Page 5, 10th November 1939

10th November 1939
Page 5
Page 5, 10th November 1939 — Italy Stands at the Cross-roads

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People: Hitler, Roman Empire
Locations: Paris, VATICAN CITY, London


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Italy Stands at the Cross-roads



In discussion and argtunent the Italian people are awaiting the decision of the Duce. That decision will rally the whole people.

Press and people differ as to where Italy's best interests lie, but an are agreed that war for Italy is out-of-date.


From Our Own Correspondent


Italy is at the cross-roads. Her future course is unknown. It is everywhere being unofficially debated and the varied views of the Press reflect a common uncertainty.

But Englishmen must not mistake the nature of this uncertainty. There is not the smallest question of a

division among the Italian people. The Fascist way is totally different from the way of countries with Parliamentary democracy.

Discussion and argument are to be heard everywhere among the people. Discussion is undoubtedly going on among the responsible leaders. This discussion will have its all-important bearing upon the ultimate decision. But the decision will not be a victory of one side or another: it will be the authoritative and personal decision of the Duce, which, once given, will rally the whole people with one mind behind the Leader.

Italy Waits All Italy is waititig for the great moment when, as Mu-s8ohn4 has promised, he will be prepared to tell the people from the historic balcony of the Piazza Venezia what Italy will do. Never has Mussolini been more trtay the leader of the whole people.

When the war started last September no one doubted in Italy that this country was going to be one of the protagonists, because the people had been prepared for this "great moment" for the last fifteen years. Almost every day something happened or was said which made the Italians feel that the time to fight for Italy's greatness was drawing nearer.

After fifteen years of psychological and military preparation the great moment did come and, although lastminute preparations were not as intense as in Paris or London—the Duce has always said that Italy did not have to get ready because the country was always ready—nobody doubted that the country was going to war. There was only a slight doubt as to which side Italy would take. The Press had always been ion per cent.. pro-German, while France was criticised and ill feeling for England rose.

Everything Has Changed

In the last two months everything has changed. There is a feeling that this war-business is a thing of the last decade. That Italy is going to be involved in this war is now a heresy. War itself is considered out-of-date, as far as Italy is concerned.

Because the Duce has not spoken, the people, aided by the Press, are trying to guess which way lie Italy's best Interests. Part of the Press, e.g., Starace's Resto del Carlino, Farinaccrs Reginie Fascista and the Tevere, seem to indicate that Italy's interests are still tied to those of Germany, but not in the same degree to those of Russia. Other papers maintain a strict neutrality. This neutrality, some say, is merely a means to avoid British and French enmity so that Italy may be in a better position to aid Germany, but few in Italy are of this opinion.

Some think of the possibility of a betray-at of Germany who, they assert, has given " carte bianca " to Russia, not only in the Baltic but also in the Balkans, thus cutting through Italy's interests in the Mediterranean. Germany, they add, had forced Italy away from Central Europe and now Russia wants to force her away from the Balkans.

On the Fence

A few people also interpret Italy's neutrality as simply awaiting greater developments. They say that when Germany has completed the first part of her task and destroyed French and British power so that these nations may be less dangerous to Italy, she will then step Into the conflict and take her part.

On the other hand, modern Italy has no place for sentimentality. If she had, she would instantly side with her traditional ally, England. But she will not do 80 if by so doing she mast betray her interests. The Italians have the greatest respect for the British Empire, but would like to put alongside of it a new Roman Empire.

Whatever Mussolini's decision may be, one thing is certain and every Italian Is convinced of this: that there will never be a split between the Vatican and Italy. Mussolini is not Hitler, who gives all his thought to force. Mussolini unites force and reason, and he knows that the Vatican can do much for Italy because if to-day three hundred million Catholics are not against Italy it is because the Pope does not wish it so.

Italy can do much for the Vatican, too. She has done much In the past, and the Fascist regime desires to continue this common work.

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