Sunday, September 13, 2015
ADSS 1.114 Valeri to Maglione: French shock at German-Soviet pact
ADSS 1.114 Valerio Valeri, France, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.
Reference: Report 8962/274 (AES 5886/39)
Location and date: Paris, 24.08.1939
Summary statement: Shock in France over the German-Soviet pact; worst feared for Poland; France prepares for war.
There is hardly any need to say this, but the Press and public opinion have been shocked and upset by what has happened in Moscow. In fact, on the one hand, not only has the prestige of England and France been severely affected, the political and military situations have changed.
There is no doubt, on the other hand, that the German-Russian approach-work was put into effect some time ago, since someone who was on very intimate terms with the German Embassy always assured me that the negotiations between the democratic bloc and Russia would never have come to anything. (1) Facts proved him correct.
A few, and perhaps correctly, already express the most serious doubt concerning the fate reserved – in any hypothesis – for poor Poland, If France and Britain had made more use of the Holy See’s proposal, when the position was different, without doubt Poland would not find itself today in such a difficult and painful positions.
But let us wait for developments within the next few days which, no doubt, will be decisive. In the meantime, the Government has taken the last military precaution to face up to any eventuality. It would seem to me, among other things, as I stated at the beginning, that the tone of the Press has already diminished both as far as decision and intransigence are concerned. On the other hand, the message form the King of the Belgians for a peaceful solution of the present conflict has gone down well. (2)
King Leopold III of Belgium
(The photo was taken in 1934
during the official mourning for Leopold's father,
King Albert, hence the black armband.)
(1) Maglione added the words “we knew it also” in the margin.
(2) The Conference of the Oslo Group was being held in Brussels. In the evening of 23.08.1939 King Leopold spoke via radio, in the name of the six countries represented, appealing for peace. A copy of the appeal and the Pope’s reply was published in ADSS 1 Appendix and an be found here.