Stalin wanted to join the axis

The Hitler-Stalin Pact (August 23, 1939)

Table of Contents

cover sheet

I. The "Hitler-Stalin Pact" of August 23, 1939 and the Italian reaction: an introduction
1.1 Topic and question
1.2 Sources and research
1.3 Content and structure of the work

II. Systematic preliminary considerations on the events before the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin Pact
2.1 The conclusion of the “Steel Pact” of May 22, 1939 and its meaning
2.2 Italy and German-Soviet Understanding: The Struggle for Consultation
2.2.1 The hollowed out 'Axis Alliance': From the Steel Pact to Salzburg
(May 22nd-August 14th)
2.2.2 From Salzburg to the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin Pact (August 15-21)

III. The conclusion of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact and secret agreement of August 23, 1939 18

IV. The reaction and perception by Italy
4.1. First Italian reaction to the Hitler-Stalin Pact
4.2 Disenchantment in Rome: Italy's declaration of “non-warfare” and Mussolini's last effort for a “second” Munich

V. The Significance of the Hitler-Stalin Pact for Italy: A Final Consideration


I. The "Hitler-Stalin Pact" of August 23, 1939 and the Italian reaction: an introduction

1.1 Topic and question

On the night of August 24, 1939, the ten-year Hitler-Stalin Pact was signed by the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, and the German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, which officially became a Soviet-German non-aggression pact[1] was designated[2]. The German-Soviet non-aggression pact was viewed and analyzed almost exclusively from a foreign policy perspective, focusing on the official declarations and possible motives of Hitler and Stalin. The aim of this work lies on another level: The following description is limited to the immediate reaction of Italy to the Hitler-Stalin Pact, especially the analysis relates to the first ten days between the Pact of August 23 and Hitler's attack Poland on September 01, 1939[3].

In addition to the Moscow Pact, the unrestricted offensive alliance concluded in May 1939 between National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy, the so-called "Steel Pact"(patto d’accaio)[4]has been the main diplomatic instrument in preparation for the war against Poland[5]. It may be all the more surprising to see Italy at the beginning of the Second World War, despite the clear provisions of the German-Italian alliance pact "Non-belligerent" Doesn't stand aside for his contractor. This can, in addition to the difference in political thinking between Italy and Germany about the purpose of the German-Italian military alliance[6], as the result of the diplomatic negotiations that have taken place since the Salzburg visit of the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano (11-13 August)[7] and especially in the last week of August between Rome and Berlin[8].

Mussolini's opinion was to change more than once about the rapprochement between Germany and the Soviet Union. As recently as May 4, 1939, a drafted note by the Duce for Ciano in preparation for the talks with Ribbentrop (on May 6 and 7 in Milan) stated that a policy with Russia “stands in clear contradiction to current standpoints would be incomprehensible to the countries of the axis and weaken their cohesion "[9]. But on August 25, 1939, two days after the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin pact, Mussolini conveyed his “complete agreement” with the Hitler-Stalin pact in an embassy to Berlin[10]. Strangely enough, the announcement of the impending conclusion of a German-Soviet agreement came as a complete surprise to the Italians. In his diary, Ciano admitted that “the Germans had done a masterpiece”. The European situation was "completely overturned". But after the optimism in Rome on the morning of August 23, uneasiness quickly returned. At the Italian foreign minister, "the stupefaction of the Russian-German treaty had given way to a reasonable assessment of the event"[11]. The fascist government now only had to skilfully withdraw its alliance commitment to Germany so that Italy can stand aside passively. Ultimately, the Italian "non-warfare" contributed to the cooling of the relationship within the "axis"[12].

This focus gives rise to a number of questions that the work will investigate: Could Ciano rightly claim that he did not receive any official information about the German-Soviet negotiations? If so, how was the surprise at the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin pact possible? How did the fascist leadership find the way out of the impasse in which they were obliged to provide military assistance in the face of the “steel pact” after Hitler's resolute will to go to war was revealed in Salzburg? Did the plan of a “second Munich” to prevent the outbreak of war have a realistic chance or was it just an illusionary character? When examining all these questions, it will become clear whether the fascist leadership, before and after the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, followed a clear line of correctly assessing its own forces and those of others. In order to see these questions more clearly, the sources and research situation will be dealt with in the following, at least in broad outline[13].

