|The New Central Europe|
Hitlerism was the most hideous product of the age of European nationalism. The German Nazis and their accomplices among the European nations, who were supposedly Christians of the Western civilization, rendered terrible evidence of Europe's debasement in the age of nationalism. Moreover, Hitler's conquest of Europe proved the total incapacity of nationalist Europe to defend itself against the destructive forces that had undermined Western civilization from within.
Meanwhile the Soviet conquest of the Baltic states, East Poland and Bessarabia, during the period of Nazi- Soviet cooperation, provided a fresh reminder of the brutalities which the harbingers of a purported new age of social justice could inflict upon European civilization It was a grave mistake for the West not to enter into a military alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitler at a time when such an alliance could have prevented the Nazi conquest of the Continent. But Soviet Russia, ac- cording to the laws of geography a natural ally of the West against Nazi Germany, could not help the West solve its inner crisis. The very fact that an enemy of Western democracy like Soviet Russia was needed as an ally of the West against Hitler was an alarming sign of Europe's troubles.
The causes of Europe's decay were manifold, but the principal cause was the disintegration of the European community through national- ism. Without drastic changes in the outward political structure, the inner crisis of the Continent could not be ended. There was, indeed, but one way out of the anarchy of the past: the reorganization of Europe into a federal union. The cataclysm of war should in all logic have led to a revival of federalist movements. Indeed, as it turned out, the tragic collapse of national independence in the Middle Zone did seem to work as a stimulus toward federalist planning on an unprecedented scale. The century- old warning that the nations lying between Russia and Germany could not defend their freedom unless they were welded into federations came to be reechoed in many quarters.
Federalism became a popular watchword among the exiles from Central Europe. Edvard Benes, ex- President of Czechoslovakia, reached an agreement in November 1940 with Wladyslaw Sikorski, Premier of the Polish government in exile, an agreement whose details were worked out in a declaration signed in January 1942, to the effect that after the war Poland and Czechoslovakia would form a "Confederation of States." This agreement did not envisage a Danubian union, which had been a traditional aim of Central European federalists. Also, as it turned out, in Benes's plans cooperation with the Soviet Union took priority over cooperation with any of the Middle Zone nations. In retrospect, the suspicion arose that Benes availed himself of a Czechoslovak- Polish rapprochement for opportunistic purposes only in order to strengthen temporarily the international position of the Czech exiles; for, until Soviet Russia's entry into the war, Czechoslovak foreign policy operated almost in a vacuum. Nevertheless at the time of the signing of the Polish- Czech confederation agreement, hopes rose high that this might signify the beginning of a new era of cooperation among the Middle Zone nations. This belief had been strengthened by the proclaimed aim of the Polish- Czech declaration that "other states" should eventually be included in the planned confederation.
When Yugoslavia and Greece fell victim to Nazi aggression, the scope of the exiles' federalist planning was broadened. At a New York meeting in November 1941 the International Labor Conference issued a declaration, signed by "the government and employers' delegations" of Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland and Yugoslavia, which emphasized the unity of Central Europe and the Balkans. In January 1942 federal agreement on the Czecho-slovak- Polish model was reached between the Greek and Yugoslav emigre governments, concerning the constitution of a "Balkan Union" A Central and Eastern European Planning Board was established in New York in January 1942 and entrusted with the study of federalism. The charter members of the board were the government representatives of Czechoslovakia, Greece, Poland and Yugoslavia, countries which already had signed the federalist agreements. In London, the so- called "Peasant Program" was published in July 1942 by a group composed of exiled representatives of peasant parties who favored a federal union of all the peoples from the Baltic to the Balkans. Another group, the London Danubian Club, in October 1943 proposed a "Central and South- east European Union," in the form of a detailed draft constitution for a federation of the entire Middle Zone. Both plans were drawn up in cooperation not only with representatives of the four countries (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece) engaged officially in federalist planning, but also with exiles from Austria, Hungary Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.
Vague federalist programs appeared frequently too in the clandestine press of the Nazi- occupied Central and Eastern Europe. In Hungary where the press was relatively free until the German occupation (March 1944), both the progressive and conservative anti- Nazi Budapest newspapers--such as the Conservative- Liberal Magyar Nemzet, the Socialist Népszava, and the organ of the Smallholders party, KisUjság--occasionally advocated Lajos Kossuth's ideas of a Danubian confederation.
