Rome, December 2, 1942
Foreign Broadcast Intelligence Service, Federal Communications Commission.
You all know well, my comrades, how reluctant I am to speak, even in times that are commonly referred to as normal or peace times. This springs from one of my convictions, namely, that in every hundred cases, one repents seventy-five of having spoken and only twenty-five of having remained silent. In the second place, it is my conviction that in time of war, when the cannon speaks with its powerful voice, the less we speak the better. In any case, one should speak of past accounts, and rarely of future expectations.
This conviction of mine has been strengthened by this war, which has now assumed proportions that could be called cosmic, so universal are they-a war which goes beyond the power of words to describe, a war that having spread enormously in space, has, as a natural consequence, also been prolonged in time proportionately. I am pleased that the Italian people have not too often urged me to the tribune, because the Italian people, who are certainly one of the most intelligent in the world, if not the most intelligent, do not need too much propagandistic juggling, especially when that propaganda is not extraordinarily intelligent.
Nevertheless, after eighteen months of silence, now that we have entered the thirtieth month of the war, I have the vague impression that a large part of the Italian people wish to hear my voice again. Mine, then, will not be a speech today, but rather a political and military report, more military than political. It will consequently be a speech of data, of figures, of facts: In other words it will be the balance-sheet of the first thirty months of war.
It is not the speech that I had planned to make on the Twentieth Anniversary. On the other hand the Twentieth Anniversary was celebrated in the best possible way, recalling to all-even to the forgetful or absent-minded-what the regime has accomplished in twenty years of work, a gigantic work which is destined to leave indelible traces upon all the centuries of history.
We celebrated the Twentieth Anniversary with a glorious amnesty which opened the prison-gates to some 50,000 people, and which also freed from confinement the so-called political prisoners-a proof of the strength of the regime.
Finally, there was the whole structure of social legislation, which in other times would have created a wave of great enthusiasm, for in this field we are actually in the vanguard of all nations without exception.
The principal events of these eighteen months, that run from June 10, 1941, to the present day, are the following: The war against Russia; the entrance of Japan into the war; the landing of the Anglo-Americans in North Africa.
The military power of Russia was no surprise to me except, in a limited sense, from the point of view that I would call qualitative. In 1933 or 1934, the Italian General Staff received from the Russian General Staff an invitation to send a delegation to witness the maneuvers of the Russian Army which took place in the vicinity of Moscow. I took the opportunity to send a delegation which was headed by General Francesco Saverio Grazioli, a man of undisputed professional training and endowed with a keen power of observation.
When he returned, he gave me a very thorough report which I read with the greatest attention, and which convinced me that there was something new to the East, and that the Russian Army was now far different from that haphazard collection of troops who, under the walls of Warsaw in 1920, let themselves be beaten by the no less haphazard collection of Polish and French troops. Some years later, a moving picture of a Bolshevik parade (held) in the Kremlin Square, in Moscow, which I had shown for me in slow motion to examine it better, convinced me that to the East a powerful State, strictly militaristic, had now been created, and which had given up the idea of international revolution achieved through individual national revolutions, aiming instead at extending the revolution on the continent, and in the world, through the power of its bayonets.
It was therefore, in my opinion, necessary for the Axis to secure its rear; and it is my profound conviction that the time was chosen with clear discernment. If we had delayed further, events might have taken quite a different course.
We are objective enough to recognize that the Russian soldier has fought well; but the German soldier fought even better and defeated the Russian soldier. It must be recognized that only an army like the German Army and only the Italian expeditionary force, which has now become the ARMIR, would have been able to survive the trial of a winter that had had no equal for 140 years.
Today Russia has lost its most fertile lands, the richest in prime raw materials, has lost from 80,000,000 to 90,000,000 of inhabitants. Those lands permit us to view the future, from the standpoint of raw materials and from the standpoint of food, with greater confidence. I can state that, so far, Anglo-American assistance has been very meagre.
It is symptomatic that the Russians have never been willing to have an American or an English soldier tread upon their soil. I do not think that here we need go into the mysteries of the so-called Russian or, if you will, Slavic-Oriental psychology. There is not the slightest doubt, in my opinion, that in this gigantic game-which is to create the new Europe and establish the boundaries between Europe and Asia-the decisive and definitive victory could not fail to be won by the Axis arms.
