File No. 763.72/11831

The Ambassador in Italy ( Page ) to the Secretary of State


2181. Political. Evil effects of Germany’s peace proposal on morale of people not as widespread as predicted it would be, they having been made to realize insidiousness of such moves and the folly of even considering them, at the present time, when enemy on the high road to complete defeat. [Active] propaganda is going on in favor of Italy’s attaining her aspirations in Trentino and across Adriatic. Patriotic wave apparently sweeping country and majority appear [getting] together as to necessity to push war through to success.

In view of continued Allied successes on all fronts and the comparative inactivity on the Italian front, there is appearing a more pronounced feeling that Italy should immediately undertake an offensive in the hope of bringing about the collapse of Austria-Hungary but military authorities plead lack of sufficient troops and materials; Nitti sustains Diaz in this view while Sonnino is in favor of action. With no effort in this direction to retake large invaded territory, it is secretly feared by many Italians that Italy’s aspirations will receive scant consideration at peace conference. Meantime offensive in Albania is being pushed vigorously and successfully and press is connecting it with Italian aspirations and need of defensive frontier. Nothing more heard of situation referred to by the Premier in his speech before Chamber indicating that Italy’s armies are now like those of other Allies under command of Foch.

There is renewed talk of change in the Government; reopening of the Chamber has been postponed further by order of Premier.

Approval by Italians of President Wilson’s preliminary reply to Germany has lost nothing by critical study to which it is being subjected by press guiding public opinion. That President dominates and will dominate situation in the interest of fair play is public opinion in Italy. Official statement of the Government on President’s second reply rather guarded, as is press and public comment, confining itself to declaration that it is clear and categorical as military and political situation demands. Some criticism that no mention made of withdrawal of Germans from Russia and naturally those who place an early peace before everything else consider that both replies too strong. The success of Allied armies is strengthening greatly morale of the people.

[Page 378]

In official circles it is generally believed Germany endeavored first to consolidate German people behind Government, second, to weaken the war spirit in Allied countries, especially Italy, and third, to withdraw safely to Antwerp, Metz, and Rhine line of defense. It is also conviction that guarantees which will place it beyond Germany’s power to reopen hostilities should be exacted, such as turning over of Metz and Strassburg and bridge-heads on Rhine. Also it is held here that to make Italy safe she should be given as guarantees important strategic points in Trentino beyond Isonzo and on east coast Adriatic. Turkey it is thought can be easily brought to terms and is only awaiting opportunity. After that Austria-Hungary would shortly surrender, also that Bulgaria if properly handled could be made quasi-ally.

At meeting at Rome, Italian Committee on Armenian [Albanian] Independence asked Italian and Allied Governments to recognize freedom of Albanian Nation and assure its national independence, no territory to be given Bulgaria at its expense.

Mr. Gompers and labor mission were given warm welcome at Turin, Milan and Genoa before returning to France, but as at Rome there was strong undercurrent against them among the Socialists who hold that being pro-war he was anti-Socialist since true Socialism is against all war. Reports from Milan, Genoa, Turin, show that visit of these missions and Gompers’ unequivocal stand for fighting war through accomplished great good.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Nelson Page