The federalist planning of the Central and Eastern European nations seemed to meet with approval from the Western Powers. In fact, federalism became something of a popular watchword in the West too. Some of the conclusions the Western nations began to draw from their tragedy seemed to parallel those the Central and Eastern European nations were drawing from their catastrophe. Winston Churchill seemed to understand better than anybody the necessity for Europe's federalist reconstruction. He knew that democratic states were weak "unless they are welded into larger organisms,"and he knew that the complete break- up of the Austro- Hungarian Empire was a "cardinal tragedy" for Europe.2 Churchill was the sponsor of a revolutionary proposal which could have changed the course of European history (had it been accepted); the proposal of a French- British Union in the summer of 1940, just before France collapsed.
"At this fateful moment in the history of the modern world," Churchill proposed, "the Governments of the United Kingdom and the French Republic make this declaration of indissoluble union. . . . The two Governments declare that France and Britain shall no longer be two nations but one Franco- British union. The constitution of the union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial, and economic policies. Every citizen of France will enjoy immediate citizenship of Great Britain, every British subject will become a citizen of France." In comparison, the signing of the Atlantic Charter a year later, on August 14, 1941, was an anticlimax. The Charter, which came to be recognized as the fundamental declaration of principle of the United Nations, spoke out against "territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned," (Point 2). It defended "the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live" (Point 3). But it did not embrace, not even by implication, the federalist program as a principle of future peace. In effect, the Charter reasserted the old principle of national sovereignty. President Rooseveltand Prime Minister Churchill, instead of declaring the necessity for "larger organisms" for the defense of peace and democracy, expressed in Point Six of the Charter their hope that a peace would be established "which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries. . ."
Considering the fact that Europe, and especially Central Europe, had been torn for so long with struggles over boundaries, Point Six of the Charter, emphasizing boundaries, gave a most inadequate program for future peaceful cooperation between nations. In omitting the federal principle from their program, the authors of the Atlantic Charter failed to devise the best means by which nations could achieve peace and safety. The absence of the federalist program from the Charter was the more deplorable because the time of the Charter's publication in the summer of 1941 coincided with Soviet Russia's entering the war as an ally of the West against Nazi Germany. With a resolute endorsement of the federal program, in which--as so many seemed to agree, lay Europe's only salvation--the Western Powers could have provided themselves in defense of the West's interests with the best possible basis for any future discussions of peace aims with their Soviet ally.
As for Soviet Russia, she always opposed the idea of European federation even though she herself was, at least nominally, a federal union of several nations. (Incidentally, that the Russians, who master this "federation," represent only a little over 50 percent of the total population, is among the little- known facts of the Soviet state of affairs.) In the late twenties when Briand proposed his plan for a European union, Stalin had declared emphatically: "For the slogan 'the United States of Europe' we will substitute the slogan 'the federation of Soviet republics of advanced countries, which have fallen, or are falling, away from the imperialist system of economy." 3 The German attack in the summer of 1941, however, turned Russia into an ally of the "imperialist" West and it remained to be seen whether Russia would be willing to change her anti- federalist stand for the sake of East- West cooperation.
