Page 1, 3rd May 1940

3rd May 1940
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Page 1, 3rd May 1940 — ITALY FRIEND OR FOE ?

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Locations: Milan, London, Rome


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We Need To Define Our War Aims

The war is not being decided in Norway; it is being decided in the Mediterranean.

The Italians do not want to fight with Germany; but they demand that the Allies shall attend to their just claims.

In military terms the war may become a stalemate, and victory may only be gained through the diplomatic field. This involves our shaping our war aims in such a way as to recover the natural sympathy of the Italians and the Spaniards for the Western European. Powers.

Hitlerism and Bolshevism, both of which are the real anti-Christian and anti-European evils, must at all costs be isolated.

So far, the Allies have done little to effect this and while they are holding their own, militarily and economically, they are being defeated diplomatically because their diplomacy is not rooted in genuine spiritual convictions.

We print below an editorial article emphasising these points; a despatch from our correspondent in Rome, and an analysis of the Italian attitude and recent Italian behaviour by Robert Sencourt, CATHOLIC HERALD Special Diplomatic Correspondent.

A Critical Issue

By the Editor

The importance of the issue in Norway lies in the effect victory or defeat there will have on Italy and Russia. A German victory will confirm the view generally held in those countries that the Allies cannot win the war by military means, even though they themselves can never be defeated.

But even a defeat in Norway need not make us despair of gaining Italian sympathy. Had we from the start concentrated on the diplomatic side and been properly advised, there would be no need to-day to fear the Norwegian issue.

Now we must act with all haste and in a decisive way.

Our task is simply this : to convince Italy (and all other neutrals) that we have one object in this war and one only—the overthrow of the philosophy and practice of Nazism and Bolshevism.

Hated Everywhere Nazism is not the same thing as the various territorial and economic claims of Germany to be the leading Central European Power. Nazism is the worship of Hitler, the brutality and faithlessness of the Hitler gang, rule by the method of the concentration camp, the enslavement of Poland, the persecution of Christianity, the methods of aggression by base guile and bullying force, the drift towards Bolshevism.

All these things are hated in Italy, Spain and every civilised country as much as they are hated in Britain and France. They are even hated by the majority of the Germans.

But they have triumphed in Ger

many and to a large extent abroad, because the Nazis have been clever enough to confuse them with a number of justified revisionist claims against which the Allies have set their face in the past until driven back step by step by Hitierian methods.

The fact that we have steadfastly refused to make our war aims clear has been interpreted as an insistence on our part on resisting all these revisionist claims of Germany, Italy and Spain.

As a result we have been playing IIitier's game. We have rallied his own people to him and we have steadily increased the hostility of Italy and Spain.

It may already be too late. The matter is vitally urgent. If we do not wish to fight an effective alliance between Germany, Russia, Italy, practically the whole of Europe, we must pledge ourselves to be resisting the evil in Hitlerism and Stalinism only; in fact, to be fighting for the immediate right of all countries (including Germany) to achieve their just aims by mutual goodwill and understanding and without the recourse to the evil and brutal methods of Hitlerism. And that pledge will mean nothing if it is not accompanied by concrete undertakings that even British possessions may have to be the subject Of claims and counter-claims.

If we imagine we can fight and win an old-fashioned war against half the world for British domination we are living in a fool's paradise which tomorrow will become a fool's hell.

But we can fight and win a war for justice, commonsense and a better Europe, a war in which Hitlerism and Bolshevism can be driven from Christendom.

Pens Writing

quently ordinary people have lost confidence In its statements concerning the progress of the war.

The Italian news from . London's B.B.C. Is attracting a large audience in this country, but those people who do not possess wireless sets with a short-wave have to fall back on rumours.

There is no doubt about the fact of the Italian Press having been very proGerman.

What is the reason? Your correspondent learns on very good grounds that soon after the Brenner meeting Italian Journalists were told to pep up their proGerman and anti-Ally stories, and meanwhile the Propaganda Ministry told editors what their headlines and placards should say.

