Bohlen Collection

President Roosevelt to Prime Minister Churchill

Dear Winston: You have expressed some concern with regard to our different viewpoints concerning the policy to be pursued about Italy. I am happy to tell you that Mr. Matthews on behalf of the Department of State went over the ground on this matter with Alec Cadogan yesterday afternoon. As a result of their conversation, Matthews reports that although there are naturally some differences in emphasis in our respective viewpoints, there seems to be no basic reason for any quarrel between us. I find that we are both in accord with the important fact that whatever the Italian attitude and action have been in the past few years, we are faced with a real problem of the future. Italy is and will remain an important factor in Europe whatever we may think of the prospect. It is surely in our joint interest for us to do whatever we properly can to foster her gradual recuperation by developing a return to normal democratic processes, the development of a sense of her own responsibilities and the other steps so necessary in preparing the long hard road of Italy’s return to the community of peace-loving democratic states. To this end I believe we are both agreed that we must give her both spiritual and material food. I am impressed with the dangers for us both in Italy’s present condition of semi-servitude and of the fact that those who fish in troubled waters will be the only ones to gain from her present conditions approaching despair. I know that our soldiers share this view and feel that there is definite inherent danger in the situation to our joint military operations.

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I believe that some constructive steps should be taken to move away from the present anomalous situation of onerous and obsolete surrender terms which are no longer pertinent to the situation today. I hope the Foreign Office and the State Department will be able to work out some mutually satisfactory procedure to remedy this situation. As you know, we accepted the Combined Chiefs of Staff’s directive to General Alexander along the lines suggested by Mr. MacMillan [ Macmillan ].1 Although we felt that the directive was greatly watered down and much of its substance lost, we went along with you in the hope that we may reach some agreement on further steps in the near future.

At any rate, I want you to know that we are determined to pull together with you in Italy as we are in other areas, and that we believe that by full and continuous consultation and goodwill on both sides there is no danger of any serious split between us on this important question.

Most sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt
  1. Not printed.