Soviet Russia's well- known antipathy toward federal union of the countries along Russia's borders did not discourage the exiles from Central Europe from continuing their federalist planning. In fact, most of the already mentioned emigre announcements concerning the federalization of the Middle Zone were dated after the German attack on Russia. Nor, at the beginning of East- West cooperation, did the Soviet attitude appear stiff. Great military setbacks and the realization of the vital importance of Western aid to Russia (during the Teheran Conference in 1943 Stalin acknowledged that without American production the war would have been lost) seemed to soften Soviet hostility toward European federalism. Thus, in a report from Moscow on January 5, 1942, Eden quoted Stalin as saying that "the Soviet Union had no objection to certain countries of Europe entering into a federal relationship, if they so desired."4 In London, on June 4,1942, Benes discussed the Czecho-slovak- Polish federal plan in detail with Molotov, who told him that Russia had no objections to the project. Five weeks later, however, on July 16, Jan Masaryk, the foreign minister of the Czech government in exile, was informed by Alexanderogomolov1">AlexanderBogomolov, the Soviet minister in London, that Russia could not approve the plan. This was interpreted as a "drastic reversal of policy in the Kremlin between June 4th and July 16th,"5 although more probably it was only a move to probe and test the Western policies, at a time when discussion of post- war plans was beginning between the Western Powers and the Soviet government. Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador in London, told Eden almost a year later, in March 1943, that in his opinion the Soviet government, although "not enthusiastic about the proposal for a future federation of Europe . . . would not oppose a Balkan federation provided it excluded Romania, and a Scandinavian federation which excluded Finland." Maisky also spoke "of the possibility of a Polish- Czech federation, saying that all such considerations depended on whether or not Poland was to have a government friendly to the Soviet Union."6 Other Soviet pronouncements in the meantime emphasized Russia's wish to see "free, democratic, sovereign nations with governments friendly to the Soviet Union" rise in the Middle Zone, especially a "strong" Poland, Czecho- slovakia and Yugoslavia, while the federal plans were denounced as "reactionary attempts" to revive the old anti- Soviet cordon sanitaire of the inter- war period. Czechoslovakia's government in exile was the only one that responded promptly and favorably to the Soviet point of view. Moscow's program, envisaging the restoration of sovereign nation- states in the Middle Zone, appealed to Benes--partly because he never felt enthusiastic about the federal plans anyway, and partly because he found ready support in Moscow for his pet project, the restoration of Czechoslovakia as a "homogeneous" Slav nation-
state. The memory of Munich, and the fact that the Soviet government took the lead in supporting Benes's diplomatic struggle for the repudiation of Munich, further nurtured his pro- Soviet leanings. Foreign Minister Molotov, while visiting London in the spring of 1942, assured Benes that Russia recognized the pre- Munich frontiers of Czechoslovakia. One year later, in June 1943, the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's non- Slav population was approved by Moscow. The note informing the Czechs of the Soviet decision was conveniently timed. Coinciding, as it did, with Benes's visit to Washington, it helped the Czechs in winning President Roosevelts assent to their plans.
The Western Powers were reluctant to take action during the war prejudicing post- war territorial questions in any way. Nevertheless in August 1942, upon Benes's insistence, the British government declared itself free of any engagements undertaken at Munich, repeating thus Molotov's similar assurances given two months earlier. Meanwhile Foreign Secretary Eden agreed also--actually one year ahead of the Russians but in less general terms than they--to "the transfer of minority populations, guilty against the [Czechoslovak] Republic." Benes repeated his London success a year later in Washington, during his official visit to the United States in May and June 1943. Secretary of State Cordell Hull gave assurances that the U.S. government considered Munich null and void. With Roosevelt Benes discussed the population plans "twice in detail," and the President approved the transfer of "the greatest possible number" of Germans. Western approval of Benes's expulsion plans, so alien to Western thinking, was granted in somewhat guarded terms. Nevertheless it was granted--evidently in the belief that this too would promote the then avidly sought cooperation between East and West.
Thus Benes pioneered East- West cooperation in the Middle Zone, based, however, not on a federal plan, but on restoring the sovereign nation- states as homogeneous ethnic units. Other exile governments also subscribed in principle to cooperation with Soviet Russia but without the enthusiasm of the Czechs. The Poles had especially grave problems to face. No agreement had been reached on the future of Russo- Polish frontiers. The fate of Polish prisoners of war and civilian internees in Soviet territory was another explosive issue. General Sikorski, the Polish premier in exile, was for Soviet cooperation but (until his un- timely death in 1943) he remained an advocate of a federated Middle Zone.
Benes, on the other hand, combined Moscow's program of"sovereign nations" with the plans for Czech- Polish union into a new scheme of close association between Czechoslovakia, Poland and Soviet Russia This he called the future "cornerstone of peace in Europe." Elaborating upon this concept, Benes said, addressing the Czechoslovak State Council in exile on November 12, 1942: "The present war is a decisive historical opportunity for stopping definitely the Pan- German Drang nach Osten. The present war has proved that this cannot be attained except by a true, friendly and loyal cooperation between Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. If we succeed, the whole future of Poland and Czechoslovakia is guaranteed, and the whole of Europe is helped by it. If not, a new catastrophe will come, in some form provoked by Germany."
