Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, Volume I
740.00119 Control (Italy)/6–2745
The Ambassador in Italy
(Kirk) to the Secretary of State
Subject: Future Allied Policy Toward Italy.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for the information of the Department a copy of a report prepared in the Allied Commission for the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theatre, on the subject of the future Allied policy toward Italy and to suggest that it be read in connection with the reports from this Embassy1 on the matter of the substitution of a simple interim arrangement for the present armistice regime in Italy and the establishment of a Tripartite Economic Advisory Council.
The Chief Commissioner of the Allied Commission (Stone) to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean (Alexander)
Subject: Future Policy Toward Italy.
- Italy is at the parting of the ways. Defeated in 1943, she has been fought over and occupied by Allies or Germans for two years; she has suffered civil war in the North where partisans have fought Fascists, and Republican troops have been in battle against the new Italian Army. She is split into eight conflicting political parties with membership of less than 10 per cent of the population and no outstanding leader has come to the fore; she has had five Governments since September 1943; a million of her men have been in exile either as slave labor or as prisoners of war; more than half a million [Page 689] of her people have suffered dislocation of home; her financial position is precarious; her economy has been totally disrupted; she has no merchant fleet and few foreign markets; without coal and raw materials she faces unemployment amounting to several millions; the country is full of arms illegally held. Like other European countries devastated by the war, the ground in Italy is fertile for the rapid growth of the seeds of an anarchical movement fostered by Moscow to bring Italy within the sphere of Russian influence. Already there are signs that, if present conditions long continue, Communism will triumph—possibly by force.
- Communistic growth cannot be blocked by restrictive or repressive measures. Since the conditions which engender it are both material and moral, the only hope of restraining it in Italy is to ameliorate these conditions—to assist Italy economically, and to lift her morale by admitting her to a position of respectability in the family of nations.
- It can be argued that the expiation of Italy’s crime of 1940 must rightly be prolonged: indeed, her defeat and the course of battle since 1943 have tended to ensure that. Circumstances, if not the will of the United Nations, will see to it that she will not revert again to the artificial position of a great power which Mussolini’s regime achieved. But already her people have shown, by their profession and acts of co-belligerency with the Allies, not only in the armed forces of the post-armistice Italian Government, but among the Partisans in the North, that they are willing to abandon totalitarianism and work for the same freedoms as the Allies who liberated them. The great majority of Italians desire to see a democratic Italy. They will only permit Communism to take hold because of fear—since that party is the best organized and best armed in the country—or because of apathy arising from a generation of nonparticipation in democratic political life, the shame of defeat, and the results of privation. Their efforts to attain democracy may be ineffective compared with others: they may appear self centered, and, like many liberated peoples, show scant gratitude to their liberators. But unless they receive help and guidance from the democracies, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, they will inevitably turn to the USSR and join the group of “police” states, united by Communism, which is extending westward from Russia.
- It is in the material interests of the United States and Great Britain to prevent this. Nor can the historical and moral issues be disregarded. American and British influence, military, political and economic, have been predominant in Italy for nearly two years. They have brought freedom from the common enemy; they have ensured freedom from hunger; they have not yet provided freedom [Page 690] from fear. Posterity would judge harshly if the endeavors of two great democratic states were to result in the institution of a second dictatorship in the first European country to be liberated from Fascism and Nazism.
- An expression of positive policy towards Italy by the US and UK Governments is necessary. The policy should be one which, by restoring confidence in herself and in the Allies, will assist Italy towards recovery as a healthy nation politically and economically. Moreover, it is in the interests of the Allies to make use of Italy. She is geographically important in any strategic plans for regional security in the Mediterranean. She owned a naval fleet (which still exists) which, if properly employed, would be an important addition to regional security. She has a small army which, reorganized under Allied guidance, has won merit and would improve greatly under further Allied help. The industries in Northern Italy lack only raw materials and coal to be employed immediately for Allied war production and to supplement in the Mediterranean the commodities necessary for the clothing and rehabilitation of Europe.
- But a change in relationship between the three nations must be effected. Having “worked her passage”, Italy must be allowed to emerge from defeat through co-belligerency to the position of an active partner, however lowly, in the maintenance of post-war security. If she is to serve as a bastion of democracy in Southern Europe, such a recovery is essential and must be encouraged.
- The implementation of this policy would require
certain positive steps, assurances, and conditions.
