Algiers, 21 August 1943. Secret Urgent 4227.
The following are the minutes of the meeting held in Lisbon on August 18  (to KKAD and AGWar for the Combined Chiefs of Staff and to USFor for British Chiefs of Staff signed Eisenhower cite FHCOS. Reference NAF 333. This is NAF 334.) with the following present:
- Sir Ronald Campbell, British Ambassador;
- Mr. George F. Kennan, American Chargé d’Affaires;
- General Castellano, Italian Army;
- Mr. Montanari, Interpreter;
- Major General William [Walter] B Smith, US Army;
- Brigadier Strong, British Army.
The following was the general discussion.
General Smith opened the discussion by stating that on the assumption that the Italian Armed Forces were ready to surrender authorization had been made to communicate the terms on which General Eisenhower was prepared to agree to a cessation of hostilities between the Allied Forces under his command and the Italian Forces. It was to be understood that these terms constituted a Military Armistice only and must be accepted unconditionally.
General Castellano explained that there had been some misinterpretation of the purpose of his visit as he had come to discuss the question of how Italy could arrange to join the United Nations in opposition to Germany with the view to expelling the Germans from Italy in collaboration with the Allies.
General Smith stated that he was prepared only to discuss the terms on which the Allied Forces would be prepared to cease hostilities against the Italian Forces. The question of the status of the Italian Army and Government’s participation in the operations against the Germans was one of high governmental policy of the United Nations and would have to be decided by the Heads of the 2 Governments concerned. The Allied Forces were prepared, however, to assist and support any Italian Forces or Italians who fought against or obstructed the German military effort, as would be brought out in amplification of the armistice conditions. He then proceeded to read aloud paragraph by paragraph the armistice conditions and the various comments which he was authorized to make with regard thereto and these documents were currently translated point by point to their representative.
The British and American representatives then left the room for a time in order to give the Emissary an opportunity to examine in detail the armistice conditions. After this examination the conference reassembled.
General Castellano stated beforehand that he had no intention of discussing the various points of the armistice conditions as he is not empowered to do so but would like to have certain explanations which he could furnish to his government.
With respect to point 3, there might be practical limitations to what the Italians could accomplish in preventing the movement of Allied Prisoners of War to Germany. The Italians would make every effort to comply fairly with this condition.
The meeting was then told that the United Nations understood the possible difficulties involved but expected the Italian Army and Government to do its best to carry out this condition.
General C requested clarification of point 4 particularly with regard to the future disposition of the Italian vessels and aircraft. He was informed that this point implied the surrender of the fleet and of the planes and that their future disposition must be a matter for decision by the Allied Commander-in-Chief.
General C added that the warships and many of the planes might be prevented by lack of fuel from complying with this condition.
Our representative observed that this would be a matter for the Italian authorities who naturally were interested in the preservation of their ships and aircraft and who should in their own interest make every effort to see that sufficient fuel was available for the assembly of the ships and planes to points designated by the Allied Commander-in-Chief.
Their Emissary with respect to the free use by the Allies of all airfields and naval ports pointed out that most of the airdromes were in German hands and that those remaining to the Italians were small and scattered. With respect to point 8 he stated that it might prove almost impossible to withdraw to Italy those Italian Forces which were now stationed at inland points in the Balkans.
Our representative replied that the Italians were not expected to accomplish the impossible but that certain Italian Divisions were located sufficiently near the coast to permit their removal to Italy by Allied shipping.
Their Emissary referring to point 10 asked for explanations as to the question of retention of Sovereignty by the Italian Government.
He was informed that our representative’s instructions referred only to the terms of a military armistice and that he was not empowered to discuss questions relating to the future Government of Italy. A military government under the Allied Commander-in-Chief would unquestionably be necessary over parts of Italian territory.
He invited the attention of their Emissary to the fact that military government in Sicily had been established and was being exercised in a fair and humane manner.
Their Emissary then mentioned the danger to the person of the King of Italy involved in the acceptance of these terms and expressed the fear that the Germans might hold the King as a hostage or that his life might be in danger. It was suggested that the King might leave Italy on an Italian Naval Vessel.
He was assured that the King would be treated with all due personal consideration.
In the general discussion which ensued their Emissary reverted again to the manner and extent of Italian military collaboration against Germany. The United Nations representatives explained carefully that the subject under discussion must be considered a military capitulation and not any arrangement for the participation of Italy in the war on our side. Our representative explained that the terms of the armistice did not visualize the active assistance of Italy in fighting the Germans. However, he was authorized to state that the extent to which these terms of armistice would be modified in favor of Italy would depend on how far the Italian Government and people did in fact aid the United Nations against Germany during the remainder of the war but that the United Nations stated without reservation that wherever Italian Forces or Italians fight the Germans, destroy German property or hamper German movements they will be given all possible support by the Forces of the United Nations.
