The Pact of Steel (May 22, 1939)

The following pact of friendship and alliance was signed in Berlin. In one sense it represents the total commitment of Italy to Hitler and vice versa. It looks here as if Italy virtually conveys to Germany control of  a basic element of foreign policy, the decision on peace or war. The treaty  was based on the assumption that no war would take place for at least three years. This was necessary for  Italy in to build up supplies, as her involvement in the Spanish Civil War had used up most of her stockpiles. On the other hand when it became clear in August, 1939 that Hitler was bent on war with Poland, Italy protested her unreadiness and in the event did not immediately fulfill her obligations under the alliance.

His Majesty the King of Italy and Albania and Emperor of Ethiopia, and the Chancellor of the German Reich, hold that the moment has come to confirm with a solemn Pact the intimate ties of friendship and solidarity existing between Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany....

Art. 1. The two Contracting Parties shall keep in permanent contact with each other for the purpose of agreeing on all questions regarding their common interests or the general European situation.

Art. 2. In the event the common interests of the two Contracting Parties were to be put in danger by international events of whatever nature, they shall without delay enter into consultation on the measures to be adopted for the safeguard of these interests.
In the event the safety or other vital interests of one of the Contracting Parties were threatened by an outside danger, the other Contracting Party shall give the menaced Party its full political and diplomatic support for the purpose of eliminating this threat.

Art. 3. If in spite of the desires and hopes of the two Contracting Parties it were to happen that one of them were to become involved in complications of war with one or more Powers, the other Contracting Party shall immediately come to its aid as ally and shall support it with all its military forces on land, on the seas, and in the air.

Art. 4. The governments of the two Contracting Parties shall increase ever more deeply their collaboration in the military field and in the field of war economy for the purpose of assuring, in the case provided for, the rapid application of the duties of alliance assumed in 
Article 3. Analogously, the two governments shall keep in permanent contact with each other for the adoption of other measures necessary to the practical application of the dispositions of the present Pact. For the purposes indicated in the above-mentioned two paragraphs, permanent Commissions shall be formed and placed under the direction of the respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Art. 5. In the event of a war conducted in common the Contracting Parties are committed from this moment on not to conclude an armistice or peace without full agreement with each other.

Art. 6. The two Contracting Parties, conscious of the importance of their common relations with Powers friendly to them, are decided to maintain and to continue to develop these relations by common agreement and in harmony with the consonant relations that bind them with these Powers.

Art. 7. This Pact becomes operative immediately after its signature. The two Contracting Parties agree to fix the first period of its validity to ten years. Before the expiration of this term they shall come to an agreement at an opportune time regarding the extension of the validity of this Pact....

Signed: Galeazzo Ciano                                                                                                                   Joachim von Ribbentrop

Shepard B. Clough and Salvatore Saladino, A History of Modern Italy: Documents, Readings, and Commentary. New York: Columbia UJniversity Press, 1968, pp. 500-501.
 Back to Introduction  Back to Syllabus