865.00/4–1145: Telegram

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

941. The following is a paraphrase of a memorandum which the Chief Commissioner24 Allied Commission is sending today to AFHQ [Page 964] regarding a conversation with De Gasperi on the institutional question (see also my 936 April 11 5 p.m.25):

The Minister for Foreign Affairs De Gasperi came to see me the afternoon of April 9 to discuss various matters, the most important of which was Togliatti’s26 recent move to reopen at this time the institutional question. Togliatti, according to De Gasperi, contended that the commitment given June 18, 194427 by the First Bonomi28 Government ended with the liberation of northern Italy. Bonomi and De Gasperi argued that the institutional question could not be reopened “until such time as Italy has been liberated and the Italian people have the opportunity of themselves determining the form of Government”, in accordance with the language of the commitment.

The Foreign Minister apparently was not aware that the Prime Minister had renewed this commitment on December 10, 1944 at the time his second government was formed. Moreover, Bonomi on April 6 informed me that he had been unable to find his own file copy of the commitment of December 10 and requested me to send him a copy. This I have done. De Gasperi inquired if the Allies were disposed to agree with the contention of Togliatti that the institutional question could be reopened as soon as the north had been liberated. I replied that the language of the June 18 commitment was unequivocal and was not limited purely to the question of liberation, that the government had committed itself to that language both in June and again in December, and that I did not see how the question was debatable.

When I inquired concerning the nature of the change in the present institutional setup advocated by Togliatti, De Gasperi said that Togliatti was proposing a three man regency for the throne and the abolition of the position of Luogotenente. 29 None of the regents would be of royal blood, but would be three outstanding figures, of whom Croce30 and Sforza31 might be two. Togliatti argues that the position of Luogotenente is inconsistent with the commitment not to reopen the institutional question, stating that the functioning of the Prince as Luogotenente was constantly reopening the institutional question.

I reminded the Minister that the commitment of the First Bonomi Government had been given just 5 days after the appointment of the Prince as Luogotenente and therefore the undertaking “not to reopen the institutional question” would appear to mean the continuation of that particular solution of the monarchial question which had just been placed in effect.

De Gasperi asked me informally what were my personal views as to the reaction of the Allied Governments if the Italian Government should ask permission to reopen the institutional question immediately [Page 965] upon the liberation of the north and before the Italian people had any “opportunity of themselves determining the form of government”. I told him that my personal and private opinion was that I imagined that the British Government would oppose any modification of the existing institutional commitment, that the Russian Government might well be favorable (it did not seem to me that Togliatti would be pressing this subject if Moscow did not approve) and that as to the views of the Government of the United States I was unable to hazard a guess. End paraphrase.

To this memorandum the Chief Commissioner has added the following comment:

Begin paraphrase: The Russian Government, through Togliatti, might possibly be preparing the ground for requesting a consultation with the British and United States Governments on Italy, in accordance with the Crimean agreement for consultations on liberated countries,32 to offset the Rumanian and Polish situations. There is evidence of Communist concern arising from the recent increasingly favorable receptions which the Luogotenente has had from Italian patriots, regular troops and civilians both at the front and in rear areas. At Taranto, where he was warmly received by the recently repatriated Garibaldi division, this was particularly noticeable. Strong support of the monarchy and marked anti-Communist feelings here shown by the soldiers of the Garibaldi division. End paraphrase.

  1. Adm. Ellery W. Stone, United States Navy.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Palmiro Togliatti, Italian Minister without Portfolio.
  4. See telegram 234, June 18, 1944, from Naples, Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iii, p. 1135.
  5. Ivanoe Bonomi.
  6. Luogotenente generale del regno (Lieutenant General of the Realm).
  7. Benedetto Oroce, Italian Minister without Portfolio.
  8. Carlo Sforza, Italian Minister without Portfolio and formerly Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  9. See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 971973.