740.00119 E.W./9–1644

The Italian Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Visconti-Venosta) to the American Representative on the Advisory Council for Italy (Kirk)43


Dear Kirk: I should like to draw your kind attention on a question which is for us of extreme importance: the forthcoming armistice with Germany which will undoubtedly be imposed by the High Allied Command in the name of the United Nations. I venture to submit to you my considered opinion that it would be advisable to give us already an assurance that Italy will be enabled to participate in the armistice in question. The reasons on which our request is based appear to me to be evident: for one year now, Italy has been in a state of war with Germany, together with, and alongside the United Nations; Italian land, sea and air forces contribute to war operations against the common enemy in a manner which has repeatedly been appreciated by the Allied Command, under whose directions the Italian armed forces operate. The campaign which is being carried out by Italian patriots in occupied Italy has, on the other hand, reached the proportions of veritable war operations and the patriots themselves have consequently been included by the Allied Command in the forces that form the Allied Expeditionary Corps in Italy.

The most suitable juridical way of previously specifying the position of Italy in respect of the conclusion of an armistice with Germany seems to me that of accepting our adherence to the Atlantic Charter44 and to the Declaration of the United Nations signed at Washington on January 1st, 1943 [1942].45 As a result of the adherence to this Declaration, the armistice with Germany would be concluded by the Allied High Command also in the name of Italy and, consequently, the serious Italian interests connected with the state of war with Germany would be safeguarded.

I need hardly add that should Italy, on the conclusion of an armistice with Germany not find herself in a position corresponding to the legal and de facto conditions of her participation in the fight against the common enemy, the shock on Italian public opinion would be very strong and its probable effects detrimental to everybody.

Although I am certain that this is not the intention of the Allied Governments, however, I would ask you kindly to submit to your Government the advisability that an assurance in the above sense be given us, at the same time acquainting us with the form under which, [Page 65] bearing in mind the present situation, Italy also would be allowed to participate in the eventual armistice of the United Nations with Germany.

At a period particularly delicate as the one we shall be going through at the moment of the German retreat or collapse in Northern Italy, I should consider it absolutely necessary to give to the unsettled masses in the North the clear sensation that the United Nations are acting in a spirit of equity and justice: this would undoubtedly contribute to strengthen the elements of stability and order throughout the Country.

I shall be most grateful for your kind intervention in the matter, and meanwhile,

Believe me, dear Kirk,

Sincerely Yours,

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 341, September 16, 1944, from Rome; received October 3.
  2. Joint statement by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, August 14, 1941, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 367.
  3. Ibid., 1942, vol. i, p. 25.