762.65/594: Telegram

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

196. In response to an inquiry regarding the purposes of the new Italo-German alliance97 Ciano told me this morning that the alliance was one hundred percent stronger politically, economically and militarily than might be thought and that it was the result of the “encircling action” against Germany and Italy. He mentioned in this respect the recent British-Turkish agreement98 which he said was directed particularly against Italy.

I asked him specifically regarding the Italian attitude in the event of a German-Polish crisis and he replied definitely and with complete assurance that the Italian Army would be behind that of Germany. He then said he had informed Poland that the Italian Government hoped for a peaceful adjustment of the Danzig affair, that Italy stood ready to mediate if its services should be requested by both countries but that should the problem remain unsolved Poland must recognize that Italy’s position would be the same as Germany’s. When I said I understood that the German Government did not intend to press Poland for an early settlement Ciano stated that this was also his understanding of the situation but the question would have to be solved sometime. He said that Danzig was a German city and gave me the impression that it would eventually have to pass to Germany. He then mentioned the absurdity of the Polish Corridor and said that it was impossible to keep Prussia and East Prussia separated in this way.

He then told me that the alliance would be signed on Monday morning May 22 and that he himself was leaving for Berlin on the 20th.

I learn that the Belgian Ambassador was similarly informed by Ciano as regards the character of the alliance.

Repeated to Berlin.

  1. Signed May 22, 1939, Martens, Recueil de traités, vol. 133, p. 323.
  2. Announced in British House of Commons, May 12, 1939, by the Prime Minister; see United Kingdom, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 1938–39, 5th series, vol. 347, p. 952.