860H.01/712: Telegram

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

Yugos 24. The Yugoslav Prime Minister asked me to see him this A.M. and gave me the text of a letter transmitted by him yesterday to Eden40 through the British Ambassador to Yugoslavia. He requested that I forward this text to Washington for the Department’s information and I am doing so in my immediately following telegram.41

Mr. Pouritch who said he felt the British would not take the proposed action against Michailovitch unless the U. S. Government agreed underlined to me at length the implications of his letter asserting that withdrawal of the British military mission from Michailovitch coupled with public announcement thereof broadcast to the world at large and particularly the Balkans would constitute in effect an act of war against Yugoslavia whose King and Government cannot morally disown their own people and must therefore remain loyal to Michailovitch. He said that he had remarked to the King in this connection that the two of them would probably be put in a concentration camp and that the King replied “All right, let’s go”.

He said further that he told the King that as King and the person principally concerned he should not necessarily take a mere Prime Minister’s advice he could get another Prime Minister. But the King answered “I am not being guided by you I am simply thinking along the same lines as you”.

It was obvious from my talk with Mr. Pouritch that the publicity part of the proposed plan was what particularly disturbed him. Perhaps therefore the best solution would be if support to Michael42 must be still further reduced on military grounds to restrict the action wholly to the military sphere without giving it the political aspect which the proposed publicity would entail.43 In addition I may say that talks with the Brit[ish] Amb[assador] here have indicated that it may be a British aim in this affair to secure the resignation of Mr. Pouritch and his replacement by someone likely to prove more cooperative [Page 1345] as regards a rapprochement with Tito. But if this is the case the King’s firm attitude suggests the question as to whether it would not be more advisable at the moment as well as more noncommittal of Allied interests in the future to select if possible grounds less closely connected with Serbian national sentiments.

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Telegram 25, February 5, 1944, 8 p.m., not printed.
  3. Reference is to Draza Mihailovich.
  4. In despatch 10, February 4, 1944, Ambassador MacVeagh deplored the virtual cessation of supplies to Mihailovich: “In view of the overwhelming military advisability of maintaining ‘holding attacks’ against the Axis on all subsidiary ‘fronts’ while the main attack on some other front is pending, criticism of this disproportionate support of the much more active Tito would seem unexceptionable. But one should perhaps not shut one’s eyes to the ultimate effects on Yugoslav’s future of such opportunism, however justified, since we may have to deal with these effects in due time.” (740.0011 European War 1939/33232)