Friday, December 23, 2016
ADSS 1.254 Tardini, Secretariat of State, notes: Preparations for Ribbentrop's visit
ADSS 1.254 Domenico Tardini, Sect State, notes
Reference: AES Germany 774
Location and date: Vatican, 09.03.1940
Summary statement: Preparations for Ribbentrop’s visit on 11.03,1940 done in secret. Pope dreading the experience. The meeting must not be exploited for Nazi propaganda.
On Monday 11 March, von Ribbentrop will see the Holy Father. The audience has been prepared secretly for some time. Through the Prince of Hesse (I believe) (1) and through X (2). The Holy Father submitted five points as desiderata of the Holy See (all prepared personally by himself and until now unknown to the Office). The German Government declared that they could form the basis for an understanding. The Ambassador (3) went yesterday (after all these months) to ask the Cardinal personally for an audience. He said it would be a courtesy call, without éclat, but with … due honours. The Holy Father, who had already been fully acquainted with X was very distressed. He does not place much hope in this visit. Today the Cardinal (after discussing the subject with me) advised His Holiness to hand Ribbentrop a written note as a précis of the conversation. This is in order that the audience not be exploited by the Germans – a very likely thing – and to publish one day proof of what the Holy Father has deplored and has requested for the good of the souls and for the fulfilment of his apostolic duty. (4)
(1) Philipp, Landgrave of Hess (1896-1980) acted as an intermediary between Berlin and Rome through his marriage to Princess Mafalda of Savoy (1902-1944). He joined the Nazi Party in 1930 and was a supporter of Hitler until the Nazis turned against the German princely families. Philipp was arrested in September 1943 and sent to KL Flossenburg. He was moved several times later in the war until liberation in May 1945. Mafalda was arrested in Rome and eventually sent to KL Buchenwald and made to work in an armament factory where she died during an air raid in August 1944.
(2) Not identified.
(3) Diego von Bergen (1872-1944), German Ambassador to the Holy See 1920-43.
(4) The documents relating to Ribbentrop’s visit did not concern the international situation, even if the Germans intended to use the visit as a means of consolidating the Berlin-Rome Axis. The only topic of discussion for the Holy See was the condition of the Church in Germany and Poland.
See also ADSS 2.42: 17.03.1940 Pius XII to Cardinal Adolf Bertram, Breslau; 43: 22.03.1940 Pius XII to Cardinal Michael Faulhaber, Munich.