The result of all this is sometimes surprising. For example, when we picked up our morning papers one day we saw screaming at us from across the page the announcement that the Government of Oslo had derided to submit to the German occupation, but when we searched the less startling print we could find nothing which had reference to the headline.

Your correspondent has It from a highly-placed Vatican official that the Italian Government has made representations at the Vatican concerning the Osservatore Romany's attitude. This may place the paper in an awkward predicament, because while the sale of the paper in Italy is guaranteed by the Italian Government, presumably the Government left itself free to curb the paper's activities when it offended Italian policy.

Meanwhile, its copies are stacked high on the kiosks every evening.

In the midst of the turmoil comes out the clear voice of the courageous Catholic daily of Milan, L'Itatia, which, after commenting on the Scandinavian events that it is " difficult to navigate in the tempestuous sea of chaotic news," adds that while in the military field the elements for forming a judgment are still rather unreliable because news comes often from suspicious or unimpartial sources, on the political side it is less difficult because situations are sufficiently clear and less susceptible of radical modification. "But the only geld where it is possible to formulate an exact opinion is the moral one," declares the same Milan newspaper, " because there is a secure compass for this purpose which will not ' go crazy.'" Conditions for Admission " We are disposed to admit," L'Itatia goes on, "as has done an authoritative Italian newspaper, that the German coup de force in Norway is a 'masterpiece,' but under one condition: that the analysis of the elements that constitute It must be justified from every point of view, not excluding the moral one."

What then of the moral point of view? The Italian Catholic daily concludes : " Our compass points implacably to one point, the first of the five announced by Pius XII in his Christmas allocution in 1939: A fundamental postulate for a just and honourable peace is to assure the right to life and Independence of all nations, big and small, powerful and weak. The will of a nation to live should never be the equivalent of a death sentence for another.'"

Allies Must Take Moral Lead

From Robert Sencourt, Special Diplomatic Correspondent When the Germans invaded Norway, the Fascist papers vigorously stated the German case, ignoring the Allied one, contrasting thus with the Vatican paper which denounced the new aggression.

So far the Italian Press was only carrying to extremes its general attitude during the war. But it coincided with something else.

The Germans have had the initial advantage in Norway : they control all the great ports of the south, and therefore the mouths of communication. They render English operations in Norway difficult and hazardous; and the Nazis have used these advantages to embarrass our forces as they arrive.

This fact was cabled to Italy, not only by Germany but by Sweden and Holland, and printed in Italy long before it was made clear in England.

The Polemic Dies Down

The simple fact is that it was the truth as far as the land operations were concerned.

Gradually, however, the polemic has been dying down, not without some prudent indications from our Government.

The chief difficulty that remains is the question of a German attack on Yugoslavia. If the Germans invade Yugoslavia, Italy will want to take the Adriatic, and it will be to our interest not to have the Germans there. But certain elements in the Allied Governments seek an excuse for a quarrel with Italy.

They will not obtain it. The Italian people are vehemently anti-German : so much so, they would force out any government that forced them into a pro-Nazi war. But on the other hand, Italy has certain just claims from the Allies which so far have not been satisfied. Until they are, there will remain a certain feeling of soreness and uncertainty. Italy's position is delicate : she must remain mmi sal, yet she wants to press certain rights.

In this, as in countless other matters in Europe, the Allies suffer from mistakes made in former years. when Masonic.governments in France inclined more towards Russia than towards a constructive Christian settlement which alone can build solid peace in Europe. Such mistakes embarrass us at every turn. Even now, they prevent us from any clear pronouncement on war aims: and without that every neutral is embarrassed and uncertain.

What is required is for the Allies to take a definite moral lead for all Europe to save it as far as they can from the gloomy prospects of Germany's drag towards Communism. Catholic thought can do yeoman service for Britain and her patriotism.

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