740.00119 Control (Italy)/7–3145

No. 1207
Prime Minister Tito and the Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Šubašić ) to President Truman 1

Excellency[:] We take the liberty of addressing ourselves to you in a matter which presses heavily upon our peoples, with the conviction that it will draw your attention.

On the 17th of July of this year, the government of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia through their Minister of Foreign Affairs sent a verbal note no. 1938 to the Embassies of Great Britain and the United States of America in Belgrade. The content of this note concerns the Civil Administration of that part of Julian Venice which is now under Allied Military Administration.

In the enclosed note we particularly stressed that the Agreement of the 9th of June, 1945, which was signed in Belgrade by the Ambassadors of the United States of America and Great Britain2 and by the Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs, contains in its 3rd article the following clause:

“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”.

This clause of the said Agreement rests upon the fact that the territory which is now under Allied Military Administration, is liberated territory, inhabited mostly by a population which has given proof of its limitless devotion to the Allied cause, and which is not merely occupied territory. The elevated principles proclaimed by the great Allies during the course of the war not only command the respect of democratic institutions in the liberated regions but also the active help of the Allies in order to create and, where they already exist, to develop these institutions.

During the sanguinary four years struggle against Fascism in which, in addition to the Slovene inhabitants, Italians from Julian Venice participated in great numbers, democratic institutions arose and developed and attained their highest degree only when Fascism was [Page 1215] crushed and the people had full opportunity of building up their democratic administration.

With various measures undertaken by the Allied Military Authority, the democratic development of Julian Venice was brought to a stand-still. In abolishing some democratic institutions, reinstating the legal order based on laws which were in force up to the 8th of September, 1943, the decrees issued by the Allied Military Authorities resulted in the substitution of an administration based upon democratic principles, by a regime in which fascist laws, fascist institutions and fascist administrators prevail.

The Allied Military Authority in Julian Venice, inasmuch as it was not satisfied with the work of particular organs of the democratic institutions and democratic procedures of changing those organs and, with the approval of the people, of appointing to corresponding posts such persons as would most closely collaborate with the Allied Military Administration.

Therefore, we propose that democratic elections be carried out in this part of Julian Venice which is under Allied Administration, whereby the organs of a civil administration would be chosen in accordance with the democratic aspirations of the people.

It is with the greatest confidence that we await the Peace Conference, which is to bring the final decision on the question of Julian Venice. But, in the meantime, interpreting the wishes of the people concerned—Slovenes as well as Italians—we should desire that to this afflicted, heroic people be returned those liberties which they won through their own sacrifices, so that they may, pending the final decision of the Peace Conference, live under a national administration of their own choosing and creation, in close collaboration with the Allied Military Administration.

We beg your Excellency to take this matter into consideration and bring such a solution as will be satisfactory to the people of Julian Venice.3

Please accept [etc.]

J B Tito
Dr Ivan Šubašić
No. 1938

Note Verbale

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia present their compliments to the United States Embassy, and [Page 1216] have the honour to communicate, on behalf of the Yugoslav Government as follows:

As known to the United States Government, at a Conference held in Devin (Duino),4 following the Beograd [Belgrade] Agreement of June 9, 1945, no agreement was reached regarding the Civil administration in the territory of Julian March which came under Allied Military Government, and so the matter was left to be decided upon through diplomatic channels.

According to Art. 3 of the Beograd Agreement of June 9, 1945, Allied Military Government will in the territory of the Slovenian Littoral and Trst [Trieste] make use of any Yugoslav Civil administration which is already set up, and which in the view of the Supreme Allied Commander is working satisfactorily.

The Yugoslav Government are confident that this disposition of the said Agreement can be interpreted only to the effect that Allied Military Government will make use of the Civil authorities and ascertain from the practice during the work, whether same fulfill their administrative duty satisfactorily to the people who elected them. If the Military Government get the opinion that certain organs of the people’s Authority were not satisfactory in carrying out their duties, they will be able to request the replacement through democratic proceedings.

This interpretation was communicated orally by the Yugoslav Government to the U. S. and British Ambassadors during the Conference and before signing the Agreement of June 9, 1945; same view of the Yugoslav Government in the premises was pointed out also by Lieut. General A. Jovanović, Representative of the General Staff at the Devin (Duino) Conference.

This seems to be the only logical interpretation in view of the following two facts:

That the status of a liberated territory was recognised to the area in question;
That the Allied Countries the forces of which occupied this territory are democratic States.

