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Mussolini_Prepares_for_War

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST 63 (Continued from Page 61) still exert a strong influence in Fascist Italy, became openly hostile to Germany, which had thus strengthened the power of Bolshevism. And the majority section of the Fascist Party itself deplored the Russo-German deal, which threatened to reinforce Russian influence in the Balkans and the Mediterranean at Italy's expense. In those dangerous days after the Russo-German deal was first announced, Mussolini took off his coat and sat again in his office in his shirt sleeves, as he had done in earlier years of his rule, working day and night shifts. There was a delicate job of work to be done, readjusting Italy's foreign relations and reconciling the balance of powers inside Italy itself. The affiance with Germany had been extremely unpopular with Italians from the beginning. In the first place, Italians naturally dislike Germans. The two races don't get along well together. Germans are impatient with the easygoing temperament of Italians and don't conceal their impatience. Italians resent German assumptions of superiority merely because they are more efficient. Even when the Axis was strongest, German diplomats in Rome were cold-shouldered by Italian aristocrats, and some of them confessed to friends in other embassies that they felt like outcasts. Italians particularly resented reports published abroad that large numbers of German military officers and civil servants had been sent to Italy to prepare Mussolini's country for war. Those reports apparently never were true. American correspondents in Rome looked into them carefully and could discover no basis for them. There were reports that whole squadrons of German planes were flying across Italy to Libya, presumably to prepare an offensive against Egypt. German planes did fly to Libya, but it seems that they also flew back again to Germany. Marshal Goering, as chief of the German air force, is said to have concluded an agreement with Marshal Balbo, the Italian governor of Libya, which permitted him to land planes in practice flights for night flying. German planes left Berlin at nightfall, made the difficult crossing of the Alps and landed in Libya at dawn. After a day's sleep, the German aviators flew back again during the night to Germany. The Italian Position The German administrators allegedly sent to Italy appear to have been largely myth. An Italian Fascist, commenting upon this report, explained bitterly, "The only German advisers who functioned in Italy were those sent, unfortunately, to instruct us in race theories." Incidentally, Mussolini's adoption of anti-Semitism, which proved to be a complete failure in Italy, considerably diminished his prestige. The Jewish problem, as such, never existed in Italy as it had in Germany; it was a purely artificial introduction. Italians now expect anti- Semitism in their country to die a natural death. But the Italians disliked the German affiance most of all because they feared it was leading them into war. They were even more anxious to avoid a major war than most other peoples in Europe. They had experienced their fill of war in Ethiopia and Spain. In those disturbing August days preceding the outbreak of war, the King and Church and army are all understood to have warned Mussolini that war, and especially war on Germany's side, would be the most unpopular move he could make. It seems now that they needn't have troubled themselves. Mussolini had foreseen that no pressure from either side could or would compel him to enter this war until he was ready to move. Germany's air force might destroy Italian cities, but what could Germany gain from that? The strategic defenses at the Brenner Pass were drawn by Italian experts after the last war, and Italy was more nearly impregnable to attack from the Austrian border than she had ever been. As for the British and French, they had no intention of repeating their mistake of driving Mussolini into Hitler's arms. On the contrary, they wanted to arrange matters so that if Italy does enter the European war, she will come in on the side of the Allies, as she did in 1915. With this objective in mind, they are willing to strengthen Italy's financial and economic position now. No outsider knows certainly just how near bankruptcy Italy was at the war's outset, but she was undoubtedly in no position to wage a long war without extensive foreign help. Gold•Plated Neutrality Neutrality, as long as it lasts, will be immensely profitable for Italy. As a beginning, Italian passenger ships took in a million and a half dollars on their first voyages after war started, carrying Americans back to New York. Rome began to hear rumors of British and French trade commissions and of barter deals of coal and oil in exchange for Italian airplanes and other war supplies. The British and French agreed to facilitate Italian trade, so long as they were satisfied it didn't strengthen Germany. But the profits in Italy flow largely into the hands of the state. Mussolini has seen to that. And the profits of neutrality, however large they may become, will chiefly reinforce the financial and economic power of the Fascist regime. The Anglo-French combination recognizes the risk of strengthening Italian Fascism while it is still doubtful which way Mussolini will jump, but that is a risk which they are prepared to take. For Mussolini, despite Italy's present neutrality, is still the prophet of war. He has already made it clear that the tempo of militarization in Italy is to be increased, not diminished. He has raised a whole generation of Italian youth in the faith that they should live dangerously, that pacifism is a vice. At the outbreak of the war Mussolini imposed all sorts of new privations upon Italians. He emphasized that these sacrifices are designed to reinforce the military might of the state. Italians have to give up coffee, which is as precious to them as to Americans. They must endure two meatless days each week, and restaurants are forbidden to serve both meat and fish to one person, and must close before midnight. All these conservation measures swell Mussolini's war chest. An Italian Fascist explained to me that the Fascist conception of neutrality differs from the American. We Americans think of neutrality as a device for keeping out of war and we educate and legislate to that end, but Fascists have preached that war should be welcomed if it profits the state. They deny the contention that wars settle nothing. Fascists proclaim that neutrality for them can never be more than a temporary expedient. Their regime has fought four minor wars and "One sure way for a girl to get the 'bird' is to be just a mite careless about her breath. Better keep yours sweet with SPEAR-O-MINT LIFE SAVERS!" "Seems like everybody's swinging to the "When a gay celebration leaves a grim new BUTTER-RUM LIFE SAVERS. Cat► taste in my mouth-1 always freshen it be because the flavor is so super- up with a SPEAR-O-MINT LIFE SAVER. wonderful? Just try 'cm!" They're so cern minty!" Everybody's breath offends sometimes after eating, drinking, or smoking. Let LIFE SAVERS save yours. 13 delicious mint and fruit flavors. Sold everywhere. .k.


Mussolini_Prepares_for_War
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