740.0011 PW/7–645

No. 468
Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State ( Grew )

Memorandum of Conversation

Subject: Declaration of War against Japan

Participants: Italian Ambassador, Signor Alberto Tarchiani;
Under Secretary, Mr. Grew

The Italian Ambassador called on me this morning and took up with me the following matters:

1. He left with me a letter addressed to the President enclosing a memorandum outlining the present position of Italy and her vital needs and aspirations. The Ambassador said that knowing how occupied the President must be at this particular moment he had not ventured to ask to see the President personally, and he had therefore sought me as an intermediary for delivering his letter. I said that I would with pleasure see that the letter gets into the hands of the President without delay.

. . . . . . .

J[oseph] C. G[rew]
[Attachment 3]2
The Italian Ambassador ( Tarchiani ) to President Truman

Mr. President: On the eve of your eventful voyage to Berlin, allow me to express to you the fervid wishes of the Italian people, and to invite your attention to the enclosed memorandum in which the present position of Italy and her vital needs and aspirations are outlined.

My country places its confidence in the human friendship of America and in the clear sense of justice of her President.

Faithfully yours,

Alberto Tarchiani
[Page 696]
The Italian Ambassador ( Tarchiani ) to President Truman

Memorandum for Mr. Truman President of the U. S. A. on the Position, Wishes and Hopes of Italy

1. Twenty-two months ago, on September 3, 1943, the Armistice3 was signed between Italy and the United Nations, putting an end to a war in which the Italian people were thrust against their will by Fascist dictatorship and which they always disapproved and opposed.

Such Armistice, the duration of which has no precedent in our times, is still in force today in spite of the fact that Italy has not remained inactive, but has on the contrary enthusiastically joined, since October 13, 1943, the cause of the Allied Nations, taking full part in the common struggle against the enemy.

During twenty months of co-belligerency, Italy has fought at the side of the Allies, with her whole fleet, the forces of her regular army, her air corps, and with more than two-hundred thousand patriots. In the northern provinces under German tyranny, the Italian people have also bravely taken part in the struggle with their active and organized underground forces, contributing in bringing to a speedy and successful end the fight for liberty and democracy on Italian soil.

All through these months of common struggle Italy has endured miseries and sacrifices and suffered tremendous ruins which have brought destruction to a great part of the country.

Several months ago Italy indicated also her willingness to take part with her military means in the war against the Japanese aggressor. The newly formed Italian Government, following the recent American communication,4 is preparing the ways and means of an effective intervention.

2. Italy has thus proved her continued good faith as a democratic nation; she has fought and is prepared to fight for the common cause and has repeatedly shown her determination to practice the principles of international friendship and cooperation. Yet today, as it is well known, Italy finds herself in the most tragic plight: millions of citizens are homeless, displaced persons within and beyond her borders are innumerable, her entire economic and financial structure is disrupted, millions of workers are faced with unemployment. The provisions set up in the Armistice of twenty-two months ago are still in force and this humiliating position deprives the people and the Government of Italy of the possibility of thoroughly normalizing the life of the country.

[Page 697]

The Italian people are expecting now from the Allies the acknowledgement of their right to an honorable peace that should raise them from the present situation to a normal status of a well-meaning and well-doing nation. The Italian nation is confident that the United States, which have already given so much evidence of their friendship and comprehension towards her, may take such an initiative which might put an end to her present plight, and the advantageous consequences of which would not be in Italy’s favor alone.

3. Italy has a natural geographic frontier that history and civilization have preserved. She wants to be at peace and on the most friendly terms with all her neighbors.

