J.C.S. Files: Telegram

The Commander in Chief, Allied Force Headquarters (Eisenhower) to the Combined Chiefs of Staff 1


Naf 221. To AGWar for the Combined Chiefs of Staff. Bigot Husky. To USFor for the British Chiefs of Staff.

I wish to draw your urgent attention to importance of psychological warfare for the Husky operation. Having regard to risks we are accepting, I consider it essential every effort should be made in advance to weaken resistance of enemy. All our information goes to show that Italian Troops will fight bravely in defense of their own territory. In consequence, cost to us of the operation may depend very largely on the extent to which we can undermine their morale beforehand.

In my opinion policy of psychological warfare for Husky laid down in your telegram number Fortune 111 of April 16th2 is not sufficient [Page 327] for this purpose and will not succeed in making any substantial contribution to the operation. The reasons on which I base this opinion are:

Intimidation of the Italians by threats, as directed in points 1 and 2, will not itself achieve our object. Unless we can offer them a way out from the war, they will see no alternative other than to rally round their leaders. This is exactly what we wish to avoid.
The encouragement of passive resistance and sabotage of the Italian war effort, recommended in point 3, is unlikely to produce results which will be of any real assistance to Husky .
The assurances about Italy’s future to be given under point 5 are not sufficiently explicit to be convincing, while the withholding of such assurance until immediately before the invasion takes place deprives them of any value for the operation. In view of the time required, even under the best conditions for propaganda to take effect, and of the measures taken by the enemy to prevent us reaching our audience, we shall need all the interval between now and D–day to put our message across and if we postpone it until the eve of the operation, it will be entirely lost in the heat of the battle.

I therefore strongly recommend that the statement of policy be amended as follows:

Point 5. During the period before invasion takes place, we should constantly emphasize to the Italians:

That the choice between a continuation and a cessation of hostilities rests with them.
That a cessation of hostilities on their part will be accepted by the Allies as evidence of good judgment, entitling them eventually to a “Peace with Honor.”
That the policy of the Allied Governments pledges full nationhood for Italy after the defeat of the Axis and the removal of the Fascist Government and assures full benefits as provided in the Atlantic Charter.3
That in consequence Italy has every interest in ceasing hostilities and that the only obstacle to honorable peace is the policy of the Fascist Government.

Our propaganda would be much strengthened if an Official Allied statement on the above lines were issued as soon as possible. Basing itself on such a statement, our propaganda could develop between now and D–day an effective campaign in which the advantages of surrendering would be balanced against the consequences of resisting, and in which blame for continuing a hopeless and unpopular war could be placed squarely on the Fascist Government.

The above recommendations are in line with those sent to you by CinC Mideast in their telegram number CC/227 of April 26th in [Page 328] which I entirely concur. Action AGWar, information USFor and Mideast.

  1. This telegram was circulated by the Secretaries to the Combined Chiefs of Staff as document C.C.S. 185/3, May 18, 1943, entitled “Policy for Coming Operations Regarding Propaganda and Subversive Activities.” The telegram was discussed by Roosevelt and Churchill during their meeting with the Combined Chiefs of Staff on May 19, 1943; for the record of that meeting, see ante, p. 122. The telegram first came before the Combined Chiefs of Staff at their meeting on May 18, 1943, but the Combined Chiefs deferred discussion until their meeting on May 20, 1943; for the records of the meetings under reference, see ante, pp. 100 and 125. For the reply of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to Eisenhower, see C.C.S. 185/4, May 22, 1943, post, p. 330.
  2. In C.C.S. 185/2/D, April 26, 1943, the Combined Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the Department of State and the British Foreign Office, had approved a statement of policy upon which plans for psychological warfare including propaganda were to be developed with regard to Operation Husky . The text of this directive was cabled to Eisenhower in Algiers in telegram Fortune 111 ( Fan 117), April 16, 1943. The text of the directive, which was entitled “Policy for Coming Operations Regarding Propaganda and Subversive Activities,” was as follows:

    “It is important to distinguish between the policy to be pursued up to the moment of the invasion of Italy and the policy to be pursued after that period. In the first period a firm line should be followed, without any promises, and should emphasize the following four points as the basis of combined British-American propaganda:

    • “1. We should lose no opportunity to point out the hopelessness of Italy’s present position in the war to the Italian people.
    • “2. The war against Italy should be pursued by attacking by land and sea and air upon all possible occasions and with all possible force.
    • “3. By all possible means passive resistance and sabotage of the Italian war effort should be encouraged.
    • “4. Appeals to premature revolt or ridicule of the Italian armed forces or the Italian people should be avoided.
    • “Immediately before invasion takes place, and for the period succeeding the assault, this line should be modified to the extent of holding out some ray of hope to the Italians about their future, the Allies being presented in the guise not of conquerors but of liberators. The following point should then be added:
    • “5. We should hold out assurances that Italy will survive as a nation after the defeat of the Fascist Government, without making any specific territorial commitments.” (J.C.S. Files)

  3. Released by Roosevelt and Churchill, August 14, 1941. For text see Department of State, Executive Agreement Series No. 236; 55 Stat. (2) 1603; Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, pp. 368369.