Pact of Steel
|Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy|
|Signed||22 May 1939|
|Expiration||1949 (effectively in 1943)|
National Fascist Party
|Pact of Steel at Wikisource|
The Pact of Steel (German: Stahlpakt, Italian: Patto d'Acciaio), known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was a military and political alliance between the Kingdom of Italy and Germany.
The pact was initially drafted as a tripartite military alliance between Japan, Italy and Germany. While Japan wanted the focus of the pact to be aimed at the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany wanted it aimed at Britain and France. Due to this disagreement, the pact was signed without Japan and became an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, signed on 22 May 1939 by foreign ministers Galeazzo Ciano of Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop of Germany.
The pact consisted of two parts. The first section was an open declaration of continuing trust and cooperation between Germany and Italy while the second, a "Secret Supplementary Protocol", encouraged a union of policies concerning the military and economy.
Germany and Italy fought against each other in World War I. Popularity and support for extremist political parties, such as the Nazis of Adolf Hitler and the Fascists of Benito Mussolini, exploded after the Great Depression severely hampered the economy of both countries. By 1922, Mussolini had secured his position as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Fascism and Nazism shared similar principles. Hitler admired Mussolini in the 1920s, regarding the fascist system as a role model.
In 1931, Japanese forces invaded the region of Manchuria because of its rich grain fields and reserves of raw minerals, which the Empire desperately need to ensure the health of country's economy and provide for the extremely fast-growing population. This, however, provoked a diplomatic clash with the Soviet Union, which bordered Manchuria. To combat this Soviet threat, the Japanese signed a Pact with Germany in 1936. The aim of the Pact was to guard against any attack from Soviet Russia were it to move on China.
Japan elected to focus on anti-Soviet alliances instead of anti-Western alliances like Italy and Germany. Germany feared that an anti-USSR alliance would create the possibility of a two-front war before they could conquer Western Europe. So when Japan was invited to sign the Pact of Steel, they declined.
Officially, the Pact of Steel obliged Germany and Italy to aid the other country militarily, economically or otherwise in the event of war, and to collaborate in wartime production. The Pact ensured that neither country was able to make peace without the agreement of the other. The agreement was based on the assumption that a war would not occur within three years. When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and war broke out on 3 September, Italy was not yet prepared for conflict and had difficulty meeting its obligations. Consequently, Italy did not enter World War II until June 1940, with a delayed invasion of Southern France.
- Article I
- The Contracting Parties will remain in permanent contact with each other in order to come to an understanding of all common interests or the European situation as a whole.
- Article II
- In the event that the common interests of the Contracting Parties be jeopardized through international happenings of any kind, they will immediately enter into consultation regarding the necessary measures to preserve these interests. Should the security or other vital interests of one of the Contracting Parties be threatened from outside, the other Contracting Party will afford the threatened Party its full political and diplomatic support in order to remove this threat.
- Article III
- If it should happen, against the wishes and hopes of the Contracting Parties, that one of them becomes involved in military complications with another tower or other Powers, the other Contracting Party will immediately step to its side as an ally and will support it with all its military might on land, at sea and in the air.
- Article IV
- In order to ensure, in any given case, the rapid implementation of the alliance obligations of Article III, the Governments of the two Contracting Parties will further intensify their cooperation in the military sphere and the sphere of war economy. Similarly the two Governments will keep each other regularly informed of other measures necessary for the practical implementation of this Pact. The two Governments will create standing commissions, under the direction of the Foreign Ministers, for the purposes indicated in Article I and II.
- Article V
- The Contracting Parties already at this point bind themselves, in the event of a jointly waged war, to conclude any armistice or peace only in full agreement with each other.
- Article VI
- The two Contracting Parties are aware of the importance of their joint relations to the Powers which are friendly to them. They are determined to maintain these relations in future and to promote the adequate development of the common interests which bind them to these Powers.
- Article VII
- This Pact comes into force immediately upon its signing. The two Contracting Parties are agreed upon fixing the first period of its validity at 10 years. In good time before the elapse of this period they will come to an agreement regarding the extension of the validity of the Pact.
Secret Supplementary Protocols
The Secret Supplementary Protocols of the Pact of Steel, which were split into two sections, were not made public at the time of the signing of the Pact.
The first section urged the countries to quicken their joint military and economic cooperation whilst the second section committed the two countries to cooperate in "matters of press, the news service and the propaganda" to promote the power and image of the Rome-Berlin Axis. To aid in this, each country was to assign "one or several specialists" of their country in the capital city of the other for close liaisons with the Foreign Minister of that country.
After being told the original name, "Pact of Blood", would likely be poorly received in Italy, Mussolini proposed the name "Pact of Steel", which was ultimately chosen.
According to Article VII, the pact was to last 10 years. With the Axis defeat in North Africa and the invasion of Sicily in 1943, the Italians signed an armistice with the Allies in September. A new government under Marshal Pietro Badoglio was established, which became a co-belligerent and part of the Allies. Although a government under Mussolini was established in Northern Italy, the Italian Social Republic, Italy continued as a member of the pact in name only.
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- Hiden, John (2014). Germany and Europe 1919–1939. Routledge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-317-89627-2.
- Knox, MacGregor (2002). Hitler's Italian Allies: Royal Armed Forces, Fascist Regime, and the War of 1940–1943. Cambridge University. ISBN 978-1-139-43203-0.
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- "The Italo-German Alliance, May 22, 1939". United States Office of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
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