|Hungary - The Unwilling Satellite|
The Corfu incident almost destroyed Mussolini's dictatorship in 1924 and from that time on he proceeded more carefully with his schemes concerning imperialistic expansion in the Balkans. Nevertheless, he distinctly favored disruptive tendencies aimed at the splitting up of Yugoslavia into separate national units, especially at the separation of the Croats from the Serbs The resulting tension extending over all of the Adriatic coastline interfered with the general stability in southeastern Europe and affected the situation both in Vienna and in Budapest.
King Alexanderreacted very firmly against Croat separatism. He even went much too far by establishing his personal dictatorship in Yugoslavia (1930) but credit must be given him for his tenacious attempts at coming to a better understanding with Mussolini.
The following excerpts from the file of my Italian friend, whose name I prefer not to divulge, are evidence of Alexanders good faith and of Mussolini's shady intentions. To my mind, this document is of interest as a behind- the- scenes example of the play of forces which swayed events in central Europe.
The conversations began late in 1930 when King Alexander discovered that my friend had direct access to Mussolini. On many occasions the king did not ask him to convey direct messages to Mussolini but merely expressed his opinions vehemently, confident that my friend would repeat them to the Duce. Much of the record is repetitious; much of it expresses Alexanders indignation against the Italian press, as on January 1, 1931: The papers continue with their attacks and when they have nothing to say, they invent. Recently they published the statement that there had been discovered here a conspiracy of generals, and that I don't know how many had been shot and hanged. There was not a word of truth in it, for at all events with our army, which is well disciplined, we are absolutely safe. I cannot understand why Italy acts this way to create difficulties for us when both our countries could obtain great advantages from a good friendship, since we are an agricultural and Italy an industrial country.
We are accused of desiring war! Thanks! That would indeed be the last straw for the whole world. We have just come out of a war, and we know what it means. And what good would it do? What would we get? I assure you that I can think of no conceivable reason for desiring a war, for even if I had a ninety percent chance of winning it, I would not risk the ruin of my country.
In 1921 our relations with Italy were most cordial and we were entirely willing that Italy should be free to do what she pleased anywhere except in the Balkans, where any question could have been settled after a reciprocal agreement. And then Italy goes and signs a treaty at Tirana without giving us the slightest warning. From 1920- 21 on, France was determined to persuade me to sign a treaty of alliance and she was pressing me as hard as she could. I had steadily refused to sign, out of regard for Italy with whom I desired good relations, but as soon as I learned of the Treaty of Tirana I instructed my minister at Paris to sign. Subsequently, Italy signed a second treaty at Tirana, and after that we strengthened our ties with France; now we are committed to following the French line.
People are astonished that we are arming when the threat of treaty revision is always present. Does anyone believe that I would submit to treaty revision being discussed at a table? My entire country would turn on me in a fury! Those who wish revision must fight for it. It is just as though someone came to take away belongings from your own home. It is because of this continual threat that we are compelled to arm. Do you suppose that I am pleased at having to spend billions to buy cannon, aeroplanes and weapons in Czechoslovakia and France when all this money might remain in my own country which needs so many things? This year alone I have bought nine hundred cannon and it has cost me an incredible sum of money.
Before the annexation of Fiume, I received a message that Mr. Mussolini desired to come to an agreement with me on the basis of a policy of sincere and frank friendship, providing I would not raise difficulties in this question of Fiume. I was delighted to seize this opportunity, and I replied that if the friendship of Italy and particularly of Mr. Mussolini were involved, I would yield in the matter and undertake to raise no difficulties. I myself accepted the entire responsibility and likewise I courted the displeasure of my entire country.... I expected that the press would cease its attacks in order to prepare the ground and public opinion; but the press has not stopped its attacks, nor has anyone to date said another word about discussions or agreements. You know I believe that Italy is now no longer free: she must have commitments, of which I am not aware, with other powers binding her so that she can no longer come to an agreement with us.
