Show below is a letter from Benito Mussolini to Adolf Hitler dated 25 August 1939. This letter is in response to Hitler’s letter on the same date. The letter is translated from the German Foreign Office’s translation of the Italian language.
August 25, 1939
FÜHRER: I am replying to your letter which has just been delivered to me by Ambassador won Mackensen.
(1) Concerning the agreement with Russia, I approve of that completely. His Excellency Marshal Goring will tell you that in the discussion which I had with him last April I stated that a rapprochement between Germany and Russia was necessary to prevent encirclement by the democracies.
(2) I consider it desirable to try to avoid a break or any deterioration in relations with Japan, since that would result in Japan’s return to a position close to the democratic powers. With this in mind, I have telegraphed to Tokyo and it appears that after the first surprise of public opinion passed, a better psychological attitude prevails.
(3) The Moscow treaty blockades Rumania and can alter the position of Turkey, which accepted the English loan, but which has not yet signed the treaty of alliance. A new attitude on the part of Turkey would upset all the strategic plans of the French and English in the Eastern Mediterranean.
(4) As regards Poland I have complete understanding for the German position and for the fact that such strained relations cannot continue permanently.
(5) As for the practical position of Italy, in case of a military collision, my point of view is as follows:
If Germany attacks Poland and the conflict remains localized, Italy will afford Germany every form of political and economic assistance which is requested.
If Germany attacks, and Poland’s allies open a counterattack against Germany, I want to let you know in advance that it would be better if I did not take the initiative in military activities in view of the present situation of Italian war preparations, which we have repeatedly previously explained to you, Führer, and to Herr von Ribbentrop.
Our intervention can, therefore, take place at once if Germany delivers to us immediately the military supplies and the raw materials to resist the attack which the French and English especially would direct against us.
At our meetings the war was envisaged for after 1942 and at such time I would have been ready on land, on sea, and in the air according to the plans which had been arranged.
I am also of the opinion that the purely military preparations which have already been undertaken and the others which will be entered upon in Europe and Africa will serve to immobilize important French and British forces.
I consider it my implicit duty as a true friend to tell you the whole truth and inform you about the actual situation in advance. Not to do so might have unpleasant consequences for us all. This is my point of view and since within a short time I must summon the highest governmental bodies of the realm, I ask you to let me know yours as well.
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