These might be included in the agreement between the
Allies and Italy
which would formally terminate the state of hostilities
and replace the Terms of Surrender as a prelude to her
joining the United Nations now or in the very near
future. The agreement might include, among others, the
- Italy to regain control of her naval fleet for employment under any regional security scheme which might be evolved for the Mediterranean.
- The fleet consists of 5 battleships, 9 cruisers, 11 fleet destroyers, 40 small craft and 28 submarines. Two of the battleships are now in the Bitter Lakes, three in Taranto. It is estimated that it would cost five hundred million lire each to make them fit for service. 13 Submarines are in Allied operations overseas. It would require a Navy of 50,000 to maintain the fleet without the battleships, and of 75,000 with them. Even having regard to the comparative ineffectiveness of the fleet, its physical presence would be an assurance towards regional security. But its retention would be a major contribution to Italian morale.
- The Italian Army to be maintained at a reasonable strength (say 200,000 or 250,000 men).
- In my memorandum 8251/180/EC of 7 June 19452 I have suggested the maintenance of the Italian Army at an interim strength of 140,000 men consisting of five combat groups and one reserve regiment (50,000), three internal security divisions for Sicily and Sardinia, and one internal security brigade for each of ten military regions (40,000), with the remainder to be control and administrative units. In addition, the present strength of 65,000 men of the Royal Carabinieri should be maintained. Such a strength would suffice so long as Allied troops, mentioned in subpara (f) below, remained, but should be increased as these are withdrawn.
- The Italian Air Force to be maintained at a token strength, or at present strength.
- It is presumed that no military air force will be maintained but it is suggested that sufficient aircraft be allocated to the Navy and Army for reconnaissance and spotting purposes. If, however, it were considered possible to permit an air force, then it is recommended that it be maintained at its present strength. Restoration of civil air transport domestically and in the Mediterranean should be encouraged.
- To enable her to fill her role as a “junior partner” in the maintenance of Mediterranean security, the Allies would agree to furnish a military mission to assist in the training and organization of the Italian land, sea, and air forces, similar to the pre-war military and naval missions provided by the United States for certain South American republics.
- Similarly, an Allied Police Mission to assist the Italian Government in the reorganization and training of the Police Forces of Italy could be offered.
- The introduction of an Allied Police Mission of high quality is essential. Although in two years of occupation the Allies have been compelled to employ the existing Italian Police Forces, they still lack the confidence of themselves, the public, or the Allies. With the difficulties of military occupation it may not have been possible to achieve this. It is essential, however, that immediate steps be taken to overhaul and possibly reconstitute the whole of the public security agencies in Italy, based on democratic principles.
- The retention in Italy of an Allied Military Force of five Divisions (excluding Allied Forces in Venezia Giulia) until such time as revitalized Italian civil and military services were in a position to ensure democratic security in Italy.
- The role of the Allied troops at all times would be as representatives of the democracies and it would be necessary to arrange for special [Page 692] instruction and even training to this end. Intervention in Italian affairs except in the gravest emergency would be avoided and the greatest care would be taken in the handling of such administrative problems as accommodation and requisitioning. The troops would be not so much forces of occupation in a defeated country but forces of assistance provided by the Allies in order to give confidence to the population and the Government: to strengthen merely by their presence the authority of the Italian machinery of law and order (but only in exceptional cases to supplant it) and to be used in a last resort to prevent the imposition of undemocratic methods by force.
- The establishment of an Allied economic organization (joint or separate) to assist Italy in correcting the basic defects of her former economy, in the procurement of raw materials and the rehabilitation of her commerce and industry; and
- The provision of an annual quota of coal sufficient to enable Italian industry to function.
- A prerequisite for a healthy Italy is the immediate provision of sufficient coal and raw materials to maintain a modicum of the industries of Italy at work and to prevent unemployment on such a vast scale that it must lead to disorder. Provision of raw materials and coal must be assured and equally the retention of an Allied economic organization (or separate U. S. and British missions) to ensure procurement and to advise the Italian Government on the proper use and distribution of such imports is essential. It would contain, of course, a financial section. Some such body as NAJEB or MESC is envisaged with strong Italian representation dependent from the Allied Commission, or its successor. Alternatively, separate U. S. and U. K. economic missions depending from the Embassies or the Governments could be provided. The economic problems of postwar Italy are immense and unless Allied assistance by means of imports and guidance is provided, all other measures to preserve the country may be discounted.
