Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ADSS 1.225 Maglione to Ambassadors of Germany, France and UK - Christmas truce proposal

ADSS 1.225 Luigi Maglione, Sec State, to Ambassadors of Germany and France, and Minister of Great Britain (1)

Reference: AES 9119/39

Location and date: Vatican 13.12.1939

Summary statement: Papal appeal for a Christmas truce.

Language: Italian and French



As I had the honour to verbally inform Your Excellency (a) on 7 December (2) it is the Holy Father’s great wish that a truce, with complete suspension of hostilities, be proclaimed at Christmas.  On that occasion (b) I appealed for your kind assistance asking Your Excellency to sound your Government on this subject beforehand (3).

Because the date is drawing near, and in order to carry out the august direction of His Holiness I beg Your Excellency to give your help so that the truce suggested by His Holiness, interpreting the heartfelt wish of the peoples and confiding in the humane and generous feelings of their rulers, may be approved.

For the German Ambassador:

(a) verbal communication to the Counsellor of the Embassy (4)
(b) the occasion that I asked the Counsellor to kindly sound out the German Government on the subject


Draft of note [French]

As Christmas approaches the Holy Father feels most grieved at the thought that the belligerents as well as the civil population, should be forced to live, especially during these holy days under the fear of attacks on land, air raids and battles at sea.

His Holiness, certain of interpreting the deep aspirations of the people and trusting in the feeling of humanity and charity of those who rule their destinies, addresses a very ardent appeal to the Governments of the belligerent nations to welcome His appeal to suspend every kind of hostility on land, sea and in the air as from midnight of the 23rd until midnight on 26 December.

Draft of Telegram [Italian]

Being certain of interpreting the deep wish of the peoples We appeal to the feelings of humanity and Christian charity of Your Majesty (Your Excellency) begging you to accept Our proposal that during Christmas festivities hostilities be completely suspended.

(1) Diego von Bergen (1872-1944) German Ambassador to the Holy See 1920-43; Francios Charles-Roux (1879-1961) French Ambassador to the Holy See 1932-40; D’Arcy Osborne (1884-1964) UK Minister to the Holy See 1936-47.
(2) ADSS 1.223
(3) Domenico Tardini had informed the Secretary of the Italian Embassy about his approach to the three Ambassadors.  See DDI, Series 9, Vol 2, n589, p450.
(4) Fritz Menshausen (1885-1958), Counsellor to the German Embassy to the Holy See 1936-45.

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