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Foreign News: Big Four

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During the Czechoslovak Crisis many Frenchmen were annoyed that Neville Chamberlain, although he flew thrice to Adolf Hitler (Berchtesgaden, Godesberg and Munich), did not fly to Paris. Instead, French Premier Edouard Daladier flew twice to London. Last week amends were about to be made. The Prime Minister & Mrs. Chamberlain, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary & Lady Halifax, are to spend November 23-25 in Paris. Under the outward show of a “purely social visit,” Mr. Chamberlain and M. Daladier will try to advance toward “general European appeasement” from the stage reached at Munich.

At No. 10 Downing Street it was said that Mr. Chamberlain will not take to Paris any retinue of British Foreign Office experts. Experts of the French Foreign Office expected to be left to twirl their thumbs by M. Daladier. To a great extent Munich was the product of “personal diplomacy” conducted by the Big Four— this being European for U. S. “shirtsleeve diplomacy.” Shoved into the background last week, British and French experts, many of whom are “pipe lines” to favorite correspondents, hinted that Chamberlain and Daladier would probably discuss:

1) A system of bilateral peace pacts by which each of the Big Four countries would promise the three others not to go to war with them for ten or possibly 25 years; 2) a treaty making the present strengths of the German Air Force, the French Navy and the French Army “ceilings” above which none of the Big Four would raise the strength of its corresponding forces; 3) division of economic spheres of influence by the Big Four, and some ceding to Germany of colonial territory; 4) agreement by the Big Four to renounce and force other States to renounce the use of poison gas or bombing of primarily civilian areas.

Points Nos. 1 & 2 were said to be actively urged by Adolf Hitler, who recently sent secret proposals to Paris after a four-hour conference at Berchtesgaden with the retiring French Ambassador Andre François-Poncet, who now goes to Rome. At No. 10 Downing Street it has been accepted for some time that colonial territory must be given Germany, somehow or other, and Paris hopes with London to get, in exchange, pacts intended for “humanizing warfare,” together with German and Italian cooperation in measures to remove some of the present restrictions on world trade.

In tentative colonial negotiations the Big Four were said to be using the good offices of South African Defense Minister Oswald Pirow, who recently arrived in London after conferring in Lisbon with Premier Dr. Antonio Salazar. He will shortly visit Belgium, where his reception will be cool (see p. 27), then Germany. Neither Portugal nor Belgium nor the Netherlands, for that matter, is much better able than was Czechoslovakia to disregard any “advice” which the Great Powers may give about parceling out colonial territory—if the Big Four themselves can agree. But Chamberlain, Hitler, Daladier and Mussolini risk becoming deadlocked in disagreements. This has been the fate of almost every Peace, Disarmament or Economic Conference of the past 15 years, and in desperation Europe is now trying “shirtsleeve diplomacy.”

Ripe was the moment for a political terrorist to make tension between states of the Big Four, and this week in Paris an apparent attempt to assassinate German Ambassador Count Johannes von Welczeck was narrowly averted. One Herschel Fripel Grynsztan, 17, a Polish Jew born in Hanover, Germany, who had been seeking sanctuary in France, asked permission to see the Ambassador, was refused, shot and gravely wounded German Embassy Secretary Ernst von Rath. Grynsztan babbled: “I had a divine mission.”

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