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On behalf of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, VLR Kordt calls at 11, 15 with the information that two telegrams, numbered 439 and 440 are on the way to me. The Reich MInister for Foreign Affairs requests that I should get in touch with the postal authorities to have these telegrams delivered to me with the greatest possible speed. They contained the text of two letters by the Fuehrer to the Duce, but I was to keep this information to myself. I was to hand these to the Duce personally as quickly as possible. When I asked when were the telegrams sent off and how long they were which I had to know in order to estimate for when to make an appointment with the Duce, Mr. Kordt stated that until then only No. 439 had been sent off at 10:30, whereas No. 440 was still being in the process of coding. One of the telegrams was about half a page long, the other, two. I told Mr. Kordt that I would take the necessary steps, but that I had to point out already now that one should not entertain any false hopes as to the time that would elapse.
At 11:50 the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs calls me up from the Reich Chancellery personally and requests me to have the Fuehrer's two letters to the Duce received immediately by telephone, as their transmission by telegraph would presumably take too long and then to deliver the letters to the Duce with greatest speed. Then the telephonic transmission of the text of the two telegrams followed immediately.
Immediately afterwards VLR Kordt called me and told me that he had just transmitted to us the Fuehrer's two letters to the Duce by telephone. Referring to our previous telephone conversation he asked me to take the further steps. I answered that meanwhile the MInister for Foreign Affairs has called me personally and that I had already received the text of the letters over the telephone through another line. We ascertained together that thus the text of these letters has arrived here over three routes.
At 12:15, I informed the office RM by telephone that the Duce would receive me at 1 o'clock.
After the audience with the Duce, I informed by telephone the Office RM at 1:50 about the delivery of the letters, adding that a telegram about my conversation with the Duce would be sent immediately.ROME, 1 September 1939
The Italian Ambassador handed to the State Secretary at the Duce's order following copy for the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor and for The Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs:
Italy sends the information, leaving, of course, every decision to the Fuehrer, that it still has a chance to call a conference with France, England and Poland on following basis: 1. Armistice which would leave the Army Corps where they are at present.
2. Calling the conference within 2-3 days. 3. Solution of the Polish-German controversy which would be certainly favorable for Germany as matters stand today.
This idea which originated from the Duce has its foremost exponent in France.
Danzig is already German and Germany is holding already securities which guarantee most of her demands. Besides, Germany has had already its "moral satisfaction." If it would accept the plan for a conference, it will achieve all her aims and at the same time prevent a war which already today has the aspect of being universal and of extremely long duration.
Duce does not insist on it, but he lays particular emphasis that above should be brought to the immediate attention of von Ribbentrop and of the Fuehrer.End of Copy
I request that the following message from the Fuehrer be forwarded to the Duce personally:
I first want to thank you for your last attempt at a mediation. I would have been ready to accept, but only under condition, that there would be a possibility to give me certain guarantees that the conference would be successful. Because, for the last two days the German troops are engaged in an extraordinarily rapid advance in Poland. It would have been impossible to devaluate the bloody sacrifices made thereby by diplomatic intrigues. Nevertheless, I believe that a way could have been found, if England would not have been determined to wage war under all circumstances. I have not given in to the English, because, Duce, I do not believe that peace could have been maintained for more than 1/2 year or 1 year. Under these circumstances, I thought that, in spite of everything, the present moment was better for resistance. At present, the superiority of the German armed forces in Poland is too overwhelming in all fields that the Polish Army will collapse in a very short time. I doubt whether this fast success could be achieved in one or two years. England and France would have armed their allies to such an extent that the crushing technical superiority of the German armed forces could not have become so apparent anymore. I am aware, Duce, that the fight which I enter, is one for life and death. My own fate does not play any role in it at all. But I am also aware that one cannot avoid such a struggle permanently and that one has to choose after cold deliberation the moment for resistance in such a way that the probability of the