865.00/12–1647: Telegram

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


4052. We have been reliably informed in strictest confidence by official close to Franzoni1 that Eugenio Reale (Communist and former Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs)2 called yesterday morning on the Foreign Office Secretary General. Reale stated in considerable excitement that Communist Party of Italy resented most strongly President Truman’s statement regarding Italy. He said that it was Togliatti’s3 intention to make a very strong interpellation against the government in this regard. He asked Franzoni what was the Foreign Office position in the matter. Franzoni then spoke at some length pointing out the pertinent provisions of the United Nations charter and the Italian peace treaty and summed up that the President’s statement was based on eminently sound grounds from a juridical viewpoint. Reale admitted that the US position was “clear and well taken”.

He then inquired whether the Secretary General thought the US meant to go to war; Franzoni replied in the negative but added that he did feel that the President’s statement meant that there were definite limits to the sort of action the Communists could take. Reale replied that, of course, if the US could intervene in Italy on unjust grounds Russia could, of course, do likewise. Franzoni pointed out that it would hardly be to Italy’s benefit to be crushed in a struggle between two great powers. Whereupon Reale replied that it was not the Communists’ intention to start anything up. He added, however, that of course no one could know what the people would do, particularly since they were under a reactionary government and faced by a hard winter. He then added “we will not be alone”.…

We are informed that Franzoni’s reaction to this conversation was:

The Italian Communists are considerably shaken by President Truman’s statement;
They themselves will probably hesitate greatly before initiating violent action, but this is discounted because final decision will not lie with them;
While Saragat’s statement may well have been distorted in the Reale version, nevertheless it indicates that De Gasperi must receive the fullest kind of support from all loyal members of his government.

  1. Francesco Fransoni, Secretary General in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  2. Reale had been Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Bonomi cabinet (December 1944–July 1945) and again in De Gasperi’s third cabinet (February–June 1947).
  3. Palmiro Togliatti, Secretary General of the Italian Communist Party.