862.24/147: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Long) to the Secretary of State

45. This afternoon I had a conversation with Mussolini. I asked him if he had any news from Berlin or from London. He made a very wry face, hesitated and then said substantially if not exactly these words “I have no good news. Germany refuses the questions of disarmament. Germany is armed. I think we can keep the peace in Europe for this year. The agreement between Italy and France has probably secured that. Germany is not yet ready but she is increasing her armament and rapidly preparing. The Saar plebiscite serves as a strong stimulant to Germany. If England should agree with France in London it might postpone the day.”

He then asked the attitude of America toward Germany. I told him that the Government of America was of course on friendly terms with Germany but that the actions of Hitler such as his hostility toward the Catholics and his treatment of the Jews had alienated large sections of American public opinion and that there was a disposition in the United States to disapprove of Hitler because of the brutality of his methods. Mussolini then asked if public opinion of the United States might be considered as being opposed to Germany. I replied that certainly the public opinion of the United States was critical of Germany.

I would characterize his conversation today as definitely pessimistic and as indicating a mental acceptance of the inevitability of a conflict with Germany. Not repeated to any other mission.