow after my second visit to the Secretariat of State. Mon. Pizzardo was extremely gloomy on the subject of Russia and the League. He regarded the result as a foregone conclusion and repeated several times that it was ?all France' and that in Italy's case it was the necessity of ?providing for the stomach'. These phrases alone are full of eloquence.

[signed] P.J. O'Byrne

1 Not printed.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO