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Italy, the Roman Protocols Bloc, and the Anschluβ Question 1936–1938

  • H. James Burgwyn (a1)
Extract

Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg signed an agreement with Germany on 11 July 1936, wherein his chief accomplishment was to secure Hitler's recognition of Austria's full sovereignty. The Germans, however, viewed the Abkommen from a different angle: they saw it as the first step down the road to an eventual annexation of Austria. The Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, in his acceptance of the agreement, seemed ready to abandon Austria as a disagreeable but necessary sacrifice to closer alignment with Germany. Not many would disagree with the aphorism that “The Berlin-Rome axis was the spit on which Austria was roasted.”

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1 Quoted in Gehl, Jürgen, Austria, Germany, and the Anschluss: 1931–1938 (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 133.

2 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918–1945 (hereafter cited as DGFP), Series D, I, no. 155, Hassell to AA, 11 July 1936.

3 Burgwyn, H. James, “Italy, the Heimwehr, and the Austro-German Agreement of 11 July 1936,” Mitteilungen des österreichischen Staatsarchivs, XXXVIII (1985), 305325.

4 Petersen, Jens, in his classic study, Hitler-Mussolini. Die Entstehung der Achse Berlin-Rom (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1973), argues that ineluctable mutual attraction eventually brought Mussolini and Hitler together, whereas Felice, Renzo De, in his comprehensive Mussolini il Duce: LoStatoTotalitario 1936–1940 (Turin: Einaudi, 1981), emphasizes that Mussolini's distrust of Germany, coupled with his uncertainty over the attitude of the Western Powers toward Italy, induced him to practice a policy of peso determinante, a policy contrived to keep all options open.

5 Wiskemann, Elizabeth, The Rome-Berlin Axis (London: Collins, 1966), p. 83.

6 Burgwyn, “Italy, the Heimwehr, and the Austro-German Agreement,” pp. 322–325.

7 Archivio Storico del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Rome (hereafter cited as ASMAE), Fondo Lancellotti, Colloquio Mussolini-Frank, 23 September 1936. A word on Italian sources: I received special permission in 1984 to consult files in the Italian foreign ministry: the Austrian collection in the Affari politici series and the Ambasciata Vienna file. During the summer of 1985,1 was able to view on microfilm a part of the Lancellotti files which include key Gabinetto papers. Many thanks are due to the staff of the research department at the foreign ministry for granting me this permission and to Ms Adelaide Frabotta for supplying indispensable assistance.

8 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, Busta 316, 2529–A1/130, Preziosi to Rome, 11 July 1936.

9 ASMAE, Fondo Lancellotti, Reel 3, Colloquio Mussolini-Schmidt, 15 September 1936.

11 ASMAE, Ambasciata Londra, B 908, Attolico to Rome, 16 July 1936.

12 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 322,4033–A1/0131, Salata to Rome, 23 November 1936.

13 DGFP, C, V, no. 618, Neurath memorandum, 21 October 1936.

14 ASMAE, Fondo Lancellotti, Reel 5, Colloquio Ciano-Fuhrer, 24 October 1936.

15 Mussolini, Benito, Opera Omnia, XXVIII, 6771.

16 DGFP, C, VI, no. 10, Mackensen to Berlin, 5 November 1936. For a brilliant assessment of Hungarian foreign policy, see Sakmyster, Thomas L., Hungary, the Great Powers, and the Danubian Crisis: 1936–1939 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980).

17 Ádfám, Magda, Magyarország é a Kisantant a harmincas években (Budapest: Akadeémiai Kiadó, 1968), pp. 128129.

18 Haus, Hof und Staatsarchiv, Neues Politisches Archiv (hereafter cited as NPA) 414, Remarks on questions regarding the Roman Protocols Conference, 12 November 1936.

19 DGFP, C, VI, no. 53, Neurath memorandum, 25 November 1936.

20 NPA 416, Memorandum on Schmidt visit to Budapest, 29 October 1936; NPA 414, Remarks on questions regarding the Roman Protocols Conference, 12 November 1936.

