I wrote the following chapters fifteen months ago, on my return from a long trip I had just made in the Balkans and in Central Europe, where I had been so often since the War to study the state of things created by the peace - by the false peace.
Since 1912 I have taken part there in all the events of the day; I have known intimately all the statesmen, I have had an entree everywhere, and I have received the confidences of ministers and revolutionaries. All doors have been open to me, and all means of information, official and private, have been at my disposal.
I knew about the preparation of the Sarajevo attack three months before the assassination of the Archduke. I knew all about Serbian guilt in the preparation for the War (in league with Russia) for I held the proofs in my hand that Serbian officials themselves had given me.
I knew all about the Bulgarian intervention against the Allies in 1915; I knew how it could have been avoided, and I know the men who were criminally responsible for it. I know all about the machinations, the dishonesties, the manoeuvres and the traffic of consciences which took place during the peace negotiations.
It is because the guilty ones knew I held all these secrets and was determined to reveal them that the publication of my book produced in France the effect of a bombshell. It was not possible to prohibit its sale for, thank God! France is still a free country; but, at the request of the Legations of the Little Entente, all the great French newspapers were silent about it and even refused to accept the notices offered to them by my publisher. Only a few independent journals, mostly provincial papers, spoke of "La Guerre Revient", as my book was called in France.
But nothing could stop the diffusion of the truth. In a few months more than 30,000 copies have been sold in French-speaking countries, and about 10,000 copies have gone abroad.
I have received hundreds of letters of congratulation. Two were signed by former French Ministers of Foreign Affairs. I have been asked to give more than fifty lectures in France and Belgium. Only a month ago I spoke at Louvain, the martyred city, before the students of the great Catholic university there.
All the great newspapers of Belgium, Germany, Italy and Austria have devoted long articles to my book, and in England "The Contemporary Review" has given it prominence.
The assassination of King Alexander at Marseilles (which I had predicted) gave a new force to my words. In the issue of "L Oeuvre" dated 12th October, 1934, Senator Henry de Jouvenel, former French Ambassador in Rome, called me "a prophet". It is not very difficult to be a prophet if all one has to do is to tell an obvious truth!
Two months after the publication of my book the Supreme Court of Belgrade sentenced me by default to twenty years of hard labour and the White Hand (the Panserb terrorist and military organization) sentenced me to death. I have been warned that if I attempt to give evidence at the Marseilles Trial I shall be assassinated.
But this is just one more reason why I should go! One of the things I am the proudest of is to have in my veins, by my English mother, the blood of the great Hampden, who held his own alone against the tyranny of the Stuarts; and, through my French ancestors, the blood of the Huguenot refugees, who preferred exile and the galleys to the denial of their faith. Do what they will, I shall go to the trial and place my book upon the stand as evidence of the tyranny of the regime which the murdered king represented.
Since I wrote my book fifteen months ago events have taken place rapidly in Central and Eastern Europe. There have been in quick succession, the Balkan Pact, the dissolution of the ORIM in Bulgaria, the Serbo- Bulgarian rapprochement, the assassination of Chancellor Dolfuss at Vienna, that of King Alexander at Marseilles, the Hungaro-Yugoslav conflict, the German re-armament, and finally, a few days ago, the Italo-Yugoslav rapprochement.
I owe a few explanations of these more recent events to my English readers who are as interested as my French compatriots to learn the truth.
We must not let ourselves be hypnotised by the German question. The German danger which people pretend to have discovered during the past few weeks was not born overnight; it has existed for months, and all the governments in Europe knew of it.
This danger may eclipse, but it does not lessen, the gravity of the Balkan problems; problems born of the fraudulent and violent peace of Trianon. On the contrary, it aggravates them, because now the people who have been the victims of the false treaties, and to whom justice has been refused for sixteen years, know where to go to obtain justice and they are going there!
Let us take the above mentioned events one by one.
The people of France and England have not understood the significance of the coup d etat in Sofia in the May of 1934. A very clever Serbian propaganda has distorted the truth. The truth is that when the Bulgarians learned, through their knowledge of the Secret Protocols of the Balkan Pact (the text of which the reader will find farther on), that the Pan-Serbs were determined to take as a pretext the first incursion of ORIM comitadjis into Macedonia in order to destroy once and for all the organizations defending the cause of their martyred brothers, they sought for a means to avoid the catastrophe menacing them.
