Sunday, July 19, 2015

ADSS 1.74 Maglione to Valeri: please respond to peace suggestions from M. Russo

This is an unusual document in as much as it is an example of what the Vatican must have received on a daily basis - unsolicited, well-intentioned advice from all manner of people around the world. Documents such as this one also point to the strong belief held by many people that the Pope had significant power to influence the course of events in the months leading up to the outbreak of war.

ADSS 1.74 Luigi Maglione, Sec State, to Valerio Valeri, France.

Reference: AES 3987/39, draft

Location and date: Vatican, 27.06.1939

Summary statement: Italian journalist Domenico Russo had written to Maglione about the Pope’s peace plan.  Maglione asks that Russo et al direct their concerns to the Nuncio.

Language: Italian


M. Domenico Russo (1) from Neuilly-sur-Seine, (3 Rue Ancelle), has written a letter to me, dated 18 June, in which he tells me how much the effort of the Holy Father is making to save Christian Europe from the catastrophe of an armed conflagration are appreciated in France. He also mentions the “willing cooperation that the Holy See”, if desired, “could get from a group of first class personalities who have studied and discovered the solutions of the problems relating to the question which seems fundamental, that is the distribution of food stuffs and raw materials.”

He then informs me that M. Van Zeeland, former Belgian Prime Minister, and M. Paul Elbel, former French Minister of Commerce, would be ready to leave immediately for Vatican City if they were certain that they would be received. (2)

I beg your Excellency to let M. Domenico Russo know that, instead of coming here (which fact would be noticed immediately and give rise, one never knows to what strange insinuations) the above mentioned personages could with greater advantage hand to your Excellency the results of their investigations, their projects and conclusions.  Of course, your Excellency would keep the Holy See informed for opportune examination.

I ask your Excellency to send to Domenico Russo my affectionate greetings.  To your Excellency I send the expression of my sincere esteem.

(1) Domenico Russo (1876-1947), Italian born journalist, resident in France from 1903 and well-published anti-fascist.

(2) Paul van Zeeland (1893-1973), Belgian Prime Minister 1935-37, President of the Committee on Refugees based in London from 1939. Paul Elbel (1875-1940), French parliamentary deputy 1933-40 with special interest in trade and commerce.

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