740.0011 E.W./5–145: Telegram

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

424. Reurtel 1837, May 1, 9 a.m.73 The Department approves your position regarding anti-Partisan Yugoslav troops in Venezia Giulia, which may now be amplified in the light of a report and recommendation sent by your British colleague to the Foreign Office, and shown to us by the Embassy here.

The three alternatives mentioned in the British telegram are (a) that these Yugoslavs should be used as auxiliary troops; (b) that [Page 1227] they should be handed over to the Yugoslav Army; and (c) that they should be disarmed and placed in refugee camps. The British Foreign Office considers that alternative (c) is the only possible solution.

We agree that the troops in question who wish to surrender to American or British commanders in northeast Italy should be disarmed and placed in base camps for investigation; that those wishing to return to Yugoslavia as individuals should be permitted to do so; that all others should be removed to refugee camps; and that those against whom there is evidence of war crimes should be handled as such.74 We are communicating these views to the British Embassy, and since they are in substantial agreement with the position of the Foreign Office we understand that Ambassador Stevenson will be instructed to inform the Yugoslav Government accordingly. This telegram is being repeated to Patterson for his information and for use in replying to any inquiry on the subject which he may receive from the Yugoslav authorities.

Sent to Caserta, repeated to Belgrade.

  1. Not printed; it reported that the question of the disposition of some 15,000 anti-Partisan Yugoslav troops in Venezia Giulia was under discussion at Allied Force Headquarters. To a suggestion that these troops should be turned over to Marshal Tito in order to avoid Allied responsibility for them as displaced persons, Ambassador Kirk had insisted that this was a matter which had to be referred to Washington and London for decision. (740.0011 E.W./5–145) For documentation on the subject of Venezia Giulia, see vol. iv, pp. 1103 ff.
  2. In telegram 2329, May 23, 1945, from Caserta, the Department was informed that Allied Force Headquarters had issued orders that Yugoslav collaborators were to be treated as prisoners of war. Dissident Yugoslavs were to be sent to displaced persons centers. “Under no circumstances will Yugos who are in custody of Allied troops be returned to Yugo.” (740.00119 Control (Italy)/5–2345)