As Bulgaria has no army, the only way was to bow before Belgrade. Bulgaria preferred humiliation to annihilation. The Bulgarians in the pay of Belgrade took advantage of this situation to make the coup d etat. Understanding that this was the only way to save the independence of his country, and his own life, King Boris ceded. The present Bulgarian government is an anti-national government, detested by the great majority of the country. It maintains itself in power only by the support of Serbia, who threatens to intervene if it is overthrown. The ORIM has not been destroyed; it is stronger than ever. A month ago in Paris I talked for an hour with one of its new chiefs. As for King Boris, he is only waiting for the right moment to rid himself of the ministers whom Serbia has imposed on him. Taking advantage of the difficulties which Belgrade was undergoing as a result of the death of King Alexander, he has already shaken off the more compromised of them.
In spite of appearances (and I insist on this point) the Bulgarian national sentiment has not changed, any more than the Pan-Serbian hostility towards Bulgaria.
The mad dreams of the Belgrade imperialists have not changed either. No one in French official circles is ignorant of the fact that definite pacts were signed in Belgrade last June (1934) between Nazi delegates and the government of King Alexander. It was agreed that in exchange for her neutrality, should Germany try to enforce the Anschluss, Belgrade was to annex Austrian Carinthia. If Italy came to the aid of Austria, Belgrade would intervene against Italy. You will observe that Belgrade would not intervene as a friend of Germany but only as an enemy of Italy. The Pan-Serbian policy is made up of this sort of hypocrisy.
After the assassination of Chancellor Dolfuss, when Italy mobilised 50,000 men in the Brenner pass, the Serbs mobilised 100,000 men near Maribor, at the Carinthian frontier. The Serbs were in with the Austrian Nazis to such an extent that the latter crossed the frontier freely with their arms and trained themselves for two months in the region of Maribor; and after the failure of the putsch on July 25th the defeated Nazis were able to find a refuge in Yugoslavia, where the police did not go beyond disarming them. And they still move there freely to-day.
The Pan-Serbs of Belgrade were the direct accomplices of the assassins of Dolfuss; just as they had been the accomplices of the assassins of the Archduke in 1914, and for the same reasons. They hoped to profit by the disorders, and even by the war that might be provoked by the death of the Austrian statesman. They accused the Hungarians of having aided the assassins of King Alexander. They knew very well that this was not true, for they know better than anyone why and by whom the king was killed. But they saw in it a convenient pretext to destroy Hungary because she obstructs the Pan-Serb imperialism.
The English people do not know, any more than do the French people, that last December the Little Entente had everything prepared for a general attack against Hungary. They counted on France to paralyse Italy. They were some tragic scenes at Geneva between M. Laval and the Czech and Serb delegates. War was near then. The attitude of Mr. Anthony Eden, the Italian delegate, Baron Aloysi, and of M. Laval (who frankly declared to Yevtitch and Titulesco that the French public opinion would refuse to make war under these conditions) would not have prevented the catastrophe if an unexpected intervention had not taken place. This came from Poland, who informed M. Laval that if the Serbs and Czechs attacked Hungary the Polish army would attack Czechoslovakia.
This alone, last December, saved peace.
As to the murder of King Alexander, it was prepared by Croat patriots. The King had already missed being the victim of ten attacks launched against him. The Croats hold him responsible for the regime of terror which they suffer and which is inconceivable to a justice-loving Englishman, as he will see as he reads these pages. All Croatia, all Slovenia, are determined to free themselves from the atrocious tyranny weighing on them. They are determined to cut loose from the Pan-Serb exploitation of which they are innocent victims. At the time of the funeral of King Alexander the French newspapers told how the entire population pressed crying and sobbing along the railroads (I have seen tears in the eyes of Frenchmen reading these accounts) to salute the body of their "beloved sovereign". They published photographs. The stories were deceitful and also the photographs.
In reality, the police and the Pan-Serb organisations had mobilised the populations in their villages and had conducted them by force to the stations and into the cities, and had ordered them to cry, to sob, and to throw flowers.
The Croats and Slovenes, however, displayed their real sentiments on this occasion. At Zagreb, while the crowd filed (by order) before the royal coffin, and covered it (by order) with flowers, the widow of the great patriot, Stefan Raditch, publicly spat on the coffin. The Serbian censorship overlooked a photograph, which appeared in "L Illustration", and which shows Slovenes standing behind the police and laughing and nudging each other as the coffin was lowered.
