365.1121 Slavich, Nickola/22

Memorandum by Mr. Joseph C. Green of the Division of Western European Affairs


A number of American citizens have recently been arrested by the Italian authorities. Several of these arrests appear to have been made upon frivolous charges. Several of the persons arrested have been detained for long periods in prison, and then released without a trial. Several of the cases have been particularly annoying to this Government because of the fact that the Italian authorities have refused to permit communication between the prisoners and the American consular officers, or have hampered such communication by delays due to the administrative procedure necessary for obtaining permission for consular officers to visit prisoners, or by the requirement that conversations between consular officers and prisoners be conducted in the presence of an interpreter designated by the Italian authorities.

The following brief notes will indicate the nature of a few of the cases referred to, chosen from among those concerning which our information is most complete:

Nickola Slavich

Nickola Slavich, a recently naturalized citizen of Yugoslav origin, was a passenger on board the S. S. Saturnia en route from New York to Trieste via Naples. Upon leaving the ship at Naples for a few hours on June 16, he was placed under arrest on the basis of the accusation of a steward of the vessel, who testified that he had made derogatory [Page 633] remarks in regard to Mussolini. He denies having made such remarks. The Consul General at Naples experienced difficulties in receiving permission to visit the prisoner, and he was not permitted to do so until July 16. The Italian authorities required that an interpreter designated by them be present at the interview. Slavich is still in prison and according to our latest advices, he is to be tried by the Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State.

James Tancredi

James Tancredi, an American citizen of Italian origin, sailed from New York on the S. S. Vulcania on June 24. It appears that while the vessel was still in the port of New York, he was arrested on the accusation of a steward that he had made a disparaging remark about Mussolini. He states that the so-called disparaging remark was a remark of his in regard to the disorder which occurred when passengers were ordered ashore. He stated that he said on that occasion that another Mussolini was needed to maintain discipline on that ship. He was kept a prisoner throughout the voyage, and was then incarcerated in a prison in Naples. The Consul General at Naples requested permission to visit him on July 7. This permission was not granted until July 17 and then only on condition that an Italian official be present at the interview. As the result of representations by the Ambassador, he was released on July 22.

Frank Rossi

Frank Rossi is an American citizen of Italian origin who was arrested at Como on March 6, 1929, apparently for attempting to leave Italy on a French instead of on an Italian ship. He was detained in prison nine days at Como, one day at Milan, three days at Bologna, two days at Ancona, and one day at Castello Amaro before he was finally released without trial. He states that upon his release, he was warned by the Chief of Police at Chieti not to relate his experiences to any American consul.

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Joseph C. Green