Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper

[United States Policy Toward Italy]

United States policy toward Italy is, briefly, to encourage the development of Italy into a democratic and constructive force in the future Europe and to assist Italy to become politically independent and economically self-supporting as quickly as possible. The steps which this Government has taken to date to implement these policies are recounted.

Major questions of policy which might be taken up with the British and Soviet Governments and their concurrence obtained are:

Supersession of the Italian instrument of surrender (long and short terms) by a convention to terminate the state of war between Italy and the United Nations;
Italian request for the participation in United Nations international bodies and conferences as an associated nation;
Italian participation, as an associated nation, in the German surrender instrument;
Italian Committee of National Liberation as a basis for representative government during the interim period;
Italian national elections, after the Germans have been expelled, to determine the form of government and constitution which the Italian people desire;
Italian participation in the war against Japan.

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Questions which the British or Soviet Governments may raise concerning Italy requiring this Government to take a position are as follows:

Allied support of the House of Savoy during the interim period;
Territorial dispositions and reparations;
Progress of defascistization in Italy;
Use of Allied forces to support the Italian Government in the event of civil war.

United States Policy Toward Italy

Summary of Present United States Policy

During a time when the United States has a peculiar position of authority in Italy, as a result of military operations, it is supporting and encouraging elements and aspirations which will develop the Italian nation into a democratic and constructive force in the future Europe. Since the economic dependence of one State upon another is not conducive to internal stability and peaceful relations with other, states, it is sound American policy to help Italy become self-supporting and financially independent as quickly as possible.

The United States does not accept the theory of economic and political “spheres of influence”. While, for geographic reasons, this country’s interest in Italy may not be as great as that of certain other powers, it has, nevertheless, very real interest in the development of normal and mutually profitable trade relations, in the protection of American property and investments in Italy and in insuring that Italy becomes a positive force for peace and cooperation in the postwar world. The blood sacrifices made by American men from Sicily to the Alps cannot be ignored in the determination of our interest in, and our policy toward, Italy.

To implement these policies, this Government has, in addition to the encouragement and support that has been given to develop a representative government in Italy, taken the following steps in the political field: it has assumed the lead in attempting to modify the prisoner of war status in which many Italian soldiers continue to be held in United Nations territory (as a result of this initiative it is believed that Italian prisoners of war in Italy will soon be released from that status); it suggested that we invite the Italian Government to send a representative to the Financial and Monetary Conference at Bretton Woods last year but was unable to carry out this proposal because of strong British and French opposition; it encouraged the International Business Conference held at Rye, New York, November last, to invite representatives of Italian business (a representative of the International Chamber of Commerce in Rome attended); it has instructed the United States delegate to the International Labor Organization to support the Italian application for readmission to the [Page 278] Organization at its meeting this month; it recently permitted a representative of the Italian Red Cross to come to the United States to study American Red Cross procedures in connection with relief work in Italy; and it agreed to receive an Italian economic and financial mission to discuss urgent questions in this field (these discussions are presently going on between the Italian Mission and experts in the Departments of State, Treasury and Agriculture and the Foreign Economic Administration). As a result of the Hyde Park statement of September 26 concerning Italy1 this Government, after consultation with other American Republics, announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with the Government of Italy. The word “control” has been removed from the title of the “Allied Control Commission”, and a civilian has been appointed as Acting President of the Commission. The Combined Civil Affairs Committee (Combined Chiefs of Staff) is at present preparing a directive to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, to modify the structure of the Allied Commission and its relationship to the Italian Government in the light of the Hyde Park statement.

On the economic side the United States Government participates in the Allied Commission, which among other things, provides for the distribution of civilian supplies in Italy. Since the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 the Allied military authorities had spent, up to November 1, 1944, approximately $158,000,000 for civilian supplies for Italy. The American share of this total has been approximately $120,000,000. In October 1944 the President informed the War Department that in spite of the current shipping situation he had decided to assume the responsibility for directing the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean, to increase the bread ration to 300 grams throughout all of Italy occupied by Allied forces (a directive to this end is being prepared in the Combined Civil Affairs Committee—Combined Chiefs of Staff—to Marshal Alexander). The President announced in October2 that the United States Government was making available to the Italian Government the dollar equivalent of the United States troop pay spent in Italy since the invasion, the dollar proceeds of remittances made by individuals in this country to friends and relatives in Italy and the dollar proceeds of Italian exports to the United States. This dollar credit which amounted to something more than $100,000,000 could be used by the Italian Government to pay for essential civilian supplies purchased in the United States for use in liberated Italy. It was due to United States initiative at the UNRRA Conference in September that the Council agreed to a limited aid program for Italy, not to exceed [Page 279] $50,000,000 worth of medicine and other supplies to supplement the Italian civilian supply program.

