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ers incident. However, a new Anglo-Soviet trade agreement was signed
on 16 February 1934, without any of the attendant political issues
being resolved (to the chagrin of the Foreign Office).185 But, if the
Metro-Vickers incident did little to affect the fundamentals of the trade
negotiations, it did have an impact. The strong public reaction meant
that politicians had to be wary of any future dealings with the Soviet
government, lest the passions stirred by Metro-Vickers again come to

181
Neilson, ˜Cautionary Tale™; Morrell, Britain Confronts the Stalin Revolution; Gordon W.
Morrell, ˜Redefining Intelligence and Intelligence-Gathering: The Industrial Intelli-
gence Centre and the Metro-Vickers Affair, Moscow 1933™, INS, 9, 3 (1994), 520“33.
182
Ashton-Gwatkin to Strang, 16 Apr 1933, Strang Papers, STRN 4/5. This refers to the
war between Spain and Britain that began in 1739 ostensibly over the fact that the ear
of a British captain, Robert Jenkins, had been sliced off by the Spanish, pickled and sent
to the British government.
183
Remarks, ˜Committee on Anglo-Soviet Relations. Notes of Meeting held at No. 10
Downing Street, SW1, on Monday, April 3rd, 1933 at 11 a.m.™, ns, SRC (33), Cab 27/
550.
184
Simon to Litvinov, the reply, and Simon to Litvinov, all 29 Jun 1933, Simon Papers,
FO 800/288.
185
Collier had felt unhappy with the way that the entire Metro-Vickers episode had been
handled: Collier to Strang, 2 Aug 1933, Strang Papers, STRN 4/6.
80 Britain, Soviet Russia and the Versailles Order

the fore. As an astute political observer noted at the time, ˜the amount of
prejudice stirred up the moment you say Russia in some quarters is extra-
ordinary™.186 And, while it did not create any new anti-communism, it did
reinforce the existing views that Soviet Russia was, at best, difficult to
deal with and, at worst, not a country that should be treated with at all.
Simon, for example, noted that Soviet Russia had a government ˜whose
outlook and reactions are beyond ordinary rational calculation™.187
But such repercussions were for the future and did not stop the flow of
events. The mixture of Metro-Vickers, ˜the uncertainty as to what Hitler
and Goring [sic] will do next™ and the fractious debates over the future
of India made ˜the situation™, in Neville Chamberlain™s words, ˜more
threatening than I have known it for a long time™.188 Throughout
February and March 1933, the disarmament talks in Geneva collapsed
under the weight of German and Japanese obstruction.189 At the end of
March, Japan withdrew from the League. In April there was further
speculation about the possibility of a Russo-Japanese war, fuelled by a
´
conversation between the British and Soviet military attaches in
190
Tokyo. In the Japanese capital, Lindley believed that Soviet Russia
continued to dominate Japanese planning, while in Moscow British
officials were convinced that Soviet Russia had no wish for ˜a quarrel
with Japan just at the moment™.191
There were other events that had implications for British policy to-
wards Moscow. In April there were rumours that the United States
might recognize Soviet Russia diplomatically, an occurrence attributed
to each side™s belief that it would profit from consequent improved trade
and to the pernicious influence of William C. Bullitt, the American
diplomat whom Collier described as ˜enthusiastic and unscrupulous
and . . . notoriously pro-Soviet™, on President Roosevelt.192 On 5 May

