Premier Benito Mussolini’s Speech Before The Chamber Of Fasces And Corporations
Rome, Italy, June 10, 1941
Comrades, this is a memorable, solemn day. It is just a year since our entrance into the war. A year filled with events, giddy, historical developments. A year during which Italian soldiers on land, sea and in the sky fought heroically, mostly on the fronts of Europe and Africa….
No one doubts any longer, in the light of unquestionable published documents, that between Italy and Greece there should be a rendering of accounts. At Athens, newspapers begin finally to disclose the criminal backstage of Greek policy. Since August, 1940, I had proof that Greece no longer was keeping even the appearance of neutrality. In the same months there was a period of tension which was followed by a few weeks of calm….
Thus, on Oct. 15, it was unanimously decided to break hesitancies and take to the field at the end of the month.
It is absolutely mathematical that in April, even if nothing had happened to change the Balkan situation, the Italian Army would have overcome and annihilated the Greek Army.
It is necessary to state honestly that many Greek detachments fought courageously…. It is sad to affirm, furthermore, that the Greek Army would not have held for six months without the aid of England. The Greek Army was fed, supplied and armed by the English. Aviation was English. Anti-aircraft and artillery also were English. Not less than 60,000 English were in services and special groups flanking the Greek Army.
Material aid furnished by Turkey was modest. Its value did not amount to 2,000,000 Turkish pounds.
While Italian troops were pushing to liquidate the Greek Army Yugoslavia revealed through a coup d’etat its real sentiments. The Axis war against Yugoslavia, therefore, was rendered inevitable. Axis armies acted together with lightning rapidity. While the Second Army of the Alps was moving down along the Dalmatian Coast with forced marches which tried the resistance of our soldiers, the Greeks, with a ruse in the authentic style of Ulysses tried at the end to hold us on the Albanian frontier by offering an armistice to the Germans and not to us.
They were energetically recalled by me to reason and finally surrendered unconditionally.
Regarding Yugoslavia, it revealed almost immediately the inconsistency and, it may be said falsity, of its state organism in the third mosaic State artificially created at Versailles. With exclusively anti-Italian functions it falls into pieces at the first shock.
The Yugoslav Army for which Paris and the Little Entente circle had created a reputation of invincibility . . . was put out of action with the first blows. The English still made a few appearances on battlefields, but . . . found Hellenic soil also burned under their feet and they abandoned-fleeing by the usual sea route-dying Greece.
Political and military consequences which sprang up by the elimination of England from her last European bases . . . have profoundly changed the map of that region-changed for the better, especially if every one will keep a sense of proportion-that is to say, change toward a more reasonable arrangement according to justice, taking into account all elements which go to make them up and frequently snarl problems.
Here also it has not been possible to reach an arrangement perfect in every way, but one must not hope for the absolute in such matters.
Bulgaria annexes Macedonia, which is prevalently Bulgarian, and Western Thrace….
Hungary . . . has enlarged her confines and Germany has carried hers to the left bank of the Sava. The rest of Slovenia has become an Italian province with a special regime. The most important fact is the resurrection, after two centuries, of the Croat State….
With the annexation of almost all of the islands of the Dalmatian Peninsula, with the creation of the two provinces of Split and Kotor and the enlarging of old, extremely faithful Zara, the Dalmatian problem may be considered solved, especially taking into account . . . relations between the Kingdoms of Italy and Croatia, whose crown has been offered to a Savoy-Aosta.
If we wished we could have pushed our borders from Velebiti to the Albanian Alps but we would, in my opinion, have made a mistake. Without counting others, we would have brought within our borders several hundred thousand foreign elements naturally hostile.
The conquest of Crete places at the disposition of the Axis air and naval bases very close for mass attacks on the Egyptian coast. Life will become ever more difficult for the English naval forces stationed at the bases of Egypt and Palestine. The objective, which consists of expelling Britain from the Eastern Mediterranean, will be reached and with it a gigantic step will be taken toward a victorious epilogue of war.
Collaboration between the powers of the Tripartite Pact is under way. But above all, collaboration between Germany and Italy is under way….
Ridiculous rumors which were speculating on eventual frictions or dissensions and come of the feeble minded who worked even further, like the English Prime Minister in his useless Christmas Eve speech, are reduced to silence….
Added to this Japan . . . is in perfect line with the Tripartite Pact. The Japanese are a proud and loyal people who would not remain indifferent in the face of American aggression against the Axis powers.
With the other powers adhering to the Tripartite Pact, namely, Hungary, Slovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria, relations are more than cordial even where special political accords do not exist.
Regarding Turkey, that country has until now refused to all English solicitations. President Inonu has seen the tragic fate that awaits all nations which in any way trust themselves to Britain. But I wish to take this occasion to say to President Inonu that Italy intends to follow toward Turkey that policy of comprehension and collaboration which was inaugurated in 1928 and which for us is still in effect.
If Spain and Turkey are out of the fighting there is one transoceanic State which seems likely to enter it. It is well that it be known that American intervention does not bother us excessively. A specific declaration of war would not change the present situation, which is one of de facto war, if not de jure. American intervention, when employed completely, would be late, and if it were not late, would not remove the terms of the problem. American intervention will not give victory to Britain but will prolong the war; will not limit the area of war but will extend it to other oceans; will change the United States regime into an authoritarian, totalitarian one in comparison with which the European forerunners-fascist and nazi-will feel themselves far surpassed and perfected.
When it is desired to be called a dictator in the pure classical meaning of the word, Sulla is cited. Sulla appears to us a modest amateur compared with Delano Roosevelt.
By agreement with the German command, almost all of Greece, including Athens, will be occupied by Italian troops. This lays a very serious problem before us, especially from the point of view of food, but we shall face it seeking to alleviate as far as possible miseries inflicted upon the Greek people by their governors subordinated to London and having in mind that Greece re-enters into Italy’s vital Mediterranean space.
Many times after Cheren the English have announced the campaign in Italian Africa might be considered more or less virtually concluded. But after Cheren they had to go up against Amba Alagi, where for the second time Italian resistance reached epic proportions. After the fall of Amba Alagi the English again proclaimed that all was now finished. Instead, they are still fighting. There are three zones where our barricaded troops are still giving the English plenty of wool to twist-Dankalia, Jimma and Gondar.
How long it may last cannot be known, but it is certain that resistance will be protracted to the limits of human possibility.
Even the whole conquest of the empire by the English has no decisive importance toward the ending of the war. This is a vendetta of strictly personal character which could have no influence on the results of a war which has dug even deeper chasms between Italy and Britain. I cannot tell you today when or how, but I affirm in the most categoric manner that we shall return to that land bathed by our blood and-Our dead shall not go unavenged.
[New York Times, June 11, 1941. (Excerpts)]