365D.1163/82: Telegram

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

272. My 159, April 14, 7 p.m. I was told day before yesterday by the British Ambassador that Count Ciano had just informed him that a new policy had been adopted against all foreign missions and missionaries in Ethiopia. This policy would require the withdrawal of all missionaries and missions including American. Drummond added that the Italian decision would become public on Monday next as the result of a question and answer in the House of Commons.

I immediately sought an interview with Ciano who received me yesterday afternoon and confirmed the above information. The missionaries are to leave and the mission property is to be appraised and the societies indemnified.

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I remonstrated strongly against this decision saying that in my opinion it would be very badly received throughout the United States inasmuch as the work of American missions abroad was widely and generously supported in all communities. It seemed a pity, I added, that just at a time when so many international difficulties and problems required adjustment the Italian Government should adopt a course which would antagonize at once so many people and be open to so many unfavorable constructions.

Ciano replied that he himself had done everything he could to avoid this step which, however, had been taken by the Duce himself acting with all the pros and cons before him. He said it was the Duce’s desire that teaching by foreigners in Ethiopia should cease.