This post is part of an after-action report of Unconditional Surrender! (Salvatore Vasta, GMT Games) and therefore entirely fictitious.
Notes of the diplomatic proceedings in Rome, taken by Salvatore Graniti, junior Secretary of Legation in the Italian diplomatic service
September 21, 1939
The Duce has been anxious to see the German delegation. He congratulates them on the great successes of their armies in Belgium and France. The Germans express confidence of further advances and hint at looking for a partner to share responsibilities for Europe. „We are no southern country, but the Mediterranean must have a firm hand and order as well“, says ambassador von Mackensen. The Duce replies that Germany has no better friend than Italy and that the old privileges of Britain and France must be altered to fit our new times.
October 23, 1939
Sir Percy Loraine, the head of the British diplomatic mission, is visibly tense. The news of the fall of Paris and the annihilation of the French forces in the Lille pocket are still with him. He reminds the Mussolini of Italy’s and Britain’s joint fight against the Central Powers in the last war. „Yes, but that looked like a lucrative fight“, the Duce cuts him off. „And yet you, the Americans, and the French conspired after the war to rob us of our share in the spoils.“ Sir Percy grows more waspish and snaps that while the Alps provide a strong natural barrier to shield Italy from any land attacks, her beaches are free real estate for any country ruling the waves. The Duce does not reply to such threats, but conveys a message to me to cancel the meeting with the German delegation which was scheduled for next week.
November 6, 1939
Sir Percy is more genial today. He mentions that France naturally focuses on the defense of the motherland now and cannot advance her mission civilisatrice in the colonies as much as she’d like. „So we need a partner there, to bring the light of progress to the famed lands on which Carthage and Antiochia stood“, he says. Never have I seen a man selling out his faltering ally so convincingly without ever saying it plainly. He has definitely prepared the proposal well. The Duce likes allusions to ancient glory, and even more, he likes territorial expansion.
February 27, 1940
After having been put off for three months, the Germans will not be checked anymore and demand a new meeting. The Duce agrees. He is clearly thrilled by the two powers bickering for his attention, and outdoing each other in promises of conquests, spoils, and glory. What more will Mackensen offer? – Nothing, it turns out. The ambassador speaks curtly and with more of a frown than usual. He is aware, he says, that the Mussolini has been meeting frequently with the British in the meantime. If Mussolini will not put a stop to it, Italy shall suffer the same fate as France. The Duce does not respond well to this attempt at browbeating. He yells at Mackensen that he can try to bring Germanic hordes over the Alps, but that Italy has a new Gaius Marius now who will cut them to pieces once more. When Mackensen has left the room, the Duce gives the mobilization order and schedules an Accord of Alliance to be signed with the United Kingdom the following day.