Monday, December 21, 2015

ADSS 1.152 Tardini to Maglione: proposed negotiations with Poland must be prudent

ADSS 1.152 Domenico Tardini to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: AES 6830/39

Location and date: Vatican, 30.08.1939

Summary statement: The Holy See, by inviting Poland to negotiate, should act with great prudence in order to avoid another Munich.

Language: Italian


I have given considerable thought to the telegram (1) we have prepared for Warsaw.  The initiative, although a very noble one as it intends to preserve peace, seems to me to be not devoid of pitfalls,  It would be advisable, in my humble opinion, to prevent and avoid such risks.

These are the snags that I see.  Taking for granted that these steps will be known and I have no doubt they will – my conclusion is:

1. that is would appear that the Holy See has played into Hitler’s hands.  He would gulp another big mouthful – Danzig – and the next spring he would start anew.

2. that it would appear as if the Holy See had occasioned a new Munich. Munich consisted in this: Hitler shouted, threatened and got what he wanted.  So it would now be with Danzig: Hitler’s shouts and threats would secure – under the auspices of the Holy See – the return of Danzig to the Reich which it has been impossible to bring about through peaceful negotiations.

3. that it would seem that the Holy See is too much tied up with Mussolini.

It would be easy, in fact, to deduce that he had been … the prompter.

All this worries me because these are the very charges that are now made against the Holy See although its action has so far been aloof and moderate – limited, that is, to solemn and clear reaffirmations of principles.

To avoid these drawbacks I beg to suggest – always if Your Eminence does not object – that the following ideas be inserted in the text:

1. that the Holy Father fully understands the grace sacrifice that Poland would make;

2. that the risks, however, facing Poland in case of war are, in the present circumstances, even greater. It would be, therefore a sacrifice not only for the common good, that is, for the preservation of world peace, but for the preservation and advantage of Poland herself;

3. that this solution should, obviously, be accompanied by such guarantees that would ensure the attainment of the aims desired – the preservation of peace and preservation of Poland – excluding the possibility of a repetition of such a situation.

These, Eminence, are my thoughts.  I have expressed them with complete sincerity and confidence, submitting myself, however, to Your Eminence’s better judgement. (2)

P.S. It would be advisable in any case to keep Great Britain informed about the Holy See’s steps. (3)

(1) See ADSS 1.153.
(2) It appears from a note added to the draft that the actual letter was sent to the Cardinal at an incorrect address.

(3) This was done. ADSS 1.149.

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