740.0011 European War 1939/8878: Telegram

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

166. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. The following is situation today as I see it:

Ribbentrop or some other high German perhaps saw Prince Paul at Brdo this week hoping to maintain Yugoslav neutrality and docility [Page 951] but probably giving veiled threat of attack. Prince’s positiveness about forthcoming German aggression is significant.

In Government itself there are three schools of thought: (1) The appeasers, (2) those who wish to occupy Salonika before the country is surrounded, and (3) those who favor a compromise between the two. The last represents majority opinion. The Government will in all probability resist military attack and refuse passage of troops. Prince expressed doubt whether attack would be made until Yugoslavia completely surrounded, when sudden invasion as in Denmark might render resistance useless.

Nothing definitely obtainable regarding possibility of adherence to some political instrument. Cvetkovic still denies they will join Tripartite Pact. Nevertheless some observers believe compromise document ensuring Yugoslav neutrality may be executed.

As stated in my 161,38 Prince Paul, the person who will make ultimate decision, admits he is wavering. One Cabinet Minister told me privately that Prince is the person to convince. British Minister and I are doing all we can to strengthen his attitude but it is impossible because of his many other appointments for us to maintain steady pressure on him. His attitude last evening was distinctly discouraging. I am, however, doing all I can to acquaint leaders with the President’s views in hope that they will be able to influence Prince’s stand. One difficulty in situation is impossibility until now of ascertaining exactly what if any demands have been made by Germany.

  1. Supra.