740.00119 European War 1939/316: Telegram

Mr. Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of the President to Pope Pius XII, to President Roosevelt 16

16. Your telegram number 4, April 25, 1 p.m. I was of course unaware that messages of the character referred to had been sent. The suggestion that you send a communication to him at this time has been urged upon me from many quarters and still continues.

Efforts towards peace through circumscribing the spread of war have been supported and suggested quite generally by such civilians as I have been in contact with here and elsewhere and of course by others as already reported. In suggesting that these efforts be made now it is considered that the situation changes so rapidly that a surprise move is quite likely especially as it is said that Mussolini would need to move suddenly in order to overcome such opposition as exists.

I have just learned that Mussolini’s private and unpublished speech to the Hierarchy of Syndical Directors on Sunday17 contained the following points.

Fierce resentment of interference with Italian shipping and mails at Gibraltar, Malta, and Marseilles, confiscation and delay involving loss of perishable foodstuffs and materials.
Italy is a prisoner in the Mediterranean.
It is useless for Italians to blind themselves to the fact that for the past 8 months they have been deprived of raw materials.
A free Gibraltar and Suez Canal are essential to Italian commercial life.
The enemies of Italy are under the illusion that Rome could be bombed from the sea. He would like to see a hostile warship near Ostia for instance.
His meditations on history make him certain that a nation is free only if it has windows on the great seas and that it is not independent if only on an inland sea.
The growing population of Italy requires a long view into the future which makes colonization of new lands essential.
To accomplish these objectives it is now of vital importance that an increasing volume of weapons be produced and that this is the first duty of Italian industry.

I had separate audiences with the Pope and Cardinal Secretary of State today the result of which confirms and does not change but on the contrary emphasizes the statements and suggestions made in my telegrams Nos. 13 and 14.

I am leaving for Florence this afternoon and Tittmann18 is returning to Geneva.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Italy as telegram No. 293.
  2. April 21.
  3. Harold H. Tittmann, Jr., Consul General at Geneva, acted as secretary to Mr. Taylor’s mission.