No. 247

765.5/1–2551: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy ( Dunn ) to the Secretary of State 1


3208. We requested this morning high official of Ministry Interior to give us his opinion as to why CP here had revealed itself to be so weak on occasion of Eisenhower visit, especially since it unquestionably was in interest of Kremlin to endeavor to discourage American interest in Italy as an ally by manifesting CP strength.

He replied that Eisenhower visit is latest symptom of CP’s incapacity to arouse mass interest in its political maneuvers and that it should be clearly understood that if it had been able to arouse wide popular support there undoubtedly would have been serious disturbances fomented by hardened militants. He continued to effect that in absence of mass support here and in face of powerful police force Italian CP leadership appreciated futility of expending their cadres at present international juncture.

He repeated his opinion that unless Red Army invades Italy Communists are and will continue to be unable to create serious largescale strikes and disorders and that Italian workers are showing [Page 562] increasingly that they will act on local level for purely economic motives but will not respond to political causes with which they may sympathize but for which they will not undergo sacrifices and suffering. He explained that most recent evidence of this phenomenon is reflected in figures on CGIL strength which indicate that whereas membership last year was probably somewhat over 3 million persons, at present is slightly over 1,500,000.

He also told us that Longo and Secchia (Embtel 3188, January 23 repeated Moscow 85, Paris 52, Frankfort 239, Berlin 532) state that Togliatti’s health now good and that he will return to Italy prior to CP Congress scheduled for end of next month.

With respect to why CP here is failing to act as strongly as would be expected of such a large and powerful movement, we are inclined to agree with official under reference. We cannot believe that Kremlin has not ordered CP here to create serious disorder wherever expedient to do so—avoiding however to be driven underground—and we are accordingly inclined to consider that most reasonable explanation of their failure to satisfy Moscow’s wishes may be found in absence of revolutionary ferment among working classes under cover of which Communist agitators and sabotage groups could foment mass action and render maintenance of public order extremely difficult if not impossible.

  1. Repeated to Moscow, Paris, Frankfurt, and Berlin.
  2. Telegram 3118 summarized an interview printed in Italy’s Communist Party organ, L’Unita, with Luigi Longo and Pietro Secchia, Vice Secretaries of the Italian Communist Party. (765.00/1–2351)