4000bce - 399
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1900 - 1999
ROME, August 23, 1939.
MY DEAR HERR VON RIBBENTROP: First, my cordial and sincere congratulations on the great success attained with the Russian pact.
This morning at 10 o'clock I had a conversation with Count Ciano and in accordance with our agreement I herewith report the contents.
After the usual words of salutation Count Ciano immediately talked about foreign policy and stressed the importance of your trip to Russia. Nevertheless, in case of Germany's intervention in Poland, England and France would, in his opinion, immediately participate in the war. The Ambassadors of both powers had just confirmed this to him expressly and very seriously. This created a very serious situation. For actually the Axis was not yet sufficiently prepared, above all, economically. Only in three to four years-Count Ciano corrected himself and said with strong emphasis "in three years"-would it be ready for war. We would certainly have initial military successes; but the enemy would recover and would wage a war of attrition of long duration along economic lines. Upon my objection that the Führer was of a different opinion and did not believe in a war with England and France, Count Ciano replied that he was aware of that, but that he was afraid that the Führer would not be proved right this time. Upon my reply that it was completely intolerable for a great nation to look on passively any longer at the systematic [mis?] treatment of Germans by Poles, and that therefore a solution of the Polish problem was absolutely necessary and that the whole German people was of one mind on that score, Count Ciano replied that a great deal would depend upon the attitude of the Axis peoples. For it would be necessary to fight with utmost tenacity, since in case of a defeat we would have to count on a peace which would practically mean the end of the Axis Powers. Count Ciano concluded the conversation by stating that despite the great diplomatic success of the Russian pact he considered the situation as very serious.
My audience with the Duce will take place tomorrow at 7 p. m. On Friday morning I shall return to Berlin.
MY DEAR HERR von WEIZSÄCKER: In view of the absence of Herr von Ribbentrop, I am sending, you directly a copy of my letter addressed to him.