BERNE, Switzerland (Oct. 31)
Today’s drastic shake-up of the Italian Government and Fascist Party organs by Premier Benito Mussolini, ousting pro-German members, was interpreted throughout Europe tonight as a blow to the Rome-Berlin axis and thus, indirectly, to the Fascist racial policy.
Among those eliminated were Achille Starace, secretary-general of the Fascist Party, and Dino Alfieri, Minister of Popular Culture, both of whom were associated with the anti Jewish campaign. Alfieri was succeeded, perhaps significantly, by Deputy Alessandro Pavolini, whose brother, Corrado, is said to have married into a Jewish family.
Starace, now transferred to the post of chief of staff of the Fascist Militia, issued the party’s official declaration of war against the Jews on July 26, 1938, and the five point program of Italian racism on Aug. 12, 1938. He was prominently identified with the pro-Nazi elements in Italy and in October, 1937, entertained Julius Streicher, German Jew baiter, while the latter was visiting in Rome.
Alfieri, now named Ambassador, but for the moment with no post, was the one who issued, on July 14, 1938, the report of an anonymous group of Fascist professors advocating a racial policy. This report was considered the charter of Italian racism.
Comment in virtually every capital in Europe, belligerent and neutral alike — with the conspicuous exception of Berlin — agreed on the major political importance of the shake up as a blow to the axis. It was pointed out that it was Alfieri and Starace who had been chiefly responsible for the pro-German propaganda campaign among the Italian masses and the manufacture of slogans in support of the axis.
In Paris, Premier Mussolini’s action was regarded as a fresh sign of the growing rift between Italy and Germany. It was pointed out that Starace and Alfieri had played a capital role as “instructors” of the Italian people during the predominance of pro-German orientation of Italian policy. It was they who were most closely identified with the familiar but now soft-pedalled slogans of “pact of steel, ” “the agony of the democracies,” and the “future of the totalitarian nations.” Unofficial circles in London expressed a similar opinion.
In Berlin, Nazi officials held that Mussolini had simply “changed the guard” in his Cabinet shake-up, following an established practice of the Italian Government, and that the step could not be construed as having foreign policy significance.
Swiss newspapers saw a connection between the dismissal of pro-Nazi officials and the recent “surprising” return of German Ambassador Hans-Georg von Mackensen from Rome to Berlin. The newspaper Der Bund said “the changes mark a cleavage in the evolution of Italian policy, perhaps even to a shift in orientation.” In Amsterdam, the Algemeen Handels