500.A15A5/435: Telegram

The Chargé in Italy ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

337. Newspapers last night published announcement that the Grand Council of Admirals, the highest consultive board of the Navy, had been convoked in special session by Mussolini as Minister of Marine in order to examine important naval and maritime matters and had already commenced the sessions.

[Page 75]

Naval Attaché obtained following information in confidential conversation on foregoing announcement with responsible official last night:

The specific question before the Council, the official stated, was a secret but it could be said that it had to do with the general naval situation in Europe. He said that France wanted to build her fleet to 800,000 tons which he believed was disquieting to England. When asked if it was not also disquieting to Italy he replied that Italy and France were in the closest possible accord on all questions and understood each other as never before. He hinted that a naval accord between France, England, and Italy was possible. When asked if Italy had any objections to such an accord he stated that he felt sure that Italy would not go into a naval pact with Great Britain unless Great Britain agreed to take no action against Italy in her Abyssinian venture.29 He was quite positive on this point. He stated, however, that if Great Britain did agree to keep out of the Abyssinian question he felt sure that Italy would be very favorably disposed toward a naval accord not only to include Great Britain, France and Italy but to include the United States and Japan. He did not mention Germany or Russia.

This information was given to the Naval Attaché in utmost confidence and it was requested that it be kept secret. Inform Navy Department; not repeated elsewhere.

  1. See pp. 594 ff.