Actually this plan of a tripartite Czech- Polish- Soviet cooperation was superseded by bilateral Czech- Soviet cooperation, which led in December 1943 to the signing of a treaty of friendship, mutual assistance and post- war cooperation between Czechoslovakia and Soviet Russia Poland's adherence was envisaged in the pact, but in the meantime Polish- Soviet relations became worse than ever. The Soviet government broke off diplomatic relations in April 1943, when the Polish government asked the International Red Cross to investigate the mass grave of Polish officers massacred, according to the German pronouncement, by the Russians in the forest of Katyn. Diplomatic relations were never resumed. During the liberation of Poland, in 1944, the Russians created for themselves a subservient Polish partner in the form of the Communist Lublin Committee of National Liberation.
The Czechoslovak- Polish federal project died unceremoniously and the Czech and Polish governments in exile went their separate ways in their struggle for the future of their nations. The other federal pilot- project, the Balkan Unionplanned by the Yugoslav and Greek governments in exile, fared no better. Struggles for power among the partisans at home, as well as among the exiles, dominated Balkan politics. How to return home, rather than how to form a union between Yugoslavia and Greece, was the problem of the two governments in exile. The Greeks succeeded in getting home, with British help, while all that the Yugoslavs achieved was an agreement, signed in liberated Belgrade in December 1944, between Ivan Subasic the premier of the exiles, and Tito, who possessed the real power at home, a compromise which turned out to be a complete victory for the latter.
It was the aim of Soviet policy to deal with each nation in the Middle Zone separately, not with groups united by federal ties. The liberation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army was of course the decisive factor in enabling Russia to carry out her intentions. But then, too, the Western allies made no attempt to carry out the federal plans; nor is there much ground for assuming that these plans would have been carried out even if the Middle Zone had been liberated by armies of the West. For despite the wartime vogue for federal plans, the intentions of the planners remained ambiguous.
As Oscar Jászi, dean of the Danubian federalists, saw it "there was not even a real will aiming at "true federalism." For a truly democratic federation--that is, a system in which autonomous nations would be united with equal rights for all under a supranational federal government--had little or no backing among the planners of various federal projects. Conservative legitimists, trying to regain power under a Habsburg restoration, paid lip service to federalism, as did also those who intended to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in Central Europe under Russia's leadership. But most frequently the federalists were simply nationalists, primarily interested in restoring the pre- war system of national states and planning to make the state even more nationalistic by expelling the minorities. This was what Benes, for instance, planned to do in Czechoslovakia.
Professor Jászi called Benes's decision to expel the minorities an "amazing conclusion." Jászi denied "the right of any state to experiment in uprooting national minorities, which for centuries have lived and worked on a territory which they regard as their beloved home." He branded the efforts to restore the small independent nation- states in Central Europe as a "reactionary policy, impotent and hopeless," and pointed out that "the governmental organs of sovereign states cannot generate a common will for common action, but will be directed inevitably towards selfish national interests."
Jászi deplored especially the way federalist slogans were being used as a screen for nationalist ambitions. In 1944 this life- long champion of Danubian federation, then a retired professor of Oherlin College, commented: "Most amazing to the friends of a lasting peace is the frequent emergence of so- called peace plans, which, in a more or less hidden language, emphasize the necessity for the re- establishment of the pre- war system of distinct national sovereignties. Of course the authors of such plans express their admiration for certain vague forms of federalism, or pay compliment to a new 'better' League of Nations; but, discounting their rationalization, the realistic observer will not fail to understand that what they have in mind is really not true federalism, but the reconstruction of a new balance of power system, planned primarily to operate against a defeated and humiliated Germany, but occasionally also against Russia."
In Western statesmen's attitudes, too, the realistic observer could detect no more than superficial expressions of admiration for certain forms of federalism. The records show various statements complimentary to federal plans; the plans themselves, however, were extremely vague and the actions taken on their behalf, if they can be called actions at all, were such haphazard improvisations that it is no wonder they did not affect in the slightest the actual course of wartime diplomacy.
In a message reproduced in his memoirs, Prime Minister Churchill said to Foreign Secretary Eden on October 21, 1942: "I must admit that my thoughts rest primarily in Europe--the revival of the glory of Europe, the parent continent of the modern nations and of civilization. It would be a measureless disaster if Russian barbarism overlaid the culture and independence of the ancient states of Europe. Hard as it is to say now, I trust that the European family may act unitedly as one under a Council of Europe. I look forward to a United States of Europe in which the barriers between the nations will be greatly minimized and unrestricted travel will be possible. I hope to see the economy of Europe studied as a whole. I hope to see a Council consisting of perhaps ten units, including the former Great Powers, with several confederations--Scandinavian, Danubian, Balkan, etc. --which would possess an international police and be charged with keeping Prussia disarmed. . . . unhappily," Churchill concluded, "the war has prior claims on your attention and on mine."