186
T. Jones to J. Burgon Bickersteth, 29 Apr 1933, in T. Jones, A Diary with Letters
1931“1950 (London, 1954), 108.
187
Simon to J. Wylie, 3 Apr 1933, Simon Papers, FO 800/288.
188
N. Chamberlain to his sister Hilda, 18 Mar 1933, Chamberlain Papers, NC 18/1/820.
189
Eden to W. Ormsby-Gore (MP), 12 Feb 1933, Avon Papers, AP 14/2/204; Cecil to
Baldwin, letters, 17 Feb, 9 Mar, 15 Mar 1933, all Baldwin Papers, 121; minutes 12th
meeting Ministerial Committee on Disarmament, 2 Mar 1933, Cab 27/505, DC (M)
(32).
190
Lindley to FO, disp 157 confidential, 14 Mar 1933, minutes, Randall (21 Apr) and
Orde (21 Apr), FO 371/17152/F2550/116/23.
191
Lindley to Wellesley, 24 Mar 1933, FO 371/17149/F2615/11/23; minute, Randall (28
Apr) on Strang to FO, disp 204, 20 Apr 1933, FO 371/17133/F2737/2463/10; Lindley
to FO, disp 183, 27 Mar 1933, FO 371/17151/F2877/116/23.
192
DOT to FO, 18 Apr 1932, FO 371/17263/N2950/1149/38; Vansittart to FO, tel 9, 28
Apr 1933, FO 371/17263/N3231/1149/38, Collier™s minute (1 May); cf. Lindsay
(ambassador, Washington) to Collier, 24 May 1933, FO 371/17263/N4243/1149/38.
The period of persuasion 81

the German and Soviet governments extended the Treaty of Berlin.193
With Polish“German relations at a low point since the advent of Hitler,
Collier saw this as a cynical attempt by the Soviets ˜to see what they could
get™ out of the Germans™ need to ensure that Poland remained isolated,
much to the irritation of Warsaw, which had hoped to play the same
bargaining game.194 In Paris, during debates in the French Senate over
the ratification of the Franco-Soviet non-aggression pact, the renewal of
the Treaty of Berlin was seen by many to negate any advantage that
France might have gained by concluding the agreement with Moscow.195
All of this activity led the British to reconsider the direction of Soviet
foreign policy. From Moscow, John Vyvyan, third secretary at the em-
bassy, argued that an article published by Karl Radek in Pravda on 10
May marked the end of Soviet support for the revision of Versailles, ˜a
fact of some consequence™ in Collier™s view.196 Strang wrote a major
despatch on 4 June from Moscow on the same theme. For him, ˜the
active imperialist policy of Japan and the Fascist revolution in Germany
have, together[,] played a decisive part in reorienting the foreign policy
´
of the Soviet Union™. This new policy, the charge d™affaires argued, aimed
at securing Soviet Russia™s Western borders by means of non-aggression
pacts, while adopting a ˜policy of extreme prudence bordering on pusil-
lanimity™ towards Japan. This meant that Soviet Russia was now ˜an
element making for stability in Europe™.197
This was all to the good, but Strang warned that ˜it is an axiom in the
Soviet press that His Majesty™s Government stand firmly on the side of
Japan, not only in her Manchurian adventure, but also in her anti-Soviet
plans™.198 For Moscow, Britain™s anti-Soviet policy was also manifest in
other ways: the denunciation of the Temporary Commercial Agreement
and the anti-dumping provisions of the Ottawa agreements (the Metro-
Vickers incident, in the Soviet view, had provided a retrospective excuse
for London™s anti-Soviet commercial policy). These were not the only
manifestations of Britain™s perceived antipathy towards Moscow. The
Four-Power Pact “ an arrangement proposed by Mussolini in March
193
Strang to FO, tels 385 and 386, 6 May 1933, FO 371/17250/N3415/101/38, Collier™s
minute (8 May); Haslam, Struggle for Collective Security, 12“13.
194
Ibid.; Collier™s minutes on both Erskine (minister, Warsaw) to FO, disp 172, 28 Apr
1933, FO 371/17270/N3197/1610/38, and Rumbold (ambassador, Berlin) to FO, tel
97, 8 May 1933, FO 371/17250/N3482/101/38.
195
´
Campbell (charge d™affaires, Paris) to FO, disp 654, 6 May 1933, FO 371/17256/
N3504/232/38; Tyrrell to FO, disp 755, 23 May 1933, FO 371/17256/N3954/232/38.
196
Strang to FO, disp 287, 23 May 1933, FO 371/17264/N4046/748/38, Collier™s minute
(31 May).
197
Strang to FO, disp 306, 4 June 1933, FO 371/17261/N4329/748/38, minutes, Shone
(nd) and Collier (both 14 June).
198
Strang to FO, disp 329, 14 Jun 1933, FO 371/17154/F4364/583/23.
82 Britain, Soviet Russia and the Versailles Order

