Saturday, September 24, 2016

ADSS 1.226 Maglione notes: French reject Christmas truce

 ADSS 1.226 Luigi Maglione, notes.

Reference: AES 9285/39

Location and date: Vatican, 13.12.1939
French Ambassador to the Holy See, Charles-Roux, reports the French gov’t will not support a Christmas truce.

Language: Italian


The French Ambassador told me verbally this morning that his Government does not think they are able to agree to a truce during Christmas for technical and psychological reasons.

1. The technical difficulties are enormous; they seem almost insuperable as far as sea hostilities are concerned: it is impossible to warn the submarines, mines cannot be removed etc.

2. If a truce is accepted there is the danger of everybody believing that the French Government would be prepared to accept peace at any price, etc, etc, and in consequence a decrease of effort, etc.

I observed that as far as the war on land and in the air was concerned it could b=not be said that real difficulties existed for suspending the war for two days, or for only one.

As for the war at sea, I was aware that a few days were necessary to pass on information to the submarines.  It was precisely for this reason that I insisted on the urgency of the decision.  I observed also, as far as the mines are concerned, that, unfortunately, nobody could ask for them to be removed for a two day truce.  One could ask, however, that no new ones were laid.

Regarding the psychological argument I observed that everybody, without exception, had properly understood that the truce had been proposed in order to celebrate the birth of Our Lord, to enable all families, to enjoy this holy festivity of the family, to have a little tranquillity, and comfort.  Nobody would think about what the Ambassador had mentioned. 

The Ambassador could not and would not reply to my arguments and ended by saying: Who could assure us that the truce would not be violated?

I replied that I believed that the Germans, having accepted the truce, would observe it loyally.  I did not know if they would accept it: but I believed that once they gave their word before the whole world, they would keep it.

The Ambassador, in reply to my request, promised that he would communicate my observations to the Government in Paris.  He promised me, also upon my request, to give in writing – confidentially – whatever reply to me that he received from his Government.

In the margin:

15 December 1939. Up to this evening I have not received the confidential letter that the Ambassador promised to send. (1)


(1) Domenico Tardini said the Pope was waiting for a reply to his truce initiative.  DDI, Series 9, Vol 2, n589, p450.

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