740.0011 European War 1939/8283: Telegram

The Minister in Yugoslavia (Lane) to the Secretary of State

86. Department’s 119, December 10, 3 p.m.19 We are informed by a Government source20 that the program of the Communist Party in Yugoslavia has since the war been one of peace and neutrality as opposed to its former advocacy of nationalism and anti-fascism. Thus the slogan of defending the frontiers has been changed to one of keeping out of the imperialist war started by the pluto-democracies. Our informant stressed the activity in Yugoslavia of the Communist Party amongst all classes despite the efforts of the police to suppress it and maintained that if free elections were held the party would win in Serbia. He attributed the success of Communist propaganda in part to the use of the prevalent hatred of Germany to encourage the people to turn to Russia as the only hope of the Slavs. He mentioned the wide dissemination of propaganda leaflets, riots, and struggles with police, and pointed out that the present policy of the party was to embarrass the Government by demands for impossible liberal reforms and demobilization.

From another Government source21 I am told that a month ago a meeting of Communists from all parts of Yugoslavia took place in Belgrade at which dissatisfaction of Moscow was expressed regarding failure of the Communist Party to penetrate through official circles. Informant said that popularity of Soviet Russia in Yugoslavia greatly diminished following conclusion of nonaggression pact with Germany and partition of Poland. Comintern realizing unpopularity of Soviet Union has now decided on change of policy and is endeavoring to persuade Yugoslavs that present aim of Communists is to further pan-Slavism. I was cautioned not to believe that this change represents [Page 943] general policy of Soviet Government but is merely for the consumption of Yugoslavs and perhaps Bulgars. In Greece for instance Communist propaganda is anti-German and anti-Italian as this line would find more sympathy with Greek people because of Italian attack on Greece.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Apparently Fran Kuloveć, Minister without Portfolio.
  3. Apparently Miho Krek, Minister of Education.