Had the spirit of King Alexanderbeen able to appear at the League of Nations trial concerning his assassination, there can be little doubt as to whom he would have accused. On February 12, l931, lamenting the recent bomb incident at Zagreb, he said: ". . . the bomb attempt was hatched and paid for by Italy." To my friend's protest that he must be mistaken, he replied: "But my dear fellow, we now have the whole organization in our hands and we are well aware through our excellent police that lire were received in payment for the business." My friend protested that if Italy had actually been behind the matter she would probably have paid in dollars. But the king was insistent: . . . on Italy's side it is really a policy of obstinacy; Italy is determined to create obstacles for us, but they will have no success.... If I, as a soldier, wished to capture a position, I would, of course, do everything possible to that end; but once persuaded that I could not capture it and that I would merely lose my men and ammunition, I would withdraw. . . . Italy should now realize that she cannot bring catastrophes upon us and that her policy of obstinacy is costing her a great deal of money without any results.
It would be much better to decide on a good policy of frank and loyal friendship from which we would draw great reciprocal advantages . . . leaving aside sentiment, one could, from a purely selfish point of view, come to a commercial agreement . . . why should we not make an experiment of this kind, let us say for three years, and try to obtain the greatest possible advantages from such a commercial arrangement, at the same time practicing a frank and loyal policy? The policy of hostility can always be resumed if it is found to be more advantageous and if the commercial arrangement does not work . . . I particularly believe that this hostility is created entirely artificially, for neither among our people nor among yours is it a part of popular sentiment.
Late in February, when my friend asked the king whether he would be interested in meeting with Mr. Mussolini, his reply was emphatic: You may well imagine that I would be delighted, for you must remember that I have always spoken to you of Mr. Mussolini with admiration, understanding, and I would even say enthusiasm, and I would like to speak to him calmly and frankly; but I would wish to be sure that on his side he had a firm intention and disposition to find a way of agreement, and - when found - the desire to follow it.
I would not wish our conversation to share the fate of all the other conversations between our respective ministers, which after having given us hope never led to anything. I am convinced that Mr. Mussolini is, generally speaking, not well informed. I do not say that Mr. Galli(the previous Italian minister to Belgrade) does not keep him properly informed, for Mr. Galliis a man of the best type - a real 'gentleman' - whom I hold in the greatest esteem; but he likewise is in a difficult position here, since he must carry a very heavy load left by his predecessor. Informers often make reports and shape them according to what they think will please the persons who receive them, thus hoping to do well for themselves; or else they exaggerate to create the belief that they are extremely well informed even about the most confidential matters.
I saw Mr. Galliafter the marriage of the Prince of Piedmont and he told me that he had spoken with Mr. Mussolini and Mr. Grandiat Rome and that he was under the impression that Rome was extremely well disposed toward us - - but nothing more ever came of it. Later Mr. Grandimet Mr. Marinkovicin Switzerland, but after four hours of conversation the same negative results followed.
If I could speak with Mr. Mussolini I wish we could push forward without being discouraged at the first difficulties, for I can well understand that after all the fuel which has been thrown on the fire by the filthy press, any suggestion of agreement would at first be most unpopular in both countries. Soon, however, the material and moral usefulness of an agreement would be realized and satisfaction would follow. As for myself, I know definitely that I could obtain its willing acceptance, for, in my own country I am esteemed and well- liked and above all they know very well that I have no other thought nor aim than the welfare of the nation.
In Italy they believe absolutely that our country is under the domination of Zifkovic- - another matter wherein they are badly informed, since I have everything in my hands, and I myself brought in Zifkovicas prime minister for the simple reason that I wished a man in that position who had nothing to do with politics. General Zifkovichas no political ambitions and he serves his king as a faithful servant with intelligence and devotion; but he is ready to leave his place and go back to his regiment whenever I wish.
