Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Southern European Affairs (Cannon)

In considering the degree of “recognition” to be accorded to an eventual Tito-Subasic Government, if established notwithstanding the opposition of the King (if the King agrees, even under pressure, the question of recognition hardly arises), the following factors are important:

Only about half of the country has been “liberated”, and Soviet armies are still in the “liberated” region;
It has been customary to talk of the opposition to the proposed new regime as being identified with the Serb element. Particular attention should be given to the fact that it is Croatian leaders (Krenjevic and Sutej, the former being the number-two man of the Croatian Peasant Party) who have been supporting the King in his objections to the agreement. The fact that both Tito and Subasic are Croats has led many to believe that the new movement has strong Croat backing;
Neither Croatia nor Slovenia are liberated, and there are no indices at all to show the popular sentiments of these regions;
The Tito organization has chosen as its particular enemy the Croatian Peasant Party, which itself being pretty far to the left is Tito’s chief competitor for “democratic reform”. Those Peasant Party leaders who joined the Partisan movement represent only one wing, and some of them are considered renegades from the party. The spokesman of Macek59 (the great peasant leader) who went to negotiate with Tito appears to have been “arrested”. Several leaders of other Yugoslav parties who have joined the Tito organization are reported to have been repudiated by their parties;
In recent months it has not been a question of Tito vs. Mihajlovic.60 Mihajlovic is now only one leader, though perhaps still the strongest, in the Nationalist movement, the main strength of which is probably now in Bosnia and Herzegovina rather than in Serbia, [Page 1193] according to Colonel MacDowell,61 the last American observer to come out from Yugoslavia;
We must not proceed under the illusion that the “three principal Allies” can possibly act on anything like an equal basis in Yugoslavia. This is a cardinal point. Far more important than the presence of Soviet armies and Tito’s avowed communist affiliations—since these are open facts and can be dealt with accordingly—is the fact that neither the Soviet Government nor the British have shown any genuine interest in the Yugoslavs themselves in this crisis, but have found Yugoslavia to be the ground where their respective policies for Southeastern Europe are being played out. We know that in their agreement for their respective spheres of influence Yugoslavia was to be, according to the curious scale of percentages reported by Mr. Winant, a 50–50 proposition, though Stalin thought 60–40 would be better.62 This, of course, is confidential information, but Churchill’s speech of January 1863 announces the substance of it, as regards Yugoslavia, to the world. He admitted that he and Mr. Eden

“… reached at Moscow an understanding with Marshal Stalin64 by which our two countries pursue a joint policy in these regions, after constant discussions ... In practice I exchange telegrams on behalf of His Majesty’s Government personally with Marshal Stalin about the difficulties which arise, and about what is the best thing to do. We keep President Roosevelt informed constantly. . . . In pursuance of our joint policy we encouraged the making of an agreement between the Tito Government which, with Russian assistance, has now installed itself at Belgrade, and the Royal Government of Yugoslavia, which is seated in London … Marshal Stalin and His Majesty’s Government consider that agreement on the whole to be wise ... I do not see what else except this Tito-Subasic agreement could be done by His Majesty’s Government and the U.S.S.R. than to contribute what they can to bringing about the widest possible measure of agreement among Yugoslavs, and to ensure that these issues should not become a cause of friction among Allies …”;

The Soviet Government has shown no particular interest in learning what the United States thinks about the Yugoslav situation. It frankly has not asked for a common policy. It has its plans and is willing to go ahead. The British are trying to keep even with the Russians, and one cannot but feel that their anxiety to have us go along is in large part a design to prepare a façade of “Allied” action, [Page 1194] to cover the interplay of British and Soviet political forces in the Balkans, and distribute the responsibility when the general public later learns of the real conditions within Yugoslavia and the type of administration the Avnoj expects to set up.

  1. Vladko Machek, titular head of the Croatian Peasant Party. For information on Dr. Machek’s activities at this time, see p. 1230.
  2. Gen. Draza Mihailovich, leader of the Chetnik resistance forces in Yugoslavia, former Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Yugoslav Armed Forces.
  3. Lt. Col. Robert H. MacDowell, chief of the U. S. Intelligence Mission to Mihailovich territory.
  4. In regard to the plan to share wartime influence in the Balkan countries on the basis of proposed percentages, see Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Triumph and Tragedy (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953), pp. 73–81, 227–228, and 231–235.
  5. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 407, cols. 398–399.
  6. For reports on discussions of Balkan affairs during the visit of Prime Minister Churchill to Moscow in October 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 10071019, passim.