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Mussolini_Prepares_for_War

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Ask for free booklet "Three Keys to the Modern Basement" joi Tells you how gas heating ..Tts"; , gives you that extra room in your basement at small cost. Send for it. THE BRYANT HEATER COMPANY 17846 ST. CLAIR AVE., CLEVELAND. OHIO (Continued from Page 59) After the guests had filed out, still murmuring light pleasantries in a sort of stunned manner, mamma picked up a pile of plates with apple peelings on them and sailed to the kitchen. Papa began very quietly to gather bits of nutshells which Reverend Greer had dropped in a little circle around his feet. "Do you know, Lucy," papa PE= WIZ PREPEREZ FOR WM with philosophical detachment. Can it be, I mused, that these monuments of the Caesars, recalling two thousand years of European history, dwarf the importance of the contemporary con- querors? But I soon discovered that the pose of the present-day Romans is based upon something much more substantial than ghostly memories. Indeed, I was told that only a month earlier the Romans had been very near to panic. On the eve of war all roads had led, not to Rome but away from it, as citizens by the thousands had fled, seeking refuge in the countryside. One friend of mine, who has lived in Rome for a decade, told me that in mid-August Italians were exclaiming loudly in public places that " those two madmen"—meaning Hitler and Mussolini—" are dragging us into war." By late September, however, Mussolini was again the national hero. The Italian dictator had piloted his country through stormy seas into a haven of peace. War in Europe had come at last and Italy was out of it. She seemed to be in a position to stay neutral as long as she liked—and to make money trading with the belligerents. That was the outward appearance. But I became convinced at Rome that Mussolini had no intention of keeping out of this war forever, however much Italians might desire him to. He is standing on the side line now, watching how things go, but he isn't idle. He is looking ahead to the decisive stages of the conflict, and he is preparing for war, not for permanent neutrality. II Duce's Foreign Policy Of course, Mussolini hasn't announced his foreign policy in so many words. What I learned in Rome concerning that policy, and how Mussolini has maneuvered himself into position to carry it out, didn't come from official Italian sources. But I talked with dozens of men in Rome, men of various nationalities, men in such high places that they should know what is what, and it was surprising how closely their stories confirmed one another. I didn't have the usual problem of trying to figure out which source was most reliable and why certain men were trying to circulate particular tales. Unless, then, these accounts in Rome were mistaken, the German-Italian Axis never was so binding as had been reported. The agreement concluded between them contained a secret clause which stipulated that neither of the parties would take action within the next three years which would cause war in the West. Mussolini insisted upon this clause because he wasn't ready for a major war, Italy having consumed so much of its financial and economic reserves in Ethiopia, Spain and Albania. Mussolini was willing to work with Hitler to get what he could without war, but that was as far as he would go. said—there was a quality of mild amazement in his voice—"your mother is a very remarkable woman." Grandma was visiting from up the Platte line. She sat in the dining-room window, mending, and mamma bustled about, sorting freshly ironed clothes. I heard mamma: "Really, mother, the girl was badly misjudged. She sim- (Continued from Page 23) In August, when Hitler was ready to act in Poland and when his deal with Stalin was nearing completion, the Italian foreign minister, Count Ciano, went to Germany to consult with Hitler and German foreign minister Von Ribbentrop. Their conversations lasted for several days, and during those days Count Ciano repeatedly talked by telephone with Mussolini. Strong differences of opinion arose in those conversations over the probable action of England in case Hitler should invade Poland. Hitler and Ribbentrop insisted that England wouldn't fight; Ciano, supported by Mussolini, argued that England would fight and that the invasion of Poland meant war in the West. Toward the end of the conversations the Germans made slighting reference to Ciano's youth and inexperience, and he returned to Rome much less friendly toward German leaders than he had been. Mussolini then reminded Hitler of the secret clause in the Axis agreement which exempted Italy from participation in a Western war for three years. But Hitler went ahead with his deal with Stalin and hurled his legions into Poland. At the outbreak of war, Mussolini was, therefore, in a position to maintain "peace with honor." He had no binding commitments to Germany, and common sense dictated a policy of temporary neutrality for Italy. If Italy were to enter now into the war in the West, she would have to bear the brunt of the Anglo-French attack and would serve as a battleground for the Western powers. But during those first anxious days no one was sure whether Mussolini would be able to succeed in his bold stroke of separating himself from Hitler—separating without the finality of divorce. Would Germany permit Italy to assume neutrality? And would France and England tolerate the existence of such a powerful nation as Italy in such a nebulous state? As matters turned out, Mussolini had calculated—more shrewdly than even some of his closest associates had guessed—the balance of forces in the European conflict. He had estimated the precise strength of pressures which could be brought against him at the outbreak of war from one side or other. He had sensed, before most other people did, that Italy could remain neutral for as long as she liked in this war and that neither side desired or was able to force Italy into war against her will. Because, during the first stages of this war, Italian neutrality has advantages for both Germany and the Anglo- French combination. The Germans were glad to have Mussolini a free agent, so that he could assume the role of peacemaker, suggesting from time to time the settlement of the war in the West, thus enabling Hitler to pose before his own people as a reasonable man who didn't want to fight Britain and France. The British and French, on ply had a sweet way about her which some people misunderstood. But she certainly was no heartbreaker. With John, now, she was respectful and reserved. And John said, why, he said, `I don't see how you women figure she's anything to set a man straying off the reservation. Her nose is too big— and she's got a blank look to her eye when you try to talk sense to her."' the other hand, viewed Italian neutrality from the long-range point of view. They knew that their control of the seas could effectively prevent Italy from becoming a base of supplies for Germany. They knew that Italian influence in the Balkans, so elaborately extended during twenty years, could be delicately utilized against German thrusts to the south. They understood how useful Italian neutrality could be in supporting their control of the Mediterranean. They recognized the extent of Italian influence in Spain, so much stronger than German influence, and knew that Spain would remain genuinely neutral at least as long as Italy did. Dictators With a Difference One of the commonest mistakes made by contemporary political analysts has been to lump all dictators together—a mistake which has now become obvious. Stalin, being an Asiatic despot, smashes all internal opposition to his regime with Asiatic cruelty. Hitler, being a fanatic, listens to mystic voices and persecutes such groups of Germans as Jews, church supporters and big businessmen when his " voices " tell him to. But Mussolini, from the beginning, has been a political synthesist. He didn't try to break the power of the Church of Rome, but came to agreement with it. He didn't destroy the structure of the Italian army, but manipulated it carefully into the framework of the Fascist state. He never even considered overthrowing the limited monarchy; instead, he retained an Italian peasant's respect for his king, and the two men get along together very well. This composite nature of the Fascist state stood Mussolini in good stead when war came. It had guided his policy into comparatively moderate channels, both at home and abroad. In an emergency, a government based upon extreme repression faces dangers from all directions, but Mussolini's regime was strengthened, not weakened, by the outbreak of war, because his German alliance had been held within bounds by the balance of forces inside Italy. If Mussolini hadn't exercised such diplomatic foresight in his relationships with the Germans, the Russo- German pact might have become a severe, perhaps even crushing, blow to his regime. For years, Mussolini had joined forces with Hitler in an alleged campaign against Bolshevism, and now Hitler turned around and made a deal which immensely increased t1, prestige of Soviet Russia as an imperialist power. The Church of Rome, so influential in both Italy and Spain, was horrified by the brutal bargain which delivered into the hands of atheist Russia two thirds of Catholic Poland. Italian men of property, who (Continued on Page 63)


Mussolini_Prepares_for_War
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