As far as General Zifkovics political ambitions were concerned, the king was certainly mistaken. General Zifkovictried to seize power in Yugoslavia immediately following the death of King Alexander He was prepared to go so far as to provoke a war against Hungary to serve his political ambitions. He was prevented from doing so by the foresighted action of Mr. Jeftic- - who had succeeded him as prime minister before Alexanders death - - in settling the Marseilles affair through the instrumentality of the League of Nations.
Alexanderwent on: Mr. Mussolini has often declared in favor of treaty revision without particularly stressing that such revision must necessarily be directed against Yugoslavia. If we could converse, we could most probably reach an agreement on this delicate and important question - perhaps the most delicate and the most important of all - but naturally until that time I am on the side of those who are against revision. It is said that because of this we are the vassals of France. We are nobody's vassals, but we have with France treaties which bind us reciprocally, and it is scarcely surprising that we are and continue in agreement with those who, like ourselves, are interested in preventing treaty revision. . . .
Late in March 1931, the king spoke of France again: As I told you, I have a treaty with France and we are reciprocally bound. If sometimes France uses a somewhat high- handed tone to Italy, she does so because she believes you isolated and because she knows that she is supported by us and - of course - by the entire Little Entente. She would no longer do it if Italy had with us - and naturally with the Little Entente - a frank and loyal agreement. Isolation is to be avoided; what does Italy think she will get out of alliances with Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, etc.? All these people tie on to Italy in the hope of getting her to pull the chestnuts out of the fire; but these alliances will cost Italy appalling amounts, and in her day of need she will get nothing from them believe me, it is a bad investment An interesting sidelight on Hungary's ceaseless attempts to break up the Little Entente is a note which appears in my friend's file concerning a conversation he had in Budapest on his way back to Italy at this time. The Italian minister to Hungary, Mr. Arlotta told him that "Count Bethlen and also the Hungarian minister of war, Mr. Gombos, would be far from displeased with an agreement with Yugoslavia and Rumania isolating Czechoslovakia" and authorized him to tell that to Mr. Mussolini.
In May definite plans were made for the king to meet Mussolini in Italy that summer. The king was impatient for the meeting to take place. At this time the Yugoslav minister Marinkovicwas meeting in Geneva with Mr. Grandi and Alexanderhad high hopes that the meeting would bring about constructive results which could be the subject of discussion with Mussolini.
But Marinkovicsent a discouraging report of the meeting and the king was much grieved.
Returning to the discussion of the necessity for an agreement between Italy and Yugoslavia Alexandersaid: You see, an agreement with Italy means changing my whole policy and turning it completely up- side- down. My present policy is based on the possibility of a war: it is the policy of treaties of alliance securing defense in case of attack, the policy of armament. Doubtless it is a good policy and, in view of present circumstances, we are compelled to follow it - - but there is a far better one. The present- day policy is a negative and ruinous one; a policy which destroys the riches of our countries, which compels us to spend billions, mostly abroad, for armaments.
On the other hand, the policy which we could pursue if we had an agreement with Italy would be a positive one, a policy creating riches in the line of commerce and industrial development. We could reduce our expenses for armaments, without counting the enormous benefits which we would reap through tranquillity and confidence once the danger of war in Europe had been averted for, after all, we have no other enemies to fear except Italy, and Italy has none except ourselves. If we continue - and let us call a spade a spade - as enemies, the day will come when war will be inevitable, even with the best will to avoid it; for we will be in such a state of excitement as to be at the mercy of some mad Dalmatian or Croat, who, without being able to avoid it, will fire the powder magazine on account of a mere nothing. The war would inevitably be a world war - or at least a European war - and this would be the last straw for Europe: what a result! Heaven preserve us! Let us suppose that Italy makes war and wins it: what would she get from it? At most she would be able to take from us Dalmatia. If we suppose a victory for Yugoslavia, we might get Albania, Istria, and Trieste; but, as I have already told you, I would not take Albania as a gift; Istria isn't worth much, and Trieste we could not hold because of German pressure, since the Germans wish to get it so as to have their own port on the Mediterranean. Even if we could hold it, it would only yield expense and worries for us, since we already have our hands full with Susak and Split, and Trieste would be for us a port with a passive balance - just as it now is for Italy.