A few weeks later, in December 1942, Foreign Secretary Eden was asked in the House of Commons whether the British government desired to encourage the formation of federations, and specifically whether a Danubian federation would include such states as Austria, Hungary Czechoslovakia and Poland. Eden replied: "In my speech at Leamington, on September 26th, I referred to the existing Polish- Czechoslovak and Greek- Yugoslav agreements and said; that, as far as we were concerned, we should continue to foster agreements of this kind and to encourage the smaller states to weld themselves into larger, though not exclusive, groupings. Whether it will be possible, or desirable, to include Austria and Hungarywithin a federation based upon Poland and Czechoslovakia must clearly depend, among other things, upon the views of the Polish and Czechoslovak Governments and peoples and upon the future attitude of the Austrians and Hungarians, who are now fighting in the ranks of our enemies." Churchill discussed publicly the subject of regional federations in his famous Council of Europe broadcast on March 21, 1943, when he said: "It would . . . seem, to me at any rate, worthy of patient study that side by side with the Great Powers there should be a number of groupings of states or confederations, which would express themselves through their own chosen representatives, the whole making a Council of great states and groups of states. It is my earnest hope, though I can hardly expect to see it fulfilled in my lifetime, that we shall achieve the largest common measure of the integrated life of Europe that is possible without destroying the individual characteristics and traditions of its many ancient and historic races. All this will, I believe, be found to harmonize with the high permanent interests of Britain, the United States, and Russia. It certainly cannot be accomplished without their cordial and concerted agreement and participation. Thus and thus only will the glory of Europe rise again."
While Churchill was talking about regional federations, the American State Department, in its post- war planning, was also discussing certain types of regional organizations. According to Under- Secretary of State Sumner Welles, at the beginning of 1943 the members of the Departmental Committee on International Organization were almost unanimously of the opinion that any new world structure would be built upon regional organizations.
American and British views on regionalism and federation were exchanged during Churchill's third wartime visit to Washington, in May 1943, especially at "an important conversation on the structure of a post- war settlement," held at a British Embassy luncheon on May 22. The Prime Minister, as he recounted in his memoirs, expressed the view that the real responsibility for peace after the war should rest on a Supreme World Council formed by the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and--if the United States wished--China. Subordinate to the World Council there should be three Regional Councils: one for Europe, one for the American hemisphere, and one for the Pacific.
The European Council, Churchill suggested, might consist of about twelve "States or Confederations." He expressed the hope that in South- eastern Europe there might be several confederations, among others "a Danubian Federation based on Vienna and doing something to fill the gap caused by the disappearance of the Austro- Hungarian Empire." Incidentally, Churchill's "Danubian Federation" bore little resemblance to former Austria- Hungary It tied Austria and Hungaryto Bavaria rather than to the surrounding Danubian nations of the former Habsburg Monarchy. Churchill spoke also of a "Balkan Federation," and referred to Poland and Czechoslovakia as yet another grouping, having in mind, evidently, the federal pact agreed upon a year before by the Czech and Polish governments in exile. "Poland and Czechoslovakia," he said, "should stand together in friendly relations with Russia." The American guests present at the British Embassy luncheon were: Vice- President Wallace, Secretary of War Stimson, Secretary of the Interior Ickes, Senator Connally, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Under- Secretary of State Sumner Welles. They all agreed with Churchill and said they themselves had been thinking along more or less similar lines. Stimson voiced the farsighted view that agreement on post- war plans should be reached while the war was still proceeding, inasmuch as after the war there would be a tendency to relax and a reluctance to embark upon new international experiments.
However, no Anglo- American agreement was reached on the regional councils. Moreover, the views of the Western leaders on the creation of "larger organisms" showed more discrepancy than harmony during the Russo- American- British discussions of post- war plans at Moscow and Teheran, which followed shortly after the British- American conference in Washington.