If there is one man in the world who had a diabolic desire for war, that man is the President of the United States of America The provocations which he heaped upon us, the measures he took against us, the activity of his propaganda-all this shows that this man, who had just made a sacred promise to the American mothers that their sons would never be sent to die beyond the boundaries of the United States, this man deliberately wanted war.
Naturally, Japan could not wait for the United States to be the first to shoot. This a chivalry of olden days, if it ever existed at all. And so Japan did very well not to wait until the last moment, and inflicted upon the overbearing Americans that tremendous defeat which today imposes upon those same Americans a day of mourning and of silence.
Now the intervention of Japan in the war of the Tripartite Powers is an absolute guarantee of victory, for Japan cannot be reached and cannot be defeated. All the English positions in the Far East have been demolished like castles of cards. So has come to pass an event unique in the history of the world: That Japan, which was a country as poor as we, has become, within a few months, if not the first in wealth among the nations of the world certainly one of the first. Well, it must be recognized that this is just; that it is the reward of her (Japan's) virtue. It is with raw materials that Japan has enriched herself. They are the prime raw materials of which our enemies are being impoverished. And not a day passes but that American pride is stricken and shattered.
Where are those American prophets who were going to liquidate Japan in three weeks, or in three months at the most? They obviously knew nothing of the military power of Japan, and above all they knew nothing of her innermost moral structure by which, in that country, the Emperor has, I won't say the authority, but the dignity of God; and soldiers who die in war are giants. It is truly difficult to beat a people which has in itself moral resources of this nature.
Third event: The landing of the Anglo-Americans in North Africa, or better, the tragic comedy of waiting. In life, really, it is not always a privilege to be able to see over the hill. But even this could easily be foreseen. Information was not lacking. The consorting of American officers in civilian clothes with French officers in uniform was apparent. Everyone in France was waiting; that is, everyone was-and for all we know, they still are, maybe even more than before-at the window. The landing was nothing glorious because it took place with the complicity of the invaded.
I have never given importance to the words of honor-to the too many words of honor-that have been exchanged. When at last things reached their epilogue with the landing of November 8, I let Berlin know that the measures to be taken-the immediate, necessary and indispensable step to take-was the occupation of the whole of France, Corsica included. The Fuehrer and I wanted to believe once again in one more word of honor, that of the Admiral who commanded the fleet at Toulon. We chose to believe. But at a certain moment it was so evident that the flight of the Fleet and its meeting with the English Fleet was being contemplated-with the English Fleet which twice had put in appearances between the Balearics and Sardinia-that in this case also there was not even a minute to be lost. It was necessary to occupy Toulon in order to eliminate this danger, and this was done.
The Anglo-Saxon propaganda adorns the episode with nonexistent particulars. There has been nothing heroic on the part of the French because the dead are counted at two and the wounded at 17. The disarming of contingents of the army and of those of the air force has been carried out in perfect order, amid what could be called the moral atonement of all the French people.
Concurrently with the renewed offensive on the El Alamein front-which has been the only victory that Great Britain might claim-bombardments against Italian cities have begun. Regarding these bombings I shall now give some exact figures. The Assistant Secretary of the Interior will testify to the accuracy of the number of those killed, and the Minister of Public Works will testify to the accuracy of the amount of damage suffered. I give out these figures in order to prove that some accounts, which have been circulated, were exaggerated; and to prove that the British have bombed mainly the civilian quarters of our cities.
At Milan, the houses completely destroyed are 30; those seriously damaged 411; those slightly damaged 1,973; total of houses hit 2,414.
At Turin, the houses completely destroyed are 161; those seriously damaged 874; slightly damaged 2,195; total of houses hit 3,230.
At Savona, houses completely destroyed are 6, seriously damaged 44, slightly damaged 970; total houses hit 1,020.
At Genoa, houses completely destroyed are 187 in the city's center and 203 in the entire communal area; seriously damaged in the city proper 1,006, in the entire communal area 1,040; slightly damaged, 4,569 in the city proper and 4,869 in the entire communal area; total of houses hit in the city proper and in the entire communal area, 6,121.
