Secrets of the Fascist Era: How Uncle Sam Obtained Some of the Top-Level Documents of Mussolini's Period

Secrets of the Fascist Era: How Uncle Sam Obtained Some of the Top-Level Documents of Mussolini's Period

Secrets of the Fascist Era: How Uncle Sam Obtained Some of the Top-Level Documents of Mussolini's Period

Secrets of the Fascist Era: How Uncle Sam Obtained Some of the Top-Level Documents of Mussolini's Period

Synopsis

This account of the capture and validation of Italian-Fascist state papers during World War II, some of which only recently have been declassified, is the stuff of high-level intelligence and counterespionage. Inan account that reads like a detective story Howard Smyth reveals fully for the first time how the United States obtained the Fascist documents. As an OSS and State Department officer during the war, Smyth was intimately involved in the validation of the papers, and as a professional historian was uniquely qualified to evaluate their importance. Among the documents Smyth describes are the Lisbon Papers, documents which emanated from the office of Count Ciano as Italian Foreign Minister and which the Italian Government attempted to hide from the Allies; the Ciano Papers: Rose Garden, the German translations of Italian State Papers which Ciano himself set aside to accompany his diary and for which Edda, his wife and Mussolini's daughter, tried to barter her husband's life; and Mussolini's Private Papers, said once to have comprised over 100,000 files, some of which were found in his villa, others on his person during his final flight to avoid capture. Though Dr. Smyth focuses on the problems of the authenticity of the collections, his account of their acquisition weaves an exciting story of high adventure and human drama. Obviously of utmost importance to scholars, the work will be of special interest also to general readers and World War II history buffs.

Excerpt

Some years ago the late E. Taylor Parks, my colleague in the Historical Office of the Department of State, served as Head of the Advisory and Review Branch. Although my assigned work was with the captured German Foreign Office records, he would, from time to time, refer inquiries about Italian documentary materials to me. I had a background in modern Italian history. Furthermore I had got acquainted with some of the collections of Italian documents that the United States government had seized during World War II in the course of my service in various official positions since coming to Washington in 1942: in the OSS, in the Division of Territorial Studies and in the Division of Southern European Affairs of the Department of State, and in the Office of the Chief of Military History (now termed Center of Military History), Department of the Army. Several times Dr. Parks urged that I write up the stories of the acquisition of these collections lest, with the passing of time, the knowledge become lost or so eroded that future retrieval or reconstruction would present great difficulties. Thus I began the project which resulted in this book. Initially I thought that I might achieve my goal in a couple of articles but my perspective soon changed. When I began putting a few notes in order and sorting out some records that I had kept I did not realize that the requisite materials for my project would be so scattered and difficult to track down.

Fortunately, during the course of my researches, I was able to draw on the help of many friends whom I had met in government service and in the historical profession, in this country and abroad. Others who kindly responded to my inquiries are persons whom I have not met personally and who might at best be described as pen pals in the profession. Foremost I express my gratitude toward two men, students during that bygone era when I offered a course in Modern Italy at Berkeley. Professor George A. Carbone of Portland State University was in Rome for a part of the time of my search for materials. He ordered books for me, sent me microfilmed copies of various items, joyfully responded to numerous queries. Mr. Raymond Rocca, who served with the OSS in Italy during the war, gave me several invaluable leads and introduced me to the late . . .

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