J.C.S. Files: Telegram

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


W–8525/7196. This acknowledges Fan 2032 with text of comprehensive surrender instrument. To AGWar for Combined Chiefs of [Page 1183] Staff and to USFor for British Chiefs of Staff signed Eisenhower cite fhcos . This is Naf 342. Developments since original Lisbon conference3 are as follows.

Upon receipt of message 6056, Fan 202,4 informing us that comprehensive terms were about to be transmitted to us, the British Minister5 who had received a similar message communicated with London informing the government that there was no certainty of General C6 return [ing] here and that the original terms7 as submitted to him at Lisbon might be accepted without his returning. The British Minister also stated that since General C had been provided with a draft for military capitulation, the military situation might be compromised by the introduction of the more complete instrument in the short time remaining before the launching of Avalanche . This is particularly true since shortness of time, great difficulty in communications and the necessity for secrecy all preclude carrying on of any except the briefest and simplest kind of negotiations. We hope to be able to establish communication with the Badoglio Government beginning today, August 28, and may, within the next 48 hours, receive an indication of their acceptance of the terms of the short instrument.

In reply to the British Minister’s communication, he was informed by his government that, while every effort should be made to obtain signatures to the comprehensive instrument, if military exigency required it and if the effort to obtain an agreement on the comprehensive instrument could not be accomplished because of lack of time, we might proceed to conclude a military armistice based on the initial terms of surrender on the clear understanding that these terms would be replaced later by the more comprehensive document.

We have now received information that another Italian emissary, General Zanussi, accompanied by a British General8 who has been released from captivity in Italy and provided with civilian clothes and an Italian diplomatic passport, arrived in Lisbon to discuss terms of an armistice.9 General Z presumably represents General Roatta, Chief of the Army Staff. On instructions from the Foreign Office, the British Ambassador at Lisbon10 has presented General Z with the [Page 1184] terms of the comprehensive surrender instrument,11 and presumably General Z has communicated with his government through the Italian Minister at Lisbon12 and General Roatta now knows of General C’s previous visit and some details regarding the negotiations with staff officers of Allied Force Headquarters.13

These facts cause us grave apprehension. General Roatta is known to have strong pro-German tendencies and General C informed Smith and Strong at Lisbon that Roatta had not been taken into the confidence of the Badoglio Government because of these tendencies although, in the event of an Italian change of front, it was presumed that he would, as a soldier, follow loyally the instructions of his government. Moreover, while there is a signed paper from Baker[Badoglio] providing General C’s credentials, there are no such credentials existing for General Z.

Accordingly, it seems to us that there is a strong possibility that Roatta, having gotten wind of the visit of General C to Lisbon, has sent this second emissary to ascertain the actual facts. If this is so, the secrecy of the whole affair and its ultimately successful result may be seriously compromised. There are also a number of suspicious facts in connection with General Z and his visit which I hope to clear up when he comes to Algiers, as for instance his desire to retard program arranged with General C and to delay while Italian Government considers complete armistice terms, which delay would be to the decided advantage of the Germans.

On the other hand, there is a possibility that the Z mission is bona fide and that the two Italian staffs, Joint and Army, are working semi-independently to the same end.

In any event, we are making arrangements to have General Z brought to Algiers en route to Sicily where he has made arrangements to be met by an Italian plane on Sunday. After he has been interviewed here it is hoped that a more detailed report of his intentions and the authority under which he is operating can be submitted. In the meantime we are proceeding along the lines of our previous arrangement as already communicated to you and the supplementary instructions which have been received since the Lisbon conference. However I wish to emphasize again that acceptance of the military capitulation is possible within [Page 1185] the next day or two and, failing that, General C may arrive on the 31st with a signed acceptance of the original short-term military instrument accomplished in good faith. In this event, I strongly urge that the matter be closed on the spot and that C then be handed the long document with the information that these are the complete surrender terms which will be imposed by the United Nations.

The risks attendant on Avalanche which have been pointed out to you and which we are perfectly prepared to accent [accept] will be minimized to a large extent if we are able to secure Italian assistance just prior to and during the critical period of the actual landing. Even passive assistance will greatly increase our chances of success and there is even some possibility of the Italians being willing to immobilize certain German divisions. It is these factors which make me so very anxious to get something done now.

  1. The text of this message was forwarded by the White House Map Room to Roosevelt, who was then at Hyde Park, in telegram No. White 145, August 29, 1943.
  2. Ante, p. 1161.
  3. See ante, p. 1070.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Harold Macmillan.
  6. Giuseppe Castellano.
  7. i.e., the “short” or “military” terms. See ante, pp. 519, 522, 565, 1062.
  8. Major General Adrian Carton de Wiart.
  9. For the telegrams concerning the Zanussi mission which had been made available by the British Embassy at Washington to the Department of State, see ante, pp. 11791181.
  10. Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell.
  11. See ante, p. 1181, fn. 3.
  12. Renato Prunas.
  13. The text of the “long” or “comprehensive” terms was apparently recovered from Zanussi before he had communicated it to Rome. See Garland and Smyth, pp. 462–463. For accounts of the Zanussi mission by Zanussi himself and by Carton de Wiart, see Giacomo Zanussi, Guerra e catastrofe d’Italia, giugno 1943–maggio 1945 (Rome: Libraria Corso, 1946), pt. ii; Happy Odyssey: The Memoirs of Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart (London: Cape Publishers, 1950).