740.0011 EW 1939/34038: Telegram

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

2569. This is Tittmann’s 129, April 10.

My 102, March 25. Cardinal Secretary of State gave my British colleague and myself following summary of unsigned statement handed him by German Ambassador to Holy See in name of his Government on March 27:

“According to information furnished officially by German Ambassador to Secretariat of State:

Quartering of detachments of troops as well as any installation of services or supplies for German armed forces in Rome is forbidden. As sole exception permanent hospitals occupied by wounded soldiers and prisoners of war as well as small forces of German police are remaining in Rome.
The movement of reinforcements and supplies for German front is not taking place through the city.
In principle access to City of Rome forbidden to all members of German armed forces. Only individual persons who have business to transact with offices of Italian administration and exclusively in interest of welfare and security of population may on presentation of a document issued by a high authority of German Command enter City of Rome.
Consequently eventual air attacks on city would result in civilian objectives only being hit.”

When I observed that it seemed rather odd to me that such a statement as that contained in paragraph 4 should have been included in German document Cardinal admitted this had been added verbally by Ambassador.

It seems likely that Holy See hoped to receive from German Government confirmation of a more formal and detailed nature but when it was realized this was not to be forthcoming decided to pass on instead Weizsaecker’s statement to Osborne28 and myself.

I took occasion to say to Cardinal that rumors to effect that agreement had been reached between belligerent parties whereby Rome would not be bombed in future were still circulating with insistence but that I knew nothing of such an agreement. I remarked that consequently I would not be surprised if bombardments were resumed from one moment to another should Allies consider such action necessary. Cardinal replied he hoped good will on both sides would continue but that in any event there had been no change in attitude of Holy See so often made known in past; namely, that irrespective of questions [Page 1297] of military objectives Rome should not be bombed because of its special position.

Repeated to Algiers. [Tittmann.]

  1. Sir Francis D. G. Osborne, British Minister to the Holy See.