Gareth Jones

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Gareth Jones' hand-written confidential notes sent to Lloyd George (from the House of Commons Archives) of an interview in Moscow with The Soviet Foreign Minister.

Conversation with M. Litvinoff at Moscow.

March 23rd, 1933

  “The Disarmament Conference was in reality a duel between France and Germany.  The rest is of second-rate importance.  The whole question hinges on rearmament.  The Germans do not want disarmament and want the right to rearm, and that will be the ultimate result.  There will be no disarmament and Germany will re-arm legitimately or illegitimately. 

    The policy of the Soviet Union is unchangeable.  There are two fundamental principles: 

   i.     Not to belong to any group of Nations.

   ii.    No alliances. 

“We want to be left in peace, to carry out our internal constructive programme.  Any war – even a war in which we were not involved – would stop our Plan. 

“Up to the advent of Hitler I believed it possible that Europe would remain peaceful and that the only danger of war lay in the East.

 “There, Manchukuo is a Japanese province and Japan wants to go further.  This expansion may lead to a conflict with the United States on one hand and with the U.S.S.R. on the other hand, if the expansion is towards our frontier.

 “The refusal of Japan to sign the pact of non-aggression with us means that war with the Soviet Union is within the practical plans of Japan.  In this respect we must admire the sincerity of Japan.  They don’t veil their intentions.  They say: “We don’t want to tie our hands.  We may attack you.”

 “That’s how I regarded it a few months ago.  But now I am not so sure that something may not happen in the West, also.  I wonder whether Hitler is in a position to control his forces or even to control himself.  He may bring about conflict with Poland.

 “I fear also that something may happen between Jugoslavia [sic] and Italy.  But that is less likely.  Mussolini is not an adventurer.

 “The position in the Far East can only be altered by a change in American policy.  But I am not optimistic about U.S. recognition.  Some people want Roosevelt to have preliminary negotiations which may put off recognition for a long time.  The conditions put before us by the U.S. Government years ago were not accepted.  We are still less inclined today to accept conditions. 

 “Last year we improved our conditions with France.  The present French Government would really like to have a rapprochement which I regard as quite possible.  It is, however, ridiculous to talk of a renaissance of the Franco-Russian Alliance.  We can have good relations with France and also with Germany at the same time. 

“If Hitler has a bargain with France or with England, he will turn against us.  So we must keep well in with France. 

 “We have always been opposed to the League of Nations, because we regard it as being limited to the Big Powers.  Naturally we cannot submit to decisions taken only by the Big Powers.  The little nations have little to say there.

 “The majority of the Governments in the League of Nations have no relations with us.  Therefore we cannot submit to international tribunals.

 “Now the Four Powers want to concentrate the power in their hands.

  “We have no relations with the independent movement of the Soviets in China.  I do not know their ideas.  Surely it is not a Communist but a democratic movement which is against the policy of the Chinese Generals, who only look after their own interests.  It is more of a national movement to unite the whole country.  We have no interest in China. (i.e. internally)

 “Revolution will be the result of a great war, but I do not think it will come otherwise. 

The arrest of the 6 engineers

M. Litvinoff asked me to treat this as particularly confidential.

 “The greater the pressure the less chance there is of my helping, because we cannot give way to pressure.

 “Sir Esmond Ovey has been too tactless and too bullying.  He is seeking a quarrel and has as his aim the breaking off of diplomatic relations.

 “He used to be friendly, but ever since he had to pay for goods in foreign currency he has turned against us.  He used to pay in roubles for all supplies dirt cheap on the black market from Poland and other places.  Indeed the diplomats were the chief source of income for the black market speculators.

“We said that Sir Esmond and the diplomats should pay in foreign currency and he got very angry.

 “We cannot have his bullying, tactless way.  He is a very unfortunate representative.

 “The men will not be shot.  There will be a trial.  The matter has been taken out the hands of the O.G.P.U. and will be dealt with by the Supreme Court.

 “Please give my respects and regards to Mr. Lloyd George.  I always enjoyed being with him and always admired him.  I always followed with great interest his activities when I was in London as an émigré.  I remember writing an article with great enthusiasm about the 1909 Insurance Scheme.

 “I study his speeches carefully and admire his boldness.  What politicians lack now is boldness.  Diplomacy has been vegetating.  There has been no bold step on the part of any statesman. 

“I read Mr Lloyd George’s articles.  I do not mind his criticism of the Conservatives.

 Again, I send him my respects and regards.”

 Gareth Jones

Berlin March, 27th 1933 [date of letter sent from Berlin to LLG]


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