Memorandum by the Executive Junta of the Italian Committee of Liberation to the Chief Commissioner of the Allied Control Commission for Italy (MacFarlane)55

I. Premise:

The Executive Junta has received a mandate from the Congress of Bari to prepare the way for a strong Government which reflects the anti-Fascist spirit of the Italian people. The Executive Junta believes, therefore, that it is its duty to submit to the Allied Governments a plan of solution of the Italian crisis which, while remaining within the limits of our constitutional law, would postpone to the end of hostilities the institutional problem, would reduce to a minimum the harshness of the present political strife, would allow the formation of a truly anti-Fascist Government representative of the Italian nation, and would create that harmony of the people as necessary to the war effort, as it is to the effort of reconstruction.

II. Proposal of Solution:

For well known reasons the anti-Fascist parties do not under any condition intend to collaborate with the present King of Italy. Victor Emmanuel III ought, therefore, to abdicate.

The present Prince of Piedmont would succeed. It can not be forgotten that the Prince was personally in command of the group of armies that attacked France, and that as “Inspector of the Infantry” he has his share of responsibility in the dark page written by the Italian army on the 8th of September.56 Nor can his numerous acts of friendly support of Fascism and its Duce be forgotten. It may, however, be admitted that his responsibilities are less great than those of his father.

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The Parties would, therefore, accept his presence with the express reservation that he should delegate the exercise of his constitutional powers by a specific act of his own and for a definite period of time.

This reservation is essential because all of the most dangerous elements of Fascism, in alliance with those military gangs which, afraid of being called to account and intending to defend their untenable positions at any cost, are regrouping themselves automatically around the Monarchy and the surviving Monarchical forces.

By accepting the Government under different conditions, Italian anti-Fascism would expose itself to three most serious dangers:

to see the reforming and re-organization of Fascist military and reactionary groups in the heart of the state administration and around the person and prerogatives of the King. By an act of force or by a simple gesture of the Sovereign these groups might return to power and at an opportune moment nullify the will of the people. Sooner or later this would mean revolution;
To see unconscious or open sabotage of the war effort as is happening today;
To see itself disavowed by the Italian people as a whole and by its supporters in that part of Italy which is still occupied. These supporters have already made it explicitly known that they do not accept any other solution.

In summary, it is today necessary that the King abdicate and that upon ascending the Throne, Humbert cede his constitutional powers to an individual or collective Lieutenancy which can inspire the trust of the country and which in any event does not include a member of the House of Savoy or a soldier. The Lieutenancy should then proceed to the immediate constitution of an anti-Fascist Government. All of the foregoing should last to the time when war conditions will permit the convocation of an Assembly regularly elected by the Italian people.

III. Constitutional Aspects of the Proposal:

The proposal as outlined above is consistent with the practice of our constitutional law. In fact, Victor Emmanuel II as well as Humbert I and Victor Emmanuel III have in the past ceded some of the powers granted them by the “Statute Albertino” in favor of Lieutenants.

Moreover the present King approved the law which created the Fascist Grand Council and which even permitted that body to intervene to determine the order of succession to the Throne. He has also divested himself of the most specifically royal of the powers granted him by the constitution when he yielded the supreme command of the armed forces to Mussolini.

Therefore, on juridical grounds, it can not be seen why the Crown should hesitate to adopt a procedure the duration of which would be [Page 1026] strictly limited and the purpose of which would be clearly defined more particularly so since now this procedure would correspond to the desires and to the requirements of the country.

IV. Means of Achieving the Determined Goal:

The Allies have always declared that they desire the Italian people to be free to choose their own Government and the institutions which will in the future govern their political life. Consequently they are affirming their strict neutrality in Italian political strife on the condition that this strife not be harmful to their war effort against Germany.

The Executive Junta deeply appreciates this view and is grateful for the sincerity of the effort to put it in practice.

It must nevertheless point out that in spite of everything Allied action in Italy takes the form of a support given to the personal Government of the King and of Badoglio. A clear indication has been given to the King in every way possible in existing circumstances that his person stands as an obstacle to national unity. No one who is political or morally responsible has agreed to collaborate with him and the unanimous vote of the Bari Congress has disqualified him. He, however, stubbornly refuses to give way and poses the question of using force which for the present the Parties refuse to use because of their sense of responsibility to the Allies.

Therefore should the Allies approve the moderate and transectional formula posed by the Executive Junta they must make this clearly understood by Victor Emmanuel III and the House of Savoy.

Only in this way will it be possible without violence and disturbance to achieve the result for which all true Italians are longing. Whereas the present status quo is guaranteed through the weight of Allied strength and through the respect which the anti-Fascist Parties have for the Allies, they unwillingly find themselves in the position of blocking the will of the Italian people and acting not only against the principles which they themselves have affirmed but even against their most obvious interests.

V. When Action Should be Taken:

It is necessary to act immediately first because the situation is tense and is worsening every day. The solution now presented is valid today but may be superseded tomorrow by the state of public opinion or by more serious events; secondly because the Parties and the patriots of occupied Italy see that this equivocal situation is being prolonged, depriving them of any organic direction and help and preventing free Italians from fighting. Should the occasion arise they might therefore decide to have recourse to their own solutions far more radical than [Page 1027] those put forward by the Junta. Such initiatives would not only make the already tense political situation even more grave, but they would in all probability force the Junta radically to review its attitude toward the people responsible for further Italian suffering.

VI. Conclusion:

The Executive Junta believes that it is fulfilling its duty by submitting these proposals to the Allied Governments. Its duty would not be fulfilled entirely until the Junta did not also call the attention of the Allied Governments to the extreme gravity of the Italian situation and to the urgency of a solution. The Allies know that the King and his Government, conscious of their faults which are perhaps even greater than we think, do not hesitate to use the worst scoundrels who may become efficacious instruments of the reaction and of the civil war that is being prepared. A few of these have apparently been eliminated, only after direct Allied intervention.

The Allies know that an absolutely unjustifiable increase of the “Arma dei Carabinieri” and of the “Guardie di Finanza” is in the course of development. Ex-Fascists, ex-members of the Fascist militia are being shamelessly recruited even for the highest ranks.

The Allies know that except in the large towns and in places directly controlled by them freedom of press, freedom of meeting and even personal freedom are nothing but verbal expressions. The Allies also know that the blood of the anti-Fascists has already been spilled as a result of royal reaction. As an example, the sanguinary incidents which took place in Montesano on the 12th of December may be cited.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the leaders of the Parties of the masses to restrain the understandable impatience of the population. The recent events occurring in Puglia (riots at Taranto, Canosa and in other communes) are of significance in this respect.

The Executive Junta therefore requests the Allied Governments to consider that its proposals are not the fruit of animosity or of party passions. They are the result of an examination developed with full knowledge of the causes and with the most serene objectivity. They represent the strict minimum by which a solution of the Italian situation can still be achieved.

Should this situation develop for the worse, it should be clear that the responsibility for it must neither be ascribed to the Italian people nor to their legitimate representatives.

Signed for the Executive Committee
The Secretary
Filippo Caracciolo
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by Mr. Reinhardt in his despatch 436, February 24; received March 9.
  2. Following the announcement on September 8, 1943, of Italy’s surrender to the Allies, the King, Badoglio, and the Italian High Command left Rome early the following day without issuing any orders for the Italian Army.