765.84/1552: Telegram

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

647. Your circular October 3, 4 p.m. My number 644, October 3, 4 p.m., contained communiqué which was an official admission on the part of the Italian Government that it had assumed the offensive and penetrated Abyssinian territory.

The Press Bureau here admits to the Associated Press that the fortress at Adowa was bombed.

The Italian press (specifically the paper Popolo Di Roma of today’s date) states that Mussolini’s son-in-law Ciano, a captain of aviation, and his two sons, lieutenants of aviation, participated in the advance: “Among the aviators who took part in this first day of campaign the planes of the ‘disperata’ squadron flying under the direction of Captain Galeazzo Ciano and Second Lieutenants Vittorio and Bruno Mussolini, particularly distinguished themselves by their resistance during the long hours of difficult piloting and the invaluable signals transmitted to the columns on the march.”

Also General de Bono, High Commissioner in the East African Colonies, issued a proclamation of which the following is an extract: “You, peasants and merchants, attend tranquilly to your fields and trades and give no heed to the false rumors our enemies seek to spread against us. And you, priests and monks, perform your ritual prayers so that with the help of God the war which we are waging for the triumph of justice may soon be victorious. Woe to him who spreads false news and disturbs the public order. I shall be inexorable.”

However, the press here denies the statement of the Negus to the League that Italians have bombarded Abyssinian towns, killing women and children, or that a Red Cross hospital was struck. They affirm that this is merely propaganda of the type invented by England during the World War as regards German atrocities. The only true fact, they add, is that there was a Red Cross hospital in the vicinity of the frontier which in itself shows the aggressive intentions of the Abyssinians.

If this seems to your mind sufficient to serve as a basis for a proclamation that a state of war exists, I sincerely trust the proclamation will be made before the League Council can take action. To issue it simultaneously with or shortly after the League organs announcement would lead to the presumption of collaboration with and coordination under the leadership of England. And we must not forget that a war between Italy and England is quite possible under the circumstances which exist or that it would be difficult in that eventuality to [Page 793] reconcile our position as neutrals in that conflict with a position taken previously in which we had committed ourselves.

In that connection, efforts of England to enlist the support of the American Government under the leadership of England is frequently mentioned in the European press (see my 642, October 3, 7 p.m. [noon]8). Further, the morning press has the following comment.

“It is said for a fact that the British Government is working, naturally on its own initiative, in Washington, Berlin and Tokyo to insure the participation of the United States, Germany and Japan in economic sanctions to be applied against Italy. The outcome of these steps is not known but particularly the concrete undertakings which might result from them cannot be imagined.”

Also a despatch from Tokyo reports the Rengo statement that Japan will remain neutral and that since Japan is not a member of the League it is under no obligations to participate in economic sanctions.

  1. Not printed.