The Ciano Diaries 1939-1943

In This Review

The Ciano Diaries 1939-1943

By Hugh Gibson
Double-day, 1946
584 pp. $4.00
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When Count Ciano was Fascist Foreign Minister it was no secret that he was keeping a political diary. Indeed, Mussolini from time to time told his son-in-law to include this or that item. But as the end of the neo-Fascist régime in northern Italy drew nigh, both Il Duce and his German masters made strenuous efforts to seize the Count's documents. Thanks to his wife, the diaries were smuggled to Switzerland, where they were microfilmed and sent to the United States. A much abridged and quite inadequate translation appeared soon thereafter in a number of American newspapers. We are assured that the present volume contains the full contents of Ciano's diaries from January 1, 1939, to December 23, 1943. The difficult job of translating his telegraphic prose and his slang has been competently handled, though one notes minor errors in such things as the spelling of names. Even allowing for Ciano's vanity, cynicism and dishonesty, one must concede that these diaries yield much of value to the historian. This is true both as regards concrete facts and general impressions. Most of the entries concern diplomatic affairs, and taken together constitute an inside story of the degradation and enslavement of Italy by Hitler through the folly of her Fascist rulers. Ciano's cutting remarks about his colleagues also throw an unflattering light on many a dark corner of Fascist Party politics. There is an introduction by Sumner Welles.