Sunday, May 31, 2015
ADSS 1.39 Valeri to Maglione: French reactions
ADSS 1.39 Valerio Valeri, France to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.
Reference: Report 8209 (AES 2930/39)
Location and date: Paris, 12.05.1939
Summary statement: French press and public opinion regarding the Pope’s initiative for peace and the international situation.
The Press is starting to maintain a silence on the steps taken by the Holy See on behalf of peace. Your Eminence must have noted, however, a satisfactory leader in the Temps of 11.05.1939; yet the same paper published in the last page of the same issue a small and very equivocal article to which I have already called your attention. This news, according to what I have heard, had a very suspicious origin: it seems the public relations office of the Quai d’Orsay released it.
Today the Figaro prints on its first page a fine article by L. Romier (1), which is in contrast to the not-so-respectful allusion to the Holy See, which appeared in the article by M. X. on 10.05.1939. On the whole, as I said, silence is descending on this episode.
In my humble opinion, it is evident on the whole that at the present moment the so-called democratic states do not wish to have any contacts, but rather to enlarge and fortify the barrier set against the expansion of the totalitarian states. The Democracies are convinced that in a few months the balance of power will tip in their favour. This was told me by M. Bonnet and repeated the other day by the United States Ambassador, Mr Bullitt, who did not conceal his satisfaction in learning that the Holy See’s step would not have any sequel. He, too, was of the opinion that the totalitarian States should be placed with their backs to the wall; only then, and after they had given guarantees to which Mr Roosevelt alluded to in his message, could talks be started.
This could be advantageous, certainly, but it is also extremely dangerous.
(1) Lucien Romier (1885-1944), a right-wing historian and journalist who, through the 1920s and 1930s, wrote regular opinion columns for a number of French broadsheets. He supported a return to a more authoritarian government for France. His anti-parliament stance won him favour with the Vichy regime where he served until 1943. Increasingly critical of Petain and Laval’s policies, Romier died just before his arrest by the Gestapo in January 1944.