September 18, 1938 – as tensions increased in Europe, the Fascist government of Italy and Axis ally of Germany, Benito Mussolini voiced his support of the German stance on Czechoslovakia – vowing to join Hitler if it gets down to a shooting war.
Needless to say, the war-fever was ramping up, and the near-hysteria of the crowds in the streets of Rome was palpable, even for the Italian Radio announcer, who was giving a blow-by-blow account of the moments leading up to the address.
Because Munich had now become a world crisis, and now that the world was indeed becoming much closer as the result of this new development in Radio; Short Wave, it was now possible to be able to hear Mussolini’s speech, as it happened and accompanied by simultaneous translation into English, so the average American knew what was going on and was caught up in the frenzy of War fever. It wasn’t affecting us all that much – not yet, anyway. To quote Chamberlain, “it was a quarrel between two countries in a distant land which we knew very little about”.
The U.S. had a large Italian population, and Mussolini had sent warm greetings to the people of America only a few years earlier – American had a Nazi Party, and there was a segment of the population siding with Germany over these perceived “acts of aggression” taking place on the Czech/German border.
This would be the first of several International leaders giving addresses on this day, as the events took dizzying turns of events and the news changed by the hour.