The Department of State to the British Embassy 90


According to information received from the Department’s representatives in Rome,91 the negotiations concerning the entry into Vatican City of certain Axis diplomats accredited to the Holy See and the concentration of the remaining members of their staffs in Sicily were carried out entirely by Messrs. Reber and Caccia (joint American and British heads of the Political Section of the Allied Control Commission) under the immediate direction and with the approval of General Johnson, Commanding General of combat troops in the Rome area. No unpleasant incidents arose in the course of the negotiations or in carrying out the decisions, and the transfers to Vatican City and to Palermo have been completed.

The Department’s position with respect to the treatment of enemy diplomats accredited to the Holy See when Allied forces should liberate Rome, namely, that they be given the option of entering Vatican City or of returning to their respective countries, was made clear to its representatives at Allied Force Headquarters and at Vatican City when the question first arose in March 1944.92 It was thought that it was also made clear to a representative of the British Embassy at that time. It was never this Government’s intention to prevent the Axis diplomats from exercising this option by obstructive tactics on the part of its representative at Vatican City. Consequently, Mr. Tittmann’s instructions merely informed him of our policy of permitting enemy diplomats the choice of entering Vatican City or of returning home.

As the Embassy is aware, the United Nations diplomats who have been residing in Vatican City for the past several years have been there as the guest of the Pope. When the President’s representative and the Secretary of War were received by His Holiness on July 6, the latter requested that Mr. Tittmann relieve the situation by giving up his quarters in Vatican City. Mr. Tittmann promply complied with the request of His Holiness which he was not in a position to ignore, having already found suitable quarters for himself and his family outside Vatican City.93

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The Department has informed Mr. Tittmann that it approves of his action in this regard.94

  1. Handed to George Middleton, Second Secretary of the British Embassy, on July 27, 1944.
  2. See footnote 85, p. 1324.
  3. See telegram 659, March 2, 9 p.m., to Algiers, p. 1315.
  4. In telegram 234, July 14, 1944 (not printed), Mr. Taylor notified the Secretary of State that the influx into Rome of Italian and Allied Government offices and personnel created serious housing problems. The Vatican office had been moved into an unused portion of the Embassy and both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Tittmann had found apartments in the city.
  5. By telegram 14, July 22, 1944, 10 p.m., to the Representative on the Advisory Council for Italy (Kirk), not printed.