In contrast with Under- Secretary of State Sumner Welles's views, Secretary of State Cordell Hull showed, during the Russo- American- British negotiations, no understanding at all of the regional plans. Nor, it seems, did federal union as a means of curbing the dangers of nationalism figure in Hull's thinking, even though, according to his public statements, he was fully aware of the evils of nationalism. For instance, he condemned nationalism in the strongest terms in a speech of July 23, 1942. "Nationalism, run riot between the last war and this war," he said, "defeated all attempts to carry out indispensable measures of international economic and political action, encouraged and facilitated the rise of dictators, and drove the world straight towards the present war." But he put all his faith, as did Roosevelt in a new worldwide international organization which would curb international rivalry. He even considered regionalism a dangerous trend which "might imperil the future post- war organization."
This view that regional or federal plans might impair the success of Allied negotiations concerning the creation of a post- war world organization was upheld by Cordell Hull at the conference of the foreign ministers of the Big Three (Hull, Eden, Molotov) which took place in Moscow between October 13 and October 30, 1943. At the October 26 meeting the question of confederation of the smaller European nations, with particular reference to the Danubian area, came up for discussion on the basis of a proposal sanctioning such confederations, submitted by Anthony Eden. This British plan had been rejected previously by the State Department, and in Moscow Hull reiterated his stand by saying that agreement should first be reached on a broad set of principles, capable of worldwide application, which would then guide the three powers in consideration of separate and specific questions. Thereupon Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov read a statement which emphatically criticized the idea of planning federations of small nations at that time. The Soviet government, Molotov said, felt the active consideration or encouragement of such schemes to be premature and even harmful, not only to the interests of the small countries, but also to general matters of European stability. Some of the plans for federation, he continued, reminded him of the old cordon sanitaire against the Soviet Union. Eden replied that his government was not interested in creating a cordon sanitaire against the Soviet Union, but was very much interested in creating one against Germany. Acknowledging, however, that there was a "great force" in Molotov's statement, Eden dropped the issue.
The forces behind Eden's Danubian plan must have been negligible, because it never came up again for discussion during the subsequent international conferences. Not even Churchill seemed to go along with Eden's plan. Churchill was in favor of detaching Bavaria from Germany to set it up as a separate state with Austria and Hungary Eden's view, on the other hand, held it advisable to restore the separate states created from the old Austro- Hungarian Empire and to form them into a Danubian group. Actually, Eden distinguished himself more as a restorer of the national states than as an advocate of a Danubian federation. Already, in the summer of 1942, he had assured Benes that the British government not only recognized the pre- Munich frontiers of Czechoslovakia but also would support the Czech plan for expelling the minority populations from Czechoslovakia, an ultranationalist Czech demand absolutely alien to the idea of federalism.
The sole decision of the Moscow conference of the foreign ministers relating to the Danubian area was the "Declaration on Austria." In line with the Allied principle that Hitler's conquests should be repudiated, the three foreign ministers agreed that the annexation imposed upon Austria by Germany on March 15, 1938, was null and void; and in line with the general principle of restoring the pre- war national states they declared that Austria should be re- established as a free and independent country.
The "dangerous trend" toward regionalism was carefully avoided in another decision which set up a European Advisory Commission. In Cordell Hull's own words: "We could agree to the creation of a European Commission for dealing with the terms to be imposed on the enemy, but we opposed entrusting to such a body long- range peace- time functions. We took this up at the Moscow Conference and agreed to create the European Advisory Commission with functions limited to the formulation of terms of surrender and plans for their execution."
Regionalism and federalism fared no better when, a month later, between November 28 and December 1, 1943, in Teheran, the Big Three, President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill and Marshal Stalin, met for the first time; there the European federal plans were discussed by all three top leaders of the Grand Alliance, also for the first time, and, so far as the available evidence goes, for the last time.
On the first day of the Teheran conference, on November 28, Churchill improvised a few after- dinner remarks on what he called the"Danubian Confederation," outlining again the plan he had broached at the Washington meeting in May. Churchill expressed his feeling that Prussia should be isolated and reduced, and that Bavaria, Austria and Hungarymight form a "broad, peaceful, unaggressive, confederation." The issue popped up again at the last formal meeting of the conference on December l. In connection with the future of Germany, after Rooseveltexplained his plan for splitting it up into five parts, Churchill suggested that a distinction should be made between Prussia (which he would treat "sternly') and the "second group" of less ferocious, non-
Prussian states of Germany: Bavaria, Württemberg, The Palatinate, Saxony and Baden, which, he said, "I should like to see work with what I would call a Danubian Confederation." Churchill believed it necessary to "create in modern form what had been in general outline the Austro- Hungarian Empire." His Bavarian- Austrian- Hungarian "Danubian Confederation," however, represented something unique in its purpose as well as in its geographic extension. Although it had the merit of being conceived as part of a broader European union, it was otherwise a rather extravagant plan. Its primary purpose was to dismember Germany and isolate Prussia. It had nothing to do with the traditional aim of the Danubian federalists to unite primarily the peoples of the former Habsburg Empireliving along the middle and lower Danube, for whom it would have been very doubtful whether such a combination of Bavarians, Austrians and Hungarians would be desirable at all.
