740.00119 Control (Italy)/5–245

Memorandum by the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Matthews) to the Acting Secretary of State

You will note from the attached important exchange of messages between Marshal Alexander and Tito5 that we will soon be facing the issue we feared. Alexander told Tito of his intention of securing his lines of communication through Trieste and Gorizia to Austria and of his need of the ports of Pola and Trieste and communication lines between them. He asked Tito to place his forces in that area under Alexander’s command. Tito replied that conditions have changed since his meeting with Alexander and that he intended to establish a western line of operations running from the mouth of the Isonzo through Gorizia and Tolmino to Tarvis. Only Partisan troops operating west of that line are to come under Alexander’s command. While he offers Alexander the use of the port of Trieste and Pola as communication areas it seems quite clear that he does not intend to let Alexander take over.

When it becomes publicly known that Tito’s forces are assuming control in that area we may expect serious outbursts both in Italy and on the part of our large and influential Italian-American population here.

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This makes it all the more important, I believe, for us to take the action proposed in Moscow and Belgrade without delay. We have been in touch with the British Embassy on this matter. While I have no doubt Tito’s reply is based on Russian guidance, for the record I think we should ascertain the Soviet position.

We are preparing an informative memorandum for the President.

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Attachments not printed.