Pact of Steel

Pact of Steel
Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy
Galeazzo Ciano, Adolf Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop at the signing of the Pact of Steel in the Reichskanzlei in Berlin
Type Military-political
Signed 22 May 1939
Location Berlin, Germany
Expiration 1949 (effectively in 1943)
Languages German, Italian

The Pact of Steel (German: Stahlpakt, Italian: Patto d'Acciaio), known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was a military and political alliance between Italy and Germany.

The pact was initially drafted as a tripartite military alliance between Japan, Italy and Germany. While Japan wanted the focus of the pact to be aimed at the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany wanted it aimed at the British Empire and France. Due to this disagreement, the pact was signed without Japan and became an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, signed on 22 May 1939 by foreign ministers Galeazzo Ciano of Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop of Germany.

The pact consisted of two parts. The first section was an open declaration of continuing trust and co-operation between Germany and Italy. The second section, the "Secret Supplementary Protocol", encouraged a union of policies concerning the military and the economy.[1]


Germany and Italy fought against each other in World War I.[2] Popularity and support for radical political parties (such as the Nazis of Adolf Hitler and the Fascists of Benito Mussolini) exploded after the Great Depression had severely hampered the economy of both countries.[2]

In 1922, Mussolini secured his position as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy.[3] His first actions made him immensely popular - massive programs of public works provided employment and transformed Italy's infrastructure.[4] In the Mediterranean Mussolini launched a powerful navy, larger than the combined might of the British and French Mediterranean fleets.[2]

When he was appointed Chancellor in 1933, Hitler initiated a huge wave of public works and secret rearmament.[5] Fascism and Nazism shared similar principles and Hitler and Mussolini met on several state and private occasions in the 1930s.[6] On 23 October 1936, Italy and Germany signed a secret protocol aligning their foreign policy for the first time on such issues as the Spanish Civil War, the League of Nations and the Abyssinia Crisis.[7]


In 1931, Japanese forces invaded the region of Manchuria because of its rich grain fields and reserves of raw minerals.[2] This, however, provoked a diplomatic clash with the Soviet Union, which bordered Manchuria.[2] To combat this Soviet threat, the Japanese signed a Pact with Germany in 1936.[2] The aim of the pact was to guard against any attack from Soviet Russia were it to move on China.[2]

Japan elected to focus on anti-Soviet alliances instead of anti-Western alliances like Italy and Germany.[8] Germany, however, feared that an anti-USSR alliance would create the possibility of a two-front war before they could conquer Western Europe.[8] So when Italy invited Japan to sign the Pact of Steel, it demurred.[8]


Officially, the Pact of Steel obliged Germany and Italy to aid the other country militarily, economically or otherwise in the event of war, and to collaborate in wartime production.[9] The Pact aimed to ensure that neither country was able to make peace without the agreement of the other.[10] The agreement was based on the assumption that a war would not occur within three years.[10] When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and war broke out on 3 September, Italy was not yet prepared for conflict and had difficulty meeting its obligations.[11] Consequently, Italy did not enter World War II until June 1940, with a delayed invasion of Southern France.[12]

Article I
The Contracting Parties will remain in permanent contact with each other in order to come to an understanding of all common interests or the European situation as a whole.[10]
Article II
In the event that the common interests of the Contracting Parties be jeopardized through international happenings of any kind, they will immediately enter into consultation regarding the necessary measures to preserve these interests. Should the security or other vital interests of one of the Contracting Parties be threatened from outside, the other Contracting Party will afford the threatened Party its full political and diplomatic support in order to remove this threat.[10]
Article III
If it should happen, against the wishes and hopes of the Contracting Parties, that one of them becomes involved in military complications with another power or other Powers, the other Contracting Party will immediately step to its side as an ally and will support it with all its military might on land, at sea and in the air.[10]
Article IV
In order to ensure, in any given case, the rapid implementation of the alliance obligations of Article III, the Governments of the two Contracting Parties will further intensify their cooperation in the military sphere and the sphere of war economy. Similarly the two Governments will keep each other regularly informed of other measures necessary for the practical implementation of this Pact. The two Governments will create standing commissions, under the direction of the Foreign Ministers, for the purposes indicated in Article I and II.[10]
Article V
The Contracting Parties already at this point bind themselves, in the event of a jointly waged war, to conclude any armistice or peace only in full agreement with each other.[10]
Article VI
The two Contracting Parties are aware of the importance of their joint relations to the Powers which are friendly to them. They are determined to maintain these relations in future and to promote the adequate development of the common interests which bind them to these Powers.[10]
Article VII
This Pact comes into force immediately upon its signing. The two Contracting Parties are agreed upon fixing the first period of its validity at 10 years. In good time before the elapse of this period they will come to an agreement regarding the extension of the validity of the Pact.[10]

