860H.01/751: Telegram

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

Yugoslav Series 40. See my Yugoslav Series 36 of February 16, 4 p.m.49 According to Ambassador Stevenson, Colonel Bailey, second in command to Brigadier General Armstrong on the Michailovitch Mission, is “confident that Michailovitch thinks he can play off the United States” against the British and that he has been encouraged in this thought by Mr. Fotich in Washington.50 Colonel Bailey has just arrived here as well as our own Captain Mansfield, the latter bringing with him a Captain Todorovitch of Michailovitch’s staff and letters from Michailovitch personally to President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower51 which the OSS now has in its possession. Of our mission of three officers to Michailovitch, Mansfield is here and Lieutenant Colonel Seitz is in Partisan territory expecting to be brought out presently by the British, but Lieutenant Muselin is still at Michailovitch’s headquarters and, according to present OSS policy, will remain there after the British Liaison Officers depart. The British SOE52 and our OSS have discussed this situation frankly and the British have stressed their view that it would be inadvisable for the two services not to act concurrently. In consequence, the OSS has referred telegraphically to General Donovan with a request for further instructions.

In this connection, Ambassador Stevenson has called on me wishing as he said “to enlist me” in support of his feeling that Muselin should not stay with Michailovitch and using the following arguments:

That (1) the withdrawal of the Liaison Officers is a military decision taken by the Supreme Command (2) there is nothing that Muselin can do and (3) for him to stay while the British leave would indicate a difference of opinion between the British and the Americans. Behind his feeling would appear to lie the fear that Michail[ovich] might attempt to exploit such a difference of opinion openly as proving that he still has friends among the Allies thus switching the whole matter from the military to the political plane. He spoke of “the undesirability of our being played off one against the other even on the level of the OSS and the SOE”.

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Lt. Col. Toulmin of the OSS tells me that because his primary job here is the collection of information he has recommended that Muselin be not withdrawn but adds that he must leave the political aspects of the matter to higher authority. In my view the Department may well wish to consider these aspects. In addition Col. Toulmin says he would be in favor should the decision be taken to withdraw Muselin of sending into Michail[ovich] a purely and confessedly intelligence mission having nothing to do like the present mission with supply problems.53 Perhaps this would be a solution whereby we could attain our aims without conflicting with those of our allies or bringing political matters to the fore, incidentally the Department will realize that the need for coordination in this affair is strengthened by the facts that (1) the decision to withdraw Liaison Officers has been made by the Allied Command; (2) Muselin is under the orders of Armstrong by agreement with the OSS and (3) if an American intelligence mission is to be sent in subsequently it will depend on the British for transportation.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Constantin Fotich, Yugoslav Ambassador.
  3. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force in Western Europe.
  4. Special Operations Executive.
  5. This policy was subsequently adopted. On March 2, 1944, the Office of Strategic Services submitted a proposal to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the replacement of the present joint mission by an independent purely intelligence mission composed of a single American officer. The State Department was informed of this proposal in a letter from General Donovan, Director of the Office of Strategic Services, to the Secretary of State on March 2, 1944. (740.00118 European War 1939/2267)