Sunday, September 6, 2015

ADSS 1.110 Osborne to Tardini: Britain will oppose force with force.

ADSS 1.110 D’Arcy Osborne, UK Minister to Holy See, to Domenico Tardini, Secretariat of State

Reference: British Legation 37/77/39, AES 6831/39

Location and date: Rome, 22.08.1939

Summary statement: Note from For Sec Lord Halifax.  For Off explains that UK will oppose force with force, but is prepared to search for means to lessen tension.  Hope the Pope will also do all that is possible to such an end.  At the last moment, the Pope could still issue an appeal to reason.

Language: French and English


(In French)

I reported to Lord Halifax on the conversation I had with the Cardinal Secretary of State when I transmitted to His Eminence my secret Letter (38/72/39) of August 17 with the Memorandum of enclosures. (1)

I have now received instructions from Lord Halifax to advise His Eminence of the contents of the Memorandum attached hereto and, in his absence, to request Your Excellency to communicate it to His Holiness as quickly as possible. (2)


1. I am grateful to the Cardinal Secretary of State and am confident that he is as eager as I to avert a catastrophe which seems to be coming nearer.

2. His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have defined their position and have undertaken irrevocable share of forcible resistance to the forcible imposition of settlements.  They would do anything they could to contribute towards bringing about a relaxation of tension that would render possible an agreed solution, reached through agree negotiation, between Germany and Poland, and they would consider playing their part in guaranteeing any such solution that might be reached.

3. If the Pope should ever see any opportunity of doing anything to help towards a solution along such lines I am sure His Holiness would use his best endeavours and I should hope that he would take me into his confidence, if possible before acting.

4. A sudden act may at any moment, however, be committed rendering it impossible for His Majesty’s Government to work further for a solution.  But I should hope that even then His Holiness might think fit to make a last appear to reason, with all the weight and influence that he commands.  If that is so, I am sure His Holiness understands that instantaneous action might be necessary and that he will be prepared, if so minded to take it.

(1) Osborne to Halifax, 18.08.1939, DBFP, Series 3, Volume 7, n65, p63.
“I communicated to Cardinal Secretary of State substance of your telegram No 28 of August 17 … His usual optimism had deserted him and he was very anxious over the situation …” Osborne added that Maglione was leaving for vacation in his native Naples, but would be ready to return to Rome should it be necessary.
(2) Halifax to Osborne, 22.08.1939, DBFP, Series 3, Volume 7, n126, pp117-18.

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