One of the capital questions is the question of Albania. Italy concIuded the Treaty of Tirana to protect and defend the independence and integrity of Albania; but on this point I am in complete agreement and I have also expressly declared in public that I myself am likewise ready to guarantee the integrity and independence of Albania. . . .
In June, discussing the proposed meeting still further - for despite his discouragement over Marinkovics report he still wished to meet with Mussolini - Alexanderagain brought up the subject of Albania as the most important one between himself and Mussolini. He remarked that "Italy constitutes a real military base against us in Albania which is like an arrow in our body." Stating that one "could not find a better time for reaching an agreement than the present when there are no parliaments to begin an endless fire of interpellations," he went on: "At present the matter only depends on the two of us. Once an agreement has been reached it doesn't matter who comes into power; unless they are completely mad they cannot but approve my action and maintain the agreement." In July, on my friend's return from Italy where he had conveyed the king's earnest desire for a meeting, Alexanderwanted to know what had been said about the Albanian question. When my friend replied that Mr. Grandihad said Italy would not renounce the mandate which had been given her and which had been affirmed both by the League of Nations and by the Conference of Ambassadors, Alexanderexclaimed: "But don't you see that this is a mistake! It is not a question of a mandate: Italy was given the mission of protecting Albania in case of attack by third parties, but if Albania is not attacked . . . and besides, by whom should she be attacked if not by us?" Mr. Mussolini had sent word to the king at this time that the proposed meeting would not be convenient to him until September 1931. To this delay Alexanderreadily agreed.
On the following day the king explained his political point of view concerning the situation in Europe and all over the world: As regards our neighbors, the Hungarians, the Rumanians, the Bulgarians, etc., it is believed in Italy - - on the basis of I do not know what kind of reports - - that we have aggressive and invading tendencies . . . I can assure you that this is absolutely false because, since we have already obtained by the treaties all that we could desire, we ask nothing better of our neighbors than to live in peace with them and to develop as far as possible our good relations of vicinage, commerce and peace; we do not covet their territory, nor do we desire to mix in their affairs.
As regards the international political field, we have no expansionist ambitions as we do not desire either colonies or mandates. Our policy is a local policy since we have many provinces which, like Montenegro and others, are large and incredibly poor. Nothing grows in them and we must provide for them and send them wheat, corn and everything else . . . We are only interested in central European questions which may have a reflex action on us. Italy, being a great power, must pursue a world policy; she must be interested in Asiatic and African questions, etc. - all matters concerning which we will never have anything to say and regarding which there will consequently never be any conflict between us. As regards European and particularly central European questions, we will have the same interests to maintain once we have reached an agreement.
Mr. Grandionce said that he wanted to make Albania another Belgium; a neutral state guaranteed by treaties. I would accept this idea willingly and I am ready to give to this end any guarantees which might be desired. Is this still the intention of Italy? I wish to be informed exactly of the political point of view of Italy on this question of Albania, as it is the only one which is of capital importance between us. As this is a complex question I would suggest to Mr. Mussolini either to send me here with you a person thoroughly and technically conversant with the matter, or to allow me to send to Rome with you the person whom I consider best | adapted to this purpose and who, having been with me a number of years, knows my ideas on this subject. I am speaking of Mr. Jeftic the minister of the Royal House, who officially has nothing to do with politics and who is a most discreet and loyal person.
Nobody in my entourage is aware of our discussions, for even Mr. Marinkovicis ignorant of them. Once the meeting has taken place and the agreement has been reached, I will say to Mr. Marinkovic 'This is the policy to be pursued' - and he will pursue it.
