Tuesday, July 7, 2015
ADSS 1.57 Tardini notes on Italian affairs.
ADSS 1.57 Domenico Tardini, notes on Italian affairs.
Reference: AES 3297/39, personal note
Location and date: Vatican, 06-07.06.1939
Summary statement: Mussolini believes war is inevitable.
Fr Tacchi Venturi reports to the Secretary of State a conversation that he had with Mussolini. The Holy Father had instructed Cardinal Maglione to hand to Fr Tacchi Venturi a note (1) in which Mussolini was invited to advise Hitler to restrain himself.
When receiving Fr Tacchi Venturi yesterday, Mussolini was in a pessimistic mood: he said that war was no inevitable and would explode in August … or even before! By order of my Superior (2) I go to report this reply to the Holy Father) as the Pope, who while waiting for it but before it had arrived had instructed Cardinal Maglione to call the Ambassador to send through him a similar message to Mussolini). (3)
His Holiness listened with attention, then said: It is terrible! Then he asked if Fr Tacchi Venturi had insisted pro pace, if he had asked what the Pope could do to avert the storm etc. I replied that I was unable to tell him. The Pope decided that Fr Tacchi Venturi should make a written report of the audience.
In the early hours of the morning I wrote to Fr Tacchi Venturi to send a written report.
About noon Fr Tacchi Venturi sent me the report. (4) I read it: It says that Mussolini was in a very bleak mood: he affirmed that any intervention of his with Hitler would be useless (I don’t think it mentioned August, probably on account of haste), Is sent it immediately to the Holy Father.
In the Audience the Holy Father is serene. He is even inclined to think that Mussolini tried to impress Fr Tacchi Venturi to push the Church to intervene. I report on a conversation had yesterday by his Eminence with General Caviglia. (5)
The General said:
1. that only the Army really ready and prepared was the French;
2. that Italy cannot wage a war because it has not sufficient weapons, war material etc;
3. that the war would be a long one;
4. that Mussolini knows this better than any of us and therefore, unless he has lost his head, he would not go to war.
It is worth noting that in September 1938 – when we were on the brink of a war on account of the Sudeten question Mussolini, returning from a loquacious tour in the three Venetias, said to Fr Tacchi Venturi, “This time there will not be any way!” In March of this year (or in another month, but certainly at the beginning of the year) he said to Fr Tacchi Venturi, answering a similar question: “Will there be a war?” “I am afraid so”.
(1) ADSS 1.53.
(2) Cardinal Luigi Maglione.
(3) Dino Alfieri (1886-1966), Italian Ambassador to the Holy See 1939-40.
(4) ADSS 1.58
(5) Enrico Caviglia (1862-1945), Marshall of Italy from 1926; a known anti-Fascist.