Page 8, 17th May 1940

17th May 1940
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Page 8, 17th May 1940 — Is Italy So Hostile?
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Is Italy So Hostile?

MISUNDERSTANDINGS IN ENGLAND

We print for the interest and information of our readers The following interpretation of recent Italian action by the author of " Italy " in the ' Modern States Series," who has maintained the closest touch with that country. The " Catholic Herald," however, is not necessarily in agreement with all his views.

By Robert Sencourt THE recent attitude of Italian newspapers has been misunderstood in this country. In the first place Italians know their newspapers are directed by one man, Mussolini. and voice his policy : but they also know that he tries to give them the

facts if they look for them. Now although all the Italian papers are controlled, some are controlled by one interest, some by another.

Good and Bad Papers The Regime Fascists, the newspaper of the little northern town of Cremona, is the newspaper of that noisy, nasty, Nazi railwayman, Roberto Farinacci. It is, in other words, a Hitler organ, supported evidently with German money. But if you take the great newspapers— the Corriere of Milan, the Nazione Florence, the Meseagero, the Giornale d'Italia, or the Popolo di Roma in Rome —you will always find that their articles are moderate; and as for their news, they print, first, despatches from neutral countries, and with every German communique a British communiqué. The result is that in recent weeks the Italian people were very much better informed than the British people, just as they were in the Spanish war. In neither case did the British newspapers as a whole give the real truth. In the Giornale d'Italia Signor Gayda was able to give seven quotations from British or French newspapers advocating stronger action with neutral countries, especially Norway. He said the Germans had forestalled that action. The newspaper also said that the Gerroan position in Norway was strong, net of the British precarious. He said that many Norwegians were Nazis. (All these truths were also in many Spanish newspapers.) Now all this real news was held back all through April from the British public. When they woke up to the truth they had a shock. But that shock should have shown them they had little complaint against Italy, who had every right to tell the truth.

Chatham House The British Parliament absorbed all the attention of the Government last week in blaming the Government for not doing more for Norway, We know now that the Government had every reason for not doing more. Yet when Signor Ansaldo told the Italians a week before that the Nazis were about to launch total war in the direction of England it was again cited as hostility. Yet a third misapprehension can ne explained. At Chatham House and the Ministry of Information they cut out particular references and make a list it extracts which they send to newspapers These extracts, so put together, give weight to every piece of German propaganda in such papers as the Regime Faseista, They give an entirely misleading notion of the balanced foreign news put daily before the Italian people in their good newspapers. At Chatham House the work is done by a lady with 20 years' propaganda for Geneva behind her : she cannot take a quite impartial view of Mussolini, who crushed the League of Nations, But that does not explain why the German crimes are never denounced in a Christian countcy, except by a Church newspaper.

Of that there are two explanations. One is that Italy was in the Axis, and that was one of the bargains. The other is that if Germany attacks Belgrade Italy must try to take the Dalmatian coast south of Fiume. If she does so she must pretend to do it as Germany's friend. She went into Albania as Germany's friend: but diplomats believe she really did so because King Zog had accepted German bribes to become a Quisling.

Italy Cannot Fight The reason why Italy must work in with Germany is that, she cannot fight. She is very short of money; she sells Germany one-third of her exports. War against Germany would be ruin. War against the Allies would stilt more oe ruin. It would lose Abyssinia, block the Mediterranean and cut off all petrol supplies. Italy's navy is not strong; her aeroplanes are no longer up to date. Italy could not come in against France unless France were at the last gasp. Then the Farinacci group would rule, and Italy would be simply a German colony in the style of Austria. Some young Italians would score — Quislings. Therefore it suits Mussolini to maintain the Italian tradition: that is, culture, civilisation and the unity of Europe against Bolshevism. She fought for it in Spain; as long as possible she upheld a Catholic Austria. It was not her fault that the Nazis were allowed to militarise the Rhineland. Even as the ally of Germany she stipulated for three years of peace. At Munich Mussolini saved both us and the Czechs from unimaginable horrors, and last year also he did everything he could for a diplomatic settlement. And there is some excuse for Mussolini's vehement attack on Allied control of Mediterranean shipping.




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