Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Castle)
In the course of conversation with the Italian Ambassador, I took up with him the various cases which have made trouble recently of American citizens arrested on arrival in Italy for alleged statements made on shipboard derogatory of Mussolini; also one or two other cases in Italy where people have had difficulty in communicating with American Consular Officers. I told the Ambassador with a good deal of vigor that these cases were getting altogether too numerous to be pleasant; that the Italian authorities were acting in a very stupid manner for their own good because these American citizens, when they came back to this country, might well tell stories to the [Page 635] press which would react against Italy. I told him, also, that we were getting very fed up ourselves with the situation, that it seemed fantastic that an American citizen crossing on an Italian boat should be arrested on arrival merely on the word of a steward, who perhaps felt that he had not received a sufficient fee. I said that, if this situation continued and the press got hold of it, we should simply be compelled to say that the stories were correct. The result of this, as I pointed out, would obviously be that very few people would run the risk of traveling on an Italian line.
The Ambassador seemed very much disturbed, said that, on account of the danger from anarchists, the police had had to act more vigorously in matters of the kind, but that obviously in the cases which I had discussed with him, they had gone altogether too far. He said he would immediately communicate with his Government as to how we felt about the situation here.