Policy and Administration in Connection With the Military Operations in Italy
Conference Document No. 15
(Joint Note by Mr. Hull and Mr. Eden)
This opportunity for a discussion of the policies which have been followed in connection with Allied military government of occupied enemy territory in Italy is very welcome as there have been many misunderstandings and some misrepresentations in connection with the policy and methods followed in dealing with the political and administrative problems resulting from military operations in Italy.
When military operations against Sicily were in the planning stage, it was obvious that a military organization linked to the invading [Page 716] armies would be required to control and administer, under the authority of the Commander-in-Chief, the civil population and to restore their economic life, in view of the widespread destruction of public services which would be found upon the ejection of the enemy. The military government would also be required to administer the conquered territory in such a way as to promote the military purposes and objectives of the Allied forces in their continued operations against the enemy. It was at the same time the intention to abolish the Fascist regime and some interim administrative machinery had to be prepared before an indigenous democratic regime could emerge.
General Eisenhower was instructed that the military government was to be based upon the following principles:
- The Allied Military Government was to be essentially military and non-political. It was to serve primarily in the role of assistant to the combat troops in the military operations and therefore it could only be staffed by military personnel and be non-political in character.
- At the same time the military occupation was to deliver the people from the Fascist regime and to restore their freedom from Axis oppression.
- The Fascist party organization and all its auxiliaries, including the militia and youth movements, were to be immediately dissolved, the Fascist hierarchy removed from posts of authority, and the Fascist control over the machinery of administration completely eliminated. Fascist doctrine and propaganda were, of course, completely prohibited. Officials who were active members of the Fascist party were to be removed and interned.
- Freedom of speech and of the press in so far as military interests were not prejudiced on the grounds of security, and freedom of religious worship, were to be permitted.
- All discriminatory laws based on the grounds of color, race or creed were to be annulled.
- Political prisoners were to be promptly released and the Fascist “Special Tribunals for Defense of the State” were to be abolished.
- The administration was to be entirely military and impartial and no organized political groups were to be associated with it.
- War criminals charged by the United Nations were to be imprisoned and held subject to further action.
The Commander-in-Chief was also given guidance as to the introduction of emergency military currency, a moratorium on debts, and the impounding of enemy government and Fascist funds. In particular the Commander-in-Chief was instructed to give careful attention to the matter of sound, fair and voluntary labor relations and to fix, if necessary, the hours and wages of labor.
The instructions on the above lines were issued to General Eisenhower at the end of June and the Allied Military Government began to operate immediately upon the first occupation of Sicilian territory in July.
The Allied forces in Sicily found local and provincial government at a complete standstill. The Civil Affairs officers staffing the military [Page 717] government quickly set up the local administrative authorities, operated the municipal administrations and essential local services, enforced the proclamations and orders of the military governor, issued local regulations to insure security and local order, coordinated with combat commanders requisitioning procurement and billeting and implemented generally the policy of the military administration described above. In all this activity the utmost possible use was made of local Italians commanding the confidence of the people, who were well disposed to the Allied cause and not tainted with Fascist ideas. In particular it was found possible to control and use to a large extent the non-Fascist Italian police (Carabinieri), but of course the political police (OVRA),98 and the Squadristi,99 were .abolished and their members incarcerated.
The policy of rooting out the Fascist regime was carried thoroughly into effect. Fascist officials were removed and jailed. All Fascist organizations were disbanded. Discriminatory laws were annulled, but otherwise local customs and laws were continued in force. The urgent problem of feeding the town populations was tackled with considerable success despite the almost complete absence of transportation. For military reasons, where necessary relief supplies were distributed from stocks imported by the Allied forces.
All reports show that Allied Military Government in Sicily has fulfilled its primary objectives: (1) to facilitate military operations; (2) to root out Fascism. It has performed an essential function in reestablishing the necessary public services, thereby enabling the combat forces to perform their task with the maximum support and cooperation of the civilian population. It has also helped to make available for the common war effort the economic resources of the island.
This form of military government was extended to the Italian mainland when the Allied forces began the invasion in September.
At this juncture the general situation was transformed by the surrender of Italy and the declared intention of the Badoglio Government to assist the Allies against Germany. This was not permitted to alter the policy of the Allied Governments to enforce the terms of surrender and the Badoglio Government accepted this situation. This leaves the Allied Commander-in-Chief in absolute authority to take whatever measures may be necessary to carry out the terms imposed upon and accepted by the Badoglio Government.
The most recent developments have been the Italian declaration of war against Germany, and the acceptance by the Allies of Italy as a co-belligerent with, among other conditions, the understanding that the Italian Government should be reorganized upon a broader and [Page 718] more liberal basis by the inclusion of representatives of anti-Fascist political groups.
As a result of these developments it is now contemplated that Military Government will be restricted in the future to the combat zone and that elsewhere supervision and control of the Italian administration will be carried out through the agency of a Control Commission under, so long as the military situation requires, the presidency of the Commander-in-Chief.
The arrangements for giving effect to this change and for associating other interested Allied governments with the work of control are described in a separate paper entitled: “Allied Control Machinery in Italy”,1 dated October 21st, which was circulated by Mr. Eden at the meeting of the Conference on October 22nd.
It will be seen from the foregoing that although the administration of conquered Italian territory has hitherto necessarily been controlled by military considerations, the intention and result have already been such as to give effect in a large measure to the principles enunciated by Mr. Molotov at the meeting of the Conference on the 22nd of October.
In accordance with the proposed new arrangements for the administration of Italian territory described in the paper circulated by Mr. Eden and referred to above, it would further fall to the Council of Allied High Commissioners to formulate administrative policies for Italy.