740.0011 European War 1939/2349: Telegram

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

278. My 277, April 19, 6 p.m.5 Vatican circles are evidently greatly alarmed by the possibility of Mussolini making an aggressive move in the immediate future and Mr. Taylor6 has been asked to remain in Rome another day or so in order to receive another communication from the Vatican for the President which probably will renew the request that the President send some secret and appropriate message to Mussolini.

Taylor and I have discussed the subject which seems to us worth careful consideration. Through the medium of the press Mussolini has built up such a “smoke screen” as might well justify the President in coming to the conclusion that Italy was in fact contemplating early aggression. An appeal to Mussolini to do his utmost to prevent the spread of the conflict to this area might indeed have a moderating effect but on the other hand if Mussolini has no immediate aggressive designs such an appeal might be resented. There is no one who really knows the Duce’s plans.

I am leaving for Milan to attend the annual banquet of the American Chamber of Commerce Saturday7 evening and shall return to Rome Sunday evening.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Personal representative of President Roosevelt to Pope Pius XII.
  3. April 20.