We have decided that no work will be done on houses completely destroyed, until the end of the war. The others, more or less damaged, will be rebuilt or repaired. The total number of killed and wounded among the civil population in consequence of enemy air raids and naval bombardments since the beginning of the war up to November 30th, 1942, XXII year, is 1,886 killed and 3,332 wounded, of whom 838 were killed and 994 wounded from October 23rd until today. Among these 838 killed are included those of the so-called "Galleria delle Grazie" at Genoa.
This proves to you once again that we worship Truth. We leave to the Americans and the British the worship of lies.
I have the right to demand that no Italian-I say no Italian-have the slightest doubt that what our communiqués say is the absolute truth. We are the only warring country that publishes the lists of our losses, and we do this for two reasons: To prove what those losses are, neither one more nor one less, and also to save from anonymity those sons of Italy who fall fighting.
The number killed in all the Italian armed forces during the first 30 months of war was 40,219, of these 36,619 were in the Army, 2,178 in the Navy, and 1,422 in the Air Force. The wounded of the Army amount to 30,745; of the Navy 3,599; of the Air Force 1,620. The prisoners total 232,778, of which 215,512 belong to the Army, 12,284 to the Navy and 5,982 to the Air Force. The missing total 37,713 of which 25,923 belong to the Army, 10,390 to the Navy and 2,200 to the Air Force. When we speak of the missing, our emotions fluctuate between fear and hope. After a certain time has passed, it has to be acknowledged that these missing must be counted among the fallen.
During this period of time, according to the Operative Statistical Office of the Navy Department, enemy merchant shipping sunk by units of the Royal (Italian) Navy amounts to 177 units with a total tonnage of 1,215,821 tons. Enemy naval tonnage sunk by units of the Royal Navy amounts to 140 units with a total of 333,978 tons. The Italian warships sunk by the enemy amount to 172, with a total tonnage of 227,182 tons. All this we have reported in our communiqués. But to the sinkings by the Royal Navy it is necessary to add those which were effected by the Royal Italian Air Force.
The Royal Air Force sank 72 warships of various types, among which were 20 cruisers and 18 destroyers, and has sunk 117 enemy merchant ships with a total of 882,330 tons. As for the enemy air force, here are the figures: Planes surely shot down (we use extreme prudence before saying that a plane has been shot down and I frequently require photographs) amount to 1,000; probably shot down, 713; destroyed on the ground, 393 certain, and 190 probable. The war prisoners in our hands are: British in Italy-Generals, 21; officers of various ranks, 2,376; non-commissioned officers, 32,747. Others are on the way, so that the total is represented by these figures: Generals 21, officers of various ranks 2,441, noncommissioned officers 39,089. I correct myself, officers of various ranks 9,412. These are the real English, born in the United Kingdom. Then there are those of all the other nationalities, which bring the totals to: Generals, 29; officers of various ranks, 4,003; non-commissioned officers, 69,177.
These prisoners are treated by us according to the rules of international law. Can we say as much for our prisoners in enemy hands? It pains me to have to disillusion the families of those who have sons who are prisoners; but the truth must be told, and the truth is this: That, except in a few areas, the treatment which the English give to Italian prisoners is almost everywhere inhuman. Here is one of the most recent cases:
Today I received a letter from my father, who tells me that your son has been taken prisoner by the English. Your dear son was seriously wounded in the foot and could not walk. An English soldier fired a shot into his head and killed him. His comrades gave him an honorable burial. It is a very sad thing. I knew your son. He was a fine boy. There are 1,200 of us in a place that it's useless to name. We are without shoes, without clothes and without medicine.
To treat English prisoners well is the worst insult that can be given to Italian combatants who are prisoners. They have several times fired cowardly shots into the enclosure from outside the wire netting. English officers have many times beaten Italian officers and incredible cruelties have been perpetrated on us and even on the sick, the wounded and the mutilated. The sick and weak are thrown like freight into holds or into cattle cars. Officers of every rank and age forced to carry baggage for English soldiers, and even for the colored ones. And now I must read it all: "The English are cursed, but more cursed are the Italians who treat them well."
