February 3, 2000
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
From Signor Roberto
Sir, -- The question of
the existence of correspondence between
Winston Churchill and
Mussolini from 1936 until June 1940
(report, "Churchill 'offered land to
Mussolini' ", January 29) has never been
taken very seriously in Great Britain.
Nevertheless, in 1952 Luigi
Carissimi-Priori was offered £100,000
by British sources for photographic copies
of the letters that they believed were
still in his possession.
In fact he had passed them some years
earlier to the Italian Government, at
which time he and others involved agreed
to keep silent on the subject for at least
half a century. I believe that Signor
Carissimi-Priori did his country and
history a service by protecting important
material which will one day be extremely
useful in re-evaluating the causes of the
Second World War.
Mr Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini's
biographer, refers ("Historians cast doubt
on letters' existence", same day) to
communications between Neville Chamberlain
and Mussolini: "But Chamberlain was an
appeaser, Churchill was not an
I believe that on this occasion
Churchill was indeed attempting to
appease. Until 1939-40, Chamberlain was
more pro-German than pro-Italian, while
Churchill, having demanded sanctions
against Italy in retaliation for the
invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 was the
first to request that the League of
Nations remove them. Churchill was
sympathetic towards Mussolini and was the
only British or European politician who
might have been able to prise Hitler and
the Duce apart.
These letters - which I hope will now
be published - will demonstrate that he
did absolutely everything in his power to
Yours faithfully, ROBERTO FESTORAZZI
(Author, Churchill-Mussolini, Le Carte
Segrete, Datanews, Rome, 1998), Via
Acquanera 24, 22100 Como, Italy. January
From Dr John
Sir, Why would Churchill, in 1940,
offer the Dodecanese islands to Italy to
persuade the Duce not to join Hitler?
Rhodes, Kos and most of the other
Dodecanese islands were seized by the
Italians from the Ottoman Empire in 1912
and had been Italian for 28 years.
Devon TQ13 7TU.
From Mr David
Sir, I investigated alleged secret
Churchill-Mussolini letters exhaustively
in 1982, and was eventually shown two
"1940" letters, as mentioned in your
report, in which Churchill supposedly
offered territory to keep Italy out of the
war. The Chartwell letterhead was
hopelessly wrong, and both Churchill
writing to Mussolini and the latter,
replying, had seemingly typed the same
elementary spelling error ("wich").
The same source
Heidemann] later provided the
Hitler "Diaries" to your newspaper.
2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.
81 Duke Street,
W1M 5DJ. January 30.