Monday, December 21, 2015

ADSS 1.151 Tacchi Venturi to Maglione: Mussolini on Danzig and Italian interests

ADSS 1.151 Pietro Tacchi Venturi SJ, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State

Reference: AES 6829/39

Location and date: Rome, 30.08.1939

Summary statement: Mussolini condemns war over Danzig; reassures the Holy See that Italy will look after her own interests and stay out of a war she does not want.

Language: Italian


In the audience I had yesterday evening with the Duce I did not forget the point regarding Italy’s neutrality, mentioned to me by Your Eminence as one of those the Holy Father wanted me to bring to the attention of the Head of the Government. (1) But I was happily anticipated by Signor Mussolini himself who, while very heatedly proclaiming a universal way for Danzig to be a criminal act, made me clearly understand that Italy would look after her own interest by keeping out of the fight. At this point, I did not fail to say that should it be impossible to prevent the conflict, His Holiness recommended for love of the country, to keep Italy neutral.  From the way the Duce himself spoke and listened to me I thought I could perceive that he had already thought out how, without abandoning the Axis, he could abstain from taking up arms and entering the field.

This afternoon, having had the opportunity to call on the Chief of Police, H.E. Bocchini (2), and talking with him about the anxious questions of the moment, he expressed the highest praise for Mussolini’s conduct as well as for that of his son-in-law, Count Ciano, for both having done and continued to do everything possible to prevent war and for being resolved, should unfortunately war break out, to keep Italy out of it.

I must add that the Chief of Police told me that he had written to the Duce in his last report about the feeling of the country, that all Italy loathes war and the and the people do not want to fight for the Germans. (3)

Of course, I could come back, at a future audience, to the subject of Italy’s neutrality and insist on this main point, if His Holiness so wishes.

(1) The report is based on Tacchi Venturi’s account in his diary, 30.08.1939.
(2) Arturo Bocchini (1880-1940), Italian Chief of Police 1926-40.

(3) See Galeazzo Ciano, Diaries, Volume 1, p154.

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