4th March, 1926


(Due to arrive Melbourne-3.4.26)

My dear P.M.,

Amongst my letters by this mail you will see one on Abyssinia that constitutes an outline story of the machinations of the great Powers in Abyssinia in recent years. It all seems to me a typical- and inevitablemanoeuvre on the part of the Powers to exploit for their own individual advantage a State that is a thousand years behind the times.

Who is to blame them? If they don't get their share of the pickings in Abyssinia, someone else will. As long as lions exist, lambs will have to die.

As to the reason why I send you accounts of obscure countries-on the infrequent occasions when there is not sufficient business of major importance to keep me occupied, I indulge in a practice which I call 'diving for pennies', that is to say, I choose some country that one normally doesn't worry about, and go to the man in the F.O. who concerns himself with it and get him to spend an hour or so explaining the main points in its story. He is usually so delighted at anyone taking an interest in his very small baby that he takes a good deal of trouble with one. I then go back and dictate a quick draft of my version of what he has told me and send it to him to correct. I then get copies of the more important relevant F.O. print to amplify any points of interest, and eventually you get a letter on the subject.

This may sound rather like 'silly season' journalism. But on the other hand, there are very few countries in the world that we can afford to be ignorant about, and I think it is not without value to have on file the highlights at least in the history of such little countries.

2. There is a feeling about that there are underground machinations brewing in Central and Eastern Europe. In this last few weeks, there have been divulged (1) an attempt by France to make a treaty with Jugoslavia in which she wants Italy to join;

(2) an attempt by Italy to make a treaty with Roumania; and (3) French obstruction to the settlement of the Greek-Jugoslavia railway question which was meant to smooth the way to the beginning of a series of interstate Balkan arbitration pacts.

France and Italy are rivals and potential enemies. Heaven knows why. They have no real points of mutual irritation. It is apparently a case of inherent national enmity-which has been so fruitful of trouble in the past.

Mussolini has apparently ambitions to be the king pin and to have the say-so in all Central and Eastern European matters. Be it ever so humble an Eastern European pie, he wants his finger in it.

It seems fairly clear that the French do not quite like the Pact.

[1] Briand [2], by force of character, put it through, but the country does not regard it as providing complete security.

Therefore they continue trying to link themselves up with the smaller Central European States whom they hope will fall on Germany's back if Great Britain fails to play the part of protector of France.

3. I had a long talk to Allen Leeper [3] lately. His main conviction, after a year in Vienna, is that the Anschluss (German absorption of Austria) is a foregone conclusion and will take place whenever Germany is ready. He says nothing can stop it.

4. I talked to Tyrrell [4] two days ago about the threatened enlargement of the Council of the League. I have reason to know that until the last month or so (and probably still!) his personal opinion was against any increase. However, he doubtless felt himself bound, in loyalty to his chief, to deliver to me a long harangue in the Chamberlain [5] manner. It was a very clever forensic performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it, although its point was rather lost on me in view of my previous knowledge of his views. I had gone to him to know if he wanted a statement of your views on the subject, and in spite of the line he took, I finished by saying that whilst I had had no hint of your point of view, I could well imagine that you might be against any Council increase, and that if a statement to that effect from you would be of value as a peg on which to hang a bouleversement of H.M.G.'s opinion, I would telegraph you for your views. However, he insisted that Chamberlain must go to Geneva with his hands as little tied as possible, and so he said that he thought it best not to ask you for your views in case they were such as would further embarrass Chamberlain. The arguments that he traversed are known to you and were not particularly convincing. [6]

Tyrrell asked me what I thought were your objections to a Council increase. I said that, in the absence of any comment from you, I thought that probably you would be mainly influenced by a desire to maintain the original spirit of the Covenant and limit the Council to a stamping ground for the major powers with world-wide interests. [7] He said: 'Yes, that's all very well, but the principle of increasing the Council by the addition of Spain was discussed at Geneva in 1921 and Great Britain (in the shape of Balfour [8]) then expressed her approval of the increase, and even although it was not then consummated, we are still bound by the fact that we admitted the principle': which does not appeal to me as a very strong argument for sponsoring the admission of both Spain and Poland in 1926. [9]

His principal argument was that the main European potential trouble centre was the Polish-German frontier and that the wounds were too sore to enable the Germans and the Poles to get together by themselves and make equitable solution of their differences.

