London Conference on June 12.—As an outcome of the successful preliminary meetings of President Roosevelt, Premier MacDonald, former Premier Herriot, and other diplomats in Washington during April, the preparatory committee for the World Monetary and Economic Conference felt encouraged to set a date for the great gathering as early as June 12, and the British government at once sent out invitations to the 50 or 60 countries whose delegates were expected to attend. At the meeting of the preparatory committee, the American representative, Norman H. Davis, announced that at the opening of the main conference the United States would propose an “economic truce”—presumably barring tariff changes or special trade bargains—to continue until the work of the conference was completed. Secretary of State Hull was to head the American delegation, and James M. Cox, former Democratic candidate for president, was invited to become a member. It appeared likely that President Roosevelt might visit London during the conference.
Washington Meetings.—The invitations sent by the American government first to 9, then to 11, and finally to a total of 53 nations for “conversations preparatory to the London Economic Conference” resulted in a notable gathering of statesmen at Washington in late April and early May. Of chief consequence were the intimate talks between President Roosevelt and Premier MacDonald, whose visit covered the week-end of April 1-4, and between the President and M. Herriot, who arrived a day later. Final decisions were taboo, but the discussions undoubtedly had a tremendous value not only in advertizing and drawing popular attention to the coming conference, but in clearing the way and reaching preliminary agreements, the absence of which has frequently proved the ruin of conferences in the past. With Canada and other American states the discussions aimed chiefly at stimulation of trade. With the European powers they covered a much wider range, adequately indicated perhaps by a summary of the official statement at the end of the Roosevelt-MacDonald meetings. The discussions, it was there said, recognized the need of:
(1) Constructive effort to moderate the network of restrictions of all sorts by which commerce is at present hampered, such as excessive tariffs, quotas, exchange restrictions, etc.
(2) Provision by central banks for adequate expansion of credit, and for getting this credit into circulation.
(3) Stimulation of business recovery, to which governments can contribute by appropriate programs of capital expenditure.
(4) Ultimate re-establishment of equilibrium in the international exchanges, and of an international money standard which will operate successfully without depressing prices. ... In this connection the question of silver was discussed and proposals for the improvement of its status.
More definitely, the American administration gave the impression that it was ready to depart from its past policies of exclusive tariffs and economic nationalism, and also to go further on the way toward consultative agreements and acceptance of economic sanctions as a means of bringing about reduction of armaments and international peace. Whether there can be navigation on these lines in the present turbulent political atmosphere of Europe remains to be seen.
Work of Arms Conference.—Ambassador at large Norman H. Davis attempted to stir the disarmament conference into action late in April by declaring that the success of the coming London economic conference, and world recovery along with it, was dependent on their making real progress at Geneva. If this were indeed true, then the prospects were not too bright, for at Geneva the opposing aims of Germany and France, and of the nations more or less ranged behind them, were locked as tightly as ever. And European animosities were further aroused by the triumph of militant nationalistic elements in Germany.
The conference reopened on April 25. Three days later Ambassador Davis spoke strongly in favor of adopting the British draft convention with as few disturbing amendments as possible. With signs of increasing co-operation of France, England, and the United States as an outcome of the Washington conversations, Italy and Hungary hesitated to side openly with Germany in proposals for changes in the British draft. When the question of how to count military effectives came up, France sought to include Germany’s 100,000 state police as effectives, and Germany countered by proposing that only “distant” over-seas forces (not France’s North African army) should be excluded from home strength. In the end, in the question of state police forces, the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Sweden, Holland, Austria, and Hungary voted with Germany that only part of these (not on actual police duty) should be counted) Italy did not vote, and France, Poland, and the Little Entente were opposed. ln general, the chief hopes for progress seemed to lie in the increased willingness of the United States to meet France’s demands for guaranteed security.
Four-Power Pact Weakened.—France in April sent to England and Italy her commentary on the four-power European pact put forth by Italy at the time of Premier MacDonald’s March visit to Rome. The French reply approved in principle, but hedged its acceptance with such a number of restrictions calculated to uphold the League and the rights of small nations that the Mussolini scheme seemed destined to make its way to the well-filled limbo of grandiose but impractical proposals. One effect of it, however, was to bring Poland quickly back into closer cooperation with the Little Entente against treaty revision, a co-operation more closely established by conferences at Warsaw' during April.
Commenting on this general idea of European supervision by the major powers, Robert Dell wrote as follows in the Baltimore Sun of April 21:
This division of Europe into great and small powers is somewhat arbitrary. After all, Poland had at the last census in December, 1931, a population of 32,150,000, about four-fifths of the population of France or Italy. The countries of the Little Entente, who must now be considered for international purposes as a single power, have an aggregate population of about 47,000,000. If military strength is the criterion of a great power, Poland has at present more claim to be included in the category of great powers than Germany.
