CHAPTER XVII
ENTER BARTHOU AND DOLLFUSS

Paul-Boncour1believes that the Four-Power Pact might have really been an instrument for peace (he himself having deprived it of any significance). The Chief of the French General Staff, General Gamelin, also took the Four-Power Pact seriously:2 "If we had to deal with a Germany that would act in good faith and limit its ambitions, was this not a tempting solution for France?"3 He had to be blind indeed if he expected good faith from Hitler, not to mention Mussolini, or even Sir John Simon. Gamelin realized that "certainly the danger of the Four-Power Pact was in letting it be believed that we were dropping Russia and were allowing Germany a free hand in the East." But he took comfort in the thought that Russia was not yet a member of the League of Nations and there was nothing in the new agreement "of a nature to shock the interests of Russia, if not her susceptibilities". As to the Little Entente and Poland, French diplomacy set to work to calm their alarm.4 It appears that Gamelin expected Russia to exhibit a more obtuse sensitiveness than France and a blindness to its own interests while suspecting that Hitler had been given a free hand in the East. It is hard to see how Gamelin could regard Herriot's idea to revive the Franco- Russian alliance as a logical French foreign policy5 while at the same time approving the Four-Power Pact, which directly contradicted that policy. With so logical and well meaning a Chief of Staff, no wonder French military affairs went to the dogs in 1940.

As for France's Eastern Allies, the hue and cry stirred up by the Four-Power Pact had disastrous consequences in Poland. The Polish colonels, headed by Pilsudski, grew indignant with the French Government, which had accepted the principle of the Four- Power Pact instead of a Five-Power Pact that would have included Poland. The Polish Colonels were unable to grasp that the French Government, while apparently accepting the Pact, was out to destroy it. Had the French asked for the inclusion of Poland, they would not have been able to scuttle the Pact. Megalomania and "patriotic" blindness were not exclusively Mussolinian diseases. As a result, there came into being the pact of friendship and non-aggression of January 26, 1934, between Hitler and the Polish dictator, Pilsudski. The world witnessed the "extraordinary spectacle of the Polish mouse deliberately putting his head into the German cat's mouth at the

____________________
1
Souvenirs, II, 356-7.
2
Servir, II, 359.

-143-

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