Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill to Marshal Stalin 1

operational priority

President and Prime Minister to Marshal Stalin, most secret and personal.

We have received from General C. a statement that the Italians accept and that he is coming to sign, but we do not know for certain whether this refers to the short military terms which you have already seen, or to the more comprehensive and complete terms in regard to which your readiness to sign was specifically indicated.2
The military situation there is at once critical and hopeful. Our invasion of the mainland begins almost immediately, and the heavy blow called Avalanche will be struck in the next week or so. The difficulties of the Italian Government and people in extricating themselves from Hitler’s clutches may make a still more daring enterprise necessary, for which General Eisenhower will need as much Italian help as he can get. The Italian acceptance of the terms is largely based on the fact that we shall send an airborne division to Rome to enable them to hold off the Germans, who have gathered Panzer strength in that vicinity and who may replace the Badoglio Government with a Quisling administration probably under Farinacci. Matters are moving so fast there that we think General Eisenhower should have discretion not to delay settlement with the Italians for the sake of the differences between the short and long terms. It is clear that the short terms are included in the long terms that they proceed on the basis of unconditional surrender and Clause Ten in the short terms places the interpretation in the hands of the Allied Commander-in-Chief.
We are therefore assuming that you expect General Eisenhower to sign the short terms in your behalf if that be necessary to avoid the further journeying of General C to Rome and consequent delay and uncertainty affecting the military operations. We are of course [Page 1263] anxious that the Italian unconditional surrender be to the Soviet Union as well as to Britain and the United States. The date of the surrender announcement must of course be fitted in with the military coup.
  1. Sent to the United States Naval Attaché, Moscow, via Navy channels. In the Roosevelt Papers there is a draft of this message, British in origin, which is substantially identical with the final text except that it did not contain the final two sentences, which were added in Roosevelt’s handwriting.
  2. See ante, p. 1185.