Monday, September 19, 2016

ADSS 1.216 Giobbe to Maglione: mediation offer from Belgium and Holland

ADSS 1.216 Paolo Giobbe (1), Internuncio to Holland, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.

Reference: Report number 2656/39, (AES 8122/39)

Location and date: The Hague, 08.11.1939

Summary statement: King Leopold of Belgium and Queen Wilhelmina of Holland issued an appeal for peace and offered their mediation to the belligerents.

Language: Italian


As Your Eminence has certainly learned from the newspapers, on Monday night at 23.00, His Majesty King Leopold of the Belgians arrived at the Hague to confer with the Queen of the Netherlands (2).  The conference started at once and lasted until 02.00 and was resumed at 09.00 and continued until 11.30.  The Dutch Foreign Minister and the Belgian Foreign Ministers, M. Spaak, were present (3).  As soon as the news of the meeting was known, having been broadcast by radio, a general feeling of anxiety pervaded the population as everyone feared that unknown and grave events were imminent.  In the afternoon several members of the Diplomatic Corps went to the Foreign Ministry to obtain some information and they knew then, in strict confidence, that the purpose of the meeting was to discover in convert a way of promoting an understanding between the belligerents to reach a peaceful solution of the conflict.

At 19.30 the message addressed by the two Sovereigns to the Governments of France, Germany and Great Britain, of which I have the honour to send a copy to Your Eminence, was published.

The news restored calm and has raised people’s hopes.

In the meantime, King Leopold took the opportunity of talking with the Commander-in-chief of the Dutch land and sea armed forces, General S H Reijders, which could mean that the proposal of peace was not the sole object of the conversations, as, of course prudence would suggest (4).

Promising to send further information in case of new developments, I am ,etc.


Official communiqué published following the talks of their Majesties the Queen of the Netherlands and the King of the Belgians:

The Queen of the Netherlands and the King of the Belgians met on 6-7 November.

Messrs. Van Kleffens and Spaak, Ministers for Foreign Affairs accompanied the Sovereigns.

The Sovereigns have decided to address to the Heads of State of Germany, France and Great Britain a telegram with a view to facilitating eventual negotiations.

This initiative of the two Sovereigns is another manifestation of the identify of outlook and of the solidarity which exists between the Netherlands and Belgium

The text of the telegram follows:

“In this anxious hour for the world, before war be unleashed in all its violence in Western Europe, We are convinced that it is Our duty to raise our voice again.

The belligerent parties have already stated, some time ago, that they would not refuse to examine a reasonable and sure basis for a just peace.  It seems to Us that it would be difficult for them, in the present circumstances, to enter into communication with each other to state and compare their points of view.

As Sovereigns of two neutral States, having good relations with all their neighbours, We are prepared to put at their disposal Our good offices.

If that is agreeable to them, We are prepared to expedite, with all means in our power, whenever they would like to suggest to Us, and, in the spirit of amicable understanding, the search for the basis for an eventual agreement.

This, it seems to Us, is the mission which We have to fulfil for the good of Our peoples and in the interest of the entire world.  We hope that Our offer will be accepted, and that this a first step will be taken towards the establishment of a durable peace”.

(1) Paolo Giobbe (1880-1972), Nuncio to Holland, based at The Hague.
(2) Leopold III (1901-1983), King of Belgium 1934-51; Wilhelmina of the Netherlands (1880-1962), Queen of Holland 1890-1948.
(3) Eelco Van Kleffens (1894-1983), Foreign Minister Holland 1939-45; Paul-Henri Spaak (1899-1972), Foreign Minister Belgium 1939-45.

(4) Izaak Herman Reijders (1879-1966), General of the Royal Netherlands Army, Commander-in-Chief of the Dutch Armed Forces 1934-40.

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