Rome-Berlin Axis and Continuing War Fears
Although Germany and Italy have already attained, by force or the threat of force, many of the objectives voiced by their leaders, that fact has not served to allay fear of war in Europe. Satisfaction of one or another of the German or Italian demands has eased the prevailing tension only momentarily. Crisis has succeeded crisis with such rapidity that settlement of the latest menacing situation has merely been followed by speculation as to where the next blow will fall.
President Roosevelt's personal appeal to Hitler and Mussolini last month represented an attempt to cut through the ever-mounting tension and avert the imminent danger of war. The President suggested (1) that the dictators bind themselves not to attack or invade, for a period of years, a list of countries which he named; (2) that they make to him frank statements as to the present and future policies of their governments; and (3) that they then Join an international conference devoted to arms limitation and the removal of barriers to international trade and the supply of raw materials. This proposal merely evoked Mussolini's derision and Hitler's anger. The Fuehrer reproached the President for interfering in German affairs and used the occasion of his Reichstag address on April 28 to contribute further to European uncertainty by publicizing demands on Poland that augured ill for maintenance of peace.
On May 8 the dictators announced their decision to solidify their relationship in the Rome-Berlin axis by concluding an outright military and political alliance. Concern over this move was tempered by the fact that Japan, already a partner with Germany and Italy in the Anti-Comintern pact, was apparently not to be included, at least for the present, in the new alliance. Conclusion of that alliance tended to draw the line more sharply between the axis powers and the members of the anti-aggression front being formed by Great Britain.