740.0011 European War, 1939/210: Telegram

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

384. There is a widespread belief, expressions of which have been coming to us from many quarters, that a secret understanding was entered into between Germany and Italy coincident with the signing of the military alliance33 and that this understanding was to the effect that neither of the two parties was obligated to go to war in support of the other if the latter engaged in war within a period of 3 years.

Our efforts to verify the existence of any such understanding have thus far been unsuccessful. However, we learned yesterday from the British Embassy that it had obtained confirmatory information from sources which it considered reliable.

  1. Signed at Berlin May 22, 1939, Martens, Recueil de Traits, vol. 133, p. 323.