Their Emissary then brought up the probability of immediate German retaliation against Italy in the event that the terms of the armistice were accepted and placed in effect. The possibility of minimizing these reprisals was discussed. It was brought out that it would be folly on the part of the Germans to institute reprisals against Italian cities and population which would certainly lead to reprisals on our part. In any case the effects of a few days of vindictive action by the Germans would be much less serious for Italy than a long war of attrition.
Their Emissary after expressing his understanding of the terms of armistice and the supplemental information conveyed by the Allied representatives stated that he was not authorized to accept the armistice terms and that these must be taken back to Italy for consideration by the Italian Government. He added that it would be most useful to his government to know when and where the Allied Invasion would take place particularly as German reaction would probably make it necessary for a part of the government to remove from Rome coincidental with announcement of cessation of hostilities. He pointed out that there were several thousand members of the SS Organization in Rome in civilian clothes and a Parachute Division in the immediate vicinity. The Italians have removed most of their troops from Rome upon declaring the city open and that it would arouse German suspicion if they were returned. He was informed that as a soldier he would understand why it was impossible for us at this time to give any detailed information of the plans of the Allied Commander. Arrangements would be made for a direct channel of communication and it was proposed that if Marshal Badoglio agreed to accept the terms of the armistice General Eisenhower would announce the granting of the armistice 5 or 6 hours prior to the main Allied landing in force. General Eisenhower’s announcement was to be immediately followed by Marshal Badoglio’s proclamation of cessation of hostilities.
Their Emissary pointed out that 5 hours was insufficient advance notice to permit the preparations which should be made in anticipation of an Allied landing and to permit effective collaboration. He felt that a much longer period, preferably 2 weeks, was highly desirable.
General Smith thought that this might be done and stated that he would consult the Commander-in-Chief in an effort to make the necessary arrangements.
The Italian representatives were supplied with a copy of the terms of the armistice and with an Aide Mémoire covering the supplemental matters contained in the directive from the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
The general meeting then adjourned to permit a detailed discussion of military matters by the representatives of the 2 armies and arrangements for establishing communications. Minutes end.
New Subject. With reference to your 5650 detailed breakdown of German Forces in Italy will be sent in another cable.
Algiers, 21 August 1943. Secret
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General statements made as follows:
a. Estimated Germany would require some 15 Divisions for occupation of Italy if Italian Troops cooperated. Possible more would be brought in. These likely be chiefly withdrawn from France. No permanent fortifications as yet on Genoa-Ravenna Line.
b. Best tactics for Allies would be to land in Leghorn area between Grosetto and Spezia. German lines of communication into Italy particularly via Brenner [Pass] extremely vulnerable and should be attacked by Allies.
c. Germans intended defend Sardinia and Corsica. Italian Forces to be withdrawn from Corsica but not Sardinia.
d. 2 Italian Divisions recently sent North Italy to offset occupation of Brenner area by Germans. Had been no actual fighting as result of this but firm attitude of Italians had caused Germans to hesitate in number of their actions. (AGWar personal for Marshall from Eisenhower repeated Combined Chiefs of Staff (KKAD) repeated TROOPERS personal for DMI USFor pass to TROOPERS. From Strong from G-2 FREEDOM signed Eisenhower cite FHGBI).
e. Strength of German Military Personnel in Italy estimated at 400,000.
f. Genoa-Ravenna Line would be extremely difficult to penetrate owing hilly nature of country and narrow roads.
g. Conference on 14 August held at Bologna at which General Roatta, Field Marshal Rommel and General Jodl present. Plans for defence of Italy discussed. These included return of Italian troops from France, Slovenia and North Croatia. Final result discussions not known.
h. Italian Army short of gasoline and entirely dependent on Germany for this. Italy would require supplies of wheat and coal if Germany ceases to provide. Italian Army short of many types of weapons especially anti-tank guns, anti-tank ammunition and boots.
i. Italian Fleet had only sufficient fuel oil for one main fleet action. Mussolini was responsible for stopping Italian Fleet putting to sea on several occasions in order to have it to counter any attack on Italian Peninsula. Germans informed Italians that submarine warfare was to be put on completely new basis which they thought would have considerable success. No details disclosed.
j. Italian Air Force very short of material but fighter element considered good. All Italian airfields except a few small ones in hands of Germans.
k. German policy towards Russia was to hold back reserves and adopt defensive policy in hope Russians would wear themselves out. Germans considered this might happen by spring 1944. German Divisions totalled 260 of which 50 to 60 in reserve. Up to December 1942 estimated German permanent casualties killed or wounded three million. Russian divisions numbered 320. Ribbentrop reckoned on Allied, especially American, war weariness increasing.
l. Ribbentrop has threatened that if Italy turned against Germany gas would be used against the country and most terrible vengeance would be exacted on Italian people as an example to remainder of Satellites. Italian people had no gas masks or protection against gas. Italian Army almost in same position. Hungary might follow Italian example but Roumania and Bulgaria less likely.
m. Allies could not look for collapse in German morale owing to Gestapo. Number of Generals desirous of getting rid of Hitler but this unlikely at present owing considerable loyalty towards him.
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