WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM
August 24th 1921.
Dear Miss Addams,
I discovered a real friend yesterday in Monsieur Pardo, ↑(Italian)↓ head of the Russian Section of the International Labour Office. I took Mr [Birukoff] to lunch with him and they had a very useful talk. M. Pardo has knowledge, understanding and imagination about the Russian situation, and is, moreover, a keen pacifist. When M. [Birukoff] left, he asked me to stay and to tell him all about our League. I had altogether about two hours' talk with him. He is going to supply us regularly with much Russian material that we could not get elsewhere. He wants to help us and is going to enroll his wife to do likewise. She is Swedish. I am to go to supper one day soon, and to let them know if there are any ways in which they can help us during the Assembly.
Philip Baker has gone to London [tonight] about Russian business. Things are moving satisfactorily, I think. M. [Birukoff] had a good talk with Dr Norman White, Chairman of the Epidemics Commission of the League, and two other medical members of the staff.
I dined last night with Mme. Nitobe, and had a very useful talk with her about the ↑our↓ League. She was tremendously interested to hear all about Vienna and Salzburg. I think she will help us a good [deal] during the Assembly to come into touch with some of the delegates and other people we shall want to see. What a kind person she is!
I have [today] seen the members of L. N. secretariat who are dealing with ↑(1)↓ minorities questions, ↑(2)↓ East Galicia, ↑(3)↓ Silesia and ↑(4)↓ the arrangement of the agenda, and I lunched with M. Rappard.
The Silesian man was much impressed with our having telegraphed to the Supreme Council a month ago, suggesting that the League of Nations should be asked to settle the Silesian problem and that they should rescind the sanctions. I said it was typical of the way in which our League had often advocated a thing that was thought [page 2] wild at the time, but was actually done by Governments shortly afterwards.
There is a point I am very keen about which I forgot to discuss with you. It seems to me that a very effective appeal could be made to public opinion against the conscription of inhabitants of territories which have recently been handed over from the sovereignty of one nation to ↑that of↓ another. All the patriotic arguments that a man's natural allegiance to his fatherland should make him willing to fight for it can be used against his being compelled to fight against it as a result of an arbitrary changing of national boundaries. Also, when nations profess to be anxious to reduce their armaments, they might well be urged to refrain from conscripting these new subjects, who will presumably not make willing and good soldiers, and who in many cases are only a small handful. Question: what is the best way to get this proposal made public? What I should like best would be to get one of the countries which has a newly-acquired minority to voluntarily forge its right to conscript its inhabitants ↑[illegible] people↓. Shall we make a big effort to get Italy to do this in the case of the Austrian Tyrol? This is perhaps the clearest and simplest case of all. Another way would be to get an appeal made jointly by the various minorities concerned to the Assembly of the League of Nations. Under Art. 11 of the Covenant this would have to be done by one of the states which is a member of the League, calling attention to this new aspect of conscription "as a circumstance … which threatens to disturb [international] peace and ↑or↓ the good understanding between nations upon which [illegible] peace depends." I imagine either Austria or Hungary (which ↑the↓ latter is applying for admission to the League) would be willing to put forward this proposal, but it would perhaps come more effectively from a disinterested nation. What do you suggest? It is very unlikely that a unanimous vote could be obtained in the Assembly for such a proposal, but I think it would get a majority, and they might adopt the blessed practice of passing a "voeu" instead of a resolution, the advantage of that being a voeu, not being provided for in the Covenant, does not come under the unanimity rule. It has, of course, no binding force, but nor has a resolution of the Assembly under present circumstances, and I think a definite expression of opinion from a majority of nations that conscription should not be imposed in the cases in question would surely carry a great deal of moral weight.
Do you think my proposal a good one? If so, do you think (a) our League should send in a memorandum to the President of the Assembly asking for a voeu to be expressed on this subject, or (b) that we should try to get the minorities concerned to take joint action about it, or (c) that we should try to get the matter raised on some one specific case e.g. the Tyrol (this could I should think be brought up as a matter of urgency, since the Italians have announced their intention of putting conscription into force in their newly-acquired territory this autumn)?
The enclosed telegram has come from Vilma Glücklich. Can you understand it and act on it? Mlle. Gobat is believed to be returning on Friday. If I can get away for a few days, it will probably be from Monday until Thursday next week. It is most kind of you to invite me to join you at Caux. I ought not really to come so far, but I would rather have two days with you than a week elsewhere. So if I wire that I can come, will you be so kind as to take a room for me -- the cheapest possible? It will be a great pleasure to look forward to.
Yours very sincerely,
Catherine E. Marshall. [signed]