21 NPA 414, Memorandum on Roman Protocols, 9–12 November 1936; Ádám, M., Juhász, Gy., Kerekes, L., Atlianz: Hitler, Horthy, Mussolini (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1966), pp. 132139;Ciano, Galeazzo, Ciano's Diplomatic Papers. Edited by Muggeridge, Malcolm. Translated by Hood, Stuart. (London: Odhams, 1948), pp. 6368;Schuschnigg, Kurt von, Austrian Requiem (New York: G.P. Putnam's, 1946), p. 123.

22 Documents diplomatiques français 1932–1939 (hereafter cited as DDF), 2nd series, 1936– 1939, vol. III, no. 492, Puaux to Paris, 16 November 1936.

23 ASMAE, Fondo Lancellotti, Reel 5, Colloquio Goring-Mussolini based on notes taken by Schmidt on the train back to Germany, 23 January 1937.

24 Ciano, Diplomatic Papers, pp. 80–91 DGFP, C, VI, no. 164, Hassell to Berlin, 30 January 1937; DGFP, D, I, no. 207, Hassell memorandum, 30 January 1937; ASMAE, Fondo Lancellotti, Reel 5, Göring declaration to the Duce, 15 January 1937.

25 ASMAE, Affari politici, Austria, B 50,503–A/257, Salata to Rome, 31 January 1937; NPA 405, Schmidt to Berger-Waldenegg, 20 January 1937.

26 Bartalits, László Lajos Sándor, Hongarije en de Anschluss 1918 1938 (Tilburg: H. Gianotten N. W., 1968), pp. 164165.

27 Schuschnigg, Requiem, p. 101.

28 Schausberger, Norbert, Der Griff nach Österreich (Vienna: Jugendund Volk, 1979), p. 383.

29 DDF, 2, IV, no. 431, Blondel to Paris, 11 February 1937.

30 Hitler, in his meeting with Ciano at Berchtesgaden, deftly manipulated Ciano's vanity and desire to be esteemed by Nazis when he urged a joint crusade against Bolshevism to divert Italy's attentions from Pan-Germanism. ASMAE, Fondo Lancellotti, Reel 5, Colloquio Ciano-Hitler, 24 October 1936.

31 NPA 412, Liebitzky to Vienna, 23 January 1937.

32 Ibid.,

33 NPA 86, Berger-Waldenegg to Vienna, 25 January 1937.

34 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 314, 170, Mussolini to Italian legation in Vienna, 8 October 1936.

35 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 315, 3540–A1/1897, Salata to Rome, 5 October 1936.

36 ASMAE, Affari politici, B 43,4265/2269, Salata to Rome, 7 December 1936; ASMAE, Affari politici, B 46, 697–A1/347, Salata to Rome, 15 February 1937.

37 NPA 412, Report from Rome to Vienna, 23 February 1937.

38 Weinberg, Gerhard L., The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany. Starting World War II, 1937–1939 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 273. Neurath was much less belligerent in recounting his Schuschnigg talks to Salata. According to the Italian minister, Neurath administered a rebuke to Papen by criticizing the behavior of the radical Austrian Nazis in his presence. Salata took this to mean that Neurath was in agreement with his and Schuschnigg's work of pacification. ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 320,45, Salata to Rome, 22 February 1937 ASMAE, Affari politici, B 50, 811–Al/400, Salata to Rome, 24 February 1937.

39 DGFP, D, I, no. 213, Neurath memorandum, 27 February 1937.

40 Virginio Gayda, Il Giornale d'Italia, 26 February 1937.

41 ASMAE.Affari politici, B 49, 1078/529, Salata to Rome, 14 March 1937.

42 That the media campaign in Italy was wide-spread can be gleaned from the French documents. See in particular DDF, 2, V, no. 390, Montbas to Paris, 3 May 1937.

