740.00119 Control (Italy)/2–2045: Telegram

Mr. Alexander C. Kirk, United States Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, to the Secretary of State 42

609. Reference our 421 February 3, 4 p.m.43 At SAC’s44 political meeting yesterday (the first held since December 30) he presented draft brief for his projected conferences with Tito45 in Belgrade. He also produced text of a draft agreement concerning establishment of Allied military control of Venezia Giulia. Alexander stated there had been much discussion regarding form of government which should be established in Venezia Giulia at time when Trieste would be required as base from which to maintain Allied occupational forces in Austria. He stated that it was essential that any arrangement agreed to should be acceptable to Tito since partisan forces were in that area and it was known that Tito intended to incorporate the area in postwar Yugoslavia. SAC added that in recent conferences at Yalta with Eden46 and “others” it had been agreed he should attempt to make an arrangement with Tito on purely military grounds. He intended therefore to propose to Tito that a military boundary be established which would run north and south over certain well defined physical features at a distance approximately 10 miles east of lines of communication required by Allies. SAC added that it would be stated that territory west of this boundary would be administered under Allied Military Government but no reference would be made to form of administration east of the boundary. He asserted effort [Page 1104] would be made to induce Tito to remove any Yugoslav troops west of the boundary but if he insisted they should remain west of boundary he must agree they should come under SAC’s command. Similarly it would be agreed that any Allied troops which it was found necessary to station east of boundary would come under Tito’s command. I took position that Department felt Allied Military Government should be established in all disputed areas which in 1939 were parts of Italy including Zara and Italian islands in the Adriatic. I stated therefore no action should be taken which would compromise the 1939 frontier between Yugoslavia and Italy. I added that I feared intention announced by SAC would imply Allies were prepared to concede to Yugoslavia some of Venezia Giulia and in any case the proposal involved a restriction in the exercise of AMG47 over the area. I said that if it were necessary to discuss this question with Tito he should be told at first that it was our intention to establish AMG throughout Venezia Giulia. I said also that there was no indication as yet that extension of AMG throughout the area would not be acceptable to the Russians, and if it were acceptable to the Soviet Government it would be also presumably acceptable to Tito.

In this connection Admiral Stone48 who was present at meeting pointed out that Italian Government has been informed that all Venezia Giulia would pass under AMG when liberated. This was in accordance with proposal which had been made by previous SAC (General Wilson)49 to CCS.50 It was pointed out that proposal put forward by Alexander would have an unfortunate effect as regards the surrender instrument51 concluded with Italian Government by General Wilson [Eisenhower] on behalf of the United Nations since the implied invitation to Tito (who was not under SAC’s command) to occupy territory which was previously Italian could be considered as a breach of the spirit if not the terms of the armistice agreement. It was pointed out that however much it was desired to discuss this on a purely military basis an agreement of the kind contemplated by SAC would inevitably have serious political implications.

Alexander stressed the urgency and necessity for an established working military arrangement for the area. Macmillan52 stated that from a practical viewpoint the proposed arrangement would in fact benefit the Italians in that it would assure their retention of the port [Page 1105] of Trieste, although he agreed that theoretically it might imply the “de facto” right of Yugoslavs to territory of Venezia Giulia east of the proposed boundary. He also mentioned that this question had been raised in a recent note from Eden to the Secretary53 which had not been discussed at recent conferences. Macmillan suggested three possible courses:

SAC might carry out his proposed intention with risk that since Yugoslavs would surely assume control of territory east of boundary, SAC would have taken first step to precipitate Yugoslav assumption of control without authority from both governments; and Yugoslav forces could not be evicted by United States and Britain after collapse of Germany.
SAC might refer his draft agreement to CCS before discussion with Tito.
United States and British Governments might approach Soviet Government to obtain their agreement to proposed boundary and their cooperation in establishing it.

British Resident Minister commented that there was small doubt that Russians would wish to transfer whole of Venezia Giulia to Yugoslavia including Trieste as this would give them a Russian controlled outlet to Mediterranean. He considered best course was No. 2 above, and suggested it be pointed out to CCS that if they wished to occupy Austria from the South Tito should accept the 1939 frontier or boundary now proposed and in event of Tito’s refusal to accept at least latter boundary the alternative was to fight Yugoslav army for possession of disputed area.

General McNarney54 referred to existing agreement with Tito in respect of Zadar which 1939 Italian possession is thus already compromised. (See my 58, of January 6)55 He pointed out that Yugoslav partisans are already in possession of large parts of Venezia Giulia and that it might be necessary to move to Austria and use port of Trieste before matter could be settled in accordance with courses 2 or 3 above. McNarney considered that early conclusion of some arrangement providing for SAC’s control over lines of communication from Trieste by Austria an urgent military necessity and expressed view that State Department’s policy regarding this territory was not entirely realistic.

Air Marshal Slessor56 said most promising course appeared once joint provisional government is established in Yugoslavia to point out [Page 1106] to them their share in responsibility of Allies for AMG in those parts of Italy (including Venezia Giulia) where it was exercised.

Macmillan supported Slessor’s suggestion adding that Yugoslav Government would participate in obligations of United Nations which included being parties to Italian surrender instrument which covered establishment of AMG over all Venezia Giulia. An accredited Yugoslav representative could be appointed to Allied Commission. Admiral Stone also supported Slessor’s suggestion but mentioned that any Yugoslav forces or occupational administration in Venezia Giulia would have to come under control of SAC through Allied Commission.

Alexander said that since Tito had already agreed in principle to Allied control of Trieste and line of communication to Austria he could be informed that military necessity demanded that whole of Venezia Giulia be subject to AMG and that Tito’s forces in the area must come under Allied control. In conclusion SAC stated he would raise question of Venezia Giulia only in most general military terms in discussions with Tito and on his return from Belgrade would submit analysis of difficulties of situation to CCS together with Air Marshal Slessor’s suggestion and supporting arguments mentioned above.

  1. Alexander C. Kirk was also Ambassador in Italy.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Supreme Allied Commander (Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander).
  4. Marshal Tito (Josip Broz), Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in the Provisional Government of Yugoslavia.
  5. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  6. Allied Military Government.
  7. Adm. Ellery W. Stone, Chief Commissioner, Allied Commission, Rome.
  8. Gen. Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.
  9. Combined Chiefs of Staff.
  10. For text of Instrument of Surrender of Italy, September 29, 1943, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1604, or 61 Stat. (pt. 3) 2742.
  11. Harold Macmillan, British Minister Resident at Allied Force Headquarters, Mediterranean Theater, and Acting President of Allied Commission, Italy.
  12. Presumably the note of February 10, 1945, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 888.
  13. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater.
  14. Not printed; it referred to a proposed Yugoslav airbase at Zadar, within pre-war Italian boundaries, which would be used for servicing American aircraft which might land in damaged condition (740.00119 Control (Yugoslavia)/1–645).
  15. John Cotesworth Slessor, British Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.