1933 whereby Italy, Britain, France and Germany would deal with a
number of important issues without reference to the League “ was
viewed by the Soviets as a British plot to drive Germany to the East.199
Strang™s dispatch was seen at the Foreign Office as a ˜clear exposition™ of
Soviet policy. Collier believed that Soviet antipathy towards the British
was based on the fact that, unlike the continental Powers, ˜we cannot be
induced to play the Soviet game by fear of our next door neighbour™ and
thus could ˜pay attention to Soviet activities against us elsewhere™.200
Another indication of the direction of Soviet foreign policy came from
an interview on 17 June between Litvinov and Reginald (Rex) Leeper.201
Leeper had known Litvinov well in 1918, when the latter had been the
Bolsheviks™ emissary in London, and Leeper had acted as the unofficial
conduit between the Soviets and the Foreign Office.202 Litvinov now
told Leeper with ˜regret rather than with bitterness™ that his ˜main desire
had always been to establish satisfactory working relations with us™, but
he had found this difficult to do, as a result of the anti-Soviet stance of
˜press & Parliament™. Leeper™s general observations about the Soviet
minister were interesting: ˜Though a moderate man according to Soviet
standards & at bottom perhaps quite benevolent, he is an out-and-out
Communist of the Lenin school & will be quite unyielding on anything
that he regards as a question of principle.™ However, Leeper did not feel
that this ruled out improved relations. Instead, he recommended (and
Vansittart supported) that the Foreign Office inspire ˜a leading article in
the Times next week on Russia, while Litvinov is still in London, in
which the attitude of H[is] M[ajesty™s] G[overnment] was made per-
fectly plain™, in the hope that this might ˜clear his [Litvinov™s] mind of
some erroneous conceptions regarding our policy and our motives™.
In July and August, there was further evidence of the Soviet intention
to abandon the revisionist nations and to support the status quo. This
policy was due to the belligerent attitudes of Japan and Germany. In the
´
Far East, the Soviet military attache outlined the continued desire in
Japanese military circles for a war with Soviet Russia, an attitude which
the Foreign Office viewed as Japanese ˜tail-twisting™ designed to annoy



199
Gerhard L. Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler™s Germany (Chicago and London,
1970), I, 47“52.
200
Strang to FO, disp 306, 4 June 1933, FO 371/17261/N4329/748/38, minutes, Shone
(nd) and Collier (both 14 June).
201
This paragraph, except where indicated, is based on untitled memo, R. A. Leeper, 17
Jun 1933, FO 371/17241/N4812/5/38, minute, Vansittart (19 Jun).
202
Richard H. Ullman, Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917“1921. Intervention and the War
(Princeton, 1961), 60“1, 80“1 and 294“5.
The period of persuasion 83

the Soviets.203 With Anglo-Japanese relations worsening over trade dis-
putes, the situation in the Far East had to be handled with care.204
Europe held other difficulties. At the end of July, Strang sent a long
dispatch on the state of Soviet“German relations. He argued that good
relations between the two countries had been shaken, particularly by the
call of the German representative at the World Economic Conference for
an autarkic German trade policy, expansion into Ukraine and ˜continued
struggle against the Untermensch™.205 Strang reiterated that Soviet policy
in the present period of armistice with the capitalist world is essentially defensive
and hence pacific. Their major fear is from Japan, and it is in their interest to
invest their relations with Germany in the present new and difficult conditions
with some element of the stability which has hitherto seemed natural to them.
As, however, the threat from Germany, unlike the threat from Japan, is not
imminent and as Germany is isolated in Europe, the Soviet Government are
not likely to adopt with Germany the subservient tone they are wont to use with
Japan, but will employ the aggressive diplomatic tactics which they find have
paid them in the past with other countries.206
At the Foreign Office, this state of affairs was thought possibly advanta-
geous. Poor German“Soviet relations meant that Moscow would be
unable to play Berlin against London in the ongoing Anglo-Soviet trade
negotiations. However, there was also concern that a diminution of the
Nazis™ hostility towards Soviet Russia might result in a rapprochement
between the two states. But, for the present, Collier noted, ˜everything
seems to point to the Soviet Government being so preoccupied by the
menace of Hitler that they will not quarrel with anyone else while it
lasts™.207


