860h.00/7–2945: Telegram

No. 1204
The Chargé in Yugoslavia (Shantz) to the Acting Secretary of State1

secret
us urgent

323. Talks with Vice Premier Grol yesterday evening following those with Šutej (remytel 319 of July 272) throw more light on Wednesday’s cabinet meeting and present critical situation.

At what was first full cabinet meeting in nearly three months Grol led attacks on new laws and reiterated what (sent Dept, rptd [Page 1211]Caserta and Moscow) he had told Tito month ago (remytel 255 of July 103), that his participation in government and support of his party would depend on govt’s action on enlargement of AVNOJ in spirit of Yalta, free elections and freedoms of press and speech. He pronounced new laws unsatisfactory and requiring study by the Ministers], so many of whom had been kept uninformed during past three months. Šubašić, “showing more fight than usual,” then came to Grol’s support and proposed committee to study laws. Meeting lasted five stormy hours. Part of Communists was taken by Tito and Kardelj, others having apparently been instructed by Tito to avoid a pitched battle.

Some of main points taken up by Grol were: 1. One hundred twenty members of AVNOJ, of whom forty from 1938 Parliament, rest divided among parties, is considered insufficient number; 2. New electoral law permits exclusion of approximately half of electorate on ten possible grounds ranging from alleged opposition to National Liberation Front to alleged support of Mihailović; 3. Nomination of candidates by local NL committees is not nomination by people …4 but nomination by Communists who control so-called People’s Committees …;4 4. New electoral law based on King Alexander’s 1931 law makes Opposition’s activities virtually impossible by requiring all parties in election to be represented in all electoral districts of country (it[‘]s impossible for instance for Serbian Radical Party be represented in Slovenian district, Slovenian Clerical Party in Macedonian districts); 5. Parties cannot find candidates without freedoms of travel, campaign and press; 6. Govt’s proposal of paper ballot unfair to large ignorant section of electorate, rubber ball system preferred (re my despatch 70 of June 265); 7. Front cannot call itself representative so long as it excludes most of Serbian Radicals and Maček’s Party. (Next day Tito sent his car to Knjaževac near Nish to bring Aca Stanojević, aged 94[,] nominal head of Radicals to Belgrade. Politika July 27 carried photograph and story on page one of meeting, but Grol is informed nothing of importance was discussed. Meeting was apparently staged to give impression that Radicals support Front. A few individuals do, but party, largest in Serbia, does not. This was confirmed to me by Lazar Marković, a Radical leader).

Since cabinet meeting Grol has worked with Committee studying laws until late every night. He has found Hebrang reasonable, but Kardelj and other Communists make it clear that no compromise is intended which will effect [affect] their iron control. Therefore, [Page 1212]committee offers no hope. Grol says there are now only two possibilities for success: 1. Pressure on Tito from outside, i. e. from America and England with or without Russian approval; 2. Resignation or threat of resignation of both Grol and Šubašić with others probably joining them. Like Sutej, Grol thinks decisive results depend on action of Šubašić and he hopes America and England will take this opportunity to remind Subasic, who is wavering, that he is responsible and must be firm. Grol is certain he and Šubašić together could bring severe blow to Tito’s regime and perhaps force an end of terror and bring about some relief for people. Without Šubašić Grol knows his actions will have only minor results but he is prepared to act anyway and take consequences.

It seems to this Embassy that there is now a brief and perhaps a last opportunity for the great powers, especially ourselves and British, to manifest our support for the principles for which Grol and a few others in govt are still fighting. If Grol resigns and Šubašić drifts along with Tito on critical laws now pending it will be more difficult than ever for us to relieve a situation which is becoming daily more oppressive and in which we would seem to have a responsibility to the people.

Dept may wish repeat to Berlin for info of American representatives at Potsdam.

Shantz
  1. The gist of this message was included in telegram No, 157 of July 30 from Grew to Byrnes (file No. 800.00 Summaries/7–3045).
  2. Document No. 1203.
  3. Document No. 554, printed in vol. i .
  4. There is a garble at this point in the text as received.
  5. There is a garble at this point in the text as received.
  6. Not printed.