Secret supplementary protocols

The secret supplementary protocols of the Pact of Steel, which were split into two sections, were not made public at the time of the signing of the Pact.[13]

The first section urged the countries to quicken their joint military and economic cooperation whilst the second section committed the two countries to cooperate in "matters of press, the news service and the propaganda" to promote the power and image of the Rome-Berlin Axis.[13] To aid in this, each country was to assign "one or several specialists" of their country in the capital city of the other for close liaisons with the Foreign Minister of that country.[13]

Name change

After being told the original name, "Pact of Blood", would likely be poorly received in Italy, Mussolini proposed the name "Pact of Steel", which was ultimately chosen.[14]


According to Article VII, the pact was to last 10 years, but this did not happen.[10] In November 1942, the Axis forces in North Africa, led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, were decisively defeated by the British and British Commonwealth forces at the Second Battle of El Alamein.[15] In July 1943 the Western Allies opened up a new front by invading Sicily.[15] In the aftermath of this, Mussolini was overthrown by 19 members of the Gran Consiglio who voted in favour of the Ordine Grandi. The new Italian government, under Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio, signed an armistice with the Allies in September and became a non-belligerent, thus effectively ending Italy's involvement in the pact.[15]

Although a puppet government under Mussolini, the Italian Social Republic, was established in Northern Italy by Nazi Germany, Italy continued as a member of the pact in name only.[15]

See also



  1. ^ Gibler, Douglas M. 2008. International Military Alliances, 1648-2008. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. pp. 326-327.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The Road To War.
  3. ^ Knight 2013, p. 22.
  4. ^ Knight 2013, pp. 68–69.
  5. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 258–262.
  6. ^ Corvaja 2013, p. 13.
  7. ^ Stumpf 2001, p. 146.
  8. ^ a b c Maltarich 2005, p. 75.
  9. ^ Hiden 2014, pp. 187–188.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Italo-German Alliance.
  11. ^ Belco 2010, p. 37.
  12. ^ Knox 2002, p. 181.
  13. ^ a b c The Pact of Steel.
  14. ^ Nicholls 2000, p. 195.
  15. ^ a b c d The Mediterranean And North Africa.


  • Belco, Victoria (2010). War, Massacre, and Recovery in Central Italy, 1943–1948. University of Toronto. ISBN 978-0-8020-9314-1.
  • Corvaja, Santi (2013). Hitler & Mussolini: The Secret Meetings. Enigma Books. ISBN 978-0982491164.
  • Hiden, John (2014). Germany and Europe 1919–1939. Routledge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-317-89627-2.
  • Knight, Patricia (2013). Mussolini and Fascism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1136477508.
  • Knox, MacGregor (2002). Hitler's Italian Allies: Royal Armed Forces, Fascist Regime, and the War of 1940–1943. Cambridge University. ISBN 978-1-139-43203-0.
  • Maltarich, William (2005). Samurai and Supermen: National Socialist Views of Japan. Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 978-3-03-910303-4.
  • Nicholls, David (2000). Adolf Hitler: A Biographical Companion. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-87436-965-6.
  • Shirer, William (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0.
  • Stumpf, Reinhard (2001). "From the Berlin–Rome Axis to the Military Agreement of the Tripartite Pact: The Sequence of Treaties from 1936 to 1942". Germany and the Second World War. Vol. VI: The Global War – Widening of the Conflict into a World War and the Shift of the Initiative 1941–1943. Clarendon Press. pp. 144–160. |volume= has extra text (help)