VOL. 173 No. 5160

LONDON, APRIL 1st, 1939




By Hilaire Belloc

THE POLICY OF POLAND An Article on Colonel Beck by Our Central European Correspondent


By James Brodrick, S.J.


By Alfred Noyes


A Review of the Book

Full List o f Contents on page 412.

Italy and France in Central Europe

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK Diplomacy and Public Speeches When the Duce made his speech last Sunday there emerged, in a setting of high phraseology, for this was a mass rally speech for the twentieth anniversary of the Fascist Party, a willingness to negotiate with France, but a reluctance publicly to stake specific claims. The Duce pointed to Jibuti, to Suez and Tunis, as the field in which Italy expects French concessions. He referred to the Italian Note of December 17th as though it embodied specific Italian claims. The French Government have now published that Note, which merely expresses the Italian view that M. Laval’s agreement of January, 1935, which was never ratified, has now become completely out of date. On Wednesday, M. Daladier replied, not less proudly, but equally leaving the door open for private negotiations. So far on both sides the familiar preludes to a bargain have taken place. Both countries have far more to gain than to lose by doing a deal. The Duce, if the French would grant him something he could show to the Italians and world as a trophy, might continue to speak of the unbreakable and unshaken Axis, but he would, in fact, have regained more freedom of movement, although he might be slow to use that freedom. The French want to restore this freedom to the Italian Government, being quite confident that the point must soon be reached at which even the Fascist Government will see what madness it would be for Italy to maintain indefinitely the conditions which make it easy for Germany to extend so rapidly in Central Europe. The substance of the Italian contention that the agreement in January, 1935, no longer means anything, rests on the truth that that agreement was only made by both sides to provide a French-Italian counterpoise to Germany in Austria.

The first 15 years of the post-War period in Central Europe was a period in which the two Powers, the German Empire of the Hohenzollerns, and the Russian Empire of the Czars, which had stood until the war facing each other in a perpetual contest, had both disappeared from the scene. The German Empire was living in ruins and defeat; the Russian Empire was in a much worse plight, for it had been captured by the Bolshevik revolutionaries, who have maintained themselves in Moscow ever since. The Germans could not play a part in Central Europe from weakness. The Russians could not, because the new masters of Russia were more hated by the Slav peoples than the Germans were. The Czar had been the protector of all Slav peoples, the head of a State professing the same religion as the Slavs outside its boundaries. After the first, happily abortive, attempts to invade Poland and to set up Soviets in Hungary and Bulgaria, the Bolsheviks retired behind their frontiers, where they have remained ever since. Into the void thus created there stepped France and Italy, France as the chief maker and patron of the resurrected or new States, Italy as not less glad to see her old enemy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, divided into fragments. The Year of Change

While the Italians had their deep disappointments over the peace settlements, that peace did give them a wholly new importance in Central Europe among a number of much smaller countries, and Italy was only second to France in maintaining the large framework of the peace, while making it a specially Italian task to bring about revision in favour of Austria and Hungary, the units which had suffered most. The smashing of that basic unity between France and Italy in 1935 was the decisive event in the history of Central Europe. It happened just when one of the old protagonists, Germany, had recovered, and was ready to come forward again, while the other, Russia, was still completely distrusted by the