190 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 133 CANBERRA, 10 June 1944

MOST SECRET

Your telegram D.765 of 23rd May. [1]

Australian Government is interested to learn of proposed course of action with regard to Italy and on the assumption that replacement of Badoglio by Bonomi [2] does not affect your willingness to proceed with it, would appreciate further details. We should be glad to learn in the first instance what is envisaged by preliminary peace treaty.

2. We note that fulfilment of conditions (a) and (b) in paragraph 3 of your telegram, which we agree would have to be insisted upon, would postpone treaty for a considerable time. It would not, however, necessarily involve its postponement until the end of the war.

3. As you know the Australian and New Zealand Governments have set on record [3] their firm view that final peace settlement should be made in respect of all our enemies after hostilities with all of them are concluded. We should therefore be reluctant in the extreme to see a preliminary peace with Italy, especially as this might serve as a precedent for similar treaties with other countries, particularly Axis satellites. In case of Italy final peace settlement will no doubt involve territorial adjustments and other concessions & we would expect these to be influenced by the development of events in France, Austria and Yugoslavia. We fail to see how freedom of action to insist on these requirements can be retained once some form of peace treaty has been concluded.

4. In the circumstances we should be reluctant to see anything more than a revised armistice agreement arise from your proposals leaving us free to make such demands on Italy as may be necessary at the appropriate time in the interests of the general European settlement.

5. The terms of your telegram D.728 of 13th May [4] suggest that there need be no great hurry to concede Badoglio's requests.

Togliatti [5] has apparently dissociated himself from them and as a gradual transformation of the Italian Government in a leftward direction is highly probable his views are important. Even an undertaking now to consider a preliminary peace later is, we think, open to the objections set out in paragraph 3 above.

6. We should be very glad to be kept informed of the development of this matter.

1 On file AA:A989, 44/455/2/1. The cable advised that following an approach from Badoglio (Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister until 9 June) for recognition of Italy as an ally, the U.K. Govt was considering its policy towards that country. It was thought that Allied public opinion would not favour the immediate granting of Allied status to Italy. Cranborne suggested instead, a preliminary peace treaty based on two conditions: a) the military position and b) Allied satisfaction that the Italian Govt represented the majority of Italians. This proposal was to be put to both the U.S. and Soviet Govts.

2 Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister from 9 June.

3 See Document 26.

4 In AA:A3195, 1944, 1.18217.

5 Secretary-General of the Italian Communist Party.

[AA:A989, 44/455/2/1]