740.0011 European War 1939/30057

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

No. 75

Sir: I have the honor to forward the attached copies of a translation of the text of a message which King Peter broadcast to his people on June 28, 1943.61

In general the speech may be characterized as a bid for the friendship of the western allies and Russia alike, and an appeal to his people to have faith in their allies and to close their ranks for the struggle for a post-war “democratic and socially just new commonwealth of all Serbs, Croats and Slovenes”, as well as a declaration that notwithstanding his Serb background, he as their King has no intention of imposing Pan-Serb rule over non-Serb populations.

The following are the main points:

(a)
The King said in effect that together with her great Allies, Yugoslavia would surely win. He knew that his people wanted to hear more from the free world about the future, but he counselled them [Page 1017]to be patient. Moreover, appealing to them not to let themselves be carried away by enemy propaganda, he urged them to have faith in their Allies—Britons, Americans and Russians—who would help them with all their power to restore their Yugoslav union, and a better life for the whole population.
(b)
The King assured his people that he would make it possible “for the whole of the people”, when free, to settle their fate according to democratic principles.
(c)
The King said that for this reason he wished there to be no differences among his people. For himself, all were equal who desired a true national union of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The internal form of this union would be decided by the true representatives of the people “in our liberated fatherland”.
(d)
In what might be characterized as a close-the-ranks rallying call, the King expressed his admiration for all those national fighters—without consideration “of under what temporary name they may be fighting” who had recently so successfully thrown back a fresh German offensive against their invincible Yugoslavia.

In handing me a copy of this address, King Peter said he thought he had made at least several points which would engage Soviet Ambassador Bogomolov’s62 interest, in fact it would be interesting to ascertain the latter’s reaction to this message to the Yugoslav people. If I were going to see the Ambassador during the course of that day he would greatly appreciate my drawing his attention to the broadcast.

It so happened that I had a previously arranged appointment with Bogomolov in the latter part of that same day. During our conversation I had mentioned the King’s broadcast, and drew the Ambassador’s attention to several of the main points. Expressing unfeigned surprise and interest, he remarked that this new attitude marked a considerable and welcome advance in the King’s regard for the guerilla forces. Furthermore, he expressed himself as being favorably impressed with the King’s assurances to the people that it was for them to settle their own fate in accordance with the principles of democracy, and that the internal form of the equal union of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes would be decided by the true representatives of the people. Moreover, the Ambassador immediately sent for a copy of the broadcast, stating he was looking forward to studying it further.

It was accordingly interesting to note in the following morning’s Daily Worker an article entitled “King’s praise of Slav fighters, a welcome change”, which in general expressed approval of the King’s utterances.

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Alexander Bogomolov, Soviet Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government in Exile at London.