Thus I come to one of the purposes of my speech. The English Prime Minister last Sunday made a radio address largely addressed to Italy. He thought that we would not have made it known. Not at all. I read it today. I read the portion that refers to the Italian people and also that which refers to me personally. Churchill said: "The new air front which the Americans and the R.A.F. are creating along the coasts of the Mediterranean must offer abundant new possibilities in 1943. Our operations in French North Africa should allow us to bring the weight of the war against Fascist Italy in a manner thus far never dreamed of by its guilty leaders and even less by the unfortunate Italian people whom Mussolini has brought (to the point) of being exploited and covered with misfortunes."
Churchill says that "the war industries of Northern Italy have been subjected to a treatment harsher than that experienced by some of our cities in the winter of 1940. But if, in due time, the enemy is expelled from the Tunisian point, as is our purpose, all Southern Italy, all its naval bases, all its war factories and all other military objectives, no matter where located, will be subjected to prolonged, scientific, annihilating aerial attacks. It is for the Italian people, for the 40 millions of them (this gentleman should be brought up to date: We are 46 millions) to say whether they want such a terrible thing to befall their country or not."
This speech should be taken seriously. For a long time I have had no illusions, and perhaps I have never had any, on the state of civilization of the English people. If you strip the Englishman of the clothes he wears at his 5 o'clock tea, you will find the old primitive British barbarian, with his skin painted in various colors, who was tamed by the truly square legions of Caesar and Claudius. Fifty generations are not enough to change deeply the inner structure of a people; to a large extent, they have only spread over this primitive sediment a hypocritical varnish from the haze of the Old and the New Testaments.
It is no longer necessary to speak of internal and external fronts; there is only one front which has several sectors and, according to good military strategy, the home front sector also must carry out its own staggered defenses in depth.
In 1938, five years ago, I said: "Do not wait for the eleventh hour; begin to disperse over our beautiful countryside." But it might be said that sometimes I receive a treatment similar to those poets who are more quoted than read, more listened to than followed.
We must get the population out of the cities, above all the women and children. And we must organize a total evacuation, or almost total. It is the duty of all those who can find a place to live far from the urban and industrial centers, to do so.
Then we must organize evening departures so that only the combatants shall remain in the city at night, namely, those who have the civic moral obligation to remain there. It will then be easier to make a sufficient number of shelters more enduring than those which we have at present-for which we have spent hundreds and hundreds of millions, but which, if hit directly, cannot withstand bombs of very heavy caliber.
This is what I would call the negative phase of the defense against air-raids. Then there is the positive phase. That will never be sufficiently perfected. I am glad to be in a position to announce that Germany will contribute to our defense a large artillery force, so that ours, together with the German, will be able to give to the enemy planes the reception they deserve.
But the aim of Churchill's speech is to impress the Italian people. This is the thesis: "We are a hard and strong race, but those Italians, so flighty, so sensitive, will they have the necessary capacity for resistance?"
My answer now is: Yes. Until the opposite has been proved, I absolutely refuse to believe that the Italian people are of a moral fiber inferior to that of the English people, or to that of the Russian people. And if this were true, we should definitely have to give up our hopes of becoming a great people. Rome was victorious after Zama, but it was great after Cannae. I do not say that in our veins flows all the blood which flowed in the veins of the ancient Romans, but it is certain that we are the people in whose veins flows the greatest portion of that blood which flowed in the veins of the ancient Romans. And we shall prove it. Therefore we will hold fast. This is imposed upon us by duty, by honor, and by dignity.
Now I shall read to you the portion that concerns me: "One man, only one man has brought the Italian people to this point." Truly I should be somewhat proud of seeing myself referred to as an enemy of the British Empire and of having brought the Italian people along with me in this enmity. "He," Churchill's speech goes on, "did not have to take part in the war, because no one was planning to attack him."
Indeed, I should like to know whether the British Prime Minister has ever consulted the English people to find out whether they wanted the war or not, and whether he would have the courage to consult the English people today to find out whether they want the war and whether they want it carried on indefinitely. Because such is democracy, it fails in its purpose in the gravest moments. At that time, the sovereign people are no longer consulted. At that time no longer does one speak of elections and of referendums. The people are regimented under arms and they have to obey. "We tried our best to induce him to remain neutral and to enjoy peace and prosperity, exceptional gifts in a stormy world."
If we had remained neutral, aside from the dishonor, we would be now in the most frightful poverty. Because it is evident that neither one side nor the other would have bothered to help us.
