THE WESTERN MAIL
& SOUTH WALES NEWS, August 15th 1934.
WAR MAY COME FROM
SIMILAR TO THAT OF 1914
KLAGENFURT (By Air Mail).
HAVE just motored across the Italian border and it is packed with troops.”
excited motorcyclist shouted this to the clerks on the other side of the counter
at the travel agency in this Austro-Yugoslavian frontier town, where I was
buying my ticket to Italy.
was stopped by soldiers every few minutes,” he exclaimed. “I saw tanks
and big guns and regiments with armoured cars. There are thousands of men
they march if there is trouble?” I asked, joining in the conversation. “March!
They’re ready to march at any moment. It’s no bluff he replied.
head of the travel agency, a calm, elderly man, broke in and said slowly:
“Then Carinthia will be seat of war and Klagenfurt will be the battleground.
For the Yugoslavs will send their troops here. If the Italians march it
means another European war.”
inquired where the Yugoslavs would be likely to enter Austria should the
Italians march, and being told that this was the strategic point came here by
train. And I sit in Yugoslav territory. Soldiers from Serbia in grey
uniforms are washing themselves in the stream nearby. A few yards away is
a railway on which 20 years ago thousands of Austrian troops were being
transported to crush the Serbs. The high mountains, which form the border
on Yugoslavia and Austria, except at low-lying point, stand to the south, and I
am talking to the Austrian frontier guard, the Yugoslav Customs official, and an
“At Their Mercy”
peaceful frontier is the very point where Yugoslav (Serbs, Croats and Slovenes)
soldiers might pour into Austria if the Italian troops crossed the border.
why should you Yugoslavs wish to march into Austria?” I asked the Yugoslav
have a map there,” he says, “let me show you. If Austria decides to
join Germany, then Italy will send in troops to prevent it. They will
cross by the pass near Tarvis and will take the military road, known as the
Packroad which passes through Carinthia and Styria and unites the Italians with
their allies, the Hungarians.
that route the Italians will march through Villach, Klagenfurt, and Graz.
What then? If they do that, we Yugoslavs are at their mercy. We
shall be cut off from the North of Europe, cut off from Germany, Czechoslovakia,
and Poland, and we shall be like a nut in the nutcracker of our enemy, Italy.
That we shall never allow. That is why there are several regiments
stationed now within two or three miles of where you are sitting.”
if the Italians occupy Austria these quiet meadows filled with flowers and the
pinewoods around will echo to the tramp of soldiers’ feet, and those Yugoslav
soldiers who are now singing their folk-songs a few yards away will be loading
their rifles in real warfare.
Hatred of Italy
will the Austrians do? I do not think that they will remain quiet.
Although the present Government relies upon the friendship and help of Italy and
is closely bound with Mussolini, there is among the population bitter hatred of
Italy and a fear Italian domination. They remember that Italy was their
ally in 1914 yet came into the war against them. They know that in the South
Tyrol Italians are mishandling their fellow Austrians. The consequences of
the Italians entering Austria might, therefore, be grave.
is not certain that the Yugoslavs would enter Austria. It is possible that
their internal troubles, the severe dictatorship and the rumblings of discontent
among the Croats would keep their troops away from Austria.
is possible that the French would use pressure upon their ally, the Yugoslavs,
to prevent them from marching into Carinthia. Nevertheless, most people on
this border believe they would march.
some respects the situation is similar to that of 1914 in that the independence
of a small country is the issue, and the crisis is in the same region. If
Austria succeeds in maintaining her independence, however, no crisis will arise
and the Italian troops will remain at home.
of Italy? I shall cross the Austro-Italian frontier at the strategic point
of Tarvis and shall report on my findings.