740.0011 European War 1939/30562: Telegram

The Chargé at Vatican City ( Tittmann ) to the Secretary of State 1

140. My 131, July 31 [26].2

There is of course no truth in report appearing Swiss press to effect that either my British colleague or myself have been “negotiating” with Badoglio Government through Vatican.
General feeling Vatican circles appears to be that German menace to assume political control of Italy has become very real and consequently position of Badoglio Government extremely difficult. Possibility that Germans way [may] recall Fascists and even insist upon substitution of a Gauleiter of Farinacci type for present government does not seem to be excluded. Completely lacking in aviation and modern armor, Italian armed forces are not considered to be in a position effectively to oppose military occupation of Rome. It is believed there is at present time German armored division within 50 miles of capital ready to move in at moment’s notice. Under circumstances it is felt temporizing tactics or [on] part of Badoglio Government are justifiable on grounds that if Germans could be held off long enough some military or other event might intervene to ease situation. Suggestion has again been heard that early Allied landing on peninsula would be desirable and that if this could be effected in north of Italy Germans would be obliged to retire immediately from south and center. It has been intimated that good will toward Allies of Italian people at present time is evident and Allies should not fail to take advantage this state of mind while it lasts.
I understand that Badoglio Government now has internal situation under control and that fear of social disorders is for moment in abeyance. Apparent apathy of people suggests popular uprising against Germans near future is unlikely. Also suggests that while desire for peace undoubtedly very strong people are counting on us rather than own efforts to get them out of war.
Great deal of foregoing is of course speculative and question also arises as to how Vatican may be playing game of Badoglio Government. In any event it seems to be fact that this government has had support of Vatican from beginning.
  1. Sent to the American Legation at Bern and transmitted in telegram No. 4742 of August 5, 1943, from the Minister in Switzerland (Harrison) to the Secretary of State; received in Washington at 6:46 p.m., August 5.
  2. See ante, p. 524, fn. 2.