- The reassurance of credits in the U. S. and an increase in credits in the U. K. The latter might well take the form of financial assistance with regard to the import of coal.
- The replacement of the Allied Commission by a small Allied Mission to coordinate (d) to (h) above and to function as advisors to the Italian Government.
- Arrangements with respect to the Italian colonies to be considered with due regard to the interests of the inhabitants and to the assistance given by Italy as a co-belligerent and in no punitive sense.
- Little perhaps can be said for the return of any of her colonies to Italy. But if she were to achieve the position of an active partner in regional security in the Mediterranean then it might be possible to allow her, under the same regional agreement, to administer the colony [Page 693] of Tripolitania. She might also be permitted to be represented on any international body set up to administer Eritrea and Italian Somaliland.
- [sic] The first and last of these suggested conditions are of course the assurances that would create most satisfaction in Italy and restore the self respect of her people.
- A further safeguard to preserve Italy among the free nations of democracy, and indeed a duty of the Allies, is the education of the minds of the Italians towards a democratic way of life. Not enough has been done in this direction. We have established freedom of speech and of the press—but freedom without the self-imposed restraints of a democratically educated nation tends to become license. We have done much in the schools and universities. But the people, the Government, and the local authorities, after 20 years of Fascism, need advice on the interpretation of democracy. We cannot expect, nor should we try, to impose Anglo-American methods on a Latin country: but in the field of national and local government, of justice and police methods, of agriculture and labor, of electoral systems and social welfare, the Allies still have much to teach and the Italians much to learn. If the Italians are to become partners with the Allies they must be prepared to assimilate their national characteristics with the principles of democracy and take advice from the two democratic powers who are willing to help them materially.
- Much can be done in this way by institutions such as the British Council, the interchange of American cultural representatives, and by sympathetic treatment of Italian problems in the Allied press. The Military Mission and the Police Mission would represent direct forms of advice. The Allied Mission referred to in subpara 7(j) should contain a very small number of highly qualified men who, without semblance of control, would be accepted by the Italian Government and act to them as advisors in their task of setting up a democratic form of administration. Such men might be supplemented by special missions to advise on especial problems.
- The Allied Commission, therefore, should be succeeded
by an Allied Mission for the following purposes: Except
in Venezia Giulia, and possibly in the Southern Tyrolean
provinces, Allied Military Government should have
disappeared by September 1945. In order to ensure free
elections and a free referendum, it will be recommended
that a number of Allied officers, under the direction of
the Commission or its successor, remain in the
provinces, and a considerable number may be required in
connection with the rehabilitation of industry. But by
the end of 1945 both the redeployment of Allied troops,
except those recommended in para 7(f) above, and
the removal of Allied Commission officers in the field,
will probably have been completed. It is recommended
that the Head of the Mission with access to the [Page 694] United States
and British Governments should be charged with the
- As Chief Civil Affairs Officer, the administration of Venezia Giulia and any other areas under AMG.
- As Head of the Allied Mission:
- To coordinate the work of the military mission or missions.
- To supervise the Allied Police Mission.
- To supervise the Economic Board or to coordinate independent economic missions.
- To coordinate the work of the Displaced Persons and Refugees Sub-Commission with UNRRA, the Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees, and other organizations until such time as UNRRA took over all such functions.
- To supervise the work of the Enemy War Materials Disposal Sub-Commission.
- To interpret to the Italian Government the conditions of any agreement made, vide para 7, and to safeguard Allied interests under such an agreement.
- To provide liaison between Allied Military Commander or Commanders and the Italian Government.
- To sum up, in order to prevent Italy from leaning toward the USSR and succumbing to its influence, an expression of positive, non-vindictive policy by the US and UK Governments is necessary. This policy should make Italy a useful partner of the Allies in the Mediterranean and so create a healthy Italy. Important conditions are: the rebuilding of her morale by restoring to her the control of her fleet and a non-punitive policy with regard to her colonies; the retention of 5 divisions of Allied troops and the establishment of Allied Military and Police Missions to enable her to regain internal security under a democracy; and practical economic assistance. More must be done to encourage the education of the Italians towards the democratic way of life: the Allied Commission should be replaced by an Allied Mission.
- In short, neither a laissez-faire attitude toward Italy by the U. S. and the U. K. nor the imposition of a harsh peace is compatible with a policy of preserving Italy as a bastion of democracy in the Mediterranean area.