740.00119 European War 1939/2230: Telegram

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

Yugoslav Series 54. I am informed that the Rumanian emissary (see the Department’s No. 21, January 5, 9 p.m., to the Legation in Cairo25 and previous related messages) has arrived in Ankara. He is Prince Stirbei26 and is now staying with his nephew the Rumanian Ambassador27 until such time as he may be brought to Cairo secretly, possibly under cover of an alleged illness which would confine him ostensibly to his room.

According to a British secret document, to which I have had access and a copy of which is being forwarded by airgram, Stirbei is a relative of Cretzeanu who has been representing Maniu in conversations with British agents and is father-in-law to a British officer Major Boxhall. He is not an emissary of the Government but Marshal Antonescu is said to be privy to his mission. Ionel Bratianu28 is his brother-in-law. He is 71 years of age and while Cretzeanu believes him likely to be well briefed as an emissary he thinks him unlikely to know much about Rumanian troop dispositions. The Department is doubtless familiar with his private status and past public career.

Incidentally it would appear from the document referred to that the group behind Stirbei does not yet realize the full seriousness of Rumania’s position. When Cretzeanu was informed that the sending of an emissary would be useless unless he were prepared to accept unconditional surrender or at least to discuss the details of accession to power of a government so prepared he replied (1) that the Rumanians believe that Bulgaria may soon break with Germany and thus give the British the possibility of entering Bulgaria; (2) that under such conditions Rumania could surrender unconditionally to the British; and (3) that Rumania would rather perish fighting than that “history should show that her present rulers surrendered unconditionally to Russia”. Yet it had been previously pointed out to him that there is no hope of British troops arriving in the vicinity of Rumania and that it would be better for the latter if the Russians should arrive at her borders and find her with arms turned against the Germans than that they should find her still fighting on Germany’s side.

MacVeagh
  1. Not printed.
  2. Prince Barbu Stirbey.
  3. Alexandre Cretzianu, Rumanian Minister in Turkey.
  4. Son of the late Ion Bratianu, Rumanian Premier during World War I and leader of the National Liberal Party.