860H.00/3–246: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Yugoslavia (Shantz)

us urgent

238. Immediately following telegram contains text two notes delivered to Yugos Chargé April 16 and being made public April 18.46

For your information Yugos note of April 2 withdrew equivocal note of March 2 handed to you by Velebit (urtel 248, March 2).

In delivering these two replies, Dept took occasion to inform Yugos Chargé 1) that we have not seen that material improvement in Yugos implementation of Yalta assurances on freedoms which we had anticipated and we hope steps will be taken by Yugos Govt to give Yugos people substance of democracy, 2) that we have investigated charges made in recent Yugos notes against Allied administration in Venezia Giulia which are without foundation and, while we will reply to those notes within next few days, Yugos Govt should know that we deplore their making such unjustified allegations as we deplore statements such as that attributed to Tito in regard to the movement of truckloads of “fascist bandits” into Allied zone of Venezia Giulia, 3) that we hope Yugos Govt will wholeheartedly cooperate with you in reaching early satisfactory solution of Vasilenko case,47 4) that we are concerned over developments affecting US property and interests in Yugos and that we solicit Yugos Govt’s earnest consideration this matter, and 5) that we would welcome some indication of Yugos willingness to make appropriate arrangements to permit establishment [Page 887] U.S. commercial air routes through Yugos in connection with which we have never had reply to our offer of April, 1945 of bilateral air agreement.

  1. For texts of the notes of April 16, 1946, from the Secretary of State to the Yugoslav Chargé regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, see Department of State Bulletin, April 28, 1946, p. 728.
  2. Red Army Private Ivan Ivanovich Vasilenko was slain in Belgrade on February 7, 1946. The five American servicemen present at the time of Vasilenko’s death were subsequently held in custody in Italy where one was placed before a military court martial on charges arising from Vasilenko’s death. Sergeants Chester B. Scott, Theodore Nelson, and Kenneth E. Schussel were mistakenly identified by Yugoslav authorities as having been implicated in Vasilenko’s death. Beginning in February 1946, the Yugoslav Government repeatedly demanded that Sergeants Scott, Nelson, and Schussel be handed over for questioning in connection with the slaying. The United States could not allow the three enlisted men to be surrendered to the Yugoslav authorities for investigation in connection with an incident in which they were not involved. They were therefore given residence in the Embassy in Belgrade while Embassy officers repeatedly sought to obtain exit permits for them to leave Yugoslavia. In September 1946, it was eventually arranged between the United States and Yugoslav Governments for Sergeants Scott, Nelson, and Schussel to leave Yugoslavia. In return, the Yugoslav authorities were furnished a copy of the indictment against the individual actually awaiting court martial proceedings in Italy, and a Yugoslav observer was to be allowed to be present during the court martial. In addition, the United States authorities turned over to the Yugoslavs a Yugoslav national in American custody in Italy. Papers on this topic are in file 860H.00. The American soldier accused of manslaughter in connection with Vasilenko’s death was tried in a general court martial in Naples, Italy, at the end of November 1946 and was found not guilty (Belgrade Embassy File–822).