Mr. Jeftics subsequent visit to Rome proved to be completely futile, as he was not even received by Mr. Mussolini. King Alexanderwas incensed. "Our propositions," he complained, "are neither intangible nor unchangeable; why then are we met with this attitude of unwillingness to discuss them? We drew up our ideas in writing: why did Italy not do likewise?" The September meeting did not take place. But early in 1932, the king had a visit from Mr. Galli Italian minister to Yugoslavia, who was just back from Rome and came as the bearer of an agreement "complete in every detail." The king described the interview to my friend upon his arrival in Belgrade on February 21, 1932. When Alexanderhad asked Galliwhether he had spoken with Mussolini regarding the Albanian question, the latter had replied: "Naturally, Your Majesty, but on this point Italy cannot renounce its rights...." "At this point I really lost patience," the king told my friend. "This was really making fun of me, as it was the only matter on which I had asked Italy to yield. In all other matters I am ready to accept the Italian point of view completely." King Alexanderdiscussed the problem further on the following day: If Albania is a free and independent country such as, for instance, Greece or Hungary, then there is no reason why Italy should mix in its internal affairs, just as Italy would not think of sending troops if tomorrow the Greeks and the Hungarians were to quarrel among themselves.
If Albania is an Italian colony, then I am faced with another Italian front in Albania. If we are enemies I can look at it in that way, but if we are good allies I cannot admit that Italy should keep the right to send troops on that part of the frontier whenever she pleases and on some pretext which can always be found.
If Italy refuses to consider this point of view, she must inevitably be concealing ulterior motives hostile to us, either to leave herself an opening to pounce on us or to take Albania definitely for herself. In such case it would be useless to talk of a loyal agreement.
The agreement between us must be either absolute and complete or cannot exist at all. We are too close to each other, and our interests have too much in common. We must either be very good friends or enemies: there is no middle course.
In Italy they say: 'The Adriatic must be ours.' Is it not yours? Can we with our four ships compete with Italy? 'Italy must have the key of the Adriatic,' but has she not already got it with the islands? And once we are united by a good friendship, will we not have the same interest to guard together the key of the Adriatic? In that case I would be willing to give you the Bocche di Cattaro, to defend together our common interests in the Adriatic against third parties.
Finally, on being reassured that Mussolini had expressed definitely a wish to go on with the meeting while my friend was last in Italy, Alexandersaid: "Go and see Mr. Mussolini and tell him my general ideas," and he proceeded to outline them as follows: Foreign Policy: Peace and cordial agreements with our neighbors and with distant countries. Full liberty for Italian expansion. Italy naturally needs to expand, because of the too great density of its population, either in Africa or in Asia. If other great powers wish to block these aspirations of Italy, we will always be ready to support her. We have no colonial aims, as we have sufficient to occupy us at home.
League of Nations: We undertake to support the Italian policy and to 'pull together' in all questions. The agreement would bring disarmament as its immediate and automatic effect, for we are arming exclusively against yourselves. We could, therefore, support at Geneva : Mr. Mussolini's ideas on disarmament.
France: We have nothing against France, and I will not do anything against her because I am under too many obligations toward her; but I will merely say to her frankly and freely: 'We are very good friends, but I have also other good friends, our neighbors the Italians' - - and that is all. France will have nothing to say.
Internal Policy: We have nothing to change, nor any pretensions to territorial enlargement. War to the death against any possible Bolshevik infiltrations into the country. No tolerance nor indulgence nor asylum for any Italian anti- fascist emigrés. Encouragement of cultural and commercial development, etc., reduction of armaments to the strictly necessary amount, and employment of our enormous military investments for the benefit of peace industries.
Commercial and Financial Policy: We are ready to undertake to buy all Italian products, excluding by customs tariff the products of other countries.
