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INTERNATIONAL: Holy Roman Alliance?

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Holy Roman Alliance?

Holy Week of Pope Pius XI’s Holy Year ended in Rome last week with a great banging of bronze bells and the smoke of thousands of censers. In Rome to hear the bells and smell the smoke were the Vice Chancellor of Germany and Premier of Prussia but their minds were on other things. Lean-jawed Col. von Papen and blustering, full-blooded Capt. Goring darted from one ancient palace to the next, from the Vatican to the Air Ministry, to Il Duce’s office. Shortly stumpy little Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss of Austria came roaring over the Alps in an airplane and started a similar round of visits on his own. Hurrying to Rome to see what it was all about came Istvan Antal, press chief of Hungary and special representative of Premier Gombos, Foreign Minister Giuseppe Motta of Switzerland and the Polish Minister to Berlin, Dr. Alfred Wysocki. Also in Rome, though only an unnoticed bystander, was that exuberant British Fascist, ‘Sir Oswald Mosley, who put in his word: “Fascism can and will win England.” ‘

First object of the von Papen-Goring pilgrimage was to prepare the way for a later trip by Adolf Hitler in person, and to start negotiations for a Vatican-Nazi concordat (TIME. April 17). Second objective was far more serious to the peace of Europe: revival of the old pre-War Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria and Italy, strengthened by separate concordats with the Vatican.

Such an alliance would crimp if not permanently wreck the French military supremacy of Europe. At the very beginning of the Hitler Chancellorship it was an idea with which Il Duce toyed pleasantly. What he did not realize was the speed with which Hitlerite groups were spawning in southeastern Europe. Austrian Nazis had already outdistanced the older Austrian Fascist group, the Heimwehr, as a political force. They were springing up in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, even Rumania, and all taking their orders from Handsome Adolf. In Fulda three weeks ago a conference of German bishops announced that good Catholics need no longer abstain from National Socialism. It was not impossible that should a Holy Roman Triple Alliance become a fact, Adolf Hitler, and not Benito Mussolini, might become Head Man!

As the fairy godmother of Fascist Germany, Fascist Italy could make no open remonstrance. In fact Italian newspapers started attacking exiled Albert Einstein last week and Il Duce himself assured the Italian people that there was no truth in stories of anti-semitic attacks in Germany. But Mussolini took a backhanded slap at Hitler by repeating in the same interview that Jews enjoyed complete freedom in Italy and while he remained in power they always should. Privately, Pilgrims von Papen & Goring were assured that Italy would not countenance political union of Austria and Germany and that Mussolini still hoped to work for European peace through what was left of the Mussolini Four-Power Pact, accepted “in principle” by France last week after it had been carefully emasculated with reservations and amendments.

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