740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 558
Briefing Book Paper1
top secret


. . . . . . .

2. Venezia Giulia

Stalin in his latest communication to the President2 emphatically supports the Yugoslavs, criticizes Marshal Alexander, and deplores the tone of our June 2 “ultimatum.”3 This strong note significantly coincides with the Yugoslav determination that Article 3 of the June 9 agreement (copy attached)4 shall be interpreted to guarantee the continuation of the pattern of local administration which they have succeeded [Page 841] in setting up throughout the area during the period of negotiations. Their object is to retain this committee form of government through which their propaganda and control can work effectively even under AMG. It is obvious that to accept this imposition of the Yugoslav administrative pattern in our area of occupation would (a) cause serious administrative and political difficulties for our authorities, (b) tend to prejudge final disposition, and (c) if the area is ultimately assigned to Italy, leave within that country a small but powerful start toward a general system of local government subservient to foreign dictates.

We have already conceded to Tito as much of [as] Yugoslavian rightful claims, our principles, and perhaps long-range European interests can possibly justify. The Yugoslavs are in full control of Italian centers west of the line;5 there have been no guarantees or supervision on our part. The disputed area west of the line is, in fact, already prejudiced by Yugoslav occupation. Moreover we have not provided for the predominantly Italian areas of the western Istrian coastal strip, which in the final settlement should remain Italian. We have not given the Italians any representation of any kind in the occupation, nor have we sent a token force into the Yugoslav area; but we have agreed to a Yugoslav contingent in our area.

We must, then, at least demand that the June 9 agreement be respected in every detail. No further concessions should be made. To do so would be disastrous to our prestige, our interests, and future peace.

Stalin may also press for final settlement of Yugoslavia’s claims now. No piecemeal settlements of the various Italian territorial questions should be accepted; the final disposition of Venezia Giulia must await the negotiation of a definitive peace treaty with Italy, presumably at an early date. Cession to Yugoslavia now of any part of the disputed territory would mean the triumph of force over the principles we have upheld.

Our recommendations on the final settlement are discussed in a separate memorandum (territorial series).6

  1. Annex 10 to the attachment to document No. 177.
  2. Document No. 562.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Attachment not included in the Briefing Book. For the text of the agreement referred to, an Anglo-American-Yugoslav agreement “respecting the provisional administration of Venezia Giulia” signed at Belgrade, see Executive Agreement Series No. 501; 59 Stat. (2) 1855. Article 3 reads as follows:

    “3. Using an Allied Military Government, the Supreme Allied Commander will govern the areas west of the line on the attached map, Pola and such other areas on the west coast of Istria as he may deem necessary. A small Yugoslav Mission may be attached to the Headquarters of the Eighth Army as observers. Use will be made of any Yugoslav civil administration which is already set up and which in the view of the Supreme Allied Commander is working satisfactorily. The Allied Military Government will, however, be empowered to use whatever civil authorities they deem best in any particular place and to change administrative personnel at their discretion.”

  5. i. e., the Morgan Line, shown on the map attached to the Belgrade agreement of June 9 (Executive Agreement Series No. 501). This map is also reproduced in United States Statutes at Large, vol. 59, pt. 2 (inside back cover). A map showing the Morgan Line in less detail is printed in Department of State Bulletin, vol. xvi, p. 1264.
  6. Not printed.