No. 150 NAI DFA 227/7

Confidential report from Francis T. Cremins to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(S. 7/36) (Confidential)

Geneva, 12 March 1938

With reference to the developments in Austria, I have to state, for the information of the Minister, that I enquired at the Secretariat whether any action by the Council had been invoked by any Member, and was informed by Mr. Lester that so far, this morning, nobody had made any move in the matter. You will remember that when in 1931 the question of the Anschluss arose, the matter came before the Council at the instance of the British Government, as both the French and British Governments questioned the legitimacy of the proposed Customs Union which seemed likely to affect Austrian independence, and brought into question, inter alia, the Protocol of October 4th, 1922. The international situation is however now very different from what it was seven years ago. For one thing Germany is rearmed, and the axe - not to mention the triangle - exists, which alone will make the Western Powers pause before taking any dangerous steps. Secondly, the League is known to be too weak to bring into play on behalf of Austria the system of collective security. And Italy's interest in the independence of Austria is overshadowed at the moment by her greater interests elsewhere. I find that so far there is little disposition amongst my colleagues to believe that war for the protection of Austria is likely. The situation is admittedly dangerous, and the time may come soon when the Western Powers may seriously question Germany's proceedings in Central Europe, but that time does not seem to have yet arrived.

There is at Geneva much sympathy for M. Schuschnigg1 and for Austria in the present situation, but it is a question if the Chancellor was not a little too provocative after the arrangement come to at Berchtesgaden. His attitude would have been more comprehensible if he had broken at once with Herr Hitler, but, as an Italian said to me here, he seemed to have only recognised when he had returned home the full implications of the arrangement imposed upon him, and then he found it necessary to endeavour to retrace his steps somewhat. In view of Herr Schuschnigg's statement and attitude, and of the proposal for a plebiscite, the subsequent drastic action by Germany has hardly been a surprise, however reprehensible it may be. Germany, like Japan, has a facility for choosing the psychological moment - with France without a Government, Italy immersed in other difficulties, and Russia shocking the world by her political trials.

I learned last night from one of my colleagues that when Herr Schuschnigg received the ultimatum from Germany he asked Rome whether he could rely on Italian aid but that he received no reply.

[signed] F.T. Cremins
Permanent Delegate

1 Kurt Schuschnigg (1897-1977), Chancellor of Austria (1934-March 1938).

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