Page 1, 21st April 1944

21st April 1944
Page 1
Page 1, 21st April 1944 — WILL ROME BE SPARED?

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Locations: ROME


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The American Secretary of State Cordell Hull, revealed last week in a letter to Senator Styles Bridges, Republican of New Hampshire, that the whole question of the military status of Rome "is again being actively considered by the interested Governments and their military authorities."

Senator Bridges had proposed that President Roosevelt should take the lead in creating a commission of United Nations arid enemy representatives under the chairmanship of the Pope to agree on the details of the demilitarisation of Rome.

This week the German News Agency has published the text of a letter sent by Mr. de Valera to the German Government on March 20 imploring the belligerents to find a way by which Rome can be saved.

Similar letterrwere sent to other belligerents, President Roosevelt replying that he shared Mr. Dc Valera's concern for the fate of the city, but adding that the responsibility rests in German

quarters. The latter have also replied, and claim to be taking steps to ensure the open city status The text of Cordell Hull's letter is as follows: •

My dear Senator Bridges,—the President has requested me, in his absence, to acknowledge your letter a April 7, l944, expressing your wish that Rome might be spared the ravages of war and submitting a proposal to that end. The question of the preservation of Rome has been kept constantly in mind since this country became involved in the world conflict.

The. President, the American military authorities and this department are all alive to the significance of Rome to Christian and western civilisation, The Department has had under inmost continuous consideration, in conjunction with the appropriate American military authorities, the various problems involved in sparing Rome from the devastation incidental to modern warfare. You, of course, realise that important military considerations are involved and that our Allies in the Italian campaign must be consulted.

am grateful to you for your interest and the concrete proposal which you have made. I wish to assure you that it will he considered and that the whole question of the status of Rome is again being actively considered by the interested Governments and their military authorities.

Sincerely yours,

Coemeta HULL.

DE•VALERA'S APPEAL De Valera's appeal, according to the German :News Agency, was as follows t " As head of the GO5er State the vast majority of w ose citizens belong to the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church, 1 consider it toy duty to express in their name the deep concern they are feeling, and in which 300,000,000 Catholics throughout the world arc sharing, through the 'hanger which now threatens the City of Rome, and because of the lack of any measures by the belligerent Powers to assuie its security.

" It is evident that should the city be militarily defended by one side and militarily attacked by the other, its destruction would be inevitable.

" The destruction of this Holy City which for nearly two thousand years has been the seat of the Sovereign Authority of the Catholic Church, and in which the grew central temples of Catholic religion, the great seminaries and libraries of Christian faith are situated, would mean a great misfortune for humanity and would deprive them for ever of the highest religious mentories and cultural inheritance, the root of which is the teaching of our Saviour. Jesus Christ.

"Millions of Catholics would gladly give their lives to save mlsese treasures, which are symbols of those eternal things which alone give meaning to human life.

" I beg that the voices of millions of people in every country, which implore the belligerent Powers to find a way—through the appropriate intermediaries—by which Rome cars be saved, should be heard. Future generations will forget the military circumstances which ,at the present claim to render necessary the occupation or the capture of Rome ; should the city, however, he destroyed, its destruction would remain for ever unforgotten. Equally,' should tbe city be preserved through an agreement, future generations would remember with matitude the State and the leaders who saved the great centre of Christian faith and civilisation to the honour of humanity."

GERMAN REPLY In its reply the German Government claims that the appeal is based on assertions that do not correspond to the facts as far as Germany is concerned. It claims that the following three measures have been taken to ensure an " open city " status for Rome:

" 1. The Commander-in-Chief has for a long time prohibited the billeting within the city of any army formations, command or supply installations of the German armed forces.

ceptions are the permanent hospitals in which are billeted wounded soldiers and prisoners of war, as well as small forces of the German security police which are being employed to support the Italian police.

" 2. The rail network of the area of the City of Rome, including all railway stations, has for a considerable time been serving exclusively the needs of the civilian population, particularly the supply of food. It is not being used by the command posts of the German Army. Reinforcements and supply traffic needed for the German fronts, as well as the traffic of soldiers on leave, is not being directed through the City of Rome.

" 3. All members of the German armed forces are prohibited as a matter of principle from entering the City of Rome. Only exceptions are individuals who have business in Rome itself with Italian command posts, and who are active exclusively

on behalf of the welfaic and security of the civilian population. They are allowed to enter the city with a pass issued by Higher German Command authorities."

Summarising, thc answer scams: " Should the attitude of the enemies of Germany towards Rome fail to change, then they must bear the responsibility exclusively should the German High Command see itself compelled to revise its attitude for military reasons.

" The question of the preservation of Rome has recently been the subject of discussions also between the German Ambassador to the Holy See and the Vatican. On these occasions the German Ambassador has informed the Curia, in the same way as has now been done with the Irish Goveinment."

U_S.A. REPLY Pi-c,iden( Rposeven's reply said: " In addressing an appeal to the United States to preserve Rome you are, or course, qwsre that the Germans are occupying the Italian capital by force, using to the limit of its capacities the communication network and other facilities of Rome to further purely German Military operation.

" If German forces were not entrenched in Rome no question would arise concerning the city's preservation. I note you have sent a similar eornmunication to the German Government. The fate of Rome rests in that quarter."

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