In appraising Allied economic policy toward Italy it must be remembered that the various relief measures and civilian supply programs are all subject to the present severe limitations placed upon United Nations’ shipping. In view of the heavy military commitments throughout the world, it has not been possible to allocate to the Mediterranean theatre sufficient shipping to carry the civilian supplies available. While United States declarations of policy in the economic field have consistently shown an enlightened view, the implementation of this policy continues to be severely handicapped by the actual physical factors of acute worldwide shipping shortage.

Major Questions of Policy on which Soviet and British Concurrence is Desired

1. Supersession of Italian Armistice Terms by Convention to Terminate State of War.3 The present discussions in the Combined Civil Affairs Committee concerning the implementation of the Hyde Park declaration of September 26 involve a United States proposal that the present Italian armistice terms be superseded by a convention to terminate the state of war existing between Italy and the United Nations (preliminary peace) and by a Civil Affairs agreement to protect the Allied military position in Italy. Indications are that the British members will be instructed to reject this proposal.

The basic ambiguity in the present relations between Italy and the United Nations stems principally from the technical state of war which still exists and the de facto relations of Italy with the United Nations as a co-belligerent in the war against Germany. Italy’s status as a co-belligerent is obviously incompatible and inconsistent with its status as an enemy. Elimination of the armistice and of the status of “enemy” would bring the legal relationship of the United Nations to Italy into line with the present practical working relationship that has developed in the last fifteen months. Because there are many questions, such as colonies, frontiers, fleet, reparations, et cetera, which should be considered in the general peace settlement with Germany and Japan, it is not possible to conclude a definitive peace with Italy at the present time. All of these questions could, however, be specifically reserved for later settlement. Sixteen months having elapsed since the end of hostilities with Italy, it is clear that the unconditional surrender instrument and enemy status are outmoded and that adjustment of our legal position should be no longer delayed. The Supreme Allied Commander would of course embody within his Civil Affairs agreement with the Italian Government all military clauses required to protect his operations.

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2. Italian Request for Participation in United Nations International Bodies and Conferences as an Associated Nation. One of the steps which the Italian Government considers most important in its moral and political rehabilitation is participation in international conferences and organizations, particularly those dealing with post-war problems. It is therefore desirable that the Italians should not be isolated from the current United Nations’ thinking and discussions as expressed in the new bodies and organizations which are being set up. The Secretary of State last August expressed to the Italian Prime Minister this Government’s sympathy and support for the Italian Government’s aspirations in this regard. Sympathetic consideration of the Italian position on this question by all the United Nations is essential if Italy is to become a constructive force in Europe.

3. Italian Participation in the German Surrender as an Associated Nation. Italy has been at war with Germany for fifteen months. During that period it has suffered heavy destruction of lives and resources. Italy is naturally interested in the armistice arrangements for Germany and the whole problem of the Italian position is involved in whether or not Italy will be permitted by the United Nations to participate in their armistice arrangements for Germany. We think that Italian views should be considered and Italy should be permitted to associate herself with the United Nations armistice with Germany at the time of the German surrender.

4. Italian Committee of National Liberation as Basis for Representative Government during Interim Period. The Italian Committee of National Liberation is composed of six anti-Fascist political parties ranging from right to left as follows: Christian Democrat, Liberal, Labor Democrat, Action, Socialist and Communist. Since the first broad-based Italian Government was formed under Marshal Badoglio in April, last year, Italian governments have been drawn from representatives of the six parties in the Committee. There are also Committees of National Liberation, with what appear to be identical political composition, in the important cities of Northern Italy, still occupied by the enemy. As long as Italian governments, regardless of changing personnel, continue to be based upon the foundation of the Committee and to reflect in a generally equal manner the political parties represented therein, Allied basis for recognition will continue to be sound.

It would be a stabilizing factor, during the interim period before Italy is free to hold national elections, if the three principal Allies would agree that they would continue to recognize only those governments in Italy which continue to be representative of the parties in the Committee of National Liberation.

5. Italian National Elections, after the Germans have been Expelled, to Determine Form of Government and Constitution. In view of [Page 281] American, British and Soviet commitments to the Italian people on this subject, expressed in various public statements, Allied troops should not be withdrawn from Italy until after national elections have been held to determine the form of government and constitution desired by the Italian people. It would seem essential to the fulfillment of our pledge in this regard, that Allied representatives supervise the first national election in Italy after its liberation.

