Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

June 11, 1943

THE PRESIDENT: There's a very good piece of news this morning. We had a flash this morning that Pantelleria has surrendered. The message came out of the clear a short time ago. The reason, apparently, that they have surrendered was that they haven't enough water left; and white flags were flying.

I think it's rather worth while to point out that Pantelleria, which we have taken apparently without any great loss of life, is what the Italians called their "Gibraltar," at the narrow part of the Mediterranean. They did a great deal of boasting about the strength of it, about domination of the Mediterranean from it. And apparently now it is in the hands of the British and ourselves. . . .

This seems to be an opportune time to say a word, through the press and over the air, to the Italian people. I think that they should be reminded that the present effect of the British-American campaign against their country is a perfectly logical and inevitable result of the ruthless course that has been pursued during these last years by Mussolini, who, in forming the military alliance with Germany, has betrayed his own country in a struggle for personal power and aggrandizement.

These acts were not the acts of the Italian people. The succession of these irresponsible acts were committed by his personal Fascist regime, in the name of Italy, but not actually representing the Italian people, who are on the whole, by and large, a people devoted to peace. It was well shown in the completely unprovoked declaration of war by Italy, something I referred to once as a "stab in the back."

Of course, we have no choice but to prosecute the war against the Government of Mussolini and the armed forces of Mussolini until we have complete victory.

And I think it is fair to say that all of us- I think I can speak for all the United Nations- are agreed that when the German domination of Italy is ended and the Fascist regime is thrown out, that we can well assure the Italian people of their freedom to choose the kind of non-Fascist, non-Nazi kind of government that they wish to establish. Obviously, they can't do anything about it until Fascism is put down, and the Germans leave their territories.

The United Nations, I think, certainly have the intention —the hope- that Italy will be restored to real nationhood, and take her place as a respected member of the European family of Nations, with emphasis on the word "respected."

And when the Germans are driven out of Italy, and Fascism is abolished, only then will the good judgment—the ultimate good judgment of the Italian people themselves become evident. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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