The Representative on the
Allied Commission on Reparations (
to the President
Memorandum to the President
It is important that we get a definite picture of what Generalissimo Stalin had in his mind yesterday when he raised the question of securing reparations from Italy.1[Page 1088]
As you know, Italy is going to be dependent on the United States for its sheer existence during the coming winter. The economic situation there verges on a state of almost complete economic disorganization. I understand that our Army representatives on the scene have estimated that the United States would have to ship approximately 750 million dollars worth of food and other materials into Italy in order to tide the country over until next spring. Investigations made by FEA place the figure at over a billion dollars, while the State Department estimates it to be no less than 500 million.
Under these circumstances, it is quite evident that we can look for very little in the form of reparations from Italy. Indeed, in the final analysis, any reparations coining from there would in fact be a contribution from the taxpayers of the United States. We certainly cannot permit materials and equipment to be taken out as reparations when at the same time we are pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the Italian people alive.
In order to clarify this issue fully, I am taking the liberty of suggesting that you ask the Generalissimo just what he has in mind when he talks about “reparations from Italy”. You might wish to ask him to be specific as to what he expects to take out and how large a sum he has in mind.