1.2 Sources and research situation

The chronicle of events and decision-making processes in the German-Italian relationship from Hitler's seizure of power (1933) to Mussolini's arrest (1943) has been well processed by research.[14]. The study of Italian diplomacy just before the outbreak of World War II[15] especially in connection with the Hitler-Stalin Pact[16] is the basis for the present study. The lack of historical work shows that the line of development of the relations between fascist Italy and Soviet Russia and Italy's immediate reaction to the Hitler-Stalin Pact still lag behind in historiography on this point. Therefore, the works of Mario Toscano, Walter Schanz, Ferdinand Siebert, Giorgio Petracchi, and Jerzy Bosejsza should be used[17] as a basis for the topic. A few autobiographical notes and memoirs remain to be pointed out, such as the diaries and files of the Italian Foreign Minister Ciano[18] and the memoirs of Italian and German diplomats[19]that still form the basis of information. According to the question, mainly the diplomatic, Italian and German holdings were examined. Form the basis of the present work

1. The files from the Wilhelmstrasse at that time, published in the "Files on German Foreign Policy" 1918-1945 (= ADAP), specifically for the period under discussion, Series D 1937-1941; in 13 volumes, of which mainly Vol. VI, March to August 1939, (1956) and Vol. VII, August 9 to September 3, 1939, (1956).
2. On the Italian side, the file publications of the "Documenti diplomatici Italiani" (= DDI), of which in the 8th series 1935-1939, volumes 12 and 13 for May to 3 September 1939, in the 9th series 1939-1943 , Volumes 1 through 4 for September 4 through June 10, 1940, 1954-1960.

The present work is a study of the history of diplomacy, in which the process of decision-making within political leadership, and thus foreign policy, takes place not only from a German, but also from an Italian point of view.

1.3 Content and structure of the work

In the present study on the Perception and reaction of Italy to the Hitler-Stalin pact It will be the object and aim of the present work to give an appropriate representation of the interdependence of the various results in 1939 from the importance of the underlying diplomatic relations. That is why the present investigation is divided into those outlined above three Main chapter structured:

First A systematic reflection on the events before the conclusion of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact (II.), which unfolds the basics of the subject area, should be preceded by the "period of partnership" and the basics of the "Italian diplomacy" at the end of the thirties Years, especially the conclusion of the steel pact on May 22, 1939 (2.1), are the focus. Of course, this is not just about a reconstruction of the historical events, but about the analysis of those conditions that were constitutive for the position adopted later by Italy as repercussions of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. In the second section, some observations will be made on Italy's position within the German-Soviet understanding in the period after the conclusion of the steel pact (2.2). The presentation is not for unjustified reasons, because the development of the preceding events, including the Hitler-Stalin Pact, had an impact on the attitude and foreign policy strategy of Italy towards the German Reich in the immediate pre-war phase.

Secondly The conclusion of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact and secret agreement of August 23, 1939 (III.) is briefly examined, with a look at the historical appearance with a source-related representation.

Third comes the chapter on that "Reaction and perception by Italy" (IV.) To play an important role. The actual focus of the work is the immediate reaction of Italy in connection with the signing of the "Hitler-Stalin Pact" (4.1) and the reasons for the disillusionment that followed in Rome after a short time (4.2). It deals with the far-reaching consequences of Italy's non-warfare and the question of the actual possibilities of realizing an attempt at a political solution to avoid the outbreak of war in Europe.

Finally, in one Closing word On the basis of the previous results, we again took stock of the overall result, in which, above all, the importance of the Italian reaction to the Hitler-Stalin Pact should be emphasized.

II. Systematic preliminary considerations on the events before the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin Pact

2.1 The conclusion of the “Steel Pact” of May 22, 1939

During the Second World War, Italy was the "only real ally of the German Reich"[20]. At least on this point, Hitler had succeeded in realizing the foreign and alliance policy constellation which he had described as desirable for an expanding Germany in his writings in the 1920s[21]. The creation of the “Axis” alliance in autumn 1936 as a loose community of action[22] and the conclusion of the “Steel Pact” in May 1939 were the result of a rapprochement between the two fascist states, which grew stronger and stronger, especially from 1938 onwards[23].

The diplomatic initiative for a German-Italian ministerial meeting to conclude a military pact did not materialize until the beginning of May 1939. The German and Italian Foreign Ministers met in Milan on May 6th and 7th[24]after Ciano reacted to a "serious report from Attolico" that arrived on April 20, in which "Germany's action against Poland is described as imminent" because - according to Ciano in his diary - "would be war"[25]. On the basis of this news, the Italian government wanted correct information in order to gain clarity; only then would the conclusion of the military alliance be considered[26].

