The Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

No. 46

Sir: Supplementing my despatch Yugoslav Series No. 45, February 1, 1943,26 I have the honor herein to report the following substance of a further conversation with Yugoslav Vice Prime Minister Krek (Slovene) concerning reported Russian aspirations in the Danubian Basin.

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Krek said that through secret channels he had very recently received a report which indicated that Moscow’s post-war plan vis-à-vis the Danubian Basin envisaged, in part, a Soviet Union of Southern Slav States, including Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. In order of preference Moscow aimed at bringing Bulgaria and Macedonia under Soviet control. Next in order were Serbia and Montenegro, because of their eastern culture, the orthodox church, Russian traditions, and their historic high regard of Russia (Russian liberation of these two countries from the Turks in the Balkan wars). Croatia and Slovenia, Krek continued, came within the scope of Moscow’s consideration on this score, in case Moscow succeeded in sovietizing the Danubian Basin.

He went on to say that his reports showed that Sovietization of the Danubian Basin was now being pressed for by the Comintern as far as Yugoslavia was concerned. The “Partisans” Underground Press, of which he had received copies, declared, in effect, that the “Partisans” were communists who had to continue fighting to protect the USSR interests against western Europe; that they saw their future with Soviet Russia.

In connection with Vice Prime Minister Krek’s disclosures, Polish Political Intelligence informs me that on January 15, 1943 at 7.55 pm a broadcasting station calling itself “Kosciuszko Wireless Station”, probably in Tashkent, Soviet Union, made, in effect, the following broadcast:

“On the Yugoslav territory freed from the enemy occupation a National Assembly has met in which all classes of the population and all nationalities of Yugoslavia were represented. Dr. Ivan Rybar, former president of the Yugoslav National Assembly of 1920, was elected President and his deputies were: Dr. Rozherakh(?) and ex-Senator Pavlović, Officer, representatives of the intelligentsia and of the workmen also were elected to the board of the assembly. The Assembly adopted a resolution in which it called upon the Yugoslav nation to unite in the struggle against the occupants.

Thus, while the Yugoslav Government in exile calls upon their people to adopt a waiting attitude and ascribes successes in the struggle against the occupants to their War Minister Mihailović, who as is known is collaborating with the occupants, the National Assembly is doing everything possible to strike a mortal blow at them. The Executive Committee of the Assembly is the first Yugoslav Government formed on territory freed from the Fascist yoke.”

In disclosing the above information to me, my informant from Polish Political Intelligence stated that the broadcast went on to describe the “Presidium” and the representatives of the workers. He said that reference to this broadcast was subsequently made in the Daily Worker published in London.

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In discussing this information with the Yugoslav authorities, I found that Vice Prime Minister Krnjević (Croat) was more familiar than his associates with this situation. He said that so far they were not in a position to render a very clear explanation. It was very likely that a meeting of some sort was held somewhere in Yugoslavia, more than likely at Bjhac; that the meeting had had a purely communist character. Krnjević had long known Dr. Ivan Rybář, former President of the Yugoslav National Assembly of 1920. He has also known his son. The father was a Croat, Leftist-minded, and pro-Yugoslavia, as a state. He had followed the popular front idea for unity in Yugoslavia. His son was also Leftist-minded but of the Radical turn. Whether it was the father or son who headed what had been described as the “Constitutional Assembly” (of about 50 representatives) at Bjhac, he was not certain. In any case Bjhac was located in the midst of a mixed population consisting of Serbs, Croats and Mussulmen, which meant a religious combination of Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Moslems. He was not inclined to attach much importance to this political move other than to ascribe it to the Comintern as a further indication of its objectives in Yugoslavia. What was important, he said, was the fact that the publication of the news was a forecast of things to come if the future development of events was favorable to the Soviet plans in the Balkans and elsewhere.

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
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