"But Mussolini was not able to resist the temptation of stabbing in the back a prostrated France, and what he thought was a hopeless England." At this point we must speak once and for all of this famous stabbing. Italy's entry into the war was set for June 5th; that was my date, the one I had chosen, and it was the German High Command which, for reasons of a technical nature-upon which it is useless to insist today-begged us to postpone the intervention to June 10th.
No one thought that the end of the war with France would come so swiftly, least of all Churchill who a few months earlier had admired in Paris the parading French Army on July 14, and had proclaimed it the most powerful and most brilliant army in the world. But the collapse was by unanimous consent. And besides, when we attacked, the Army of the Alps was intact, the Air Corps almost intact, and above all, the Navy was intact. This is very important in a war that is to take place in the Mediterranean. And then, admitting for a moment, for the sake of argument, that we did stab France; it would be only one compared to the hundred occasions on which France stabbed Italy in the back in so many centuries of history from Talamone up to Mentana.
Churchill continues: "His (Mussolini's) mad dream of imperial glory, his longing for conquest and booty, the incomparable arrogance of his tyranny led him to that shameful and fatal gesture. In vain I warned him (the Chamber laughs); he would not discuss it. The wise appeal of the American President had no effect on that heart of stone." Now he is using extortion, but had I accepted the appeal of the American President, he would have said to himself, "What a chicken-hearted man."
"His hyena's nature exceeded every limit of decency and good sense." It is said that this gentleman is the descendant of a ducal family and that he has a great deal of blue blood in his veins. In my veins, on the other hand, flows the pure and healthy blood of a blacksmith, and at this moment I feel myself to be infinitely more of a gentleman than this man from whose mouth, fetid with alcohol and tobacco, comes forth such vile baseness.
"Today his Empire is gone." The last word has not yet been spoken. I know that there is not a single Italian soldier who does not wish to relive the spring of 1936. "Death throes grip the unhappy Italian land. What can the Italians oppose this with? A short excursion along the Riviera with the permission of the Germans, a fleeting visit to Corsica, a bloody struggle against the heroic patriots of Jugoslavia, acts of everlasting shame in Greece, ruins at Genoa, Turin and Milan."
Now it may not be permitted, and therefore least of all to the British Prime Minister, to cast the slightest doubt on the valor and heroism of the Italian soldier. Our German comrades are the first to confirm this opinion. When the Italian soldier of land, of the sea or of the sky is well led and well armed, as far as his courage, his endurance, and his intelligence are concerned, he need not fear to be confronted with the best soldiers in the world. "A man and the regime that he created have been responsible for these immeasurable calamities which have fallen upon the industrious, brilliant, once happy Italian people."
The Italian people have never been happy, the Italian people are the great unknown people, known to none. Superficial and transitory traits have been caught, but the deep intimate essence of a people who have lived through the greatest tragedies can not be understood by people who come with guide books and grasp only the most obvious aspects of our life. Ours is a people which has never had enough bread, and every time that we have tried to make for ourselves a little place in the world, we have always found the roads blocked; they were not only blocked for Fascist Italy, but also for Italy pure and simple, even the Italy of Di Rudini, of Giovanni Giolitti or of Orlando. The existence of an Italy, an Italy which might-cherish dreams of greatness, is not desired. What is wanted is an Italian people who may be pleasant and at the same time obliging. This is the dream which smoulders in the soul of the Anglo-Saxons.
Finally, this gentleman says that up to the time of the advent of Mussolini the English-speaking world had many sympathies for the Italian people. This is a lie, a base lie! Who was the first to introduce racial discriminations into legislation? It was the arch-democratic Star Spangled Republic. The United States was the first to create discriminations between Europeans and Italians. And as if this were not enough, between Italians and Italians, to the point that Ligurians were to be excluded from immigration the Ligurian race which a thousand years ago gave civilization to all the southwestern part of Europe. For this reason, if Columbus were to land in America today, he would be rejected, would be sent to quarantine.
And Churchill concludes: "How long will all this last?" I reply in the most solemn and categoric manner: It will last until victory, and beyond!
