A General Clash Can Be Averted
EUROPE IS NOT YET ACTUALLY AT WAR
By BENITO MUSSOLINI, Premier of Italy
Delivered to party leaders at Rome, September 23, 1939
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, p. 15
I DESIRED that my contact with the leaders of the Fascist party should be renewed with you, my comrades from Bologna, first because you have made the most blood sacrifices to the cause of the Fascist revolution, second because you are worthy of your name—the Tenth Legion, the most faithful of the legions which Caesar could always count on—and third for the importance which in the political, economic and moral life of the nation Bologna and Milan have.
After this meeting others will follow for leaders of other regions and the Fascist party thus will proceed to its complete mobilization from the center of the nation to all its frontiers.
We meet in a stormy moment which brings not only the map of Europe into play but perhaps even that of continents. It is only natural that these great events and their repercussions cause emotion even among our leaders.
But small groups of miserable human dregs who have been reduced to living in slums, hidden places and dark corners, have taken advantage of our special and understandable feelings.
This riffraff is responsible for the circulation of rumors, the most ridiculous of which refer to me. This situation was destined to come to an end. Aroused with deep shame, I would have been forced to know one thing in which I have always firmly believed, namely, that the Italian people are one of the most intelligent on earth.
I do not want to dramatize the situation because it is not worth while, but it is necessary to clean up the human residue living in dark corners where Masonic and Jewish riffraff and anti-fascist foreign sympathizers have taken refuge. We will not allow them nor others to undermine the physical and moral health of the Italian people.
The Italian people have realized that the pilot must notbe disturbed, especially when he is engaged in stormy navigation, nor must he be asked questions about the course.
If and when I shall appear on the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia and convoke the Italian people to hear me, it will not be to discuss the situation but to announce decisions of historic importance such as that of October 2, 1935, or May 9, 1936.
[On October 2, 1935, Premier Mussolini announced the state of the conquest of Ethiopia. On May 9, 1936, he announced the occupation of Addis Ababa and the revival of the Italian Empire.]
Now, this is not the moment. My policy was fixed in the (Cabinet) declaration of September 1 and there is no reason to change it.
This answers to our national interests, to our political pacts and the desire of all peoples, including the Germans. The policy is that of at least localizing the conflict.
For the rest, with Poland liquidated, Europe is not yet actually at war. The masses of the armies have not yet clashed. The clash can be avoided by recognizing that it is a vain illusion to try to maintain or, worse still, to reconstitute positions which history and the natural dynamism of peoples have condemned.
It has been with wise intention not to enlarge the conflict that the governments of London and Paris have not done more to face the Russian fait accompli, but the consequence is that these governments have compromised their moral justification in taking action against the German fait accompli.
In this present moment of uncertainties the ruling voice which spontaneously has arisen from the Italian masses says, "Strengthen our army in preparation for any eventualities and support every possible peace effort while working in silence."
This is the style of Fascism, this must be and is the style of the Italian people.