Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ADSS 1.55 Orsenigo to Maglione - news from Berlin

ADSS 1.55 Cesare Orsenigo, Germany, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State

Reference: Report 8 (27,518); AES 4465/39.

Location and date: Berlin, 03.06.1939

Summary statement: Prince Paul of Yugoslavia visits Berlin; German-Polish conflict has not been resolved; German-Russian agreement appears to be fading.

Language: Italian


I hasten to convey to your Eminence some items of news, certainly not important in themselves, but which double useful in forming an opinion about the situation.

On Friday Prince Paul, Regent of Yugoslavia, arrived in Berlin and was received with all the honours bestowed on similar occasions to other important personalities, as for example, Admiral Horthy, Regent of Hungary (1).

A military review was organised in his honour, and it was a really imposing spectacle, as these events always are here; the Diplomatic Corps was invited, and I also went along.  The Polish and Turkish ambassadors were also present; the Russian ambassador was away form Berlin and was represented by his Counsellor.  A gala performance of Wagner’s masterpiece “The Master Singers” was also given in honour of the Prince Regent of Yugoslavia at the State Opera Theatre; the Diplomatic corps was also present, and the various diplomats were introduced to the Prince Regent; I, as usual, was not present.

From conversations I had with the diplomats I gathered the impression that the fear of a war between German and Poland has not disappeared at all.  Some say that Germany first want to complete its line of defence in the east; in fact gigantic works are being carried out on the Polish frontier; others mention the hope, not yet abandoned, that one should wait for the result of the pending negotiations for an understanding with Russia.  Others, although not very optimistic, hope that the conflict could be postponed at least until next year, which – they say – would be a sign of German weakness, and therefore almost a psychological defeat in the eyes of the German people, full of fanatic conceptions about the military power of their country.

I have not been informed in the strictest confidence, in view of the severity with which breaches of official secrecy are punished, that during my visit to the Chancellor at Berchtesgaden the following immediate instructions were given to the German newspapers:
1. Not to report any news about possible proceedings against priests for immorality.
2. No longer use the front page, but only the second page, for reporting any news regarding the Danzig problem.
The instructions were repeated three times during three weeks after May 5 at the Press conference held at the Propaganda Ministry.

The papers were also instructed not to mention Russian Bolshevism, but three days ago this prohibition was cancelled; which leads the Press to understand that an agreement between Germany and Russia must not be considered improbable.

I enclose the last issue of the magazine Nordland which I must say is not completely respectful to the Catholic church and even less to the so-called Christian Churches.  The Nordland tends to oust all the churches, to substitute for them the notorious atheism of the Deutschenchristen, called also Gottglaubig. (2)

(1) Friday, 02.06.1939. Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (1893-1976), Regent 1934-41.

(2) The Deutschenchristen or Deutsche Christen  (German Christians) were a small group within German Protestantism that sought to reconcile National Socialism and Christianity.  The rejected the Jewish elements of the Bible and the Jewish ancestry of Jesus, adopted Nazi anti-Semitism as compatible with Christian faith, aligned themselves the Fuhrerprinzip and Gleichschaltung with regard to the creation of a Reich church.  After some initial support from Hitler who believed he could use the group to further consolidate power, the German Christians faded to a noisy background group with little influence on either the Nazi Party or the Protestant Churches in Germany.  Orsenigo has not understood the term Gottglaubig (“belief in God”). The term was used for Germans who had left the Christian Church but still retained a faith in a higher power. It was also used as a way of “getting ahead” in Nazi organisations that grew increasingly hostile to institutional Christianity.  It was the most common form of “belief” expressed by men joining the SS.

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