740.0011 European War 1939/33218: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Minister in Switzerland ( Harrison )

568. For Tittmann. Your 43, February 10 and 44, February 11.11 With reference to the bombing of the Castelgandolfo area, the Department [Page 1280] has written the following letters in reply to several communications from the Apostolic Delegate:

“February 5. Your two letters of February 212 concerning the bombardment of Albano and Castelgandolfo were referred immediately to the appropriate American military authorities for investigation and report. I hope that a reply from the military authorities will be forthcoming within the next few days and I shall not fail to communicate with you promptly. In view of the combined military operation in Italy, copies of your letters have been furnished the British Embassy.

The Allied Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean theater13 has been given specific instructions with respect to avoiding and protecting the property of the Holy See in and around Rome which enjoys extraterritorial privileges. This, of course, includes the Papal Villa at Castelgandolfo. Moreover, as the result of reports in August and September last from Mr. Tittmann at Vatican City, the attention of the appropriate military authorities was called particularly to the Papal properties and establishments at Castelgandolfo at that time.

I hasten to assure you that the policy of this Government with respect to Papal property in Italy as declared by the President in his letter to the Pope last July remains as expressed therein and Allied forces have instructions to carry out that policy to the extent that is humanly possible under conditions of modern warfare.”

“February 16. I have received your letter of February 512 with further reference to the bombardment of the territory in which the Papal Villa at Castelgandolfo is situated. I made copies of your letter immediately available to the appropriate authorities of the War Department and, in view of the combined military operation in Italy, to the British Embassy.

The following information, which has been received from the War Department, may be of interest to you in connection with the unfortunate incidents reported in your letter under reference. The Allied Military Commanders in the area of Albano and Castelgandolfo are fully aware of the necessity for protecting Papal property and are doing all in their power to prevent damage from military operations. However, it should be pointed out that the center of a particularly critical military operation is approaching the Albano Castelgandolfo area and should it be determined that German forces are using the communications through this area it will be necessary to attack them. Otherwise Allied forces would be permitting the establishment of a sanctuary from which enemy operations could be launched or assisted without the danger of attack.

You may rest assured that if German forces are subjected to bombardment while near the extraterritorial property of the Holy See it will only be because the crucial military situation requires it.”

[Page 1281]

“February 18. I have your letters of February 13 and 15 with further reference to the bombardment of Castelgandolfo. I deeply regret the loss of life and damage to Vatican property.

Your reports and the observations of the Holy See concerning the bombardment of the Castelgandolfo area have been brought to the attention of the Allied Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.”

You may if you consider it desirable reply along similar lines to the notes which you have received from the Secretariat of State.

Stettinius
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.
  4. Not printed.