740.00119 European War 1939/4–2645: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

1053. I am in receipt of a note verbale from the Italian Foreign Office submitting that Italy has the right, along with other belligerents, to indemnification in the reparations account against Germany for damages which the Germans have caused to Italian economy. As a corollary, the note proposes that Italian Technical Commissions for identifying Italian assets carried away by the Germans and arranging for their return be admitted to the Allied bodies which will follow the Allied occupying forces in Germany, and that Italian representatives be admitted to the reparations commission to assemble at Moscow. In paraphrase, the substance of the note verbale, which the Foreign Office asks me to support to my Government, is as follows:

Begin paraphrase. In anticipation of the early cessation of hostilities with Germany and the consequent occupation of German territories, the Royal Ministry calls the following to the attention of the United States Embassy:

In direct dependence upon the state of war with Germany, the Italian economy has suffered a vast amount of damage, comprising [Page 1255] (a) destruction of equipment belonging directly to the state (highways, ports, railways, public building, public service plants, et cetera); (b) total or partial destruction of private productive plants (electric centrals, industrial plants, stocks of raw materials, crops, livestock); and (c) indirect damages (costs of German occupation, paralysis of production in many fields of activity in consequence of the military occupation, and vast dislocations of industries effected by the German authorities for military purposes, et cetera.) The dependence of this immense total of damage on the juridical state of war is undeniable, nor can it be denied that Italy with the same right as pertains to any other belligerent, is entitled to suitable indemnification in the reparations account.
A further consideration is that the German military authorities forcibly carried away from Italy vast quantities of productive assets (machinery, plants, railway equipment, raw materials, et cetera) which in large part have been used or incorporated in fixed plants on German territory; in addition, during the summer of 1944 the German Government ordered the German-occupying military authorities to compel individuals and private bodies to make private agreements for transporting many machines to Germany to complete and reinforce plants in that country. On the basis of these agreements, the ownership of such machines was to remain with the Italian industries which made them available, as it was contemplated that the material in question would be restored to Italy at the end of the war. The Royal Government considers that it has the right to demand the restitution of all such material and productive assets in so far as they may be found, so that it may arrange for returning them to their rightful owners. In the event that their recovery is not possible, the Royal Government considers that they should be included in the account for war damages to be charged to Germany.
While reserving the right to supply all possible data to prove the extension of damages suffered by Italian economy and imputable to the German Government, and to demonstrate the foundation of single claims; and while reaffirming its demands for the restitution of the gold of the Bank of Italy and works of art, which previously have been made the subject of separate communications, the Royal Government holds it to be its duty to make the fullest reservation now of the rights of the injured individuals and bodies, and requests that the Allied governments recognize: Its power to exercise its rights for suitable indemnification in the reparations account, the right to restitution of assets carried away, or failing this, the right to share in a proportionate eventual distribution of the German productive equipment; and that the Allied Governments consent to the direct admission of Italian Technical Commissions in the Allied bodies which will follow the forces of occupation in Germany, so that they may proceed to the recognition and consequent recovery of all machinery, materials and property of any kind which have been carried away; and the direct admission of Italian representatives in the Reparations Commission which, pursuant to the Yalta Conference, is shortly to meet at Moscow.
It is the hope of the Royal Ministry that the Embassy of the United States, constituting itself an interpreter of the foundation for the foregoing requests, will support them to its government, and awaits knowledge of the latter’s views in the matter. End paraphrase

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In view of the broad issues included, I should appreciate being instructed as to what reply I should make to the Foreign Office.