Sunday, September 6, 2015

ADSS 1.111 Osborne to Tardini: Suggestion of a papal peace message; Hitler wants war.

ADSS 1.111 D’Arcy Osborne, UK Minister to Holy See, to Domenico Tardini, Secretariat of State.

Reference: AES 6814/39

Location and date: Rome, 23.08.1939

Summary statement: Osborne communicates his suggestions in view of papal message for peace. Osborne believes Danzig is an excuse for Hitler to go to war.  And the Church will suffer.

Language: English


With reference to our talk yesterday evening, I have been thinking over the matter of a possible further appeal on behalf of peace by the Pope – should His Holiness decide to make one – and it occurs to me that the following are points which might be emphasised. (1)

International differences should be settled by agreed solutions, arrived at through free negotiations; they should not be settled by one-sided solutions, imposed by force.

Selfish wars of aggression, undertaken for the forcible impositions of solutions, are contrary to Divine, human and international law.

Smaller nations, as well as greater, have rights to independent existence.

These are only ideas of my own which I am communicating personally to you in case they are of any interest.  I am convinced, personally that the present crisis is not a question of Danzig and the Corridor.  Even if it were only concerned with these two matters, it seems to me undeniable that if Germany can base a case on the principle of Self-Determination, so equally Poland can base a case on the principle of Lebensraum – the principle invoked by Germany to justify her absorption of Bohemia and Moravia.  But I feel certain that what is at stake if the future of Poland herself.  I strongly suspect that Hitler is determined to destroy Poland, just as he was determined to destroy Czechoslovakia.  And if he succeeds another country, and a Catholic one, will fall under German rule and the Catholic Church will suffer as she has in Austria. 

I hope I am wrong about Hitler’s plans and intentions, but I doubt it.


(1) In his memo of 22.08.1939, Osborne had indicated his Government’s attitude to a new Papal peace initiative. (ADSS 1.110)  There is no doubt that, when delivering this note on the evening of 22.08.1939 he discovered the possibility of a message.  On the 23.08.1939, at 17.30 he came back to the Vatican bringing this present document, dated 23.08.1939.  Tardini admitted that it was urgent to prepare an appeal for simultaneous publication through press and radio.  See Osborne to Halifax, 24.08.1939, DBFP, Series 3, Volume 7, n216, pp 182-83.

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