740.0011 European War 1939/6472: Telegram

The Chargé in France ( Matthews ) to the Secretary of State

890. The prevailing impression in France now is that Mussolini launched his attack on Greece without consulting his senior partner. The French like to feel that the vision of a possible Franco-German rapprochement was so distasteful to the Duce that he timed his Greek adventure to upset the Hitler–Laval plans. Rochat44 however is an exception; he finds it difficult to believe that Mussolini would dare to act except in complete accord with the Nazi leader. He does not agree with other views prevailing here that the tenacity and relative success of Greek resistance has proved surprising both to Italy and to the rest [Page 558] of the world. He has, he says, no idea of the ultimate objective of the Axis Powers though Salonika must seem important.

Toward France, he said, Italy’s attitude continues to be extremely unfriendly particularly that of the Italian press. He denies that any formal territorial demands have been received but knows that the Italians have large appetites.

It is certainly a fact in France today that while much is heard in Government circles of France’s powerlessness to resist German demands, there is no tendency to yield an inch to Italy and no voice is raised to urge reconciliation with France’s Mediterranean rival.

  1. Charles Antoine Rochat, official of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.