Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, September 14, 1939

14.IX.39

Geneva

Dear Robert,

There’s nothing to add to my cables about our efforts to get the Coptic stuffBZ.1939.13 and BZ.1939.14.1–25. shipped or accompanied. I’m keeping after Kaleb. No reply as yet from Bullitt.William Christian Bullitt Jr. (1891–1967), an American diplomat, journalist, novelist; he was the first U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union (1933–1936) as well as an ambassador to France (1936–1940).

Enclosed, a pathetic line from poor old Kelek. He ran me down on the ‘phone last night, and begged me to write to you telling you in what a pitiful state he was and how much he hoped you would buy some of his things. Perhaps the time is now ripe for him to consider reasonable offers for the few pieces you really want: that faience mugBZ.1939.31. and the antilope textileBZ.1939.32. are the only ones I should be sorry to see you miss—though I’m not inscrutable [sic] to the charms of the panther,Possibly BZ.1938.23. as you may remember.

I haven’t seen old F. since the beginning of the month, I’m not at all sure that all prospects of getting that lot have vanished: indeed, as things are at this present moment, I still feel as I did when I cabled you that I thought everything was possible—both in the particular case of the F. lot, and in general.

This is certainly a queer war, and I don’t think we’re at the end of our surprises. When HitlerAdolf Hitler (1889–1945), a German politician and the leader of the Nazi Party. He was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and dictator of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. signed that pact with the USSR, something happened that is comparable to the movements of the earth’s crust that threw up the Alps, separated Europe from Africa, ingulfed Atlantis. Not only the far-reaching effects on countries which, like Spain, had been in a death-struggle with Communism, or like Japan had supported Germany because Germany’s opposition to Russia pegged Russia in the West, giving Japan a free hand in the East. There is also the effect on France, for which, for close on 50 years, the Russian alliance has been a corner-stone of policy. When the great mountain ranges of world affairs have shifted as they have now, it may be expected that few of the features of the landscape as we have known it will remain unaltered.

Then, there is the manifest unwillingness on both sides to take the initiative in opening a war in grim earnest on the scale which it would at once assume in the West. The state of mind may contribute to the changes put in motion by the diplomatic revolution that took place when HitlerAdolf Hitler (1889–1945), a German politician and the leader of the Nazi Party. He was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and dictator of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. & StalinJoseph Stalin (1878–1953), the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until 1953. joined hands.

On the other hand, there is perhaps this to be said: The Russo-German pact may have more effect on the other countries than on the actual relations between the signatories. Pact or no pact, Germany’s ancient appetite for the rich lands of the Ukraine is still alive, and so is Austria’s will that that appetite shall not be satisfied. The pact has certainly helped Germany, enormously, to overrun Poland. Whether it will alter Germany’s long-distance relations with Russia is another matter.

As things stand at present with Russian production and transport capacity, it is very doubtful whether Germany can get any considerable portion of her raw-material requirements from Russia, except for the woods that can easily be moved by sea over the Baltic. To reorganize Russian metal production and rail transport so as to suit Germany’s requirements would probably take years, and the intervention of a whole army of German technicians; indeed it would mean that Russia would be handing over the management of its economic resources to Germany. Not likely. And then there’s the question of payment. In the recent commercial negociations, Russia was to have got a credit from Germany. With the war on, and in order to make it possible for Germany to get what she wants from Russia, Russia would have to give Germany credits. But Russia has just declared that she’ll trade with both sides, but only if she gets payment in advance. And one may be sure this doesn’t mean payment in Reichmarks, unutilisable.

I shouldn’t be surprised to see further manoeuvres by Russia. Her interest is to have the great powers west of her fight among themselves, to the point of exhaustion, and then to walk in on the ruins. It certainly isn’t to help Germany to a position of undisputed hegemony.

It’s a queer war. I feel that anything might happen. Gt. B’s attitude plainly says to Germany: get rid of Hitler, & we’ll settle it all without difficulty. Getting Hitler separated from Germany doesn’t look easy—but when no one wants to fight, and there are still millions of people who went through the last war, and everything, all the old landmarks are shifting, . . . who knows?

They want me to stay here, for the present at any rate, Elisina is at Antigny, and seems to be in good spirits.

Do, I beg you, send me a good long letter telling me how it is all being taken over there—Love to you both

R. T.

 
Associated People: Dikran G. Kelekian; Hermann Fiedler
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères