740.0011 European War 1939/8460: Telegram

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

115. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. Prince Paul said to me today very privately that trip to Berghof was made at suggestion of Germany but that situation has not been changed in any way. Only [Page 946] request made by Germany was regarding adherence to Tripartite Pact.30 Yugoslavia refused.

He expressed great appreciation for President’s message and manner in which it was delivered to Fotić.31 He assumed message meant we hoped Yugoslavia would resist German aggression. This he will do if Yugoslavia is attacked but he cannot attack Bulgaria in the event that German troops enter Bulgaria as this would put Yugoslavia in the wrong before the world. Yugoslavia’s military position however will become untenable if German troops enter Bulgaria. Germany could then attack Yugoslavia either through Temisvar or through Bulgaria and resistance here would not last more than 2 weeks at outside. Yugoslav frontier opposite Temisvar is only unfortified part. For political reasons troops must be retained in Croatia and Slovenia. He hoped we would realize very great difficulty confronting him. General Fotić explained to him yesterday great difficulty of resisting with a million men against united German and Italian and perhaps Bulgarian and Hungarian Armies.

He said to me that I found him in a very pessimistic mood and he repeated twice “I wish that I were dead”. He said that as Prince Regent, he had responsibility for acting as trustee for a minor and consequently he expected to be blamed for anything he did. He asked me “What do you expect me to do?” He said even if the United States helped him, Yugoslavia would be finished before our assistance arrived and the country would be destroyed in the meantime. He said Germans had made their plans with fiendish cunning as they are continually assuring Yugoslavia there is no danger of attack. He, of course, does not believe assurances but can make no complaint as things are at present. He said that Hitler and Ribbentrop32 had been “frightfully amiable” and gave signs of greatest friendship.

He was depressed over Bulgarian-Turkish Pact.33 He blames Rendel34 for believing Boris and allowing him to surround himself with pro-German advisers. Now it is too late.

He expressed belief that Germany will shortly move in Balkans as the Axis now requires victories.

Despite his pessimism as to immediate future he expressed confidence in ultimate victory of Britain.

  1. Signed September 27, 1940, between Japan, Germany, and Italy; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cciv, p. 386.
  2. Secretary Hull delivered this message personally to the Yugoslav Legation, giving it to Minister Fotitch for transmittal to his Government.
  3. Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister.
  4. Signed at Ankara, February 17, 1941, reaffirming policies of friendship and nonaggression; for text, see Martens, Nouveau recueil général de traités, 3e sér., tome 39 (Leipzig, 1941), p. 357.
  5. George W. Rendel, British Minister in Bulgaria.