860h.01/5–1845: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

2732. Reference Department’s 2045, May 12, 7 p.m. …84 happened to be in Paris and in view of his background in Yugoslav affairs, I requested that he interrogate Machek, who arrived in Rheims on May 15 from Zagreb by automobile. Machek was accompanied by his wife and two children and his secretary, Branko Peselj, and the latter’s American-born wife, in addition to five men of the Croatian Gendarmerie. This party departed from Zagreb on May 6 and proceeded via Celje, Klagenfurt and Villach to Salzburg, where it met elements of the Seventh Army. The party then proceeded to Augsburg under American military auspices and thence via Saarbrucken to Rheims, arriving there on May 15. ... saw Machek yesterday afternoon at Rheims and there follows a brief summary of Machek’s account of his activities from March 27, 1941, to date:

He was approached by a German emissary in Zagreb on March 29, 1941, with a request to collaborate with Germany in the imminent attack against Yugoslavia. Machek refused and proceeded immediately [Page 1231] to Belgrade and assumed his post as Vice President in the Simovich Cabinet.85 He went to Uzice with the Yugoslav Government on April 8 but declined to proceed abroad with this Government, preferring to remain with his people. He returned to Zagreb on April 9.
He was approached several times by the Germans but consistently refused to collaborate. He retired to his farm near Zagreb under instructions by the Germans to remain there and engage in no political activity. On October 10, 1941 he was again approached by the Germans who, he stated, urged his collaboration as it had become obvious that Pavelich and the Ustashi could not maintain order in Croatia. Machek advised the Germans to dissolve and disarm the Ustashi as he hoped to stop the Ustashi-instigated massacres of the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Machek was thereupon arrested by the Ustashi and interned at Jasenovac, where he remained incommunicado until March 1942. He was kept closely guarded and entirely incommunicado by the Ustashi at his farm at Kupinac and at Zagreb until March 3, 1945 when Archbishop Stepinach of Zagreb86 was allowed to visit him.
Machek states categorically that from October 10, 1941 until May 3, 1945 it was absolutely impossible for him to communicate with anyone by any means whatsoever. He therefore had no dealings of any description with Mihailovich, Tito, Pavelich, or with the Italians or the Germans during this entire period.
Machek stated the Domobranci87 provided him with two automobiles and that he made his way unhindered to the American lines. He said the Wehrmacht withdrawal from Croatia was so precipitant and disorganized it was possible for his party to get through without being controlled or having to show documents.
Machek states he is not an enemy of the present Yugoslav Government nor should he be considered a refugee from Yugoslavia. He stated he is prepared to cooperate with the present regime at Belgrade but on a free basis. He desires to proceed immediately to London for consultation with Krnevich88 and in particular desires to communicate with and later consult with Subasic in London upon the latter’s return from San Francisco. He is today contacting British political adviser Steel89 at Rheims. Machek made it quite clear that he is counting on [Page 1232] the Yalta declaration and on Anglo-American support in his endeavor to have free elections and democratic processes in Yugoslavia.

It is …’s opinion, based on conversations with Yugoslav leaders of all colors during the past year, that Machek in no way collaborated with the enemy or its puppet leaders. In spite of every endeavor made by various political elements in Yugoslavia to gain access to Machek and enlist his support, there is no evidence whatever that there was any communication with him during the entire period of his incarceration by the Ustashi.

Copies of …’s interrogation report are being pouched as soon as typed.90

  1. Name of the officer is omitted here, and in subsequent instances in this telegram.
  2. The Cabinet of Gen. Dushan Simovich which took over the government on March 27, 1941. For documentation on the affairs of Yugoslavia at this time, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. ii, pp. 937 ff.
  3. Msgr. Alojzije Stepinach, Archbishop of Zagreb and Primate of the Catholic Church in Croatia.
  4. The Croatian Home Guard.
  5. Juraj Krnjevich, a leading member of the Croatian Peasant Party.
  6. Christopher E. Steel, British Political Adviser on Germany at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  7. Not printed.