The Ambassador in Greece
(MacVeagh) to the
Secretary of State
Subject: Political and Economic Conditions in Northern Greece.
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 1213 of June 23, 1945,1 and to transmit herewith a survey of politico-economic conditions in Northern Greece prepared by Third Secretary Leonard J. Cromie, together with a copy of a report on the British Army in Greece and its relationship to Greek armed forces prepared by Captain William H. McNeill, Assistant Military Attaché, who accompanied Mr. Cromie on his recent tour (June 12–24) of Macedonia and Western Thrace. These reports may perhaps be usefully read in conjunction with my despatch No. 1282 of July 4 on Developments [Page 1049] in the North of Greece: Frontier Incidents and Anglo-Russian Relations2 and my telegrams No. 695 of July 103 and No. 708 of July 14,4 referring to Marshal Tito’s speech of July 8.
Mr. Cromie’s report, based on first-hand observation and numerous, on-the-spot conversations with representative persons of all factions and classes as well as other reliable intelligence data available to the Embassy, fails to support in any substantial degree the allegations of Marshal Tito and the Moscow and Balkan Soviet press regarding anarchy and wholesale terror in Northern Greece. The overall picture of conditions in that area resembles that of the rest of the country, with the possible difference, characteristic of the “New Greece” acquired after the Balkan and first World Wars, of more pronounced republicanism in the cities and a more kaleidoscopic pattern of political sentiment in the countryside owing to the presence of some minority groups and of large numbers of Greek refugees from Asia Minor.
Figures cited by Mr. Cromie on the prison population of various small towns in Northern Greece and the high ratio of arrests to convictions do bear witness to the deficiencies of present Greek regional administrative and judicial procedure and the disregard of local officials of royalist persuasion for the civil liberties of leftists and Slavophones. Certain of the latter who have identified themselves with the “Free Macedonian” movement or who have relatives among the ELASites now in Yugoslavia have doubtless found it expedient, as Marshal Tito stated, to seek a more congenial political clime across the border. A New York Times Correspondent, Mr. Sam Brewer, told me today that he interviewed last week in Monastir a score of such persons who had recently come from Greece. They gave such reasons for their move as “because we were suspected of being Tito’s spies” or “because we love Stalin”. Brewer was told by Yugoslav authorities, who invited him to inspect frontier registers, that about 1,000 refugees of this type have already crossed the border at the Monastir Gap and 3,000 in the Lake Dojran region. Granted the existence of some injustice, the bitter legacy of Slavophone collaborationism during the war and of post-liberation civil strife, it must also be borne in mind, as pointed out in the attached reports, that a determined effort is being made by the British to restore order and safeguard civil liberties with the sincere support of many enlightened Greek officials acting in accordance with the directives of their well-intentioned if still weak central Government.
An objective understanding of the true situation in Northern Greece [Page 1050] is essential if the threat to this strategic and rich territory implied in the current war of nerves directed against Greece is to be averted. Captain McNeill’s report shows that local British and Greek forces could scarcely block a Soviet-sponsored military promenade to the Aegean disguised as a “Free Macedonian” uprising. Firm diplomacy, therefore, backed by informed public opinion in the Western Democracies, will be needed to make it clear that, while the legitimate desire of the Yugoslavs and Bulgarians for port and transit facilities may be satisfied, the perpetration of a major crime against a loyal member of the United Nations on the pretext of correcting transient and relatively insignificant abuses cannot be tolerated.
- Document No. 454, printed in vol. i.↩
- Document No. 458, printed in vol. i.↩
- Document No. 461, printed in vol. i.↩
- Document No. 463, printed in vol. i↩
- See vol. i, document No. 461, footnote 2.↩
- When asked whether the Turks were alarmed by this claim, Mr. Muzaffer Gorduysus, Turkish Consul at Komotiní with jurisdiction over the border area, smiled and shrugged his shoulders: “Not at all,” he said, “I have pointed out to my Greek friends that their Army would not get beyond our customs posts much less our frontier defenses.” [Footnote in the original.]↩
- Not printed.↩
- Despatch No. 1152 of June 6, 1945: [“]The Kutzo-Vlachs as a Disturbing Factor in Balkan Affairs”. [Footnote in the original; despatch not printed.]↩
- Mane Cuckov.↩
- Shantz’s press telegram No. 6 of June 21, 1945. [Footnote in the original; telegram not printed.]↩
- The history of the Gosti movements is discussed in detail in … [a report from Athens dated] May 7, 1945. [Footnote in the orginal; report not printed.]↩
- A policy favored by Major General Boucher on the grounds of the collaborationist activities of the Slavophones and their lesser need. [Footnote in the original.]↩
- [A footnote which appears in the original at this point is not printed.]↩
- Treaty Series No. 993; 59 Stat. (2) 1031.↩