Stalin, referring to Churchill's "Danubian Confederation," said that he favored instead Roosevelts plan for simply partitioning Germany. Furthermore, Stalin added: "We should be careful not to include the Austrians in any kind of combination. Austria had existed independently, and could do so again. So also must Hungaryexist independently. After breaking up Germany it would be most unwise to create new combinations, Danubian or otherwise." President Rooseveltagreed warmly, Churchill recounts, supporting thus the Soviet opposition to the only federal scheme that ever came up for discussion among the Big Three.
Stalin, apparently suspecting that Churchill's Danubian plan was intended to include Romania, protested against uniting either Hungaryor Romania with Germany. The matter was not discussed further, save for Stalin's emphatic assertion that "Hungaryand Germany should not be coupled." Why, aside from any parts of Germany, small Danubian countries should not be coupled was a question which Stalin was spared the embarrassment of having to answer simply because nobody seemed to suggest such a union.
In favoring an independent Austria at Teheran, Stalin was adhering to the very recent decision of the foreign ministers at Moscow; but a year later he changed his mind. In October 1944, when Churchill was discussing Germany's partition with Stalin in Moscow and again mentioned his Danubian plan, Stalin said he would be "glad to see" Vienna become the capital of a South German federation consisting of Austria, Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden. But he did not change his mind about Hun- gary. As Churchill reported to Roosevelt "U. J. [Uncle Joe] wants Poland, Czecho [Czechoslovakia] and Hungaryto form a realm of independent, anti- Nazi, pro- Russian States, the first two of which might join together."
Although Stalin rejected Churchill's Danubian plan at Teheran, with Rooseveltseconding the rejection, he went on record as not being opposed to a larger European organism. When asked by Churchill if the Soviet government contemplated a Europe of little states, all disjointed, with no larger units at all. Stalin replied that he was speaking only of Germany, not of Europe. Curiously enough, the idea of a "European Committee" was brought up at Teheran by Stalin rather than by Churchill, who was the original advocate of the "European Council." And it was discussed by Stalin and Roosevelt-in Churchill's absence. This is how it happened:
Before the December 1st meeting, at which Churchill's Danubian plan was rejected, Roosevelthad a private interview with Stalin and Molotov, during which the President's plan concerning "the government of the post- war world" was the main topic of discussion. According to Churchill's account, Stalin disapproved of Roosevelts plan that the world should be governed by "the four policemen" (the United States, Great Britain, Soviet Russiaand China), because he did not believe that China would be very powerful, nor did he think that "the four policemen" would be welcomed by the small nations of Europe. As an alternative, Stalin proposed that there should be one committee for Europe and another for the Far East. The European Committee would consist of Great Britain, Russia, the United States, and possibly one other European nation, which he left unnamed. Rooseveltreplied that this was somewhat similar to Churchill's idea of regional councils, one for Europe, one for the Far East and one for the Americas. "He does not seem to have made it clear," Churchill noted in his memoirs, "that I also contemplated a Supreme United Nations Council of which the three regional committees would be the components. As I was not informed till much later of what had taken place, I was not able to correct this erroneous presentation."
Certainly, there was no vestige of team- work between Rooseveltand Churchill concerning the post- war regional plans, and Churchill himself made only improvised forays into the field of federalist politics. If the decisive battle fought by the Western federalist forces took place at the Teheran meeting, and no further showdown has been recorded, then the Soviet Union won without a struggle. The Soviet anti- federalist stand prevailed. In fact the West too preferred to return Europe to the nation- state system of the past. While the British broached their federal plans rather casually, the Americans gave them no support whatsoever. The Russians then, evidently taking advantage of this situation and almost without opposition, advocated the restoration of the pre- war national states, "free and independent states," as they called them, and easily defeated the vague Western schemes of supranational reform.
|The New Central Europe|