In the talks in Milan[27] there was agreement in the demand for a period of peace lasting several years. Ribbentrop spoke of four to five years that were still needed for German rearmament, although he noted that Germany could be forced to war earlier. “The decision of May 6th was based on a very superficial“ agreement of opinion ”between both partners, behind which, as it soon became clear, serious ambiguities, misunderstandings and ambiguities concealed. As a result of Ribbentrop's dishonest tactics, Italy therefore entered the alliance under completely wrong conditions "[28].

On May 22, 1939, the 'German-Italian friendship and alliance pact' was finally adopted by Mussolini as Patto d’acciaio (Steel Pact) - solemnly signed in Berlin by the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano and the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop[29]. Even in the preamble, the text shows a character that differs from other alliance treaties when it referred to the “inner kinship of their worldview” and “the comprehensive solidarity of their interests” for both states, after - according to the treaty text - the “common, for all time defined border ”between the two countries was created so that both would stand up“ side by side and with united forces for the protection of their living space and for the maintenance of peace ”.

The peculiar character of the contract becomes particularly clear in Article 3, which read:

“If, contrary to the wishes and hopes of the parties to the treaty, it should come about that one of them gets into warlike entanglements with another power or other powers, the other party to the treaty will immediately stand by him as an ally and he and all his military forces support on land, at sea and in the air "[30].

This automatic military assistance obligation was supported by the consultation clauses of Articles I and II[31] hardly toned down[32]. The military alliance based on Article VII contains, in addition to the consultation clause of Articles I and II and the assistance obligation in Article III[33], another “Secret Additional Protocol”, which raises the question of why these provisions were classified as secret, since they are of extremely minor importance[34]. The provisions undoubtedly contained no great state secrets, since only modalities for military, economic and propaganda cooperation were laid down[35].

A real misunderstanding within the alliance obligation, namely the non-inclusion of a multi-year peace period as a treaty provision, was based on Article VII[36]. Italy's assumption that the treaty would be signed immediately but would not be implemented for a few years was the result of a deception. In the preceding weeks, Hitler, Göring and Ribbentrop had declared, one after the other, that Germany would not think of war in the next year or two, and for Mussolini and Ciano these verbal assurances were the basis for the conclusion of the offensive alliance. Ciano and Mussolini had believed these assurances, so that they had waived the fixing of a time reserve in the contract text[37].

In summary, it can be said that the alliance is in fact practically "the transition from love to marriage of convenience"[38] meant that the steel pact, and thus also the axis alliance, remained a structure with an imposing facade, but a fragile inner structure. In the long run, the friendship and alliance pact was unable to meet the expectations of those involved: Mussolini's “myth” of the steel pact was far more important than the legally binding reality ties it emanated from[39] and in spite of his deception, Hitler was ultimately to be left empty-handed; because when it mattered to him, the steel pact did not bring him the hoped-for benefit[40].


[1] Text in ADAP, Series D, Vol. VII, No.228, the Secret Additional Protocol is printed in ibid., No.229.

[2] See Bernd Wegner, Introduction, in: Two ways to Moscow: from the Hitler-Stalin Pact to the "Operation Barbarossa", ed. v. Bernd Wegner, Munich 1991, XI-XIX, here XI and Reinhold W. Weber, The history of the origins of the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939, (European university publications: Series III: History and its auxiliary sciences; 141), Frankfurt a. M. [et al.] 1980, 11.

[3] See Wolfgang Leonhard, The shock of the Hitler-Stalin pact, Munich 1989, 10.

[4] Basically here especially Ferdinand Siebert, The German-Italian Steel Pact, in: VfZ 7 (1959), 372-395 and Jens Petersen, Germany and Italy 1939 to 1945, in: The second World War. ed. v. Wolfgang Michalka, Munich - Zurich 21990, 108-119.

[5] Jens Petersen, Hitler - Mussolini: The Origin of the Berlin-Rome Axis 1933-1936, (Library of the German Historical Institute Rome; 43), Tübingen 1973, XIII.

[6] For Hitler the alliance was to be an instrument of an imminent war, for Mussolini of temporary peace. See Siebert, Steel Pact, 394. Detailed treatment, especially in Chapter 2.1 "The conclusion of the" Steel Pact "of May 22, 1939 and its meaning", pp.6-9.

