Soviet Pact Explained
German Revenge Preparing
Front Our French Correspondent By reading certain London publications the French public can understand that the press is largely responsible for the differences that separate British and French opinion. The discussions of the delegates of the League of Nations which have just opened at St. James's Palace offer a typical example.
The question is, whether the FrancoSoviet pact is in contradiction to the Locarno pact. Let us say at once, that before the pact was concluded France, in the spirit of Geneva, was careful to find out whether the guarantor nations of the Locarno pact thought this and the Soviet pact incompatible. Their opinions were favourable.
Moreover, in the minds of the contracting parties and in fact, the Franco-Soviet pact is directed only against an unjust aggressor. It is a pact of mutual assistance and has only a defensive character.
Even in the recent discussions in the French chambers, ptfor to its ratification, it was clearly stated that this pact was not to be an open door for revolutioriary propaganda by the Third International.
The limitation of the contracting parties to mere mutual assistance was insisted on.
Surprise for Frenchmen
A French reader, therefore, who knows the question, is more than disagreeably surprised to read in an English weekly, which he would have believed to be better informed, that the responsibility for Hitler's recent coup rested on France, with its " damnable policy of friendship . . . . with Red Russia," or again, " in takihg atheistical Russia to her bosom."
France sees these things very differently.
For her, the League of Nations, often reduced to impotence by England's unwillingness to interfere on the Continent, has been shown incapable of assuring security to its members.
The successive infractions of the Treaty of Versailles by Germany have been glossed over by the inertia of the League; but France cannot help seeing in each of these infractions a new threat to its security.
France therefore has sought, in the spirit of the League, to form a pact of mutual assistance, open to Germany even, and directed solely against an unjust aggressor, whoever that might be, thus repairing the security she was deprived of by the inertia of the League.
This is the only reason for the Franco-Soviet pact in French opinion.
Besides, the repudiation of Locarno by Hitler and the advance of German soldiers on the Rhine have fully justified the Soviet pact for the mass of Frenchmen.
What France Wants
Still French opinion understands that England finds repugnant the measures that France thinks necessary for her security. For the average Frenchman the only efficacious barrier to the threat on the Rhine-and the only assurance of a lasting peace in Europe is a clear and indisputable promise of English assistance to France against unjust aggression by Germany.
The average Frenchman can never be convinced that on the other side of the Rhine revenge is not being actively planned.
In the present case French opinion expected that England, which had been so prompt and eager for sanctions against Italy, would honour its signature by imposing sanctions on Germany—the minimum foreseen by Locarno. France thinks economic sanctions alone would suffice to prevent German aggression.
Most Frenchmen have difficulty in believing that Hitler's offer of peace can he sincere since his signature has been useless at Locarno and in his concordat with the Holy See.
Does this offer from a man who has ordered murder, not hide a snare? That is what France fears; and England, deceived by France's interior political struggles, does not understand.