We are disposed even to go as far as a kind of customs union and abolish frontiers, even bringing Hungary into the combination, since we have no special or serious reasons for conflict with her. Encouragement and protection for the organization of Italian banks in the country; preference for Italian capital. If the agreement becomes a fact, it will be as though a partition- dam were opened in a water reservoir: the waters will mix naturally and inevitably and will require no one to make them do so. Manufactured products, money, everything will go from one country to the other according to needs and natural interests - - and this will be a real and sensible and thorough agreement. After all, individual interests make up the general interest of a people and the bonds of interest are the most natural and the most durable.
AIbania: On this subject I have already spoken to you sufficiently, but I repeat and I declare that I have no pretensions and no concealed ulterior aims regarding Albania; I repeat that I will have none of Albania nor of the Albanians. I am ready to guarantee with Italy the integrity, the liberty and independence of Albania in the most thorough fashion which Italy could ask - even by bringing in a third great power(England) as a party to the contract. The formula adopted with and for Belgium should be ideal for Albania.
Generally speaking, I think that we are in agreement with Italy. I might add that England has informed me through her minister that she would see with satisfaction an agreement with Italy and a drawing- away from France; that the most influential persons in Yugoslavia are all favorable to such an agreement.
It seems to me that I have said everything. Go and see Mr. Mussolini and give him my assurances of good will and confidence in him; but I would ask you to tell him from me that I entreat him to take the matter into his own hands: we have had enough of 'spokesmen'.
In reply to these statements my friend was given the following message by Mr. Mussolini in an interview on March 1,1932: Tell His Majesty that I first listened to and subsequently carefully read the very interesting statements which he has transmitted to me and ask him now to leave me the time to formulate an agreement which shall be for our common interest and gratification.
As a preamble to this agreement we must first say that it is derived from the desire for peace not only between our two peoples, but for the peace of Europe.
To this end: 1) Italy and Yugoslavia declare that for the purposes of this peace, they have the same common interest in the integrity and independence of Albania.
2) Yugoslavia, however, declares that Italian interests prevail in Albania, as has, moreover, been acknowledged by the treaties and by the Conference of Ambassadors.
3) Italy undertakes not to avail herself of the rights granted her by the treaties in any way which might be harmful to the interests of Yugoslavia or might weaken the pact of friendship.
In regard to having a third power guarantee the agreements, Mussolini said: "There are only two of us in the Adriatic and it is best to avoid any pretext which might allow a third great power to stick its nose in there." In regard to the treaties of commerce, which would be drawn up by technical experts and which might even go so far as the possibility of a customs union, Mussolini expressed the opinion that there should also be constituted a single Italo- Yugoslav port authority for Fiume and Port Baross. "As it is now," he explained, "Fiume cannot live because it has no 'hinterland', and Port Baross cannot live because its 'hinterland' is not sufficient." Mussolini went on: This draft of a treaty will be drawn up within a month and will afterwards be submitted to His Majesty for approval; then our meeting can immediately be arranged.
Tell His Majesty the King that he will find me in the best possible good will, as this agreement must be complete, loyal and productive of results if it is to be a lasting one.
Toward the end of the month you will come to me to get the drafts; but let me know immediately the opinion of His Majesty on these general matters.
On March 15, King Alexanderdictated a reply to Mussolini's statement, which my friend had presented to him ten days before: We acknowledge with pleasure the clearness of thought and the loyalty with which Mr. Mussolini has treated the essential elements of a lasting agreement between our two countries. As it seems that we are in agreement on the general lines, it only remains for us to reach a definite agreement by drawing up a clear and precise draft.
To our regret, however, point No. 2 of the preamble proposed by Mr. Mussolini, namely, 'that Yugoslavia, however, declares that Italian interests prevail in Albania, as has, moreover, been acknowledged by the treaties and by the Conference of Ambassadors,' does not seem to us in conformity with the principles of the independence of Albania, recognized by the two guarantor countries. We could not in principle recognize such a prevalence of Italian interests in Albania. We see therein a constant danger to our agreement. This 'prevalence' is vague and ambiguous: it will lead to distrust. Undoubtedly, the economic and financial interests of Italy in Albania are greater than those of Yugoslavia, and in the future will be even more so; we do not deny this de facto situation and we can undertake to do nothing to interfere with (or, perhaps, 'endanger') Italian interests in Albania.
