The Axis: Hitler State Visit to Rome (May 1938)

Figure 1.-- Hitler did not travel to foreign countries with the exception of ones he occupied. The only exception was Italy. To emphasize Fascist unity, Hitler paid a state visit to Rome. Here smartly uniformed Hitler Youth boys appeared in Rome as part of Hitler's state visit. The visit proved to be a Fascist extravaganza. Here the boys troop through the monumental Fascist monstrosity in the heart of Rome--the Altare della Patria (mockingly called Il Vittoriano. Put your cursor on the image to see the rest of the procession. Notice how the boys are holding their hands, showing that they were very carefully disciplined and drilled. One of the boys involved has written, "Vorbei muß ein Ehrenmal". It translate as something like passing a commemorative monument [Ehrenmal]. The photographer was apparently Italian because the ptograog was printed in Rome. Apparently the boys wer given a copy of the photograph are allowed to purchase a copy.

Hitler did not travel to foreign countries with the exception of ones he occupied. The only exception was Italy. Hitler paid a state visit to Rome, arriving (May 3). Protocal made King Victor Emanuel the official host. Pope Pius XI left Rome so he would not have to participate. The visit was of enormous interest, coming as it did just days after Hitler seized Austria in the Anchluss, meaning Germany and Italy now had a common border. Mussolini staged an enthusiastic welcome for Hitler. Is is not clear how he would have been received without the Fascist stage management. For some reason, Hitler Youth boys traveled to Rome for the occassion. The press noted that Mussolini absented himself from many of the most high-profile events. It has never been determined just why he did this. At the time some speculated that Mussolini was trying to distance himself from Hitler. We do not know about thi. Mussolini appointed his son-in-law foreign minister, Count Ciano. Heleft a diary detailing the war years in which he tried to express caution about tieing Italy's star to the NAZIs. Mussolini on the other hand fully commited Italy to the Geman war effort. So we are unsure why Mussolini was somewhat sanhd-offish toward Hitler as this big event. Also unknown is just what transpired between Hitler and Mussolini in their private conversations. It seems clear that Hitler did not confide in Mussolini that he was planning to take Europe to the brink of war over the Sudetenland, but it is unclear just how far Hitler had planned to go at this time. The Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia may have been discussed, but we know that Hitler rarely cinfided his intentions and plans with Mussolini which resented Hitler's lack of confudence. All we really know is that the two discussed borders and Jews. Mussolini gave a speech of welcome and Hitler responded (May 7). The press reported flanboyant commitments of deological unity, eternal friendship and cooperation, justice, 'elemental' rights, security and equitable peace, but very little in the way of concrere cooperation. The one concession that Mussolini was fixed on was the South Tyrol and Hitler placated him. Hitler mentioned that the frontier between them had been the cause of trouble for 2000 years. "Let us as neighbours, now recognise the natural frontier, making permanent Italo-German co operation possible. Let it also serve as a bridge of mutual help. It is my unshakeable will and legacy to Germany that it forever regards the Italo-German alpine frontier as in violable." The Germans were pressing the Italians as part of Fascist unity to issue race laws tatgeting Jews which they saw as an important part of their alliance. It was a step Mussolini calculated would please Hitler. Mussolini declared that the Alps to be the natural border for both countries.


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Created: 5:05 AM 11/19/2014
Last updated: 5:05 AM 11/19/2014