740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 464
Briefing Book Paper1
top secret


(a) Redefinition of Policy and Interests in Italy

Our objective is to strengthen Italy economically and politically so that she can withstand the forces that threaten to sweep her into a new totalitarianism. Those forces are: economic distress; national humiliation; uncertainty regarding British intentions toward Italy and American readiness effectively to implement friendly policy; the power and will of the USSR as typified in Tito’s nearly successful move in Venezia Giulia;2 internal political confusion and a well organized Communist party; the absence of any machinery for, and indeed any real experience of, democratic government; the knowledge that American troops are being withdrawn and with them the assurance of disinterested protection.

Italian sympathies naturally and traditionally lie with the western democracies; with proper support from them Italy would tend to become a factor for balance in Europe. Her strategic position and economic ties with the Danubian countries would probably make it impossible for her ever to become a purely British sphere of influence, even were that desirable. She would naturally tend toward a balance between east and west, and to encourage such a balance would be wise. With reasonable economic well-being, sound government, and fair treatment by the victorious powers a violent ideological swing to right or left could be discounted. A moderate left movement is not only inevitable but should be encouraged so as to give scope to the essentially sound peasant and laboring classes and in order to avoid exasperating by vain opposition a natural trend.

[Page 682]

If the western Allies are to achieve these objectives they must take immediate steps to improve Italy’s economic and political situation. These steps, covered in separate memoranda,3 fall into two categories:

Urgent economic assistance to enable Italy to stand on her own feet again. This assistance falls into three main categories: transportation, coal, and raw materials.
Political action to raise Italian morale, make an authoritative government possible, and permit Italy to become a responsible participant in international affairs rather than the ward or the victim of the victorious powers.

(b) Revision of the Surrender Terms

The anomalous status of cobelligerent and unconditionally surrendered enemy hampers every effort both by the Allies, and by Italy herself, to improve Italy’s economic and political situation. Any plan to provide credits for essential Italian imports will involve discussions of Italy’s status in Congress and Parliament. No Italian Government can establish its authority and prestige at home as long as it is bound by the still secret terms of unconditional surrender. Every move to bring Italy back into the family of nations is opposed on the ground that she is an ex-enemy. This anomaly can be finally solved only through the negotiation of a definitive peace treaty, which would at best require some months. Meanwhile, however, the Italian internal situation and our own efforts would be greatly facilitated by some immediate interim arrangement whereby the agencies of the Allied Governments would have a clear cut policy directive and the Italian Government would have tangible recognition of Italy’s substantial contribution toward the defeat of Germany.

Only on a military level, without necessity for approval by all our allies or reference to treaty-making bodies, does an interim arrangement seem immediately feasible. Revision of the surrender terms is suggested for that reason and also because of mounting pressure for their publication. Publication, unless accompanied by announced improvement in Italy’s status, would have a demoralizing effect inside Italy, would lead to agitation by groups in this country, and might well be exploited against us by certain foreign powers.

It is therefore recommended that the short terms4 and the numerous obsolete clauses of the long terms of surrender5 be terminated and replaced by two simply worded undertakings on the part of the Italian Government in substance as follows: [Page 683]

The Italian Government will refrain from any hostile action against any of the United Nations pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace.
The Italian Government will maintain no military, naval, or air forces or equipment except as authorized by the United Nations and will comply with all instructions issued by the United Nations on the subject of such forces and equipment.

Allied rights as occupying powers would be terminated except in the areas to be occupied indefinitely (disputed border areas, certain bases, lines of communication, and the colonies). They would be replaced by specific arrangements covering our requirements for redeployment, for maintenance of forces in AMG territory, and for safeguarding our lines of communications to Germany and Austria.

Allied rights to intervention in purely internal Italian political and economic affairs would also be terminated. Control of foreign trade and foreign financial transactions should likewise be terminated.

There would be retained such provisions as those obligating Italy to pay reparations and restore looted property, suppress fascist organizations, repeal discriminatory laws, and surrender war criminals. Clauses which provide a basis for our position regarding war booty and occupation costs, which are matters of final settlement, would also be retained.

The new agreement would become effective simultaneously with the withdrawal of AMG from Northern Italy and would be made public together with the long terms. The Allied Commission would continue to represent the Allies in regard to Italian compliance with the new agreement.

Any undertaking which it might be desirable to obtain from Italy in the immediate future should be secured in connection with the modification of the armistice. It will, for example, probably be useful to obtain assurances of cooperation in the wartime economic controls of the Allies and an undertaking to accord non-discriminatory treatment to nationals, property, vessels, and commerce of all United Nations.

It is also recommended that at the same time the abolition of the Advisory Council6 should be announced. This body has performed no useful functions and recently, chiefly through the activities of the Yugoslav representative, has had a certain nuisance value. Its existence has moreover afforded the Yugoslavs and Greece representation in Italy without having to re-establish any form of diplomatic relations with the Italian Government. Should it be decided that further efforts to use the existence of the Advisory [Page 684] Council for Italy as an argument in obtaining adequate representation for ourselves and the British in Soviet-controlled territory are futile, the only remaining reason to maintain this body in Italy would disappear.

(c) Conclusion of a Definitive Peace Treaty with Italy

We have agreed with the British to consider negotiations for a definitive peace treaty, and both governments are formulating their desiderata.

Early negotiations are desirable, especially in view of the intention to withdraw our forces from Italy and of the necessity for putting an end to the question mark concerning Italy’s future. We must, however, avoid (a) hasty solutions dictated by animus toward an ex-enemy, territorial ambitions, or contingent political situations rather than by serious evaluation of the interests of future peace; and (b) a “dictated” as opposed to a “negotiated” peace by allowing the Italians themselves to come into the negotiations and present their case before every term has become crystallized through a process of discussion, disagreement, and ultimate irreducible compromise among the victorious powers, all of whom, except ourselves, will have booty of some sort to claim. Italian participation would remove any future pretext for Italian repudiation of the treaty on the argument that it was dictated.

We believe the treaty should be negotiated by the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, and Italy.

The negotiation of a final treaty, especially if it meets the above requirements, will be protracted. Therefore, we should proceed to a revision of the surrender terms as an immediately feasible and urgently needed interim step.

It is recommended that we seek the agreement of the Soviets and the British to place this matter on the Agenda of the first meeting of the proposed Foreign Ministers Council.

  1. Annex 6 to the attachment to document No. 177.
  2. See document No. 558.
  3. Not included in the Briefing Book. For one of the memoranda referred to, see document No. 466.
  4. i. e., the Conditions of an Armistice signed at Fairfield Camp, Sicily, September 3, 1943 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604; 61 Stat. (3) 2740).
  5. i. e., the Instrument of Surrender of Italy, signed at Malta, September 29, 1943 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604; 61 Stat. (3) 2742).
  6. Concerning the establishment of the Inter-Allied Advisory Council for Italy, see the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the Moscow Conference, October 30, 1943, printed in Department of State Bulletin, vol. ix, p. 307. See also The Memoirs of Cordell Hull (New York, 1948), vol. ii, pp. 12831284, 1551.