With France Italy has frontiers, based upon sound ethnical and geographic principles, which were fixed by mutual agreement between the two countries in 1860 and upon which, for eighty-four years, never was there any claim on the French part. Italy has recently given evidence of her good will and friendship for France by settling through direct negotiations the only problem existing between the two countries. In fact, although Tunisia was inhabited for nearly three ninths of the population [sic] by Italians, Italy has made the substantial sacrifice of giving up all her rights recognized by previous agreements since 1881.5 The Italian people feel, therefore, that no territorial questions may exist between the two countries.
Italy has already declared to be ready to negotiate an honorable and equitable agreement for Venezia Giulia with the Yugoslavs, if her vital national interests are safe where, for more than twenty centuries, a majority of Italians have lived, many hundreds of years prior to the appearance of Slavs in those regions.
If to preserve peace in Europe and the amicable cohabitation of the two populations some compromise would prove absolutely necessary, it is fair and equitable that sacrifices be made by both sides and not only by the Italians: it cannot be forgotten that Fiume and Zara and other areas, at present occupied by the Yugoslavs, are entirely or prevalently inhabited by Italians.
The Brenner frontier line is the natural geographic and strategic border between the Italians and the Germans. There was a German minority within the Italian borders: not long ago they were given the opportunity of choosing between remaining in Italy or emigrating to Germany. In fact, a part of them decided to leave and [Page 698] went to the Nazi Reich, while a substantial share of the alien population freely determined to stay within the Italian nation.6
. . . . . . .

5. As far as the Greeks are concerned, the Dodecanese question—instead of a cause of enmity—may become a link of friendship and understanding between the Italian and the Greek nations, which have no reason for hate or serious conflicting interests.

6. At Tangier Italy has a place among the Powers entitled to preserve the Mediterranean status quo. Such a position constitutes for Italy a bond with all the participating nations and with those which will subsequently join the agreement, in the interest of furthering the internationalization of the zone, as it is heralded by the United States.

7. In the painful period of transition between an upsetting war and a reorganized state of peace, Italy has to face the problems of her economic reconstruction, the gravity of which has already been a matter of consideration on the part of the United States Government.

With the purpose of furthering her economic reconstruction Italy, which is a maritime country, needs to have the possibility of gathering a small merchant fleet for her essential transports.

Italy needs to resume free trade with every allied and neutral country; but a fruitful and fairly balanced partnership could be easily organized between American powerful means and Italian reorganized capacity of skill and labor. Being in dire need of economic assistance, Italy obviously will not be in a position of paying reparations.

To help Italy in the process of reconstruction she must be reinstated in what was stolen from her and particularly the very inadequate stock of gold of the Bank of Italy, the machinery depredated from factories and plants, the works of art—of state and private ownership—of which she has been despoiled.

8. Italian prisoners of war, still detained by the Allies, and particularly those who have so well contributed by their work to the common cause, should be immediately liberated and repatriated by a generous act of humanity and fair play.

The Italian people firmly trust that President Truman and the men who have in their hands the destiny of Italy, will consider with sound wisdom and enlightened comprehension the tragedy that she [Page 699] has lived and suffered, her effort toward a quick material and political rehabilitation, her immense contribution to the civilization which all nations enjoy, her strong will to become again, and soon, a distinct active element of equilibrium and progress in a better world.

If all these well-founded reasons are taken in due consideration, the supreme aspiration of Italy for an equitable recognition and an honorable and just peace will certainly be fulfilled.

  1. For the paragraph of this memorandum not printed here, see document No. 236.
  2. Printed from a carbon copy with a typed signature which appears to have accompanied the original and to have been detached for the files of the Department of State. For attachments 1 and 2, see document No. 236.
  3. Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604; 61 Stat. (3) 2740.
  4. See document No. 236, footnote 4.
  5. The reference is apparently to the Treaty of Bardo of May 12, 1881 (text in British and Foreign State Papers, vol. lxxii, p. 247), to which only France and Tunis were parties, imposing a French protectorate in Tunis. It was not until September 28, 1896, that France and Italy signed three conventions at Paris (see ibid., vol. lxxxviii, p. 717) guaranteeing French recognition of the rights of Italians in Tunis in exchange for Italian recognition of the French protectorate.
  6. For the paragraph omitted at this point, see document No. 249.