860h.01/2–545: Telegram

Mr. Alexander C. Kirk, Political Adviser, Allied Force Headquarters, to the Secretary of State

439. Norden16 has reported from Belgrade that in the course of a conversation with Smodlaka on February 3, the latter stated that, with regard to the post war world, it was Marshal Tito’s belief that “Russian-United States relations are the key to peace, far more than Russian-Anglo relations or any other”. He spoke disparagingly of British pretentions to “domination” of the Mediterranean which he said was a “Moslem, Slav and Latin lake just as the Black Sea is a [Page 1210] Russian lake”. The loss by British of such “domination” he seemed to take for granted.

Smodlaka also stated that it was not the Marshal’s wish to depend upon Russia exclusively, as Russia needed help herself and had nothing material to give. In “the longer future” only could material assistance be given to Yugoslavia by Russia. Yugoslav policy therefore, should be based equally on friendship with America, although friendship with Russia should be retained for sentimental racial reasons.

Norden stated he made no comment and did not ask whether the pro-Russian indoctrination used exclusively in the army and schools had any connection with “the longer future”.

Ribnikar17 has spoken to Norden twice of the need for American capital and the theme of American financial and technical aid is often heard. This may reflect the regime’s serious preoccupation which has more slogans than ability on economic lines, and is also responsive to popular demand. The people are very impressed by the Russians and if the regime is to succeed must offer some material things, at least things which in the popular minds stands for America. A leading Serb businessman with an impeccable occupation record and a former Deputy, stated to Norden in contrast to above, that everyone would prefer to do without rather than have this regime have it.

Smodlaka also referred to the impending arrival of Subasic18 and stated with regard to the personalities of the regents that some adjustments might have to be made but he felt this would not be hard.

The impression is that both the population and the regime are anxious to have a government formed. Foreign aid will undoubtedly be required and there are very serious monetary and economic problems which should have urgent attention but are being held up. In general the present regime is referred to by the people as “those people” and it seems evident that once the government is established a great deal will be expected of it. That it will be the same thing as at present under different color is realized only by a relative few.

  1. Carl F. Norden, member of the United States Political Adviser’s staff stationed in Belgrade since January 16, 1945.
  2. Vladislav Ribnikar, Acting Minister of Education in the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (Avnoj), and publisher of the Belgrade newspaper Politika.
  3. Ivan Subasich, Premier of the Royal Yugoslav Government in London.