765.84/4332½: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Ethiopia ( Engert ) to the Secretary of State

311. My 298, May 6, 11 a.m. After I had read the note, the official who brought it, a Captain Alessandrini, told me that he was really a First Secretary in the Italian Diplomatic Service but had been temporarily detached to serve on the High Commissioner’s staff. He also referred to the fact that Marshal Badoglio had at one time been Ambassador in Rio and implied that they were therefore both versed in diplomatic usage. He said he had been instructed to add orally that the High Commissioner would appreciate it very much if the legations would cooperate with him as much as possible “in order that it need not be necessary to curtail their privileges”.

I offered no comment on the contents of the note or his verbal communication other than to say that the note would at once be referred to my Government and that I was personally quite prepared to cooperate with the Italian authorities for the protection of American citizens and property and the maintenance of order.

Diplomatic Corps met today to discuss note and further steps. Much to our surprise the German Chargé informed us that he not only had already replied but had called on Chief of Cabinet who presented him to the Marshal. He read to us text of his reply which I thought was couched in unnecessarily cordial terms. My other colleagues decided: (1) to await instructions before even acknowledging the note; (2) to call individually and informally on the Chief of Cabinet (who is incidentally the Marshal’s son); and (3) not to ask to see the Marshal, but if his son or another official should offer to introduce us, to accept. I personally do not consider (2) and (3) a particularly dignified procedure but as it does not seem of vital importance I agreed.

Belgian Minister Phardean informed us that when Alessandrini called he explained that the Marshal, by virtue of his rank as High Commissioner, would not make first call on the Ministers. The Captain also added an amusing and possibly significant touch by stating that he had been instructed to deliver the note to the “non-sanctionist legations” first and he appears to have begun with the German.

  1. Telegram in two sections.