Roosevelt Papers

The French Committee of National Liberation to the Department of State 1


Text of the Note for the American and British Governments

At the moment when the possibility of an early Italian capitulation becomes definite, which would have the widest repercussions, in occupied Europe and particularly as regards France, the French Committee of National Liberation has the imperative duty of calling the attention of the American and British Governments to the essential importance of a French participation, first in the armistice negotiations, (and) then in the deliberations and decisions of the agencies which will have the duty of assuring the execution of the terms which are imposed on Italy.

The collapse of fascism marks a first and decisive victory of the democratic powers. The French nation is proud that its military effort and its sacrifices have been able to contribute honorably thereto. All Frenchmen, those of the Empire as well as those who are still under the enemy yoke, would see with the keenest satisfaction the Committee of National Liberation associated tomorrow in the preliminary negotiations which will confirm the Italian defeat and then the restoration of a democratic régime which, with the American and British Governments, it deems indispensable. This restoration involves the total disappearance of the juridical structure of the Fascist State.

It is on this condition that one of the essential aims of the war can be realized and that it will become possible for the Italian people, by the full reestablishment of its liberties, to find among the European nations a place worthy of it.

Allied France, which itself has been able to measure the ravages caused by the ideologies from which the war arose, has the ardent desire to see itself associated in this work.

The Allied Governments have often assailed the circumstances under which Italy entered the war against France; they do not forget, [Page 533] assuredly, how the Italian forces joined in the pillage of its territory. The presence of French troops side by side with the armies of occupation and the presence of French representatives on the armistice commissions must constitute, after so many trials, a first and legitimate reparation. It is certain that those who are still living under German domination will find stimulation and promise of early liberation in the news that, three years after the aggression, their flag reappears in Italy among those of the victorious armies. For the population, and for the forces supporting the Committee of Liberation, it will be an encouragement to new efforts.

Aside from these considerations, which cannot leave indifferent anyone who measures the importance of the moral values of which this war is the stake, the request of the Committee of Liberation finds ample justification in the protection of French interests. It will doubtless fall to an inter-Allied commission on which the French Command will be represented, to prepare the armistice clauses which, when the time comes, the Italian Government would have to sign. The French delegation on that commission will present the matters of concern to the Committee of Liberation. It has none the less seemed opportune to call attention to some of the French interests involved:

In the first place it goes without saying that the Allied Armies must be able to use Italian territory immediately as a base for their further operations, particularly for the liberation of France, whose territory the Italian troops will have to evacuate.
The prisoners of war, not very numerous to be sure, and the French nationals sentenced for political reasons must be immediately set free, as well as French civilians who may have been the object of measures of internment.
French war material as well as merchant vessels and other materials, tools and equipment of all kind[s], some surrendered in virtue of the armistice of 1940 or subsequent agreements, others purely and simply seized, must be returned. These will be assigned to the war effort, increasing the French participation in that effort.
The sequestration placed on French public or private property must be lifted. The large properties of the French State in Rome, confiscated in July 1940, must be returned. By these examples, the Committee of National Liberation does not in any way mean to exhaust the list of the claims which the care of the French general interests will oblige it to present at the right time and the measures in the preparation and application of which it will ask to be associated. In the ignorance in which it still is of the thoughts of the Allied Governments and of the character which the Armistice Commission will have, the Committee can not, moreover, formulate any definitive proposal. In any case, this brief enumeration of some of the questions which will necessarily have to be settled at the cessation of hostilities would suffice, taking into account the considerations discussed at the beginning of this note, to justify its request to be associated with the coming negotiations.

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Besides, it can not have escaped the American and British Governments that, if it is desired to base in the future Franco-Italian relations on a firm foundation without which no enduring collaboration could be instituted, it is important that from the beginning France shall occupy her proper place in the conversations which are to begin. The Committee of Liberation does not doubt the intention of the Allied Governments as to the purpose to be attained. Neither does it doubt the reception which they will give to this communication.

  1. Delivered to the Department of State jointly by Major General M. E. Béthouart and Philippe Baudet. Hull transmitted a copy of this translation to Roosevelt as enclosure 3 to his memorandum of August 5, 1943, post, p. 664. No direct reply to this communication has been found.