Carlyle, the English historian, writes: "It is a fact that everything that our Government and we do, and everything of which we speak, is nothing but a network of lies, of hypocrisy and formalism. No human race, from Rome onward, was ever clad in such rags, so soiled with lies, as is ours. But we wear them in a proud and arrogant manner like a priestly stole or a royal mantle. An Englishman must never tell the truth; this is the general opinion. For 220 years, England has lived on all types of lies, enveloped from head to foot in a traditional hypocrisy just as she is surrounded by ocean waves."
Byron, on April 16, 1820, before his death at Missolonghi, I think from malaria, wrote to his friend Morley from Venice: "The English are the most wretched race on the face of the earth. Bouser left for Naples and I also would have gone there for a week if I had not learned that a large number of Englishmen were sojourning there. I prefer to see them from a certain distance and only an extraordinary eruption of Vesuvius could make me tolerate their presence. I know of no other place outside of hell where I could be in their company. I hope that no one conceives the idea of forcing me to return to England some day. I am convinced that my bones would not rest in peace in English soil. My ashes could not mingle with the soil of that land. Even on my death bed I would end by going insane if I should think that any of my friends would behave so badly towards me as to have my body taken to that island. Its worms will not have my body, indeed, if I can help it."
Thus the English judge themselves when they are away from their own country. And in truth, it suffices to open and thumb through volumes of British history for the past three centuries to find a very abundant collection of hyenas possessing human semblance. If there is one country which deserves such epithets, if there is a country which has set hyenas loose in all corners of the earth to drink the blood of whole generations, to acquire all the wealth of raw materials, to steal all the gold, that country is England.
Have the Italians perhaps forgotten the baseness of Admiral Horatio Nelson who had the Neapolitan Admiral Caracciolo hanged from the foremost of the Minerva, after betraying him? Have they forgotten that the Brothers Bandiera were shot because the British Government, which censored the letters of Mazzini, informed the Bourbon Government that these brave patriots had landed in Calabrian territory? Have they forgotten that in 1859 England-in the matter of her help during the Italian Risorgimento!-threatened to bomb Genoa if Piedmont, along with France, should declare war on Austria?
Gentlemen! War cannot be waged without hating the enemy. War cannot be waged without hating the enemy from morning to night, in all the hours of the day and night, without spreading hatred and without making it an intrinsic part of one's self. We must rid ourselves once and for all of false sentimentality. We are confronted by beasts, by barbarians. Rome which yet was merciful after victory, was pitiless when the existence of the Roman people was at stake. We must therefore fight with the greatest vigor against all those influences which are trying to weaken our spirit by giving the false picture of an Italian people capable only of producing lovely things.
If there is a people which was very hard in the centuries of the late Middle Ages-unfortunately we were hard with one another-it is the Italian people. It was only after the fall of the Florentine Republic, of the glorious Florentine Republic-but then, also, there was a fifth column, led by Malatesta Beglioni-that the period of unwarlikeness of the Italians, with the exception of Piedmont, began. Since then, what with the Arcadia, the ballets and the songs, the common notion of an Italy which must concern herself only with the paint brush, the chisel and musical instruments has been spread throughout the world.
I will tell you something which will amaze you, a paradox, perhaps a heresy. Well, I would like to see fewer statues in Italy; fewer pictures in the museums and more banners won from the enemy.
The Italian people is admirable today throughout all strata, from the aristocracy to the humblest people. We cannot ask more than that of the Italian people; we cannot ask for demonstrations of enthusiasm at a sustained level. I should really like to know a people which could give sustained demonstrations of enthusiasm during this war.
Enthusiasm is a lyrical moment in the life of an individual and lyrical moments of necessity, are rare in the life of a nation. If I were acquainted with an individual who was enthusiastic in all his activities from morning until night, I would begin to doubt his mental stability.
The Italian people toil; they are disciplined; they have never committed any act of sabotage. There has never been the least hint of demonstration against the war. Only one woman-and I do not mention her name because it is not worth the trouble; perhaps she would attach too much importance to it, for it is true that once some one destroyed the Temple of Diana in Ephesus in order to have himself remembered in history-so I say, only one woman in Genoa cried out that she wanted peace.
I find that this desire of hers had nothing inhuman about it. It was later discovered that she had ring-laden fingers, which leads us to believe that she probably belongs to that caste which, in Ciompi's time in Florence, was called the well-to-do circle.
