Sunday, August 28, 2016
ADSS 1.192 Maglione notes: review of the current situation
ADSS 1.192 Luigi Maglione, Sec State, notes.
Reference: AES 6480/39
Location and date: Vatican, 06.09.1939
Summary statement: Hitler did not believe France and UK would stand firm. Explains his lack of interest in Italian help. Situation between Rome and Berlin is very tense; Berlin accuses Rome of treason; necessary for Mussolini to remain neutral.
Monsignor X, who arrived today from Berlin, tells me that Hitler hoped up to the last moment to force Poland to surrender through threats. Polish resistance and the firmness of Great Britain and France have upset he: he hoped to obtain everything, as he had on precious occasions, without bloodshed, as he believed that the determination of Great Britain and France was only a bluff. (1)
As he was convinced of this, and also because the Italians had made it known while in Salzburg that they did not have any intention of throwing themselves into such an adventure, Hitler wrote to Mussolini that his military intervention was not required. (2) Now, however, according to what was confided to the same X by the courier of the Italian cabinet, it seems that Hitler has written to Mussolini to obtain Italy’s military assistance (3) pointing out to him the fall of Nazism in Germany meant the end of Fascism in Italy. (4)
In Berlin, they speak openly of the new Italian treason. The relations between the Italian Embassy and the Chancellery have become cold and almost tense. (4) Ambassador Attolico has announced his intention of going on leave, as at present he has nothing to do in Berlin.
Numerous German Army units are setting off in the direction of the Brenner Pass.
I think that we should be careful and urge Mussolini to keep steady and to avoid intervention: we must insist that he should preserve the state of neutrality.
(1) According to a note sent from Rome by the German Ambassador to the Quirinal, the general opinion in Rome was that Hitler and Ribbentrop thought they could conquer Poland with out firing a shot. DGFP, Series 3, Volume 7, n438. Further, in his final order for the invasion of Poland Hitler ordered that Germany would not make any attack on the west – any action must come from France or Britain. He emphasised this further stating “on land, the German western frontier is not to be crossed at any point without my express permission”. Ibid, n493.
(2) DGFP, ibid, n500.
(3) Mussolini made an offer to send 80,000 Italian troops and a “considerable number of workers” immediately. DGFP, ibid., n507. At the same time the Duce’s ministers were working to try and reach a compromise that would avoid a continental war. DGFP, ibid, n535. Compare this with Hitler’s letter to Mussolini of 03.09.1939. DDI, Series 9, Volume 13, n639.
(4) DGFP, ibid, n565.
(5) Mussolini was only officially informed of Germany’s invasion in a telegram sent by Hitler at 12.45hrs some seven hours after the invasion began. DGFP, ibid., n504.