740.00119 European War 1939/326: Telegram

Mr. Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of the President to Pope Pius XII, to President Roosevelt 37

20. In the last several days various members of the Diplomatic Corps to the Vatican have come to see me. The only suggestion that emanates from their conversations is that led by yourself the Americas support the Pope in his efforts for peace and that a further strong protest against aggression be collectively made. On the first part of the suggestion the Pope is really under fire from the political forces in Italy. The Osservatore Romano38 is assailed openly and even the Pope since his three messages to the heads of the Governments of Luxemburg, Belgium, and Holland has been openly attacked. It is true that he needs all the support that can be given him but whether [Page 706] you see fit to express this point openly is of course for your own determination. Cardinal Maglione was of the opinion in respect to the second part that your contribution to the preservation of peace directed personally to Mussolini was outstanding and important. Learned last night from the English Ambassador Loraine who dined with Osborne39 and myself that Ciano had told him of your last message in an effort to explain that Mussolini would not see any Ambassador. My own feeling is that Mussolini will wait on the outcome of the action on the western front before planning to plunge himself into the conflict and my further thought based on much conversation with widely diversified interests is that Mussolini’s particular action will be an independent one aimed at Yugoslavia and ultimately towards Greece while the German activity in the Balkan field would start concurrently in the eastern section of Yugoslavia as a passageway through that country and Bulgaria in which case Hungary and Rumania would be quite completely surrounded. The slowing down of action on the western front as Ambassador Phillips has probably already advised you, appears to have calmed the feelings of many for the moment in Italy, but a renewal of German success would quickly rekindle the anti-Allied activities here.

It is considered that the next effort of the Germans will be against Switzerland in order to turn the flank of the French Army much as they are trying to do in the case of Holland and Belgium at the northern end of the line.

  1. Transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Italy as telegram No. 369.
  2. Semi-official daily newspaper of the Vatican.
  3. Francis Osborne, British Minister to the Holy See.