But all Italian women are-and we can be proud to say it-fine examples of civil discipline and virtue. They are really the great and inexhaustible reserve of moral strength of the Nation. The discipline of this people cannot be contaminated by those whom we call germ carriers.
In a nation of 46 million inhabitants, there are many temperaments, there is a wide range of moral potentialities; there are also those who have a delicate nervous system, a complex, ailing system, and who by nature belong to that group which always sees the gloomy side of everything and bandages its head, not only before it is broken but long before there is the slightest threat that it might be broken. These people are fundamentally harmless, they believe everything and forget everything.
I have a pamphlet entitled "A Document on Human Stupidity" and in it are gathered together all the rumors which reach your ears and mine. For example, you do not recall, before the harvest, "the Week of the Heroes"? For one whole week, the Italian people were supposed not to have eaten any bread and they were supposed to have made this sacrifice in homage to our heroic soldiers.
At a certain time there was a rumor that we had to lodge-some said 200, others said 600, one million, two million-Germans who had been evacuated from bombed cities. One could almost say that the tables have been turned.
Finally, on the night when I decided on the Corsican landing, I took an ordinary administrative measure. I suspended telephone communications. Immediately, then, another rumor was started. The gentleman who now has the honor of speaking before you had died under the knife of an unskilled surgeon, who then is supposed to have said, with certainty, that the operation had been perfectly successful, but that the patient had not survived it.
Everywhere, the Italian people-of whom we must not ask that which they already give voluntarily, namely, discipline, understanding and spirit of sacrifice-the Italian people is fully aware of the necessity for this war. This is not only a necessary war, it is a war which I proclaim sacred and a war which could not be avoided under any circumstances. Our position always demands that we choose: We either side with the one when it is a question of defining our continental frontiers or we side with the other when it is a question of defining our maritime frontiers.
A great people such as the Italians cannot remain in suspense and we are proud to participate in this gigantic struggle which is destined to transform the world geographically, politically and spiritually.
I do not like to make predictions for the future. In general, to speak of peace objectives is beside the point. We leave these practices to our enemies. It can only be observed that they have economized on the "points." From 14 they have reduced them to 4. That is something. But we must learn from the experience of the last time.
I believe that there are few among us who did not go to see Wilson when he came to Europe. It seemed to be a mania. They even proclaimed him a citizen of Rome. Then this man returned to America. He no longer wanted to belong to the League of Nations which he had founded. He no longer wished to officiate in the temple which he had erected. This, perhaps, was the most intelligent move in his life. Finally, one day, it was learned that he was confined to a rest clinic for nervous patients, a Puritan term used to avoid saying-as we would say, common people that we are-insane asylum.
Even the objectives, in the spreading of this war, the objectives of territorial and political character have lost some of their importance. Today eternal values are at stake. It's a game of to be or not to be. Truly, there is taking place today a formidable struggle between two worlds. Never has the history of mankind seen a similar drama, a drama in which we are among the great leading characters.
The task of the hour is one and only one: To fight, to fight together with our allies, to fight side by side with Germany. The comradeship between us and the Germans becomes closer day by day, becomes a way-of common life. We are similar enough and different enough to understand each other, to esteem each other mutually, to fuse together all our energies, since the cause is one. No longer can distinctions be made; our enemies do not make any.
They want to destroy Fascism, and under this name they include all the movements of European youth; they include National-Socialism, our Fascism, Falangism. They include the States and the peoples who have freed themselves from the ideologies of "the immortal principles."
No one has any illusions about what the pax Britannica would be. Pax Britannica would be a Versailles multiplied a hundredfold.
The British are conducting this war with one sole purpose: They want to reduce the globe to the state in which India is today. They want all of mankind to work in order to give the Anglo-Saxons a century of tranquillity. They want a world of slaves in order to guarantee for the British people their five daily digestions.
Now, comrades, we must fight for the living ones, fight for the future, but also for the dead. We must fight so that the sacrifice of our dead be not in vain, so that the sacrifice of those who fell in the squadrons, of those who fell in the Ethiopian war, in the Spanish war, in the present war, be not in vain: Thirty-four thousand Fascists, among whom were 1,500 leaders.
They, the dead, imperiously command us to fight through till victory. We obey.