Continual riots, which amounted to revolutionary attempts, have taken place in the last five months from one end to the other of Croatia and Slovenia. Those at Zagreb, Bled and Ljubljana have been terribly bloody. At Bled, more then 25,000 peasants attacked the Serbian troops, who fired on them with machine-guns.
The assassins of the King are considered by the five million Croats and Slovenes as heroes. The Pan-Serbs have asked the French government to "arrange" the trial of these men and to guarantee their death in advance. Their requests have been granted, and all the documents essential to their defence, all the documents revealing the bloody and corrupt regime that the King had authorised and favoured in Croatia and Slovenia, have been removed from the brief. At Marseilles, the Serb Secret Police, composed of veritable ex-convicts, menace the witnesses, and closely follow the examination in which delegates and the police of the Serbian White Hand participate in the most scandalous and illegal fashion. It can be said in advance, and I say it with a heavy heart, that the trial will be a parody of justice, and that everything will be done to silence the voices of those free men who will try to tell the jury the truth about the cause of the murder of Alexander Karageorgevitch.
I can affirm, and I have this information from an absolutely responsible French source, that the French government has promised Belgrade that the accused will be sentenced to death and executed as rapidly as possible thereafter. It would have been done already (for everything had been prepared to have the trial take place at the end of March) if the defence had not made an appeal before the Supreme Court against certain violations of the law by the examining magistrate.
I affirm, moreover, that the accused men (who were not at Marseilles on the 9th October) are held responsible, not only for the death of M. Barthou, but also for the deaths of two women killed near the royal car. Now, the film taken that day, which is not allowed to be shown in France, proves that neither M. Barthou nor the two women were shot by the assassin. This is why, without a doubt, they have refused to let the people of France see it and judge for themselves. As for me, I have been warned from an official source that if I persist in my desire to appear at the trial I shall be assassinated.
Certain people who believe all they read in the French Press will say that Belgrade and Rome are about to become reconciled. Before the German menace Serbs and Italians forget their old hatreds and listen wisely to the French counsel of reconciliation. Significant conversations were exchanged at Belgrade three weeks ago between the special Italian ambassador and the Prince-Regent Paul.
Conversations, and especially diplomatic conversations, are only idle talk. The only things that count in the lives of individuals as in the life of peoples, are facts.
Now, the facts that had caused the hostility between Italy and Yugoslavia still exist. They are the Italian claims upon the Balkan regions along the Adriatic which are inhabited by Italians, but which have been given to Belgrade (in violation of the Treaty of London, April 26th, 1915), and the Pan-Serb aims on Venetia, Istria and Fiume (Rijeka).
Belgrade knows that Italy will never let the Serbs annex Bulgaria, Albania and the Austrian province of Carinthia, and Belgrade is determined to have them.
Rome is sincere, Belgrade is not. Rome subordinates everything to the desire to obviate the German peril; Belgrade (which is pro-German, for she counts on Germany to help her destroy Italy) conceals her German sympathies in order to rest on good terms with France who, for once, is in accord with Italy. It is important that the reader should follow the coming events with the closest attention.
That Germany is a menace to-day there can be no doubt! But it is our fault - the fault of those who did not hesitate in 1919 to make the peace one of "nonsense, violence and hypocrisy". Germany s claims for equality of rights are just, exactly as are those of the other vanquished nations - Hungary, Austria and Bulgaria.
But in order to avoid this danger, England, France and Italy should not rush to that other extreme which is leading us directly to war: under the inspiration of Benes, and the French politicians who share his ideas, they are recommencing the encircling of Germany - this encircling which led us to war in 1914.
There is where the mortal peril lies.
I fear that Great Britain s foreign policy, which would attempt to save peace by pacts and by the recognition of the rights of the conquered nations, will materialise too late. If she continues her hesitations, unable to choose between a France who cries PEACE but harbours war- makers, sadists and oppressors among her followers, and a Germany who has risen strong and defiant from the tomb of Versailles (and ready to offer a helping hand to those lesser nations who are bound in the chains of Trianon, Neuilly and Saint-Germain) then war will come. If she allies herself with Russia, France and the Little Entente before these reparations have been made, in an effort to preserve a peace of injustice that is fast tottering and crumbling, war will come. If she allies herself with the Machiavellian Benes and the Pan-Serb war-makers and oppressors, then also war will come.
We few who understand, in this Europe so sorely tried by the ravages of war and the horrors of an unjust peace, we turn to England asking: "Has the time come for you to declare yourself?"
Only England can answer.
April 5th, 1935