740.0011 European War 1939/8866: Telegram

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

161. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. Prince Paul admitted to me this evening that he had not as yet made up his mind as to his [Page 950] decision in face of German encirclement. He said lie is “wavering”. He said he has definite proof that Germany intends to go to Salonika and will then make demands on Yugoslavia. There are two courses open to him: (1) To resist, at the cost of two or three hundred thousand lives and devastation of the country and the establishment of slavery as in Poland, until the end of the war and partition of the country between Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria; or (2) to keep quiet and permit the country to be occupied with some conditions of slavery but without loss of life. He said he knew arguments about national honor, that he himself is honest but that decision is not for him but for country. When he referred to his acting as trustee I said that this was all the more reason he should turn over to the King a country of which the King would not be ashamed, one which had fought to preserve its freedom.

He said it was a question whether it was better to hand over a country intact or one in ruins but that there is no question of Yugoslavia following Bulgarian attitude of inviting Germans to pass. He said, “We will not capitulate. We will never be on our knees”. He said difficulty of situation is that Germans have not yet attacked Yugoslavia. Once the Germans get to Salonika, however, Yugoslavia will be completely surrounded and then attack will be fatal. He said he did not think Greece would allow Yugoslavia to occupy Salonika hence only other action still open to Yugoslavia could be to attack Germany which would be suicide.

He expressed belief that primary reason for German advance in Balkans is to regain prestige for Mussolini37 and second to drive British out of continental Europe. Once these aims are fulfilled no one can prophesy next German move whether against Turkey, Russia or elsewhere. He expressed feeling of despair that at moment when Europe is being sacked and Yugoslavia is faced with disaster longwinded speeches continue in our Senate on Lend-Lease Bill.

  1. Benito Mussolini, Head of Government and Prime Minister of Italy since 1922.