L. B. NAMIER
The British historian Lewis B. Namier distinguished himself well before the outbreak of World War II by intensive and original studies of British politics in the eighteenth century. After 1945 his research and his crisp style were brought to bear on the causes of the Second World War. In articles and in three books he offered critical analyses of the events that led to war. This reading is representative of these works-- which reviewed new memoirs, documents, and secondary studies--in that it is an essay on German-Italian relations, occasioned by the publication of a study of the subject by another noted historian, the Italian scholar Mario Toscano. Toscano made use of records left by Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law and Foreign Minister, and documents from the archives of the Italian Foreign Ministry. Namier made the essence of this material available to English readers. Like Elizabeth Wiskemann, Namier shows how largely Mussolini had become by 1939 a satellite of Hitler. After reading this selection and others in this booklet you should be able to assess the degree to which Mussolini's Italy helped to encourage or prevent the outbreak of war in 1939.
THOUGH the Pact of Steel was a symptom rather than a factor in the history of 1939, the moves and methods of the Powers concerned are revealing; and the story of those negotiations is told with meticulous care and thorough knowledge by Professor Mario Toscano,1 now Historical Adviser to the Italian Foreign Office and vice-president of the commission entrusted with the publication of the Italian diplomatic documents, 1861-1943. He has been able to supplement the material contained in Ciano Diary and the published Ciano Papers, in the Nuremberg documents and those of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, with unpublished Italian diplomatic telegrams and dispatches (among which those from Attolico, Ambassador in Berlin, are of outstanding interest), and with information derived from Italian survivors of those years. . . .
In May 1938, during Hitler's visit to Italy, Mussolini, who had just concluded an agreement with Great Britain and was negotiating one with France, thought of a pact which would give new contents to the Axis; or else people might start talking of its demise and of a return to Stresa. But the Italians were not prepared as yet to go the whole length of "a pact of military assistance, public or secret," as proposed by Ribbentrop. Ciano wrote in his Diary on May 6:
Ribbentrop. . . is exuberant and sometimes shows levity. The Duce says he is of the type of Germans that disgrace Germany. He talks right and left of war, without fixing either opponent or objective. Sometimes he wants, jointly with Japan, to destroy Russia. Or again his bolts strike France and England.