On January 30, 1933, Hitler seized power in Germany.
Mussolini's chances of achieving substantial international successes besides those ground out by his propaganda mill were slim under the conditions existing in Europe between 1922 and 1933. Germany was still disarmed and powerless. Italy by herself, despite Mussolini's swaggering, was no immediate threat on land, at sea, or in the air either to England or to France. French politicians and Army chiefs believed that their own forces, combined with those of the Little Entente and Poland, were sufficient to cope with both Germany and Italy. As for the British Foreign Office "experts", they looked upon Mussolini as a useful auxiliary to hold France in leash. This position as lackey of a powerful master enabled him to loose his verbal thunders against France and the Little Entente. But all "experts" conceded that this nonsense would come to an end as soon as he endeavoured to pass from words to deeds. Why be bothered with dangers which were not imminent? Do not do today what you can do tomorrow. Tomorrow perhaps you will not need to do it, or someone else will do it.1
With Hitler's advent to power, the European situation changed overnight. Mussolini began to become really dangerous. He could now hope that Franco-German relations would deteriorate and that he had at last found "an effective stick for belabouring France".2 What for ten years had been a tragedy for the Italian people, and a comedy for the rest, now became a tragedy for all.
No wonder, therefore, that Hitler's triumph was greeted in the Press of Italy with enthusiasm. The newspaper Tevere, which might be described as the German drum in the Mussolinian orchestra, drowned the sound of all the others:
" Hitler, together with Fascist Italy, will create a well-defined and solid barrier of will-to-peace in distraught Europe between France, the great Western disturber of the peace, and the harried group of Eastern provocateurs that gravitate around France. In the name of the new order
" Italy was not yet regarded as powerful enough to do any real harm, and the general opinion of Mussolini was that, although he made violent and unpleasant speeches from time to time, he was too shrewd a politician to translate any of his threats into action. Besides, there was a lingering tenderness for him and his régime in many conservative circles, notably in Great Britain."