Rome reported ready to ask peace (7-27-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (July 27, 1943)

Italian action due in 2 days, London hears

German Gestapo ousted by Badoglio, says Stockholm
By William B. Dickinson, United Press staff writer

London, England –
The first peace overture from Rome may be expected within 48 hours, by way of Switzerland, the British Press Association’s diplomatic correspondent, who sometimes reflects Foreign Office opinion, said today.

It would cause no surprise if the first official peace overture from Rome were put out within the next 48 hours through Switzerland – the protecting power (acting for the Allies) – rather than through the Vatican, the correspondent wrote.

There were many new reports regarding Italy and the still-undisclosed whereabouts of deposed Benito Mussolini, but most of them appeared to be in line with the propaganda theme of the new government of Premier Marshal Pietro Badoglio to convince the world – especially the Allies – that the new regime was anti-Fascist and popular with the people.

Gestapo reported leaving

A dispatch from Stockholm quoted the newspaper Allehanda that the Nazi Gestapo had started leaving Italy on orders from Badoglio. There was no official confirmation of this or other reports. It said the Gestapo was leaving on trains running at night to prevent anti-German demonstrations by Italians.

The same newspaper also said the Swiss were planning to close the frontier against Fascist refugees from Italy.

Travelers arriving by plane in Spain said Badoglio had dissolved the Fascist Party and Rome was normal except for a few demonstrators shouting, “Long Live Italy!”

The London Daily Mail reported that Hitler had flown from the Eastern Front to Berlin because of the Italian crisis, and a so-called German underground station said Italian workers in Germany were rioting and demanding transportation back to Italy.

Seek to convince Allies

A peculiar circumstance developed in connection with reports of demonstrations – some disorderly – against Fascists in Italy. The Italian government appeared to be permitting some of these reports to circulate for propaganda purposes – to convince the Allies that Fascism had been overthrown. On the other hand, the German news agency DNB carried a belated report from Rome today saying:

Anti-Fascist demonstrations in Italy on Sunday night were outrages which have already been suppressed.

The same Italian propaganda theme was apparent in a Rome radio broadcast, recorded by CBS, saying that Italians had rejected Fascism after finding that curtailment of liberty and errors of its leaders were compromising the war effort. The broadcast said the change in government was essential to achieve a “much stronger welding to spiritual forces in order to put up a more effective defense.”

It appeared to have taken the Nazis some time to form a propaganda attitude toward the demonstration.

One Swiss dispatch said five new political parties had united in a common front under an implied demand for Italy to quit the war.

The Rome radio made no mention of Germany and avoided any suggestion of peace moves.

“Reliable sources” in Madrid said Mussolini, along with Fascist General Secretary Carlo Scorza and other party prominents, had been detained under police protection at a villa near Rome, while a Berne dispatch asserted he had been interned at Villa d’Este, near Lake Como, in northern Italy.

Punishment demanded

A proclamation by five new Italian parties, the first to be established in Italy since the Fascists banned all opposition parties 20 years ago, demanded the “inexorable” punishment of Mussolini and all others responsible for dragging Italy into “a war which was unwished and forced upon us.”

The proclamation was published in the Turin newspaper Stampa, a copy of which was smuggled out of Italy into Switzerland, and was signed by the National Christian Democracy, Communist, Liberal and Socialist Parties.

Italian sources in Berne interpreted the proclamation as a direct attack on the statement of Marshal Pietro Badoglio, new chief of government, that Italy would “continue the war.”

Discard insignia

Swiss reports said that Italians were throwing away Fascist Party insignia and demanding that the new government speed a purge of Fascist officials. Industrial workers in northern Italy were said to be threatening to strike unless Fascist members of the staff and organizing committees were removed.

One Berne report said that many Fascist officials had been arrested and placed in protective custody.

Virginio Gayda, long known as Mussolini’s “mouthpiece,” was displaced as chief editor of the Rome newspaper Giornale d’Italia, the German radio said, and replaced with Senator Alberto Bergamini, 72, founder of the newspaper in 1901 and its editor since 1924.

Attack newspaper

The Milan newspaper Gazzetta, according to a Berne dispatch, said thousands of persons attacked the office of Mussolini’s newspaper, Popolo d’Italia, while the famous “Lair” at Milan, in which the former Duce drafted plans for Fascism as long ago as 1919, was sacked and burned.

The Gazzetta said that various Fascist clubs and headquarters in central Italy were burned, especially in the Bologna area.

Another Milan newspaper, the Corriere della Sera, editorially commented:

We are finally free.

The newspaper said:

Nobody slept in Milan last night. We newspapermen work with truth and enthusiasm. It is a difficult task for us to turn out a newspaper, when for 20 years we saw it entirely dictated to us by the Press Ministry. The enthusiasm of the people is fantastic.

Rome radio described crowds marching through the streets of Rome toward the Royal Palace shouting, “Long Live Italy! Long Live the King! Long Live Badoglio!”

Council meeting revealed

The Italian Stefani Agency, in a Rome broadcast, revealed belatedly that Mussolini attended a meeting of the Fascist Grand Council Saturday night and presented a report on the military and political situation.

After Mussolini spoke, the broadcast said, Count Dino Grandi presented a resolution asking the King to assume effective command of the armored forces and it was adopted, 19–7, after a 10-hour debate. Count Galeazzo Ciano, son-in-law of Mussolini, was said to have been among those voting in favor of the resolution.

The underground radio station Atlantic said that a confidential report from Lt. Gen. Marras, Italian military attaché in Berlin, summarizing the Axis military position and predicting that Germany could wage war for only six more months, was discussed by the council.

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Boy the Italians really weren’t very good at this were they?