According to ACEINLAND.COM, the text sent from Berlin was essentially accepted by Rome without discussion (a phrase was introduced in the preamble to protect South Tyrol, “the common borders fixed forever”). It was radically different from the ordinary alliance treaties, containing the formula of “unprovoked aggression”. In fact, he said in art. 3: “If despite the wishes and hopes of the contracting parties it should happen that one of the parties enters into war complications with another or other powers, the other contracting party will immediately place itself as an ally at its side and will support it with all its military strength on land, sea and air “. It was, that is, a treaty of defensive and offensive alliance (Schutz – und Trutzbündnis). This character of a pact for life and death was reinforced by the preamble, which exalted the close link between the two countries constituted “by the profound affinity of their concepts of life and the complete solidarity of their interests”, and was proclaimed ” that they were determined to proceed also in the future, side by side and with their united forces, for the security of their living space and for the maintenance of peace “(two clauses, the latter, of which the first canceled the second). And again: “On this path indicated by history, Italy and Germany intend, in the midst of a restless and dissolving world, to fulfill their task of ensuring the foundations of European civilization”. Ciano, when he had read the text on the proofs, had found it to be fine; and yet he added: “I have never read such a pact; it is real dynamite.” The pact was signed in Berlin on 22 May.

Subsequently Mussolini compiled, on May 30, a memorandum for Hitler, which was delivered in early June by General U. Cavallero. In it, while the need for a three-year period of preparation was reiterated (not only for Italy, but also for Germany), the inevitability of war between plutocratic and poor nations was reaffirmed. In the meantime, we had to work, in addition to the action of material sabotage (attacks, etc.), to undermine the internal unity of the enemies, by favoring anti-Semitic, pacifist and nationalist movements, “by accelerating the decomposition of customs, by stirring up the colonial populations to revolt “. Since the great democracies would have waged the war of usury, it would have been necessary, from the first moment, take over the entire Danube and Balkan basin, without taking into account declarations of neutrality. An exchange of ratifications for the treaty of 22 May never took place (a fact noted by M. Toscano).

The Fascist government did nothing, for several months, to warn Germany about the danger of a general war as a consequence of the conflict with Poland; and in spite of the efforts of Attolico to enlighten the Rome government from Berlin about the gravity of the situation, and to put his back to the wall with Ribbentrop, from whom he repeatedly snatched the declaration that Germany did not want war. Instead, military conversations continued and an agreement was prepared for Alto Adige (option offered to non-locals for German citizenship, and consequent transfer beyond the Brenner), which was finalized – once the European war had already broken out – on 21 October 1939.

At the beginning of the summer the fascist government developed (without precise objective or visible result) the demonstrations of solidarity with Spain. On 7 June 1939 there was a great parade of “legionaries” returning from Spain and Spanish fighters, in the presence of Mussolini and Franco’s (later Foreign) Minister of the Interior Serrano Suñer. In the evening, toast of both at Palazzo Venezia. Mussolini wished “a spiritually and militarily powerful Spain”; Serrano Suñer spoke of a peace “with justice, power and greatness”; there was an exchange of warm telegrams between the king and Franco. On June 19, the first Italian naval team began a “training” and returning cruise to Spain, Portugal and Morocco (Tangier) ”

This ostentation of Italian-Spanish friendship could not have had any influence on the course of events at the time (and it did not have any after). The theater of these was elsewhere. In the end, even in Rome we were persuaded that there was a danger of war; against the text of the alliance, so demanding, the three-year reserve, not contained in the document or in an annexed protocol, was too weak a shelter. A meeting of Ciano with Ribbentrop was arranged in Salzburg on 13 August. The latter immediately announced the German decision to resort to arms against Poland. France and England would not have intervened; however, Germany would have won anyway. Hitler later repeated the same things. A joint declaration, proposed by the Italian government, affirming the conviction of a peaceful solution to the international problems on the table, it was rejected by the Germans; Ciano therefore did not consent to the publication of a statement affirming the identity of the two governments. It was also published byDeutsches Nachrichten Büro.

Mussolini could now and should have separated his responsibility from that of Germany and reserved a free hand. He didn’t do it; debated between Ciano, who pushed in the sense of neutrality, and others of the party in favor of war. The announcement of the Russo-German pact on 23 August boosted German shares; but on the contrary the king pressed in a neutralistic sense. They resorted to the loophole of requesting, for Italy’s entry into the war, huge deliveries of raw materials, for which Germany not having been able to make a complete commitment, it was declared that by then Italy could not intervene. Hitler had declared that he let the decision free.

Italy Foreign Policy 2

Italy Foreign Policy: the Pact of Steel Part II
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