[7] Because of the increasingly threatening signs of an imminent German strike against Poland, Ciano came to Salzburg on August 11 to find out personally about the German intentions and to hold Hitler back from taking action against Poland, referring to Italy's lack of armament. But Mussolini's envoy was faced with the fait accompli of the decision to strike at the end of August. So the two-day meetings ended with Ciano's deep disgruntlement. See the protocols in ADAP, Series D, Vol. VII, Nos. 43, 47; DDI, Ser.8, Vol. XIII, No. 3, 21; see also Ciano, Diaries II, Entries from 11.-13. August 1939 and Massimo Magistrati, L'Italia a Berlino 1937-1939, Milan 1956, 394-403.

[8] See Siebert, Steel pact, 372.

[9] See Mario Toscano, The origini diplomatiche del patto d’Acciaio, Firenze 1948, 150.

[10] See ADAP, Vol. VII, No. 271, p.238f. The Italian head of government to the Führer and Reich Chancellor of August 25th: "As far as the agreement with Russia is concerned, I completely approve of it" (p.239); See DDI, VIII, Vol. XIII, No. 250, p.164f .: "Per quanto riguarda l’accordo con la Russia, io lo approvo completamente" (p.164).

[11] Ciano, Diaries II, Entry from August 22, 1939, 128f. Despite the reluctance of the official German information policy, Italian diplomats knew more, especially with regard to Poland, than the apparent surprise of Mussolini and Ciano and their ambassador in Berlin about the German-Soviet treaty would suggest. See Jan Lipinsky, The Secret Additional Protocol to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty of August 23, 1939 Frankfurt a. M. [et al.] 2004, 245f.

[12] See Philipp W. Fabry, The Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939-1941, Darmstadt 1962, 115 and Hans Meier-Welcker, On German-Italian military policy and assessment of the Italian armed forces before the Second World War, in: Military history reports I (1970), 59-93, here 63.

[13] See Ferdinand Siebert, Italy's path to World War II, Frankfurt a. M. - Bonn 1962, 7.

[14] Most impressive especially Jens Petersen, Hitler-Mussolini. The creation of the Berlin-Rome axis 1933-1936, Tübingen 1973 (Italian edition “Hitler e Mussolini, La difficle alleanza, Roma, Bari 1975). See also ders., Italy in Hitler's foreign policy conception, in: Kurt Jürgensen - Reimer Hansen (Ed.), Historical-political highlights. Historical contributions to the present, Neumünster 1971, 206-220 - Renzo De Felice (Ed.), L’Italia from Tedeschi e Alleati. La politica estera fascista e la seconda guerra mondiale, Bologna 1973; ders., Observations on Mussolini's Foreign Policy, in: Saeculum 24 (1973), 314-327; ders., Mussolini. L’Alleato 1940-1943, 2 vols., Torino 1990. - Cf. also Elisabeth Wiskemann, The Rome-Berlin Axis, a history of the relations between Hitler and Mussolini, London, 1949; Frederick William Deakin, The Brutal Friendship. Hitler, Mussolini and the fall of Italian fascism, Cologne / Berlin 1964. Manfred Funke, The German-Italian Relations, in: Hitler, Germany and the Powers. Materials on the foreign policy of the Third Reich, ed. v. Manfred Funke, (Bonn writings on politics and contemporary history; 12), Düsseldorf 1977 (ND of the 1st edition 1976), 823-846 and Walter Rauscher, Hitler and Mussolini: Power, War and Terror, Graz [et al.], 2001.

[15] For the reappraisal of the Second World War see "The second World War. Analyzes - Basics - Research balance sheet, ed. by Wolfgang Michalka ”- a publication by the Military History Research Office, which has received a lot of attention and the series“The German Reich and the Second World War“From the Military History Research Office.

[16] For the history of the origins of the Hitler-Stalin Pact on the basis of German-Soviet relations, the description by Philipp W. Fabry deserves The Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939-1941. A contribution to the method of Soviet foreign policy, Darmstadt 1962; Reinhold W. Weber, History of the origins of the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939, Frankfurt a. M, 1980; Ingeborg Fleischhauer, The pact. Hitler, Stalin and the initiative of German diplomacy, Berlin 1990 and Jan Lipinsky, The secret additional protocol to the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty of August 23, 1939 and its creation and reception history from 1939 to 1999, Frankfurt a. M. [et al.] 2004 to be mentioned. In this context, see especially Lev Besymensky, Stalin and Hitler. The dictators' poker game, Berlin 2002.