43 Ciano, Diplomatic Papers, pp. 108–117.

44 Ibid., pp. 115–117 ASMAE, Fondo Lancellotti, Reel 5, Colloquio Mussolini-vonNeurath, 3 May 1937.

45 Tuninetti, D.M., La mia missione in Austria, 1937–1938 (Milan: C.E.B.E.S., 1946), pp. 1417,53–63,80–81.

46Ibid.

47 “Schuschnigg, Austrian Requiem, pp. 124–125.

48 Ciano, Diplomatic Papers, pp. 110–111.

49 Gayda, Virginio, Il Giornale d'ltalia, 24 04 1937.

50 Schuschnigg, Austrian Requiem, pp. 124–125.

51 NPA 414, Berger-Waldenegg to Vienna, 30 April 1937.

52 Tuninetti, La mia missione, pp. 88–89.

53 Hassell ably summarized their mutual irritation. DGFP, C, VI, no. 333, Hassell to Berlin, 24 April 1937.

54 Details on the pro-German fronde are provided by Petersen, Hitler-Mussolini, pp. 407–410, and Michaelis, Meir, “Il Conte Galeazzo Ciano di Cortellazzo quale antesignano dell'asse Roma-Berlino,” Nuova rivista storica, LXI (01–06 1977), 116149.

55 Schmidt sent a reliable reporter, Baron De Clies, from the Neue Freie Presse to inform Gayda of the true domestic situation in Austria. But to no avail. NPA 406, Schmidt memorandum, 4 March 1937. Schuschnigg was angry at Gayda for misrepresenting his talks with the notorious Seyss-Inquart. DDF, 2, V, no. 334, Montbas to Paris, 24 April 1937.

56 Hoptner, J.B., Yugoslavia in Crisis: 1934–1941 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963, pp. 8287;Zsigmond, László, ed., Diplomáciai iratok Magyarország külpolitikájánoz 1936–1945, 3 vols. (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 19621970), (hereafter cited as DIMK), II, no. 220, Villani (Rome) to Budapest, 15 March 1937;DIMK, I, 70, Villani to Kánya, 3 April 1937; Gehl, Austria, Germany, and the Anschluss, pp. 140–141.

57 DGFP, C, VI, no. 297, Dieckhoff memorandum, 28 March 1937; Weinberg, The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany, p. 217.

58 Ciano, Diplomatic Papers, pp. 102, 117; ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 320, 216753, Colonna (Budapest) to Rome, 10 May 1937; DIMK, I, no. 283, Kánya and Vinci conversation, 29 July 1937;Sakmyster, Hungary, the Great Powers, and the Danubian Crisis, p. 77.

59 ASMAE, Ungheria, B 3:1937, 8212, Ciano to the Italian legations in Belgrade and Bucharest,21 April 1937; Ciano, Diplomatic Papers, p. 118.

60 Juhasz, Gyula, Hungarian Foreign Policy, 1919–1945. Trans. Simon, Sándor (trans, revised by Maria Simon) (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó 1979), p. 129. Kánya was not reluctant to show Neurath his resentment overGermany's pressure on Hungary to woo Stoyadinović Allianz, no. 18, Kánya and Neurath conversation, 18 June 1937.

61 DGFP, C, VI, no. 423, Neurath memorandum, 12 June 1937.

62 Allianz, no. 17, Ciano, Darányi and Kánya conversation, 21 May 1937.

63 DDF, 2, V, no. 242, Blondel to Paris, 10 April 1937;DDF, 2, V, no. 243, General Parisot, French military attaché in Rome, to Paris, 10 April 1937.

64 NPA 416, Berger-Waldenegg to Vienna, 25 May 1937; NPA 86, Berger-Waldenegg to Vienna, 29 May 1937.

65 NPA 86. Berger-Waldenegg to Vienna, 18May 1937. Both Berger and the Austrian military attaché, Liebitzky, were opposed to Schmidt's visits to Paris and London for fear of irritating Mussolini and from a belief that the French were too weak and distant to be of much military help. NPA 412, Liebitzky to Jansa, 1 April 1937.

