CHAPTER XVIII
MURDER INC.

Barthou's plan was: "Refuse to disarm, take our [the British] stand on the treaties, bring Russia into the League, re-knit Eastern alliances, and by improving relations between Italians and Yugoslavs open up a Franco-Italian front that would pin Germany down".1 He had no difficult problem to solve as far as the Little Entente was concerned. It was only necessary to assure them that the Four-Power Pact of unhappy memory for France and her satellites would not be revived, and that in the event of danger they would not be abandoned.

With the Polish Government, because of its recent agreement with Hitler, it was not so easy to re-establish relations of mutual confidence. But if Russia had been willing to work with the French, the alliance with Poland would no longer have been necessary to French security. Soviet Russia, as an ally of France, even without actively entering a war involving the West, could threaten Poland in the rear if she ever gave signs of entering a war at Germany's side.

Before Barthou took over the direction of French foreign affairs, and before Hitler came to power in Germany, the rapid growth of the Nazi movement had begun to bring the French and the Russians closer together. On September 29, 1932, Paris and Moscow had concluded a treaty of non-aggression. Now something more was needed: an actual alliance of the kind known in the parlance of the day as "a treaty of friendship and co-operation".

But how was it possible for the French Government to protest its devotion to the League of Nations and at the same time to declare itself an ally of Russia, if the latter remained outside the League? This difficulty, too, could be solved. Between 1919 and 1932 the Russian leaders had felt threatened by the hostility of all the Western. European Powers, and they had reacted by "planting" Communist fifth columns in their midst, fomenting unrest among their colonials, and keeping up friendly relations with Germany. During those years the Russian regarded the League of Nations as nothing more than a "tool of the imperialist Powers". After Hitler became head of the German Government and appeared as a threat to Eastern and Western Europe alike, the Russians decided to meet this new danger not only by cultivating friendly ties with France, but also by joining the system of collective security under the banner of the League of Nations.

The other problem, that of Italy, still remained to be solved.

____________________
1
Feiling, Life of Neville Chamberlin, p. 251.

-149-

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