740.0011 European War 1939/8574: Telegram

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

123. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. Department’s 30.34a After I had read President’s message to Prince Regent this evening Prince spoke bitterly of Bulgaria’s perfidy and of stupidity of British diplomacy which until short time ago had failed to understand Boris’ real intentions. He said that immediately after Donovan’s visit here he had instructed his Minister at Sofia to initiate negotiations with Bulgaria hoping to arrive at some joint policy. No answer was ever received but Italian Minister was advised of démarche by [Page 948] Bulgaria, He then realized it was useless to try further. He was discouraged by Turkish attitude of allowing Bulgaria to checkmate Turkey by “stupid” pact.

He said he could not withdraw troops from Croatian and Slovenian frontiers as disunity of country would result. On other hand, Germans could in 2 days from Temisvar cut off northern Yugoslav Armies from Serbia and crush country.

I referred to defeatist attitude in country and to feeling that Government would not resist. He said this is true but Government will resist. He said his big problem is to know what to do. It would be folly to attack Germany yet within short time Yugoslavia will be entirely surrounded politically, militarily and economically.

If Germany should attack his problem would be easy to solve. That situation would be simpler than one now confronting him. Despite German assurances he knows he can expect demands at any time from now.

I asked him whether I could inform President that he will resist aggression and will not sign any political agreement with Germany derogatory to Yugoslav sovereignty. He authorized me with emphasis to do so. He said Yugoslavia would under no conditions sign Tripartite Pact nor would it join new order which is same thing. Germans know Yugoslavia would resist hence they proceeded via Bulgaria rather than through more logical and easier route via Yugoslavia. “We have always kept our flag flying.” Confidentially he said that ammunition shortage is serious as only factory here at Kragujkvac could be demolished in 2 days and that British can not furnish caliber for Yugoslav guns.

He said he had no doubt of eventual outcome of war and that he shares President’s views entirely. He had made it clear in his speech of December 1 that Yugoslavia would resist. He stands by that and by his assurances to me today.

Although certainly not optimistic he seemed in more determined mood today especially after hearing President’s message.

  1. Supra.