66 DDF, 2, V, no. 410, Montbas to Paris, 8 May 1937;DDF, 2, V, no. 458, Montbas to Paris, 26 May 1937.

67 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 322,0134/3416R, Cerutti (Paris) to Rome, 19 May 1937; ASMAE, Ambasciata Londra, B 954, 217784, 20 May 1937; ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 322,217783,20 May 1937; DDF, 2, V, no. 448, Delbos to French legation in Prague, 22 May 1937.

68 ASMAE, Affari politici, B 48, 1990/997, Salata to Rome, 24 May 1937.

69 ASMAE, Affari politici, B 47,0181/5549R, Salata to Rome, 12 August 1937.

70 DGFP, C, VI, no. 453, Neurath memorandum, 7 July 1937.

71 DGFP, C, VI, no. 461, Neurath to Hassell, 13 July 1937.

72 Ibid.; DGFP, C, VI, no. 499, Hassell to Weizsacker, 29 July 1931;DGFP, C, VI, no. 502, Neurath to Weizsäcker, 31 July 1937.

73 DGFP, C, VI, no. 503, Hassell to Weizsäcker, 31 July 1937.

74 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 322, 1262R, Ciano to Italian legation in Vienna, 18 July 1937; ASAME, Ambasciata Vienna, B 322,118, Ciano to Italian legation in Vienna, 19 August 1937. In contrast to Ciano's rhapsodic account of the Duce's visit to Germany, the Ballhausplatz tried to make the most of German-Italian friction. DDF, 2, VII, no. 30, Montbas to Paris, 7 October 1937.

75 ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 372, 153, Ciano to Italian legation in Vienna, 14 October 1937.

76 DGFP, C, VI, no. 486, Hassell to Berlin, 21 July 1937; DIMK, I, no. 283, Kánya conversation with Vinci, 29 July 1937; DIMK, 1,284, Villani (Rome) to Budapest, 2 August 1937.

77 NPA 416, Kánya conversation with Hornbostel, 20 August 1937; ASMAE, Ungheria, B 3:1937, 7285, Vinci to Rome, 20 October 1937.

78 ASMAE, Ungheria, B 3:1937, 8780/1480, Colonna to Rome, 30 July 1937, Benni (minister of communications) to Ciano, 1 September 1937, 232826á790, Ciano to Benni, 22 September 1937.

79 Allianz, no. 19, Göring, Darányi, Kánya conversation, 22 November 1937.

80 Wildner, Clemens, Von Wien nach Wien (Vienna: Herald, 1961), pp. 218225.

81 DDF, 2, VII, no. 157, Puaux to Paris, 28 October 1937.

83 Wildner, Von Wien nach Wien, pp. 218–225.

84 Mussolini's increasing fatigue over the Austrian question is reflected in his conversation with Ribbentrop in early November. Ciano, Diplomatic Papers, pp. 142–146. For growing Italian disillusionment with the Hungarians, see ASMAE, Ungheria, B 3:1937,1734/203, Ciano to Italian legation in Budapest, 18 October 1937. On the Bloc, Ciano noted: “The Rome Protocols have been superseded.” Ciano, Diary, 18 December 1937.

85 A special file on Schmidt can be found in ASMAE, Ambasciata Vienna, B 318.

86 Ciano, Diary, 16 December 1937.

87 Ibid., 24 November 1937.

88 Ibid., 30 December 1937.

89 Ibid.., 2 January 1938.

90 Ibid., 8 January 1938.

91 NPA 414, Schmidt memorandum on the Budapest Conference, 10–12 January 1938.

92 Ciano's pompous comment that, “In order to arrive at a positive result for the tripartite declaration, I was eventually obliged to use a firm hand. Then they gave way,” is decidedly self-serving.

93 NPA 414, Schmidt to Austria's legations, 15 January 1938;DDF, 2, VII, Puaux to Paris, 13 January 1938.

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