203
´
Snow (charge d™affaires, Tokyo) to FO, disp 352, 21 Jun 1933, FO 371/17151/F4857/
116/23, minute (24 Jul) by Randall; Snow to FO, disp 423, 17 Jul 1933, FO 371/
17152/F5532/116/23.
204
Snow to Wellesley, 13 May 1933, FO 371/17152/F5080/128/23; John Sharkey, ˜British
Perceptions of Japanese Economic Development in the 1920s: With Special Reference
to the Cotton Industry™, in J. E. Hunter and S. Sugiyama, eds., The History of Anglo-
Japanese Relations, 1600“2000, vol. IV, Economic and Business Relations (Basingstoke
and New York, 2000), 249“82; Ishii Osamu, ˜Markets and Diplomacy: The Anglo-
Japanese Rivalries over Cotton Goods Markets, 1930“1936™, in I. Nish and Yoichi
Kibata, eds., The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600“2000, vol. II, The Political“
Diplomatic Dimension, 1931“2000 (Basingstoke and New York, 2000), 51“77.
205
Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler™s Germany, 79; John L. Heineman, ˜Constantin
von Neurath and German Policy at the London Economic Conference of 1933:
Backgrounds to the Resignation of Alfred Hugenberg™, JMH, 41, 2 (1969), 160“88.
206
Strang to FO, disp 449, 9 Aug 1933, FO 371/17250/N6346/101/38, minutes, Barclay,
25 Aug, Howe, 28 Aug, and Mounsey 31 Aug.
207
Collier™s minute (26 Jul) on Strang to FO, disp 410, 18 Jul 1933, FO 371/17273/
N5526/1610/38; Strang to FO, disp 445, 9 Aug 1933, FO 371/17277/N6261/6261/38.
84 Britain, Soviet Russia and the Versailles Order

The British were unconvinced that the Soviets had abandoned Berlin
in favour of better relations with France and Poland. Even visits to
Soviet Russia in late August and September by French ministers did
not lead the Foreign Office to believe unanimously that there was an
end to Rapallo. In the Northern Department, R. G. Howe believed that
the Soviets might take a ˜long step towards the “Versailles” powers
especially France & Poland™, but Collier believed that the French
ministers were ˜surprisingly gullible™ and had been deceived about the
state of affairs in Soviet Russia. While he noted that Hitler was ˜putting
more and more water into his [anti-Soviet] wine™, Collier was not
¨
convinced that the Soviets believed the Fuhrer. ˜If & when they are
convinced of it (and the Germans seem to be trying hard to convince
them)™, he concluded, ˜they will no doubt cease further advances to the
Poles and the French (unless they see economic as well as political
advantage in them).™208
Meanwhile, there was more discussion about Soviet“Japanese rela-
tions. With a Sino-Japanese rapprochement considered likely, the British
were interested in what this meant both for their own and for the Soviet
position.209 On 29 September, Litvinov told Strang that Soviet Russia
would not participate in the stalled disarmament talks at Geneva, be-
cause ˜the Japanese would refuse to be bound by any measure whatso-
ever™.210 With Germany™s leaving both the League and the disarmament
talks on 14 October, this situation could only get worse. Amidst a swirl
of rumours about the establishment of formal Soviet“American rela-
tions, the War Office put forward an assessment of the likelihood of a

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