[17] Mario Toscano, L’Italia e gli accordi tedesco-sovietici dell ’agosto 1939, Firenze 21953; Walter Schanz, The German-Soviet non-aggression pact in its creation and its significance for the Western powers and Italy, Marburg 1956; Ferdinand Siebert, Italy's way into World War II, Frankfurt - Bonn 1962; Giorgio Petracchi, Pinocchio, the cat and the fox: Italy between Germany and the Soviet Union (1939-1941), in: Two ways to Moscow ed. v. Bernd Wegner, Munich 1991, 519-546; Jerzy W. Borejsza, Italy's Attitude to the German-Polish War, in: Summer 1939. The Great Powers and the European War, ed. v. Benz / Graml, Stuttgart 1979, 148-194.

[18] Ciano, Galeazzo, Diaries 1937/1938, Hamburg 1949; ders., Diaries 1939-1943, Bern 21947. The reference files: L’Europa verso la catastrofe, 184 colloqui di Mussolini, Franco, Chamberlain ecc, accordi segreti, corrispondenza diplomatica, 2 vols., Milano 21964.

[19] Outstanding among the memoirs: Massimo Magistrati, L'Italia a Berlino 1937-1939, Milan 1956. These are memories of the brother-in-law Cianos, counselor at the Italian embassy in Berlin from 1934 to 1939, which add valuable information to the files. Filippo Anfuso, Rome — Berlin in a diplomatic mirror. Translated by Egon Heymann, Munich 1951. Anfuso was Cianos' cabinet chief, and 1943/45 ambassador of the neo-fascist republic of Saló in Berlin. In addition, the Memorandum of the State Secretary as source material on the foreign policy of the Third Reich must be observed for the German side: Ernst von Weizsäcker, Memories, Munich 1950. Also to be mentioned are the notes of Hans von Herwarth, who worked in the German embassy in Moscow, Between Hitler and Stalin. Experienced contemporary history 1931-1945, Frankfurt a. M. [et al.] 1985.

[20] Wolfgang Schieder, The Fascist Italy, in: Norbert Frei / Hermann Kling (Eds.), The National Socialist War, Frankfurt - New York 1990, 48-61, here 48.

[21] The genesis of this alliance idea can be traced back to 1920. In a speech on August 1, 1920, Hitler said: “The basic demand is: Get rid of the peace treaty! We must do all we can to do this, mainly to take advantage of the differences between France and Italy so that we can get Italy for ourselves ”(Quoted in Pese, Hitler and Italy 1920-1926, in: VfZ 3 (1955), 113-126, here number 685, page 113). Hitler expressed a second moment in 1928: "The rise of fascism made a certainty out of the likelihood of a German-Italian merger". The shared ideology favors such a connection, in which he speaks of a "sincere, mutual friendship based on community of interests" (Hitler's second book, 216). See also ibid., Pp. 97 and 217. Cf. Petersen, Origin of the axis, 60f and the like., Italy, 206-220.

[22] Mussolini announced the birth of the "Axis" after Ciano's visits to Germany (October 21-23, 1936) led to the signing of a secret protocol on general cooperation between the two states, in his famous speech on November 1st, 1936 in Milan Cathedral Square Hitler saw the future of Germany as expanding to the east, while Italy's living space should be the Mediterranean. The Rome-Berlin "axis", a consequence of the Abyssinian crisis of 1935/36, was not yet an alliance, but was only an extensive foreign policy coordination of the two authoritarian regimes. The outer stages of this further development are Mussolini's visit to Germany (September 1937), Italy's accession to the German-Japanese Anti-Comintern Pact (November 6, 1937) and Italy's withdrawal from the League of Nations (December 11, 1937). See Petersen, Origin of the axis, 60-63 and Siebert, Steel pact, 373-375.

[23] The conclusion of a bilateral cultural agreement and the enactment of anti-Jewish laws in Italy in 1938 were further stages on this path. Unlike Renzo de Felice, who in his Mussolini biography sees fascist imperialism in the continuity of traditional Italian power politics: Renzo de Felice, Mussolini il duce, Ill. Lo Stato totalitario 1936-1940, Torino 1981. On the cultural agreement see Jens Petersen, Prelude to “Steel Pact” and the War Alliance: The German-Italian cultural agreement of November 23, 1938, in: VfZ 36 (1988), 41-77; see also Reiner Pommerin, Racial Political Differences in the Relationship of the Berlin-Rome Axis 1938-1943, in: VfZ 27 (1979), 646-660; See Lutz Klinkhammer, Between the alliance and the occupation, Tübingen 1993, 1 and Petersen, Origin of the axis, XIII.

