Victor S. Mamatey, The United States and East Central Europe 1914-1918. A Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda.

VICTOR S. MAMATEY, The United States and East Central Europe 1914-1918. A Study in Wilsonian Diplomacy and Propaganda. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1957. XV + 431 pp.


This is an excellent study in the foreign policy of the United States during World War I. It is based on copious American unpublished sources as well as on published works in many languages. The title is somehow misleading. Namely, "East Central Europe" in the scope of this study, means the Habsburg Empire and its nationalities. Foreign policies of Rumania and Serbia are discussed insofar as they were related to the Austro-Hungarian nationalities. On the other hand, the Polish question, although partially a part of the Habsburg complex, was just touched upon. The same case exists with the Ukrainian question.


The study deals with the United States foreign policy towards the official governments of Vienna, Bucarest, respectively Jassy, and Corfů (the seat of the Serbian government in exile). It further discusses American public opinion as well as the official policy towards the Czechs and Slovaks, South Slavs, and Rumanians. It seems that the Czecho-Slovak question is best dealt with. The discussions of the South Slav problem, a very complex and difficult question, are not as successful as the other parts of the study. The presentation of the South Slav question is satisfactory in general but some details are erroneously stated.


The introductory part dealing with "Austria and Her Peoples" is rather extremely well balanced survey. There is no mention of a separate Croatian election of the Habsburgs for Croatian kings on January 1, 1527. It would be more exact to say that Venice purchased only Dalmatia (not Istria) from the Croato-Hungarian king Ladislav of Naples than from Croatia (p. 7).


I agree with the author that "The Yugoslav movement was very largely a product of the foolish policy of the Magyars" (p. 15). Only such a thesis could illuminate subsequent developments in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, respectively Yugoslavia. The author failed to point out however, a least in a footnote, a general disappointment of the Croatian politicians who helped to create the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. They expected that the South Slav Kingdom would better safeguard Croatian national individuality and interests. Therefore they became "founding fathers" of the new state and fought bitterly against Austria-Hungary. The policy of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, respectively Yugoslavia, towards the Croats proved to he in some respect even worse than that of Austria-Hungary. Therefore it was not surprising that the Croatians who helped to create Yugoslavia, turned against her afterwards. At least the experience of Dr. Ante Trumbić, first foreign minister of the new kingdom, should have been pointed out.


It would have been better to characterize Hinković as a Croat from Croatia-Slavonia or from the Ban's Croatia rather than as "a Hungarian Croat" (p. 22). The expression "a Hungarian Croat" would suggest a Croat from Southern Hungary (Baćka, Baranja etc.) because there existed a Croatian minority. Hinković was, not the head of "a republican movement" and he did not withdraw from the Yugoslav Committee. When Hinković arrived in the United States in October 1917, he encountered strong republican feelings among the Slovenian and Croatian immigrants. To appease the situation Hinković declared publicly that the Declaration of Corfú had not solved the problem of a future form of the Serb-Croat-Slovene state: whether or not she should be a monarchy or a republic. He was of the opinion that the question was still open and only a future Constituent Assembly would have to solve it. Such an explanation was contrary to the official statements of the Yugoslav Committee. Its position was that the Declaration accepted the monarchical form definitely. For that reason, the Committee quietly ceased to regard Hinković as its member.


Supilo, although a Dalmatian Croat, was a leading politician in Croatia-Slavonia. He was the creator and leader of the Croato-Serbian Coalition from 1905 to 1909, as well as a member of the Croatian Diet from 1906 to 1911. He did not withdraw from the Yugoslav Committee because he thought "that Trumbić had given in too much to Pašić" (p. 114) in the Declaration of Corfů but rather Supilo was satisfied with the Declaration. He withdrew from the Committee a year earlier, in June 1916, for he did not approve of the Committee's silence over Pašić's plans of a Greater Serbia.


Niko Gršković was not the president of the Yugoslav National Council in Washington but rather its secretary. The president was Dr. Ante Biankini, a known physician from Chicago. Tresić-Pavičić, Bukšeg, and Čok who signed the convention of the surrender of the Austro-Hungarian fleet did not represent the local Croatian National Committee of Pula but rather the central National Council of Zagreb (p. 364). They were sent directly from Zagreb to accept the surrender of the fleet. By that occasion the Croatian (not Yugoslav) tricolor was hoisted over the fleet to the accompainment of the Croatian national anthem Lijepa naša domovina (p. 365).


The first government of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed on December 20, 1918, under the presidency of Stojan Protić. The author states that it was formed under the presidency of Pašić on January 8, 1919 (p. 374-75). Accorting to the Treaty of Rapallo, Italy did not gain "the Dalmatian islands" or "most of the Adriatic islands" (p. 371). Italy really gained all Istrian islands except Krk and just two (Lastovo and Palagruia) of the Dalmatian islands.


Despite the foregoing remarks, Mamatey's work ably presented and discussed the United States foreign policy during World War I. The main aim of American policy was to win the war as early as possible. Until the spring of 1918, the United States as well as the Allied powers considered that the best way to reach their aim would be to detach Austria-Hungary from Germany. Therefore they tried to lure Austria-Hungary to sign a separate peace with them. When the failure of such a course became clear in the spring of 1918, the Allies and the United States started to consider that the break-up of Austria-Hungary would better suit their aims of winning the war. Therefore they began to recognize national movements of the enslaved Habsburg nationalities and encourage them to create their own independent states. The gradual change of Wilson's approach and the United States foreign policy, from May to August 1918, is brilliantly explained. The author's conclusion that "the new nations of East Central Europe were not created by the Paris Peace Conference" but rather that "they created themsleves by their own efforts" is very well substantiated.


Jerome Jareb