6 Dec. 45

German, and the Führer was bound to take account of this psychological element in public opinion. To make a comparison with Italy, Count Ciano should suppose that Trieste was in Yugoslav hands and that a large Italian minority was being treated brutally on Yugoslav soil. It would be difficult to assume that Italy would long remain quiet over anything of this kind.

"Count Ciano, in replying to the Führer's statement, first expressed the great surprise on the Italian side over the completely unexpected seriousness of the position. Neither in the conversations in Milan nor in those which took place during his Berlin visit had there been any sign, from the German side, that the position with regard to Poland was so serious. On the contrary, the Minister of Foreign Affairs had said that in his opinion the Danzig question would be settled in the course of time. On these grounds, the Duce, in view of his conviction that a conflict with the Western Powers was unavoidable, had assumed that he should make his preparations for this event; he had made plans for a period of 2 or 3 years. If immediate conflict was unavoidable, the Duce, as he had told Ciano, would certainly stand on the German side; but for various reasons he would welcome the postponement of a general conflict until a later time."

No question of welcoming the cancellation of a general conflict; the only concern of anybody is as to time.

"Ciano then showed, with the aid of a map, the position of Italy in the event of a general war. Italy believed that a conflict with Poland would not be limited to that country but would develop into a general European war."
Thereafter, during the meeting, Ciano goes on to try to dissuade Hitler from any immediate action. I quote two lines from the argument at the top of Page 5 of the exhibit:

"For these reasons the Duce insisted that the Axis Powers should make a gesture which would reassure people of the peaceful intentions of Italy and Germany."
Then we get the Führer's answer to those arguments, half-way down Page 5:

"The Führer answered that for a solution of the Polish problem no time should be lost; the longer one waited until the autumn, the more difficult would military operations in eastern Europe become. From the middle of September weather conditions made air operations hardly possible in these areas, while the conditions of the roads, which were quickly turned into a morass by the autumn rains, would be such as to make them impossible for motorized forces. From