Since our agreement must be perfect, loyal and deeply sincere, the Albanian question automatically disappears; hence we see no reason for any special acknowledgment of the prevalence of Italian interests in Albania.
As regards the remaining questions we are in agreement and we share Mr. Mussolini's point of view. We are awaiting with great hopes and will receive with the best good will the treaty draft which Mr. Mussolini expects to send us.
The king discussed the question of Italy's wisdom in leaving armaments in the hands of a childish people like the Albanians, and went on: We will do something great. Even France, once she knows that we are entirely reconciled with Italy in a lasting and loyal way, will feel the need likewise to draw nearer to Italy. Ours will be the first really serious and positive step which will set the good example; one must not mark time too long on a given spot, and if we decide, the others must inevitably follow us. Although the questions which divide Italy and France are much more serious - - for they comprise colonial questions, the question of Tunisia, the question of naval parity, etc. - - I do not doubt that after our agreement France will be much less exacting.
When I was in Paris I spoke to Mr. Laval who told me that he intended to get on better terms with Italy and asked me - - as did Mr. Tardieu- - if I objected or at any rate would be displeased. Naturally I answered that I had nothing against it and that it would give me great pleasure. The French minister at Belgrade asked me the same thing the other evening, and I gave him the same answer.
When asked what he thought of the Tardieuproposal for a Danubian agreement, Alexanderreplied: I am very skeptical and I do not think that anything will come of it. I think, however, that as the world does not know that we have been preparing our agreement for a long time, it might be believed in France that we had hastily thrown it together to torpedo Mr. Tardieus plan - - or a Danubian understanding. As for myself I am not in the least disturbed about what may be said or thought: I am entirely indifferent and I hope that Mr. Mussolini will think as I do.
Besides, as I said before, I am skeptical. We are too much accustomed to hearing every minute of new proposals which are given out without any solid preparation - - and then there follows conference after conference always with the same result: disillusion. I think one should do the opposite, as we have done: prepare beforehand, study the details and interests involved, discuss them, and when everything is prepared, present a positive, concrete, vital and definite achievement. This is the great difference.
Ask Mr. Mussolini to give you the draft which I await with hope, confidence, and good will - - just as I await with impatience the setting of a date for our meeting. Go, then, and may God be with you.
However, the draft did not arrive, nor was a meeting arranged.
In October 1932, when my friend saw the king the day after he had received from his ministry of the interior reports on the recent riots at Lika, he found him very much aroused because the report was drafted in such a way as to indicate clearly that the propaganda, the weapons and the bombs had come from Italy. Alexanderfirmly believed this and his remarks at this time were prophetic: . . . I am disgusted; this is what the Italians are constantly doing to us; they try to stab us in the back and they hope to obtain success with these disloyal attacks. Is it possible for a country like Italy to use such means in trying to increase the troubles in our country and provoke us! Do they believe in Italy they will get anywhere with such pitiful methods unworthy of a great and self- respecting people? They will not obtain any radical political success by stirring up some poor ignorant peasants and killing some farmer who asks nothing better than to live! Tell them that in Italy, and say to Mr. Mussolini from me that to stir up serious disorders in Yugoslavia or to obtain a change of regime they will have to shoot at me and be very sure to kill me, for only in that case will there be any changes here; I repeat that you will have to kill me and kill me thoroughly! You may say also that if it were necessary for the good of the country to shed rivers of blood I would be ready to do so, for I am conscious above all of my duty and of the responsibility of my position. I desire the welfare of my country.
|Hungary - The Unwilling Satellite|