In any case Poland and the Little Entente have not the least intention of allowing their fate to be decided by a junta of great powers, nor will France join in attempting to submit them to dictation. At the time of writing the French government is considering counter-proposals and it remains to be seen what the issue will be. Mussolini’s motives in asking for the revision of the peace treaties are clear enough. He wants, on the hand, to induce Germany to abandon the Anschluss with Austria in return for territorial concessions at the expense of Poland, and, on the other hand, to force Jugo-Slavia to cede Dalmatia to Italy.
Dalmatia, it may be noted, is a purely Slav territory in which there are about 7,000 Italians in 1 total population of 800,000.
Germany and north Europe
Nazi Rule Consolidated.—The words of Hans Luther, German Ambassador to Washington, describing the changes in Germany as no ordinary upset but a complete reorganization of the German state, establishing a “third Reich,” were borne out by the steps taken by the Nazis during April to extend their control over all sides of the national life. Following up its echt Deutsch policy, the government on April 8 put into effect a decree excluding all Jews—by definition persons with even a single Jewish grandparent—from the civil service the only exceptions being war veterans and those in the service on August 1, 1914. On the same date, 16 professors were forced to resign from university positions, 13 of them Jews and 3 Marxists. The campaign against Jews in the various professions was continued, but found a shadow of excuse in the newspaper statement that of 3,400 lawyers in Berlin only 900 were Gentiles.
Another sweeping decree abolished parliamentary government in the German states and provided for Hitler-appointed federal commissioners or Statthalters,—who in turn would appoint the state premiers, and these would appoint their cabinets, responsible only to the federal government. The government strengthened its grasp on industry by replacing the executive board of the Federation of German Industries by a Nazi board, thus bringing he already effectively organized German business fabric under its almost complete control, and assuring the elimination of Undesirables from prominent business portions. The next wave of Nazi control was directed toward religion, and it at first appeared that all Protestant church organizations might come under Nazi commissars. As a result of nation-wide protests, however, Chancellor Hitler checked this trend, and cleared the way for organization of all the 29 Protestant state churches into one German Evangelical church, with preservation of distinct Lutheran and Reformed confessions.
The German Stahlhelm, or league of war veterans, ousted its second-in-command, Theodore Duesterberg, former candidate for president whose grandfather was a Jew, and on April 27 joined the Nazi ranks by making Hitler its leader. The former commander, Colonel Franz Seldt, said that “for the future I no longer see parties, but only one big unity, against which opposition is just as impossible as running along.”
To complete the set-up, a new secret police organization was created, on the lines of the Soviet Ogpu, to fight antigovernment machinations. All these measures have, of course, not solved Germany’s economic problems, which have rather been increased by the intense resentment aroused abroad, and by the dislocation at home resulting from Nazi “cells” in control of every business activity.
Nazi Progress in Austria.—Municipal elections on April 23 in Innsbruck, Austrian Tyrol, resulted in a remarkable increase of strength for the Austrian Hitlerites, their party securing 15,000 votes, as compared with 9,000 for the clericals, and about 10,000 for the Socialists. Innsbruck has always been regarded as a good index of political feeling throughout Austria, which would indicate that the Nazis are now the strongest single party in the country.
Von Papen in Rome.—There was much talk of a renewal of the old German- Austrian-Italian combination when Vice Chancellor von Papen arrived in Rome for an official visit in mid-April, closely followed by Chancellor Hitler’s right-hand man Captain Hermann Goering, and also by Premier Dollfuss of Austria. Herr von Papen’s announced purpose was to pave the way for a subsequent visit of Chancellor Hitler, and also to arrange with the Holy See for a reorganization of the Catholic Center party as an adjunct of the Hitlerites, and for a concordat between Rome and the Reich to take the place of the three separate concordats with Prussia, Bavaria, and Baden. Apparently the Pope was not sufficiently assured of the stability of the new regime to proceed with these measures. In interviews with Premier Mussolini, Germany was given no encouragement for an Austro-German union, but was offered some hope of treaty revision by means of the Mussolini-sponsored four-power pact, despite French reservations as to its adoption.
Denmark Awarded East Greenland.—By a vote of 12:2, the World Court in April gave a verdict wholly in favor of Denmark in the dispute with Norway over the control of some 350 miles of East Greenland coast. Denmark’s sovereignty was recognized chiefly on the basis of the Treaty of Kiel of 1814, by which Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden with the express exception of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.