[24] On the evening of May 6th, Mussolini Ciano authorized the German partner to announce Italy's readiness to conclude the two-party alliance. The fact that Mussolini was able to make largely autonomous decisions in this area has been emphasized again and again by the historiography of diplomacy, which is strongly present in Italy. "For the foreign policy of fascism ... one must underline that the basic fact here was the will of Mussolini, to which all the important decisions made by the Italian government during this period (the 1930s) can be traced back to" (M. Toscano , Gli studi di storia delle relazioni internazionali in Italia, in: La storiografia italiana negli ultimi vent’anni, ed. v. Luigi De Rosa, Vol. 2: Età moderna, Roma 1989, 849f., Quoted from Broszat, Introduction, 41).

[25] Ciano, Diaries II, Entry from April 20, 1939, 77.

[26] See Siebert, Italy's path to World War II, 166.

[27] Regarding the Milan talks, see the German and Italian negotiation minutes, which by and large correspond to each other with slight accent differences. See ADAP, Series D, Vol. VI, No.341 and Toscano, Origini, Pp. 296-299.

[28] Siebert, Italy's path to World War II, 177. Cf. on the negotiations conducted on the steel pact, Ibid., Chap. IV. 'The trap of the steel pact', pp. 163-187,

[29] See ADAP, Series D, Vol. VI, No. 426, pp.466-469, also printed in: Sources on German foreign policy 1933-1939, ed. v. Friedrich Kießling , Darmstadt 2000, No. 106, pp. 271-274. The fact that it was important to ensure peace for a few years in Italy was clearly expressed in the preparation of the treaty up to the last conversation between Ciano and Ribbentrop in Berlin, but not Hitler's intention to use the alliance as a tool to take action against Poland.

[30] ADAP, Series D, Vol. VI, No. 426, p. 467.

[31] In Article I, the contracting parties promise to stay in constant touch with one another "in order to come to an understanding on all questions affecting their common interests or the general European situation". Article II contains a consultation clause, according to which the contracting parties should immediately enter into deliberations if their common interests should be jeopardized by international events of any kind. In the event of an external threat, the contracting parties promise each other full political and diplomatic support. See ADAP, Series D, Vol. VI, No. 426, p.467.

[32] See Siebert, Steel pact, 372.

[33] Article IV stipulates that, in order to rapidly implement the alliance obligations assumed in Article II, cooperation in the military and war economy should be deepened. In Article V, the contracting parties already undertake “in the event of a jointly waged war to conclude a ceasefire and peace only in full agreement”. Article VI emphasizes the importance of common relations with friendly powers. Finally, Article VII stipulates that the pact will enter into force immediately upon signature and that it will apply provisionally for an initial period of ten years. See ADAP, Series D, Vol. VI, No. 426.

[34] In an additional protocol, which, in contrast to the pact itself, was not published but kept secret, point 1 stipulates that the two foreign ministers should come to an agreement as quickly as possible on the organization, seat and working methods of the commissions provided for in Article IV. In points 2 and 3, the two foreign ministers are instructed “to take the necessary measures as quickly as possible to ensure permanent cooperation in the areas of the press, news and propaganda in accordance with the spirit and aims of the pact”. For this purpose, particularly experienced experts should be assigned to the embassies of the two countries. See ADAP, Series D, Vol. VI, No. 426, p.469.

[35] See Siebert, Italy's way into World War II, 183f., Note 57.

[36] If Mussolini had insisted on such an article from Hitler, then, as Weizsäcker suspected in his memoirs, the pact would probably not have come about. See Weizsäcker, Memories, 229.

[37] A few days after the conclusion of the contract, Mussolini should decide to bring his position to mind in a letter to Hitler (ADAP, D, Vol. VI, No. 459: Mussolini's letter to Hitler and Ciano's letter of introduction to Ribbentrop, May 31, 1939). Mussolini explained why the Axis Powers needed “a period of peace of no less than three years” and could only wage war from 1943 with “the greatest prospect of success”.

[38] Weizsäcker, Memories, 228.

[39] See Petersen, Germany and Italy, 108. In addition to the steel pact, the Duce simultaneously attempted the following foreign policy goals: independence from German tutelage, French ceding of territory to Italy (cf. e.g. ADAP, Series D, Vol. IV, No. 421), expansion of the Balkan position, prevention an unrivaled hegemony of the empire or its connection with England. In addition, Mussolini wanted with this alliance to have his back free for expansion in the Mediterranean area, but at the same time also undermined German expansion in the Danube region. See hoping Relations between “Third Reich” and Fascist Italy, 29.

[40] See Kley, World War II unleashed, 258.

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