Mussolini, on his behalf, was now affected by his intimate indifference to the Holy See. According to Countryvv, the work for peace explained by Pius XI, particularly in the last months of his life, and continued by his successor, cannot be attributed an influence on Fascist foreign policy; The full solidarity with Germany affected by Mussolini for the Sudetic crisis was certainly not papal inspiration. The Italian ambassador to Berlin, B. Attolico, valiant and honest as far as his position allowed him, had since June 1938 given the alarm about the danger of war of Hitler’s policy against Czechoslovakia. The fascist government tried to ascertain Hitler’s real intentions, to avoid being surprised by the events; he also tried (through the notes of theDiplomatic information and an open letter from Mussolini dated September 15 to Runciman) to patronize an acceptance of Sudetic requests to avoid war. But, while these attempts had no practical effect, the Duce’s official positions – particularly, the tourof speeches in September – they were all in favor of Germany; on the contrary, he widened the campaign against Czechoslovakia, denouncing, in his speech in Trieste on 18 September, its “organic inconsistency” and asking for a general solution according to the principle of reaction. In the same speech he announced that, if a conflict arose and “a front of a universal character” was formed, Italy would be alongside Germany. In the aforementioned conversation of 18 July, with the Prime Minister and the Hungarian Foreign Minister, while declaring that he was convinced that, even if Germany attacked Czechoslovakia, no European crisis would occur, he added that Italy would fully support the German politics, mobilizing against France if necessary,
However, at the invitation made to him by N. Chamberlain on the morning of September 28 to intercede with Hitler to suspend the imminent attack on Czechoslovakia, he asked Hitler – reconfirming Italy’s decision to follow Germany in any case – a delay twenty-four hours, which Hitler granted. Immediately after the British government proposed to Hitler a four-party conference to resolve the issue peacefully, the conference between Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier took place in Munich on the 29th and 30th, ending with the agreement for the cession of the territories. sudetic.
In this conference Mussolini effectively functioned as president, and was regarded as the savior of peace. But the agreement itself worked to the full advantage of Germany, which fully exploited its substantial, if not formal, diplomatic victory, with the help of the fascist government, to whose collaboration with Hitler the two Western powers abandoned the execution. of the same agreement. Mussolini’s personal activity consisted – at the conference and after – in imposing, according to the Trieste speech, the demands of the other minorities, more particularly the Hungarian one, accentuating the dismemberment of the Czechoslovak state. The cèche assignments to Hungary were settled with the Ribbentrop-Ciano arbitration of 2 November.
After the success of Munich, Mussoliui had again (as after the successful conclusion of the Ethiopian campaign) the way open for an approach to the Western powers, and for a policy of at least a balance between them and Hitler’s imperialism. However, he – who had abandoned the cause of Austrian independence already several months before the Anschluss, and in the speech in Genoa of 14 May 1938 had declared the policy of Stresa dead and buried – chose, instead, another path: that of ‘to imitate Hitler’s methods towards France.
After Monaco, England and France had proceeded to the formal recognition of the Italo-Ethiopian empire, putting into effect the first (November 16, 1938) the complex agreement with Italy of April 16 – stipulating among other things the status quo in the Mediterranean – and appointing the second on 4 October a new ambassador to Rome, A. François-Poncet, transferred from Berlin, with the credentials directed to the king emperor. On November 30 – the same day as the failed French general strike – the Italian Foreign Minister G. Ciano gave an exposition on foreign policy in the Chamber of Deputies. He ended by speaking of the interests and natural aspirations of the Italian people. From the deputies then went out cries of: Tunis, Djibouti, Corsica. At a protest by the French ambassador, Ciano replied that the demonstration of the deputies should not be interpreted as an expression of government policy. There were several statements by the French Foreign Minister GE Bonnet excluding any transfer of territories to Italy. On December 17, 1938, an Italian note to the French government declared the agreements of January 1935 invalid. Paris replied on the 26th, taking note of the denunciation and arguing with the arguments presented by the fascist note. At the beginning of January 1939, the French prime minister Daladier made a trip to Corsica and Tunis, with large demonstrations in response to the fascist ones. On January 26, 1939, the French Chamber closed a discussion of foreign policy by unanimously voting for the integrity of the empire of the 609 present.
While the situation was so tense between France and Italy, British Prime Minister Chamberlain and Foreign Minister EF Halifax made a trip to Rome (11-14 January 1939). The final communiqué stated that the talks had resulted in a common will to pursue a policy aimed effectively at maintaining peace. There was no mention of concrete results which, in fact, did not exist. Mussolini declared that Italy wanted peace and would pursue a policy of peace: the nature and limits of the disagreement with France were clarified by the Italian denunciation of the agreements of 1935; he believed that, once the Spanish war was over, it would be possible to resolve the dispute through direct conversations. Chamberlain confined himself to expressing regret for the worsening of Italian-French relations, to wish a ‘ understood and to point out the analogy between the Italian-German relations and the Anglo-French ones. Back in England, Chamberlain, essentially accepting Mussolini’s point of view, told the municipalities on January 31 that the Italo-French negotiations were unlikely to be fruitful as long as the barrier of the Spanish war was raised between the two countries. No word of criticism of the Italian attitude towards France. It is true, however, that on February 6 he declared that “any threat to the vital interests of France, wherever it came from, could only arouse the immediate cooperation of this country with France”, a corresponding statement – perhaps in the form less clear-cut – to that of Bonnet on January 26 in the French Chamber. L’ a statement corresponding – perhaps in a less precise form – to that of Bonnet of 26 January in the French Chamber. L’ a statement corresponding – perhaps in a less precise form – to that of Bonnet of 26 January in the French Chamber. L’Diplomatic briefing on February 8 said that Chamberlain had made the same statement in Rome. In short, despite all English softness, Mussolini was not unaware that every attack by Italy on France would have brought England into the field while, on the other hand, it was easy to understand that the method of public pressure adopted by the fascist government made it almost impossible for a great power to come to concessions.
The deepest inspiration of fascist foreign policy is revealed in the statements made by Mussolini on October 28, 1938 to Ribbentrop, the Reich’s foreign minister. When informed of this, that the Fuhrer was convinced of the inevitability of a war with the Western democracies, the Duce replied with an assent. This war was “in the historical dynamism. An irremediable rift has been created between the two worlds”. At the same time, Mussolini acknowledges that “no one thinks of attacking totalitarian states”. These are the ones who must join forces “to change the map of the world”. In particular, Italy with France will have to “one day settle many outstanding matches that cannot be liquidated without the war.
However Mussolini in that conversation, in which Ribbentrop came to support an alliance project between Germany, Italy and Japan (the Tripartite), did not consider that the psychological situation in Italy was ripe for Italy’s formal alliance with Germany, even affirming the full solidarity of the two countries, and assuring “that in the meantime nothing will be done between us, France and England”: thereby effectively nullifying the formally maintained freedom. At the beginning of 1939, moreover, he dissolved the reservation on time, proposing to Berlin the conclusion of the tripartite alliance by January, however giving it a rather defensive character, of “a pact of peace”. But the conclusion of the defensive tripartite alliance was postponed by Japan; then Mussolini inclined to hasten the two-party alliance, while promoting the technical agreements between the Italian and German staffs. Between April and May 1939 there were repeated such talks in Italy.