740.00119 EW1939/1–2345

Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Southern European Affairs (Jones) for the Secretary of State

The British Government first presented a proposal for a preliminary peace with Italy about eight months ago.72 It suggested that we obtain the concurrence of the Soviet Government and then inform the [Page 994] other United Nations of our intentions in this regard. Questions such as frontiers and colonies were to be reserved for the peace settlement. The United States Government concurred in the British proposal. After receiving our reply, however, the British failed to pursue their plan.

The Combined Civil Affairs Committee has recently been considering the views of Mr. Macmillan73 with respect to a reorientation of the Allied Commission for Italy. The American members of CCAC took this opportunity to raise again the question of a preliminary peace with Italy. They proposed that the Italian surrender instrument be superseded by a convention to terminate the state of war between Italy and the United Nations and by a civil affairs agreement between the Supreme Allied Commander and the Italian Government. It was felt that the termination of the surrender instrument would eliminate the anomaly of Italy’s relations to the Allies and bring her legal position with them more in line with the actual relationship which exists under the “cobelligerency” formula.

This proposal was submitted by the British Embassy to London. After some time, the Foreign Office replied rejecting the American proposal. In support of its position the British Government stated that it saw no merit in terminating the state of war and not covering post-war questions; that its original intention had been to strengthen the Badoglio Government; that it considered the present proposal would only “gratify” the Italian Government and present no substantial advantage to the United Nations and that the British Government felt that its views should be respected since the “Commonwealth has borne by far the greater share of the burden of the Italian war”. The reply concluded by saying that the British Government was prepared to consider making peace with Italy ahead of Germany when all Italy was liberated and when the war in Europe was over.

A more detailed account of developments in the proposal for a preliminary peace with Italy is attached for reference.73a

  1. See British aide-mémoire dated May 25, 1944, ibid., p. 1116.
  2. Harold Macmillan, British Head of the Allied Commission. The CCAC was an Anglo-American Committee centered in Washington.
  3. Not printed.