Trade Break with Russia.—The results of the trial of British engineers in Russia led England on April 26 to put into effect an embargo, already approved by Parliament, on the import of Russian butter, cotton, oil, lumber, and other products, variously estimated at from 50 to 80 per cent of Russia’s total sales to England. In retaliation, the Soviet government put into effect still more sweeping restrictions, forbidding the importation of British goods of any description, as well as the chartering of British vessels and utilization of British ports.
The trial at Moscow of the 6 British Metropolitan-Vickers engineers for sabotage and espionage ended on April 19 with the acquittal of 1, the banishment of 3, and the sentence of 2—W. H. MacDonald and L. C. Thornton—to 2 and 3 years’ imprisonment, respectively. The extraordinary confessions of the two latter were not only unexpected, but suggested that, however unusual the methods of Soviet justice, there was some basis for the Soviet charges. They also reflected unfortunately on the action of the British government, which, in an effort to protect its nationals, had recalled the British Ambassador and threatened trade reprisals.
President of Peru Assassinated.—On April 30, President Luis Miguel Sanchez Cerro of Peru was shot twice and mortally wounded at Lima just after reviewing some 25,000 or 30,000 troops in training for the war with Colombia. The assassin, who was also killed, was a former newspaper man and member of the Aprista opposition party. The death of the dictator Cerro, it was believed, might open the way for a peaceful settlement of the warfare with Colombia over Leticia, for which both countries during April had been busy assembling troops and munitions. To Cerro was attributed the whole scheme of recovering the ceded territory, which he was using partly for the familiar purpose of diverting popular attention from affairs at home. General Oscar Benavides, who recently left his post as minister in London to take command of the Peruvian army, was made provisional president. He is described as a moderate and conservative.
Chaco Warfare.—At the close of April, Bolivia replied adversely to peace proposals made by Chile and Argentina on April 22. According to Bolivia, these Counted practically to an ultimatum demanding that she cease hostilities and accept the Mendoza settlement terms, or Moulder responsibility for continued hostilities. Bolivia declined to do either; and this, it was thought, might end ABC efforts at mediation and lead Paraguay to make the formal declaration of war she has bad in readiness for a favorable time.
Hostilities in the Chaco during April were intermittent, but Bolivia was reported as preparing a still heavier offence to be launched late in May with 25,000 fresh troops. Paraguay felt consent that this, like previous offensives, could be kept from decisive results.
In Current History for May considerable space was devoted to refuting the 'few expressed in the New Republic of February 22 that “Bolivia, controlled by American capital, wants an outlet to the so a for her oil and tin; and Paraguay, controlled by Argentine (i.e., ultimately British) capital, wants to prevent it,” American capital, according to Current History, is not a dominating factor in Bolivia, and the war is to be analyzed rather as a typical by-product of South American politics, with weak governments tiring warfare to retain power.
Russo-Japanese Tension.—An end to Russia’s passive attitude in the Far East seemed indicated by the news at the close of April that the Soviet government, in Edition to concentrating a force estimated at 12 divisions and 300 aircraft on the Manchurian border, had been quietly diverting to her Siberian railways some 3,200 height cars, 190 passenger cars, and 83 locomotives belonging to the Chinese Eastern Railway. Manchukuo sent a demand for this rolling stock which was described as art of ultimatum, and also took occasion reassert her joint rights, inherited from China, in the Chinese Eastern line. Counter-protests were made by Russia directly to Japan regarding interruption of traffic in this line, lack of protection from banditry, and disregard of Russian rights and interests. The shift of Japanese troops from the Peiping area to Manchuria was connected with this tension, though it may have been simply for the purpose of dealing with the increased bandit activities incident to warmer weather.
Russia’s trade interest in her old sphere of interests in Manchuria is threatened in another way by the completion of the 108- mile railway connection between Central Manchuria and the new Korean ports of Rashin, Seishin, and Yuki. Open to traffic in August, this line will afford a new outlet for Manchurian products in competition with Vladivostok.
As regards Manchukuo’s general trade relations with foreign countries, a Japanese member of the Manchukuo privy council declared in April that the new state would soon close the door to countries withholding recognition, but with others would adopt the principle of reciprocity, as in the new tariff agreement with Japan.
War in North China.—During April hostilities between Japan and China continued south of the Great Wall and particularly in the triangle formed by the wall, the coast, and the Lwan River, with Japanese bombing raids extended to within 10 miles of Peiping. Late in the month these operations were relaxed with the shift of some Japanese troops to Manchuria, and Chinese forces reoccupied the treaty port of Chinwangtao, seized by the Japanese on April 16. Along with the Japanese occupation of the Lwan River triangle came reports of their efforts to start a separatist “Luantung government” in the area, which might be extended so as to break off all North China from Nanking rule.