6. Italian Participation in the War against Japan. The present Italian position of co-belligerency was recognized by the three powers on October 13, 1943, as a result of the Italian declaration of war against Germany.4 The Italian Government has not declared war against Japan nor has it made its position clear to the United Nations on this question.

In the first instance the United Nations must decide whether they desire Italian participation in the war against Japan. If so, Allied authorities in Italy should be instructed to take steps to obtain undertakings of the Italian Government to this effect.

Italy should not be expected to participate in the war against Japan unless her status vis-à-vis the United Nations is clarified. She should be recognized as an Ally in that struggle or be permitted to adhere to the United Nations pact.

Italy might be used as a “Mediterranean work shop” in the prosecution of the war against Japan, after Germany has been defeated, in view of its many large ports and surplus skilled laborers. Consideration should be given to paying Italy for goods furnished and services rendered in the war against Japan, as distinct from goods and services it is now furnishing, in the prosecution of the war against Germany, under the armistice terms. Aside from any Italian contribution to the war in the Pacific such a program would prove a timely factor in Italian economic rehabilitation.

Questions which may be Raised by the British or the Soviet Governments concerning Italy

1. Support of the House of Savoy. At the present time the Allied Commission for Italy has followed the custom of extracting from each succeeding Italian government a pledge that it will not raise the institutional question (monarchy) until all of Italy has been liberated. Thus far the various Italian governments have given this undertaking without question, since this is also the present program of the Italian Committee of National Liberation. While it is to be hoped that the question will not become an issue as eventual succeeding governments may be formed prior to the first national elections, the liberation of the northern industrial areas such as Milan and Turin might well precipitate the monarchical question before all Italy is liberated.

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If the subject is raised by one of our Allies we should not agree at this time to any course of action which would bind us to support the Italian Monarchy in the event the present compromise and working agreement between the Monarchy and the political parties should become unacceptable to the latter. We should reserve complete freedom of action, subject of course always to consultation with the British and Soviet Governments and without prejudice to our pledge that ultimately all the Italians will be able to express their will on the issue.

2. Territorial Dispositions and Reparations. Should the question be raised, we should not agree directly or indirectly at this time to final disposition of any Italian territories, colonies or fleet, or to boundary rectifications or final claims against Italian assets or to any interim arrangements prejudicing the final settlement. It is considered desirable to reserve all of these questions for the general peace settlement at which time all the United Nations will be in a better position to judge Italy’s contribution to their war effort.

3. Progress of Defascistization in Italy. The threat of the purge continues to be a paralyzing factor in Italian public life, affecting even the police force and army. The recent crisis was largely due to disagreement over the purge, Bonomi refusing to accede to Communist demands for control of the program. The conflict between those who desire to place the purge in non-partisan judiciary hands and those who wish to retain political control continues.

The Moscow Declaration called for the removal of “all Fascist or pro-Fascist elements …5 from the administration and from institutions and organizations of a public character.”6 It was recognized that as long as active military operations continued, the time of application of the various principles contained in the declaration would be determined by the Commander-in-Chief under directives from the Combined Chiefs of Staff. We should like to see the purge program completed quickly but with absolute impartiality. Defascistization should not become the political instrument of any group to the detriment of the war effort and of Italian recovery. A further Allied declaration on defascistization at this time would probably aggravate an already serious situation.

4. Use of Allied Forces to Support Italian Government in Event of Civil War. This Government should support, by force if necessary, any truly representative Italian Government during such period as Italy continues to be a theatre of combined Anglo-American military responsibility.

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It may be assumed that any Italian Government in office would possess the representative requisites which the Allied Governments would have considered essential before according it recognition in the first instance. Nevertheless we should reexamine the composition of any government carefully, from the standpoint of its representative character, in the event of crisis requiring Allied armed assistance to support its authority. Our best measure would be the Italian Committee of National Liberation.

  1. For the text, see Department of State Bulletin, October 1, 1944, vol. xi. p. 338.
  2. For the text of this statement by the President, which was released October 10, 1944, see Department of State Bulletin, October 15, 1944, vol. xi, p. 403.
  3. For the text of the Italian armistice, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604, or 61 Stat. 2740.
  4. See Department of State Bulletin, October 16, 1943, vol. ix, pp. 253–254.
  5. Points appear in the original.
  6. For the text of the Moscow Declaration Regarding Italy (November 1, 1943), see Decade, pp. 12–13.