Only if they sat continuously at the same Council table would a spirit of reasonableness be engendered.

After I had got back to my office and put the above on paper, your telegram arrived putting on record your objections to an increase of the Council and I was glad that I had forecast your point of view to Tyrrell reasonably accurately.

One thing that seems to stand out is that there will be less harmony in our relations with the French if they do not get their way over this Council increase. They are sure to believe that Chamberlain engineered the press campaign in this country against the increase. The French have had their own way for so long on the League that they dislike the prospect of not being able to swing the Council through force of Latin opinion.

As Tyrrell I think very rightly emphasises, the League has not taken the place of the Balance of Power. There will be peace in Europe as long as the four major powers agree, and discord or worse when they disagree, the League notwithstanding-at any rate until such time as the League reaches far greater powers than it now possesses.

5. Chamberlain has undoubtedly lost greatly in prestige over this affair of the Council increase. He has had the Foreign Office and the Cabinet and the press of the whole country against him. People have firmly got it into their heads that he has been talked into the stand he has taken by the mesmeric influence of Briand, who is said to have something of the same effect on a sturdy, honest character as Lloyd George [10] or 1911 Goulet. That rare Spaniard, Quinones de Leon (Spanish Ambassador in Paris) has also apparently thrown the net of his personal charm over Chamberlain.

6. I read Tyrrell as a man prone to rather violent and sometimes hasty opinions and apt to depend on his remarkably quick intuitive brain to provide a formula than to the close reasoning and intense study of all sides of a question that Crowe [11] used to bring to bear. He does not hold the Foreign Office in the hollow of his hand in the way that Crowe did and he does not influence or correlate their opinion as Crowe undoubtedly did. The Foreign Office is less of a keen-edged weapon under Tyrrell than under Crowe.

7. Tyrrell is not a very fit man and will not, I think, last many years at the job which is a very exacting one. The next senior man in the office is Victor Wellesley [12], who would be quite unsuitable. Eric Drummond [13] may be considered again, or they may bring one of the Ambassadors from abroad, although popular talk says that this has not been a great success in the past, and there is apparently no outstanding figure amongst our Ambassadors abroad who could change his spots sufficiently to develop the rather peculiar qualities required by the Foreign Secretary's chief technical adviser. It would be difficult to promote Miles Lampson [14] over the heads of both Wellesley and Gregory. [15]

I hear on good authority that Hankey [16] was considered for the job of permanent Head of the Foreign Office on Crowe's death. I don't know if it was ever offered to him-I should imagine not.


8. I dined lately with Dufour-Feronce, Counsellor of the German Embassy, Herr Stharner [18] (German Ambassador), Palmstierna [19] (Swedish Minister in London) and his wife, young Bernstorff (1st Secretary of German Embassy), von Plessen (2nd Secretary, German Embassy), a few other odd Germans and three or four of us non- Germans.

Bernstorff was a pre-war German Rhodes Scholar and is a pleasant and, I should think, a capable fellow.

It is said that the Swedes are in the pocket of the Germans. In this respect they are very different from Denmark and the other Baltic States, who are uniformly suspicious of the Germans.

Palmstierna himself and his wife are always very pleasant to me and I like them both personally. Perhaps one is captious in disliking seeing him confidentially closeted with Sthamer in a corner, pouring confidences into his ear and waving his cigar at him.

One gathers from conversation with the Germans that they are not received everywhere yet and that they feel the existence socially of a good deal of anti-German feeling. One woman told me that she had just had a tentative lease of a house cancelled at the last moment because she was a German, 'and I', she said, 'had my only son killed in the war'.

They much approve the relaxing of the immigration regulations in respect to Germans entering Australia but, owing to the question of money, they do not think that it will result in any very greatly increased flow of German nationals into Australia for some time at least.

They freely admit the fact that Germany's greatest problem is that of population pressure. Their quota to U.S. is much the same as that of Great Britain, about 50,000-but they are gloomy about the future disposal of the great surplus masses. They admit that they look towards Russia with some hope.

The main subject of conversation is of Germany's entry into the League and of the possible simultaneous entry of other powers. 'It is a very anxious time for us.' 'You don't elect to join a Club and expect to find the rules of membership altered on the day you join.' They are courteous and pleasant. Whenever there is even one Englishman in the room they invariably speak English.

