J.C.S. Files: Telegram

The President’s Personal Representative in North Africa ( Murphy ) and the Commander in Chief, Allied Force Headquarters ( Eisenhower ) to the Secretary of State and the Chief of Staff, United States Army ( Marshall )


W 8751. In further conversation with General Z late today (from Murphy and Eisenhower for Marshall and Hull Eyes Only) he re-emphasized that in Italy today we are dealing with used men laboring under the handicap of 20 years of Fascism and the embarrassment of past actions. Yet the only man he said who now could possibly replace Badoglio who is generally regarded as an honest patriot would be General Ambrosio. The latter he declared does not enjoy the prestige which Badoglio unquestionably possesses, which is essential for the transition period incident to the advent of the Allies if chaos and confusion embarrassing to the Allies are to be avoided, and effective cooperation with the Allies by the Italian army is to be extended.

Should the Germans learn of our present conversations in General Z’s opinion their plans are perfected to seize all top Italian authorities and possibly the Pope and establish their Quisling in Italy. General Z and his friends who he said for months have given much study and thought to these eventualities have considered the means necessary [Page 1196] to effect the escape from German control of the Government and King. The latter while well disposed are conservative and rather helpless in their expectance that the Allies will deliver them. Initiative must come from the more energetic younger army officers working with the Allies.

General Z discussed at length the possibility of effecting their escape by Italian Naval vessel out of Spezia with air coverage provided by the Allies to Sardinia. There he said the four Italian Divisions could easily overcome the one German Division present, especially if the Allies could provide a little support. This of course would only be necessary if an Allied landing on the mainland did not provide in cooperation with the Italian army which General Z assumes will work with us the necessary protection for the present government. Naturally if the mainland operations are not adequate for these purposes the advantages of the acquisition of Sardinia (which almost automatically would entail that of Corsica) are considerable.

The long conversations with General Z demonstrate that the Italian General Staff have pondered over every possible “combination” leading out of the morass in which Italy flounders.