No. 29 UCDA P24/2252

Extract from a handwritten letter from Ernest Blythe to Anne Blythe (Dublin)

Geneva, 13 September 1926


The proceedings of the Assembly on Friday began with the admission of Germany. The Hall was packed so that the heat was nearly unbearable. It had been arranged that the proceedings should follow the precedents established when the Irish Free State was admitted. Accordingly the Germans were brought into the Hall at the beginning of the sittings, they were welcomed by the President and in replying their chief delegate was allowed to speak in German and to express his views on things in general. When we were admitted all the delegations rose to their feet and applauded.1 On Friday however the British and French kept their seats and remained silent. About half the Assembly followed their example. The remainder rose and applauded. Briand got up after Stresemann2 and certainly made a wonderful and courageous speech. Stresemann read his speech through in a fairly even voice without a single gesture. Briand spoke apparently extempore, walked up and down the platform, made jokes at one moment, spoke in a trembling voice at another and incessantly moved his hands in the greatest variety of gestures. When he had finished there was a roar of applause and a lot of the delegates got up and waved hats and handkerchiefs. The bell was rung for silence and a wooden young man proceeded in an unattractive voice to deliver a translation into halting and infelicitous English. It ought to be the rule when an oratorical speech is delivered merely to publish a translation in the Journal next day. Time after time the buzz of conversation became so loud that the President had to ring his bell and appeal to the Assembly to allow the translation to be heard. This part of the proceedings was a real anti-climax. In the afternoon I was sitting beside Stresemann at the First Commission and spoke to him for a few minutes.

[matter omitted]


1 The Irish Free State was admitted to the League of Nations on 10 September 1923. See DIFP Volume II for details.

2 Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929), German Chancellor (1923), German Foreign Minister (1923-29).

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