January 18, 2017

1933. Ex-Foreign Minister: Neither Mussolini Nor Hitler Really Wants War

Ex-Foreign Minister of Italy Carlo Sforza Deplores 'Saber-Rattling'
Benito Mussolini tours a German railway station with Adolf Hitler during a state visit, September 24, 1937 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy and Germany prior to World War II. In 1933 Carlo Sforza, the anti-fascist former foreign minister of Italy, argued at the time that "neither Mussolini nor Hitler really wants war."

 From The New York Times, April 16, 1933:
Ex-Foreign Minister of Italy Says Neither Mussolini Nor Hitler Really Wants War
On the eve of sailing for Europe on the liner Bremen last night, Count Carlo Sforza, former Foreign Minister of Italy, deplored what he termed the "saber-rattling" of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, but added that neither of them really wanted war. Count Sforza, who has lectured on international affairs at Duke, Wisconsin and Michigan Universities under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is going to Brussels, where his wife and children live.

"Despite all appearances to the contrary," Count Sforza said, "I think that the outlook in Europe is no worse than before. The worst elements of nationalism and political reaction were already at work. Now, at least, they are unmasked and therefore less dangerous.

"Nobody wants war. Neither the man in power in Italy nor those who rule in Germany. Herr Hitler finds it much safer to beat Jews than to beat Frenchmen. But, on both sides, they are obliged to go on with their war talk and with their promises of a grandiose tomorrow.

"The main danger now existing in Europe is the avalanche of diplomatic lies and the poisonous press. Some remnants of those lies may linger in countries where there is no such thing as freedom of the press."

Speaking of an official rapprochement between Hitler and Mussolini, Count Sforza said:

"To me, the situation is identical to what happened in Europe after the Napoleonic wars. Then there was always an alliance between autocratic powers, who considered the maintenance of their rules even more essential than the interests of their own countries. The same is now happening with dictatorial and militaristic regimes."

Of the Hitler regime, he said:

"Unless some disaster happens, Germans will accept the Hitlerian dictatorship for quite a long time. The Germans are in reality paying the penalty of having gone through the Bismarckian and Kaiser Wilhelm periods which made them materially powerful, but which took away from them all the moral advantages of the regime of liberty. Even today, a free general election in Italy would give an overwhelming vote against fascism. I am not so sure of such a result in Germany."