The Italian Ambassador ( Macchi di Cellere ) to the Secretary of State 9

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Baron Sonnino has cabled me that the Spanish Ambassador at Rome has handed him a memorandum stating that Austria-Hungary is completely lacking in clothing, linen, thread, sanitary material and drugs. The lack of linen and thread makes it impossible to prepare white clothing and bandages for the sick and newly born, while the lack of clothing in general will be bitterly felt by all the population during the winter.

The memorandum continues with a request that the Allies and the United States remove the restrictions against neutral commerce and that first of all they inform Switzerland that the above mentioned articles may be exported into Austria-Hungary and stating the conditions under which such an export would be authorized. A special office at Bern could be empowered to determine in regard to the quantities to be exported.

While stating that, on his part, Baron Sonnino has nothing to say against authorizing the requested export, provided the necessary precautions and guarantees are furnished, he adds that from the Swiss Legation the Italian Government has been informed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Vienna suggests that the diplomatic missions of the Entente at Bern be authorized to establish direct relations with the Austria-Hungarian Legation there for the purpose of handling all the questions pertaining to the provisioning of Austria and all matters of an economic character, as the solution of all these questions is of European interest.

Baron Sonnino concludes his communication by saying that he would very much appreciate knowing the opinion of the United States Government on these two requests, and I should be very grateful if you would kindly let me know.

Accept [etc.]

Macchi di Cellere
  1. Transmitted to the Commission to Negotiate Peace in the Department’s telegram No. 59, Dec. 19, 1918, 8 p.m., p. 679.