Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ADSS 1.135 Cortesi to Maglione:

ADSS 1.135 Filippo Cortesi, Poland, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: Telegram number 34; AES 5657/39

Location and date: Warsaw, 27.08.1939

Summary statement: Polish Government afraid of concessions, but has some hope after President Roosevelt's appeal.  Government is in agreement with the principles of the papal appeal and is remaining calm despite German provocations.

Language: Italian


I have given communication of coded despatch Number 42 (1) as information.

Foreign Minister (2) does not reject the idea but he thinks dangerous to offer any concession; he points out that situation was showing some improvement and that favourable reply to proposal of the United States President opened way to agreement.  Government expresses formal acceptance of principles enunciated in Holy Father’s message, does not want anything but a peaceful solution, keeps calm although confronted by continuous provocations and, firm (in) its determination to defend nation; has completed mobilisation border army.  I made communication late last evening of coded despatch Number 44; Foreign Minister is grateful to Holy See, promises to reply today after consultation President Council of Ministers.(3)

(1) ADSS 1.128.
(2) Jozef Beck (1894-1944), Polish Foreign Minister 1932-39.

(3) ADSS 1.133. Felicjan Skladkowski (1885-1962), Polish Prime Minister (President of the Council of Minsters) 1936-39.

ADSS 1.134 D'Arcy Osborne to Secretariat of State: suggestion for Polish Corridor

ADSS 1.134 D’Arcy Osborne to Secretariat of State.

Reference: British Legation Number 38/96/39; AES 5751/39

Location and date: Rome, 26.08.1939

Summary statement: Suggestion that the Polish corridor and adjacent territory be made an independent state administered by ‘disinterested powers’ – if the Pope suggested it, Poland might accept.

Language: English


His Majesty’s Minister to the Holy See has received the following telegram addressed to him from London by Sir Ernest Graham-Little MP. (1)

“Deeply moved by fatherly message from His Holiness. Humbly suggest following action in present crisis.  Polish Corridor and adjacent territory to become independent state like Monaco, Lichtenstein, Tangier, guaranteed or administered by disinterested powers, securing complete freedom for all nationals and for trade.  Poland might accept suggestion if His Holiness deigned to propose it.”

Mr Osborne has replied that he has forward a copy of the this telegram to the Secretariat of State.


(1) Ernest Graham Little (1867-1950), Member of Parliament for London University, 1924-50.

ADSS 1.133 Tardini to Cortesi: another appeal to Polish government

ADSS 1.133 Domenico Tardini, Secretariat of State, to Filippo Cortesi, Poland.

Reference: Telegram number 44, AES 5658/39.

Location and date: Vatican, 26.08.1939. Sent at 16.10.

Summary statement: Vatican sends instructions to Warsaw re Orsenigo’s proposal.  Pope instructs Cortesi to make a last approach to the Polish Government. (1)

Language: Italian


Berlin Nuncio urgently informs, that while situation is precipitating towards war, it could be helpful if Poland, following the Holy See’s suggestion would state readiness to prevent ill-treatment of Germans providing Germany undertook same commitment regarding Poles on German territory. (2)

Berlin Nuncio is ready to communicate immediately such statement of the Polish Government to German Government, but asks for immediate reply.

August Pontiff, with eager wish to avoid war and inspired by feelings of fatherly affection towards Poland, instructs Your Excellency to also try this tentative action.

(1) ADSS 1.123, 132.

(2) Telegram was originally written by Tardini.

ADSS 1.132 Tardini notes: worsening situation

ADSS 1.132 Domenico Tardini, notes

Reference: AES 6820/39

Location and date: Vatican, 26.08.1939

Summary statement: Orsenigo asks to be authorised to take useful initiatives on the spot – Pope agrees.  Orsenigo asks for a reply from Poland to his proposal.  Warsaw is approached to enquire.

Language: Italian


13.45. H.E. Monsignor Orsenigo telephones.  He asks if his coded telegram of last night has arrived. (1) I reply in the affirmative.  He adds (very worried):

1. Here things are precipitating.

2. We are afraid that what we feared will happen as soon as the British Ambassador arrives back from London where he went to take new “conditions”. (2)

3. He asks to be authorised to act according to what I have communicated.  To be in time we must act at once, be telephone.

14.15. Received august instructions; I telephone Monsignor Orsenigo:

The Holy Father gives you authorisation, since you “are on the spot” and sends you his benediction.

He replies: “But have they accepted? I wish to convey their agreement.” I reply: “As soon as we have a reply I shall convey it to you.”

16.10. The attached despatch is sent in code. (3) Vatican Radio has been able to contact Warsaw – out of broadcasting time.

16.25. The telegram has been received by the Warsaw Radio Station, which gives assurance of its immediate delivery to the addressee.

(1) ADSS 1.123. Tardini’s other notes specify that Orsenigo’s telegram arrived at the Vatican at 08.40 and was decoded by 11.15. (AES 6313/39).
(2) Neville Henderson (1882-1942), British Ambassador to Germany 1937-39.

(3) ADSS 1.133.

ADSS 1.131 Tardini notes: conversations with Spanish and Polish ministers

ADSS 1.131 Domenico Tardini, notes.

Reference: AES 6818/39

Location and date: Vatican, 26.08.1939

Summary statement: Spain is unhappy with the German-Soviet pact and enthusiastic about the Pope’s peace message.  Poland denied news of general mobilisation; added that the Pope’s message had been well received and expressed the hope that the Pope would make a formal condemnation in the case of aggression.

Language: Italian


12.00 The Spanish Ambassador calls. (1) He says that in Spain the Russian-German agreement has made a bad impression.  The Spaniards know through their own experience what communism means.  They thought they had dealt a heavy blow to Communism by defeating it in Spain. Now, instead, they see all Powers kneeling before Stalin and are surprised to see the very person who had helped Spain against Communism coming to terms with it.  He speaks with enthusiasm about the pontifical message.

12.30 The Polish Ambassador calls. (2) He has no news from his Government.  He knows only that a general mobilisation has not yet taken place, contrary to the news given by the German Press.  He feels that the tone of the Italian Press is less harsh.  He does not harbour any illusion about Hitler’s proposals, now mentioned.  He states that the pontifical message has been very well received in Poland; the nation is threatened by violence from a stronger one and heartily approves the clear and solemn reaffirmation of principles made by His Holiness.  He expressed (rather timidly_ the hope that, in the case of an aggression against Poland, the Holy See would declare on which side justice and moral principles rest.

(1) Jose Yanguas Messia de Santa Clara de Avedillo (1890-1974), Spanish Ambassdor to the Holy See 1938-42.

(2) Casimir Papee (1889-1979), Polish Ambassador to the Holy See 1939-58.