868.01/377: Telegram

The Ambassador to the Greek Government in Exile (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

Greek Series 44. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. My Greek Series 42, August 18, 11 a.m. I understand that a copy of the message contained in my Greek Series 43, August 18, noon, was forwarded [Page 144] yesterday evening to Field Marshal Smuts34 who is closely interested in Greek affairs in general and in the members of the royal family.

It is impossible to determine a clear cut issue among the factors involved in the present crisis. You have the domestic political complications inherited from the past and the natural tendency of the Greeks everywhere to indulge in political agitation as a pursuit in itself without regard necessarily for the ultimate good of the country either from the domestic or from the foreign stand point. You have this basic condition further aggravated by the ruthless occupation of the country by the enemy with the consequent physical and moral deterioration of the people and by the unnatural conditions surrounding an exiled government which in this instance intensifies the discussion in the members of the Government and armed forces as well as among the Greek civilians living abroad. And above all you have the prestige gained by the Greek nation as champion of resistance against the Axis and the consequent special importance ascribed to the conduct and acts of the present Greek Government in the relations of Greece to the United Nations.

As regards the immediate situation with which the King is now confronted it was precipitated by the arrival here, furthered apparently by British agents, of persons claiming to represent the resistance groups in Greece although there is a divergence in view of the exact extent and number. The King is apparently immediately faced with the necessity of accepting this informal partisan ultimatum which would commit him to a limitation of his freedom of action or risking by rejection thereof further dissension in his Government and armed forces outside the country as well as a disruption among the resistance leaders and bands within the country in their present and eventual fight against the enemy. It must be admitted that heretofore the main direct guidance in Greek policy insofar as the King and his Government are concerned, as well as its implementation within the occupied territory, has been in the hands of the British and the criticism has been made that this direction has not always been unified and that the King and his Government have not been always given the facilities and opportunities which they have felt essential to their constructive participation in their own affairs. As a matter of fact, however, the President has now been requested to give his counsel in a set of circumstances which irrespective of the factors in their development actually exist and must be dealt with. It is fully recognized that this is not the movement [moment] when in the scheme of greater considerations a matter such as the present one should have to claim the attention of our leaders or should be publicly aired [Page 145] although as regards the latter point there is reason to believe that whatever course the King takes it will be declared in a manner to attract the minimum of public attention. Personally I feel strongly that the main aim for the moment should be to postpone the necessity of making any such decision at this time in order to gain time so that if and when final settlement must be reached it may be at a time and under conditions devoid of the pressure now being exercised. I submit, therefore, that in the event that the President and Churchill choose to advise the King this observation might probably be included.

  1. Jan Christian Smuts, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa and Commander of Union Defense Forces.