740.00119 EW/8–343

The British Minister ( Campbell ) to the Adviser on Political Relations ( Dunn )


My Dear Jimmy, I enclose a copy of a telegram from the Foreign Office on the subject of an approach made to our Ambassador at Lisbon.1 Although the peace feeler described in this telegram has been overtaken by events, the Foreign Office thought that you would be interested to have an account of it.

I also enclose a copy of a telegram received from the Ambassador in Ankara recording approaches made by the Italian Ambassador there to the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs. You may have received a report of this from Ankara through your own channels,2 but if not you may find it interesting to have this telegram.

Yours ever,

Sir R. Campbell
W G Hayter
[Enclosure 1—Telegram]

The British Foreign Secretary ( Eden ) to the British Ambassador in the United States ( Halifax )3

Dr. Salazar sent for His Majesty’s Ambassador on July 22nd and said that he washed to speak about the situation in Italy as a result of an approach which had been made to him by certain elements in the country. He did not feel able to reveal the identity of these persons until he knew whether His Majesty’s Government were interested in the approach. The Ambassador surmised that Crown Prince and certain army leaders, perhaps with the complicity of the King were authors of the approach.

Dr. Salazar suggested that to insist on “unconditional surrender” would only serve to unite all the Italians. Resistance might then continue [Page 535] until there was a complete breakdown and chaos followed. In these circumstances, we should be obliged to condemn the whole country for a considerable period and Dr. Salazar wondered whether it would not suit us better to have some entity to deal with (possibly a military government) which with our help could carry on life of the country.

Dr. Salazar said that he quite understood that Mussolini and his gang must be eliminated. Of the remaining elements in Italy he thought that only dynasty and the army were capable of effective action and then only if they were given some incentive to do so.

Finally, Dr. Salazar said that he had not undertaken to pass on this approach but felt it was his duty to do so. In reply His Majesty’s Ambassador explained our attitude and said that while he would of course pass on Dr. Salazar’s communication, he did not think that His Majesty’s Government would be interested since he did not suppose any grounds would be seen for modifying decision not to negotiate in advance of complete surrender whatever government was responsible for the offer of surrender.

A similar approach to the Embassy has been made by M. Pangal, the former Roumanian Minister in Lisbon, representing the views of Signor Prunas and Signor Fransoni, the present and former Italian Ministers to Portugal.

M. Pangal reported that both Italian diplomats had shown anxiety about the meaning of an “honourable peace” which was the way in which they had interpreted message from the President and the Prime Minister.4 Their chief anxiety had been to learn whether by capitulation Italy could be prevented from becoming a battlefield between the Allies and Germany and whether Allied military occupation could be limited to a part of the country and that the remainder should be left under an Italian administration.

In reply, M. Pangal was told that the keystone to our policy remained “unconditional surrender” and that this could only be negotiated by government other than that of Mussolini. It was also pointed out to him that if Italians did not capitulate nothing could save the whole of the country from becoming a battlefield subject to attacks by both sides.

His Majesty’s Ambassador adds that M. Pangal has also been in touch with German Minister5 and it is therefore probable that the latter knows and probably agrees with approach made by M. Pangal to try to sound his “English friends” about terms which would be [Page 536] accorded to Germany in the event of her throwing over Hitler and the Nazi party.

[Enclosure 2—Telegram]

The British Ambassador in Turkey ( Knatchbull-Hugessen ) to the British Foreign Secretary ( Eden )6

most secret

Minister for Foreign Affairs sent for me on his return from Istanbul this morning.

While there he had had two conversations with the Italian Ambassador.
First on July 21st when the Ambassador had said that Italy was finished. In reply to appeal for tanks the Germans had stated they could supply 15 per mensem in 1944 but nothing until then. Ambassador asked if the Turkish press could publish unfavourable comments on the bombardment of Rome. Minister for Foreign Affairs said that this would be entirely out of place.
Second conversation was on the morning of July 27th. Ambassador stated that he was not yet in touch with Marshal Badoglio and did not know his views but he was sufficiently acquainted with the situation to be able to talk.
In Italy there was no Anglo-American problem. It was impossible for Italy to stand up against maritime powers.
Also there was no Fascist problem. Fascisim had collapsed and could not be revived.
On the other hand there was the German problem. Italian Ambassador asked whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs could not appeal to the United States and to ourselves to adopt an “understanding” policy. Minister for Foreign Affairs asked what he meant by this. Ambassador explained that if we pressed the war in Italy too hard and too rapidly the country would become squeezed between the Allies and the Germans. There were Germans in every Government office, railway station, bank, etc., and they were all armed. Ambassador also spoke of large German concentrations in the south of France. If we landed in Southern Italy, Italy would be powerless to resist and the result would be that Italy would become the battleground between the Allies and the Germans. In such circumstances Italy could do nothing and would unavoidably be destroyed.
Minister for Foreign Affairs remarked that the Ambassador was using arguments of beaten man. It would serve little purpose [Page 537] to put up such arguments to us. Could he make some more concrete suggestion?
In reply the Ambassador muttered something about Sardinia. Minister for Foreign Affairs owing to his deafness had to make the Ambassador repeat it three times. Upshot was that the Italian Ambassador was suggesting that if the Allies followed the policy of carrying the war on slowly Italy would escape the above fate and avoid the impossible task of turning the Germans out in quick time; she could continue on the surface as an Ally of Germany but would in point of fact help in turning the Germans out gradually and would move towards cooperation with the Allies. He suggested that if the Allies did not attack the Italian mainland but invaded Sardinia there would be no Italian resistance nor would there be opposition to action against the Greek islands in the Southern Mediterranean (Crete, etc.). In this way the Allies could strengthen their general position round Italy against Germany without Italian opposition while Italy did what she could to get the Germans out gradually. Minister for Foreign Affairs in speaking to me summed up the Ambassador’s proposals as a “policy of treachery”.
Italian Ambassador said that after reaching Rome he would establish contact with Osborne who is old friend. He leaves immediately. Germans have refused to supply petrol for his flight.
Minister for Foreign Affairs undertook to pass the above on to me. I said that J would refrain from comment except to remark that the Italian Ambassador would since have seen the Prime Minister’s speech.7
  1. Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell.
  2. See ante, p. 531.
  3. Received by the British Embassy at Washington on July 31, 1943.
  4. For the text of the Roosevelt-Churchill joint message to the people of Italy, July 16, 1943, see Department of State Bulletin, vol. ix, July 17, 1943, pp. 27–28; Rosenman, pp. 305–306.
  5. Oswald, Baron von Hoyningen genannt Huene.
  6. Repetition received by the British Embassy at Washington on August 2, 1943. On August 4 Campbell informed Dunn, with reference to this message: “Mr. Eden has asked me to let you know that His Majesty’s Government attach no importance to these conversations.” (740.00119 EW/8–443)
  7. See Churchill’s speech of July 27, 1943, reported in Parliamentary Debates: House of Commons, Official Report, 5th series, vol. 391, cols. 1397–1402.