Germany, Italy and Japan sign a pact

Saburo Kurusu, Adolf Hitler and Galeazzo Ciano at the signing of the Axis Pact in Berlin on 27 September 1940.

Saburo Kurusu, Adolf Hitler and Galeazzo Ciano at the signing of the Axis Pact in Berlin on 27 September 1940.

The enthusiastic German public response to the war was now cooling. Hopes had been high that, having exacted his revenge for the humiliations of 1918, Hitler would now make peace. Not only were the British continuing the war but they were now regularly bombing Berlin. The scale of destruction was nothing like as bad as in Britain you it was disconcerting to discover that the war could affect them so directly.

Another sign that it would be a long war came with the signing of a Tripartite Pact with Japan and Italy. Japan was not at war with anyone, yet here she was lining up her fortunes with Germany.

The following day Count Galeazzo Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister and son in law of Mussolini, records his impressions of the day and of the mood in Berlin:

The pact is signed. The signature takes place more or less like that of the Pact of Steel. But the atmosphere is cooler. Even the Berlin street crowd, a comparatively small one, composed mostly of school children, cheers with regularity but without conviction.Japan is far away. Its help is doubtful. Only one thing is certain: that it will be a long war. This does not please the Germans, who had come to believe that with the end of summer the war would also end.

A winter of war is hard to take. More so since food is scarce in Berlin, and it is easy to see that the window displays of the stores promise much more than what is actually inside. Another thing contributing to the depressed spirit of Berlin life is the constant recurrence of air raids. Every night citizens spend from four to five hours in the cellar. They lack sleep, there is promiscuity between men and women, cold, and these things do not create a good mood. The number of people with colds is incredible.

Bomb damage is slight; nervousness is very high. At ten o’clock in the evening everyone looks at his watch. People want to return home to their loved ones. All this does not yet justify the pessimism in certain quarters where the first war is being remembered and they are beginning to think of the worst.

See The Ciano Diaries 1939-1943: The Complete, Unabridged Diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1936-1943

A Nazi propaganda image from September 1940. The residents of  a Jewish retirement home whose bedrooms have been destroyed by the bombing - and who are now confined to the day room.

A Nazi propaganda image from September 1940. The residents of a Jewish retirement home whose bedrooms have been destroyed by the bombing – and who are now confined to the day room.

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