Allied Military Government do not comply with dispositions of the Agreement signed in Beograd on June 9, 1945, which will be seen from the following:

(a) They expressively [expressly] stated in their first Proclamation5 that all laws which had been in vigour until September 8, 1943 would [Page 1217] again be effective. Since the organisation of Authorities too, is a matter laid down by laws, through this Proclamation there were reinstated all Authorities organised to Mussolini’s laws, and which were effective up to September 8, 1943 in that territory. At the same time that means a formal abolition of those Civil authorities which were not organised on the grounds of Mussolini’s laws, but which were built up by the population of that territory during its democratic fight side by side with United Nations, in opposition to Fascist laws and in opposition to the form and contents of Fascist Authorities.

If there had been an intention of compliance with the Beograd Agreement, it should have been expressively emphasised in the Proclamation that all laws concerning the organisation of Civil Authorities and their functioning were considered void since Civil Administration had been taken over by National Committees recognised by Allied Authorities.

(b) Allied Military Government deprived People’s Courts of their authority of judging and passing of sentences immediately after assuming control over the area. Owing to their character Military Authorities seem not [to] be adequate to enquire into personal qualities of judges having the confidence of an overwhelming majority of the population over which they exercise judicial Authority.

(c) With a number of practical dispositions Allied Military Government completely paralysed in their work the Departmental National Liberation Committees (Pokrajinski Narodno-oslobodilački odbor), and all its dependent organs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia have the honour to draw the attention of the United States Government to the fact that the reinstatement of hated laws which were effective until September 8, 1943, caused a dissatisfaction and incitement among the people.

These same people which rose into fight with the parole [sic] of destroying Fascist laws and Decrees which are nothing but an instrument by means of which Fascism is oppressing people and keeping them in chains; which suffered heavy sacrifices in blood and torments in their fight for democratic liberties; these people had now to witness how Allied military Authorities are reintroducing laws which they had overthrown through their fight.

At the beginning of exercising their authority Allied Military Government abolished and dissolved the National Militia, the executive branch of the existing Civil Administration’s Section of Internal Affairs.

With such a decision Allied Military Government acted in contravention of the Beograd Agreement of June 9, 1945 since they had had no time, in fact they had not even tried to see whether or not the work of the National Militia was satisfactory: on the other part they completely unabled [sic] the people’s Authorities to work successfully since without their executive branch they could not carry out their duty intrusted to them by the people.

[Page 1218]

We beg leave to point out that therewith the portion of Julian March under the jurisdiction of Allied Military Government has been placed in a position which is worse than that one of occupied enemy areas where Police Units of existing Civil Authorities are effective for the purpose of maintaining public order and are also allowed to wear light arms while on duty.

The Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs [wishes?] to emphasise as follows;

The Yugoslav Government are very much interested in the life and destiny of people living in the territory of Julian March owing to the fact that a great majority of the population in that territory are of Yugoslav nationality, i. e. conationals not of an occupied country, but of Jugoslavia, an allied country, while the majority of the remaining part of the population consider the new Yugoslavia as the country towards which they tend economically and culturally. This has been proved also by the fact that the population of this territory took a most active part in the fighting against the Italian and German Fascism under the Command of Supreme Headquarters of the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, suffered in that fight great sacrifices for the victory of freedom loving people, and built up in the same fight the National Liberation Committees as the only organs of a democratic Civil Authority possessing the full support of the population.
Through the denial of a Civil authority having the full confidence of the people it is just this population who had [suffered?] for the Allied aims which is now being placed in a position even worse than that one of the population of occupied enemy countries: therewith a dissatisfaction has been caused among the people of the Julian March and also among the people of Yugoslavia, which could only hinder good allied relations between our two countries, while it is the greatest desire and endeavour of the Yugoslav Government to deepen and to fasten our allied relations.

The Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs are confident that the United States Embassy will communicate the view of the Yugoslav Government to their Government, and that the United States Government will give necessary [instructions?] to their military authorities that the Agreement of Beograd signed on June 9, 1945 be interpreted in this spirit, and that it be particularly borne in mind that in question is an area of a special character to which the status of a liberated territory has been recognised in a Memorandum of Allied Force Headquarters Representatives of June 16, 1945,6 which was also the tendency of the Signers of the Beograd Agreement of June 9, 1945.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Democratic Federative Yugoslavia avail themselves [etc.]

  1. Enclosed in despatch No. 86 from the Chargé in Yugoslavia (Shantz) to the Secretary of State. This message was also summarized in a telegram from Shantz to the Acting Secretary of State. See document No. 1209.
  2. Richard C. Patterson, Jr., and R. C. Skrine Stevenson, respectively.
  3. No reply was made to this communication until after the close of the Berlin Conference.
  4. i. e., the conference which negotiated the Duino agreement of June 20, 1945. See vol. i, document No. 561 and footnote 2 to document No. 560.
  5. For the text of proclamation No. 1, see The Allied Military Government Gazette (published in Trieste by Allied Military Government, 13 Corps, Venezia Giulia), No. 1, September 15, 1945, p. 3, and Department of State Bulletin, vol xvi, p. 1265.
  6. Not printed.