Friday, December 23, 2016
ADSS 1.251 Borgongini Duca to Maglione: Ciano believes Germany will invade France
ADSS 1.251 Francesco Borgongini Duca, Italy, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.
Reference: Report Number 7624 (AES 1967/40)
Location and date: Rome, 02.03.1940
Summary statement: Ciano believes Germany will invade France in the near future and will ask for Italian assistance.
In compliance with your instructions I am marking this sheet as “very confidential”.
On 29 February at the end of a long conversation with Minister Ciano, I talked about the political situation and he told me verbally: “I have the feeling that a great offensive will be launched by the Germans on the main front (French) very soon, and I foresee, regarding this offensive, that Germany will make the utmost effort to carry us into the war. I am fighting to avoid this happening but there are many strong currents in Italy in favour of Germany.” (1)
I endeavoured to get him to come down a little more to details on this particular allusion tho the trend of events, but I was not able to obtain a single word more.
I also mentioned the recent publication of Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler m’a dit (Paris Cooperation) to him, in which the author gave such a true portrait of Hitler that it seems that the importation of the book into Italy has been forbidden, although it is a great subject of conversation in political circles on account of the personality of the author, who is the official Danzig representative. (2)
Ciano knew the book.
I then mentioned the news given to me verbally by Your Eminence regarding Bolshevik propaganda in Bulgaria and he replied that he was well informed about it and added” The day in which communications between Bulgaria and Russia were opened, in the Sophia University, 1200 people subscribed to Pravda which, with Izvestia, is one of the most important Russian newspapers.
(1) This declaration by Ciano to the nuncio is also reported in Charles-Roux Huit ans au Vatican, p373.
(2) Hermann Rauschning (1887-1982), was a former Nazi who broke with Hitler and the party in 1934 before emigrating to Poland in 1936 and finally ending up in the USA in 1941. His book Gesprache mit Hitler (Hitler Speaks) was published to great acclaim. Most historians place little credence in the authenticity of the text today regarding it as largely the work of Rauschning’s imagination.