Sthamer is not a diplomat de carriere. He was previously Mayor of Hamburg.

9. I wonder if you have ever heard of the Loeb Classical Library in America. James Loeb, a banker-millionaire of the firm of Kuhn, Loeb, got the idea of producing a uniform series of authentic translations from Greek and Latin classics, with the original text on the lefthand page and the English translation on the right. He got the very best men to do the translations, from both English and American Universities, and he produces the volumes at about 10/-each, which barely pays for the work. It is an original form of high-grade constructive philanthropy aimed at raising the cultural standard of a certain grade of the population who normally get nothing done for them that they don't do for themselves.

It would not be a bad lead for some wealthy Australian to proceed on similar lines. We need waking up to a greater appreciation of the written word-not only the classics but works of a more diverse and less highbrow nature.

10. There has been a revival in the course of the last eighteen months of the old idea of the 'pamphlet' in the form of a series of little books published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., and called the 'Today and Tomorrow' series. They have induced people who are more or less authorities on their particular subjects to briefly expound their point of view as to the state of their particular art or interest as they conceive it to exist today, and the lines on which they expect it to develop. They adopt a classical title with an explanatory sub-title, such as 'Daedalus, or Science and the future'; or 'Cassandra, or the Future of the British Empire'. They are sold at half-a-crown and have caught on very successfully.

I enclose 'Cassandra' for you to see what the series is like.

11. In the course of this Council increase controversy someone asked, for their own information, what the population of Brazil was. They were told about 25 million. 'As many as that? That must be when they all come down out of the trees!'

12. Recently overheard at a dinner table. 'So and so was wounded in sixteen places.' 'Really, I didn't know a man had sixteen places he could be wounded in!'

I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 The Locarno Pact.

2 Aristide Briand, past and future French Foreign Minister but presently Prime Minister. 3 First Secretary at the Legation in Vienna.

4 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

5 Sir Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary.

6 Under the Covenant the Council of the League of Nations comprised the British Empire (in practice, the United Kingdom), the United States (which, of course, did not take its seat), France, Italy and Japan, and four others elected periodically by the Assembly. In 1922 the elected membership was increased to six.

Early in 1926, with Germany about to enter the League and take a Council seat, Poland, Brazil and Spain also sought permanent Council seats. Belgium and China then announced that, if the Council were to be extended, they would also be claimants. A compromise formula was found in time for the regular Assembly session in September 1926, whereby non-permanent members of the Council were increased by three and could be re-elected -the assumption being that the Assembly would do the proper thing and re-elect Poland, Spain and Brazil. These would be semi-permanent seats for semi-great powers. In the event, Poland accepted the compromise, Brazil took offence and left the League altogether and Spain announced her departure from the League but in fact remained.

7 On 3 March 1926 Bruce instructed Sir Joseph Cook, Australian delegate to that month's abortive special Assembly session convened to welcome Germany into the League, that Australia objected to additional permanent seats on three grounds: permanent members of the Council should be the League's strongest members with world-wide interests; to give seats to middle-ranking powers would be to open up a new arena for jealous politicking; Poland's and Spain's interests would be purely local and their permanent membership would make the League even more exclusively European in its preoccupations. (Bruce's letter of 3 March 1926 is on file AA:A981, League of Nations Council 4, iv.) 8 Lord Balfour, Lord President of the Council.

9 In 1921, Spain sought an additional permanent seat for herself but Brazil, who even as a nonpermanent member could exercise a veto under the League's crippling unanimity rule, made acceptance of Spain's request conditional on similar status for herself.

Brazil was unacceptable to other Council members and Spain's request had, therefore, to be refused.

10 David Lloyd George, Prime Minister 1916-22.

11 Sir Eyre Crowe, Tyrrell's predecessor as Permanent Under- Secretary at the Foreign Office.

12 Deputy Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

13 Sir Eric Drummond (from 1937, Earl of Perth), Secretary-General of the League of Nations 1919-33, Ambassador to Italy 1933-39.

14 Appointed Minister to China in October 1926.

15 J. D. Gregory, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

16 Sir Maurice Harkey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

17 Hankey's relations with the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, were not cordial.

18 Friedrich Sthamer, one of several outsiders introduced successfully but briefly into the German diplomatic service in the early 1920s.

19 Baron Erik Palmstierna, formerly Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs, was especially active in London in opposing extensions to League Council membership.