success is guaranteed and I believe in this success, Duce, with the firmness of a vouch. Recently you have given me the kind assurance that you think you will be able to help me in a few fields. I acknowledge this in advance with sincere thanks. But I believe also-even if we march now over different roads-that fate will finally join us. If the National Socialistic Germany were destroyed by the Western democracies, the Fascist Italy would also have to face a grave future. I was personally always aware of this community of the future of our two governments and I know that you, Duce, think the same way. To the situation in Poland, I would like to make the brief remark that we lay aside, of course, all unimportant things, that we do not waste any man in unimportant tasks, but direct all on acts in the light of great operational considerations. The Northern Polish Army which is the Corridor, has already been completely encircled by our action. It will be either wiped out or will surrender. Otherwise, all operations proceed according to plan. The daily achievements of the troops are far beyond all expectations. The superiority of our air force is complete, although scarcely one third of it is in Poland. In the West I will be on the defensive. France can here sacrifice its blood first. Then the moment will come when we can confront the enemy also there with the full power of the nation. Accept my thanks, Duce, for all your assistance which you have given to me in the past and I ask you not to deny it to me in the future.(Signed) Adolf Hitler
Duce remarked during the presentation of the Fuehrer's message, which took place in Ciano's presence at 0940, that he would forward his view point by letter. He explained somewhat as follows, during the ensuing conversation of a half an hour: they never had considered in the least to let himself be used in an action of arbitration, which had as pre-requisite the withdrawal of German troops. No man on earth can seriously consider the thought as worthy of discussion, to make such an offer to troops, which, furthermore, are advancing successfully. He refused such ideas with actual indignation, also he would not consider the "symbolic withdrawal" suggested by Paris. In view of the strong appeal by France to make one last attempt, he had forwarded the suggestion under the self-evidence supposition, that the remaining of the army corps, where it should be a prerequisite. In this case, if we had considered the agreement of the Fuehrer to the suggestion possible, he would perhaps even have advised it. However, England, which is guilty for the entire development of the German-Polish conflict, did apparently not want to let it come to a compromise. He seemed to know, that the Polish Ambassador in London still exercised in the last minutes a decisive influence on the position at the British Cabinet. The declaration by England, which brought about the stage of war, and which France followed up the last, only hesitantly, is absolutely "diotic," brought about by people who apparently have never even studied a map. For what form should such a war take? It can only be waged on water, on land or in the air. Breaking out of the Maginot Line on land, over-running of the West Wall would be a hopeless undertaking, which will hardly be attempted by the French. Even if our fleet is modest, in any case the Navy cannot undertake anything decisive. The air force would attempt to drop a few bombs, maybe it would destroy this and that installation, but even that has nothing to do with the decision, especially if we limit ourselves in the air as well to the defensive. In brief, the declaration of war is an absolutely absurd undertaking, because the only thing actually left would be the war of attrition and that would also be harmful to the one who declares it.
If the Fuehrer's message says that the Fuehrer and the Duce "would now go separate ways", he is of an entirely different opinion. On the contrary, the most complete agreement in respect to methods and goal prevails, and especially militarily, he has done everything to the last, what the Fuehrer desired of him, and he continues his preparation most intensively. In Lybya, the critical months for him is September, after which even there, he will be armed for a successful defense. Already today, he ties down 400,000 men of the opponent by his measures on the Alpine frontier and in Africa. He will send to the Fuehrer, via the military attache (who is invited this evening to the home of Gen. Pariani) all the details of his military measures with appropriate carbo-graphic material, which he also showed me and explained most thoroughly. I can leave the reporting on this to the military attache. I only wish to emphasize the Duce's remark, that the mobilization measures did not only pass without any friction, but also that the spirit of those conscripted and of their families, thanks to the generous subsidy allotted to them, is excellent.
At the end, the Duce repeated his assurance of every assistance desired by us, particularly, in the question of workers and (on a suggestion of mine) by the press.
Duce was in a confidential mood./s/ MACKENSEN.
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946