No. 335  NAI DFA 318/1

Memorandum by Michael Rynne for Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
'Signor Berardis' Position'

DUBLIN, 15 October 1943

  1. Signor Berardis was accredited Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Italy in Ireland by King Victor Emmanuel of Italy on the 7th August, 1938.
  2. The Italian Minister 's credentials were addressed to the King of Great Britain, Ireland, etc. etc., who was authorised by Section 3(1) of the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936 to act on behalf of this State for the purposes of the appointment of diplomatic representatives (i.e. both Irish representatives abroad and foreign representatives to Ireland).
  3. From the standpoint of international law, therefore, Signor Berardis was not, and is not, the representative of an Italian Government in this country. He was accredited by the Head of the Italian State to represent that State, irrespective of the particular Government which from time to time ruled the national affairs of Italy. The fact that Signor Berardis' credentials were countersigned by the then Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano was a purely constitutional or internal procedure which in no way affected the international validity of that document.
  4. In parenthesis for the information of the Minister we must apply the foregoing line of argument (which is all true and not special pleading) to our own Government's position vis vis Signor Berardis.
  5. The fact is that he is not accredited to the Irish Government at all, although he was formally received at Dublin Castle by the Minister for External Affairs. In international law, the Italian Minister is the representative of one Monarch, Head of a State, to another Monarch, Head of another State, which throws us back on the 'Kingdom of Ireland' theory. Unless, of course, we wish to argue that, on the one hand, Berardis was accredited by the sovereign Head of a State but on the other hand to the King of Great Britain etc. acting merely as the agent of the sovereign Irish Executive. This is an aspect which it might be better not to debate. We may always say that internal changes of government here since 1938 have in no wise affected Signor Berardis' position. We must, however, remember that a change of régime, such as would be involved by the declaration of an Irish Republic, might from the Italian point of view necessitate the formal recall and recredition of the Italian Minister.

  6. On the 25th July of this year, an important governmental change took place in Italy when Signor Mussolini, who for twenty years had been Prime Minister of the Government of that country was dismissed by the King and his post conferred on General Badoglio. On taking up the office of Prime Minister, General Badoglio proceeded to make a number of drastic changes in the constitution of Italy and the personnel associated for so long with the administration of that country. In popular language, General Badoglio in a few days destroyed the Fascist régime in Italy. In legal language, however, (that is in the language of international lawyers) General Badoglio's activities did not undermine, much less overturn, the régime of the Italian State. Italy was and is a constitutional monarchy.
  7. On the 9th September the King of Italy and his Government (headed by Badoglio), left the capital for an unknown destination on Italian soil. At least, as far as we are aware, the King is still on Italian soil and has not abdicated from his high office by his own act or declaration.
  8. The Irish Minister remained in Rome for sound practical reasons.

    The Italian surrender, dated 3rd September, 1943, came into operation on the 8th September, the day before the King left Rome.

  9. About the 15th September 1943 (we learned unofficially) Signor Mussolini constituted a new Fascist Republican Government with headquarters in a northern Italian town. The description Republican Government indicates that Signor Mussolini aims at a complete change of régime in the international, as well as in the constitutional law sense of that convenient French word. Obviously, Signor Berardis could not claim, or be claimed, to represent the régime which Signor Mussolini desires to inaugurate on his present credentials signed by a monarch who has no place in a republican State.
  10. Our newspapers of the 21st September carried a statement issued by the Italian Minister in Dublin as follows:-'The Italian Minister and Staff of the Legation reaffirm their allegiance to the King-Emperor Victor Emmanuel and their loyalty to his Government.'
  11. Quite apart from any other consideration, this statement makes it clear where the Italian Minister stands in his own view. His action has apparently been emulated by the Italian diplomatic missions at Ankara, Stockholm and Lisbon. Also by the Minister in belligerent Finland. The Legation in Madrid is said to be divided.

  12. The question is in effect raised whether we should accept Signor Berardis' statement of his position as proving that he continues to be accredited by King Victor Emmanuel and whether, that being admitted, we should continue to recognise him as representing the Italian State.
  13. On the first aspect of the matter, we are bound to take Signor Berardis' word for it that he is still accredited by the King unless and until we learn through the channel whereby he was accredited in 1938 that he has since been recalled. As against the implication that by recognising Signor Berardis henceforth, as in the past, as representing the Italian State, we will be recognising that State in future as in the past as a monarchy with King Victor, or his lawful successors, as Head, we do not have to defend ourselves. The onus lies the other way. In accordance with our own practice since the war began and that generally of other neutral States, we do not feel any international obligation to depart from the pre-war status quo in the matter of according or denying international recognition to either new 'States' or new 'Governments'.

    In this attitude we are also supported by precedents going farther back than the present war (because no new State or Government has ever been able to demand the recognition of an established State or Government as of right) and by such modern principles as those laid down in the well-known 'Stimson Doctrine'1 which are said to have been recently adopted by the Sovereign Pontiff himself.

    The main idea of these modern (Stimson) principles is a denial of recognition to any new State (or its frontiers) achieved solely by force of arms.

  14. Again in parenthesis it might be best for the Minister not to go too fully into the international rules indicated in the foregoing paragraph. They are, of course, well-founded but to overemphasise them (especially the Stimson rules) might suggest an uncalled for hostility to all new régimes, especially Mussolini's. That is scarcely necessary in the context and might be bad for this country at some future date. We have already had our own recognition problem in the past, both before and after 1922. Incidentally, one may recall that Mussolini was the first foreign leader to welcome the creation of the present Irish State by a letter over his own signature.
  15. As far as we know in the Department, the Mussolini Government (and/or Republican State) has been recognised only by Germany, Rumania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and Manchukuo. (Probably also by Japan?).
  16. It has not been recognised it seems by the Spanish, Hungarian or Finnish Governments which all might be expected to be more interested in the question than we are. Information is, however, not very reliable on this point and I suggest we might wire Mr. MacWhite for fuller particulars.

1 A tenet of United States foreign policy, associated with Secretary of State Henry Stimson (1867-1950), contained in a note of 10 January 1933 to Japan and China asserting the nonrecognition of territorial changes achieved by use of force. The note was sent in the aftermath of the Japanese annexation of the Chinese province of Manchuria.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO