The Minister in Switzerland ( Stovall ) to the Secretary of State

No. 5267

Sir: Referring to my telegram No. 5751 of November 13, I have the honor to transmit herewith for the Department’s information a copy and translation of a communication addressed to me by Doctor Korosec, President of the National Council of Zagreb, dated November 11, 1918, together with a copy and translation of the protest by the National Council of Zagreb, representing all the Servians, Croatians, and Slovenes in the former Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

I have the honor to add that copies of the enclosed documents have been forwarded to the American Embassy at Paris.

I have [etc.]

Pleasant A. Stovall

The President of the National Council of Zagreb ( Korosec ) to the American Minister in Switzerland ( Stovall )

Sir: I have the honor to ask you to be so good as to bring the enclosed protest to the knowledge of the government of the United States of America.

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An analogous note will be presented by the government of His Majesty the King of Servia.

In thanking you for your kindness, I beg you [etc.]

D. Korosec

Protest of the National Council of Zagreb, Representing All the Servians, Croatians and Slovenes in the Former Monarchy of Austria-Hungary

In accordance with the armistice concluded between the Allied Powers and the United States on one side, and the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy on the other, the conditions of which were drawn up at the Versailles Conference, a zone which is to be occupied by the troops of the Allied Powers and the United States has been established at the Western frontier of the former Dual Monarchy. In the same way it was decided that this occupation must not in any way prejudice the final determining of this frontier.

These arrangements, drawn up at a time when it was not known that a national power of the allied Serbo-Croat-Slovene people had been established in the interested territories, were in themselves unfavorable to any satisfactory solution of the questions concerning this part of Europe. The frontiers fixed for the zone of occupation agree, unfortunately, with those laid down at London the 25th [26th] April 1915. This London agreement was concluded without the knowledge of and against the will of our people, at a time when the principle of the right to self-determination had not been officially recognized by the allied powers as one of the principles of the international law of civilized peoples. That aroused a justified restlessness among the population interested as well as among the whole Servian, Croatian and Slovene peoples, because the London agreement had paid no attention whatever to our indubitable rights.

It is feared that upon the occasion of the definite solving of the question of the Western frontier considerations opposed to the right to self-determination of the peoples will prevail in spite of the clause in the armistice to the effect that the present occupation must in no way influence the determining of the definitive frontiers.

The manner of carrying out the abovementioned conditions of the armistice threatens to emphasize this impression. According to the news that penetrates into these territories it appears that the announced occupation will not be achieved by the Allied troops, as there was every reason for expecting, but by Italian troops only. Although, as a result of the transfer of all actual power to the Council of Zagreb, which, by the way, also has at its disposition all the military and civil forces of the countries in question, all [Page 300]strategic need of occupation has ceased to exist, the occupation is nevertheless being put into effect in its entirety and occupation of territories outside of the indicated zone has even commenced. For example, Fiume, although already occupied by the troops of the National Council of Zagreb, has been occupied without any military justification.

In the occupied districts only Italian flags are being run up, instead of the flags of all the Allies. The military authorities are addressing proclamations to the population foretelling the definitive annexation of these territories to Italy. Finally, in direct opposition to the express stipulation of the armistice that local authorities shall not be disturbed and that the military command alone shall have the right of control over their activities, civil governors and local authorities are being named.

Procedures of this sort are transforming the restlessness of the interested populations and the Servian, Croatian and Slovene peoples, into justified discontent. The Serbo-Croat-Slovene people, having by its persevering struggle against the Central Powers (as well as in Austria-Hungary) contributed noticeably to the common cause, now finds itself being treated as though it were a vanquished enemy instead of an allied people. Being possessed of an absolute faith in the loyalty and spirit of justice of the Allied Powers, the Serbo-Croat-Slovene people cannot believe that the justified indignation of the civilized world against the Prussian “scrap of paper” theory has to do with written treaties only. With an admirable confidence in the various declarations concerning the right of the peoples to self-determination and Liberty, this people engaged unreservedly in the great struggle and endured the heaviest sacrifices. It cannot tranquilly submit to the rejuvenation of old theories about “pawns and pledges” and their application against itself, nor can it submit to the manifestation of tendencies toward conquest.

The National Council of Zagreb, representing the whole Serbo-Croat-Slovene people, calls the attention of the Allied Powers and the United States to the danger of the situation which is being created by procedures of this description. By raising its voice most energetically in protest against injury to recognized rights, it demands that with the least delay measures be taken to prevent the consequences which are likely to result therefrom. The representatives of the Serbo-Croat-Slovene people decline in advance, before the tribunal of the civilized world, to shoulder any of the responsibility for these consequences.