Memorandum of Conversation, by the Associate Chief of the Division of Southern European Affairs (Barbour)

Participants: Sava Kosanovich, Yugoslav Ambassador
Mr. Acheson, Under Secretary
Mr. Barbour, SE

The Yugoslav Ambassador called on February 13 at Mr. Acheson’s request.

Conviction of Ivan Pintar

Mr. Acheson stated that the United States Government is concerned over the conviction and sentence to death of an American citizen, Ivan Pintar, in Yugoslavia, pointing out that Mr. Pintar has been convicted by a court in Zagreb on a charge of espionage which the local authorities admit was not proved and has been given a much more severe sentence than certain other individuals tried with him and convicted of more serious charges.1 Mr. Acheson mentioned that the Embassy in Belgrade has communicated to the Yugoslav Government and it is our earnest hope that the sentence against Pintar will not be carried out but that the Yugoslav Government will intervene with a view to its mitigation.2 Mr. Acheson added that while the case is still on appeal, a report from our Consulate in Zagreb indicates the probability that the death sentence will be confirmed.

The Ambassador said he was unfamiliar with the circumstances of the case but that he would communicate with his Government at once. Mr. Acheson asked Mr. Barbour to give the Ambassador a memorandum of the facts in the matter.3

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Yugoslav Employees of the United States Embassy, Belgrade

Mr. Acheson told the Ambassador that this Government is also concerned over the arrests by the Yugoslav authorities of various Yugoslav employees of the American Embassy at Belgrade. Mr. Acheson pointed out that the Embassy employs Yugoslav nationals only for routine duties and noted that, as the Yugoslav Government has now arrested the last translator at the Embassy, it seems clear that this action reflects a policy of the Yugoslav Goverment to interfere with the operations of the Embassy. Mr. Acheson said he hoped the Yugoslav Government would intervene to obtain the release of the employees now held.

The Ambassador stated that he would take the matter up with his Government, if details concerning the case could be given him. Mr. Acheson asked Mr. Barbour to give the Ambassador a memorandum in the circumstances.4 Mr. Kosanovich then continued, referring to previous Yugoslav charges concerning espionage activities involving American and Yugoslav employees of the Embassy at Belgrade. He reviewed his conversation at Paris with Mr. Dunn5 in this connection and reiterated the Yugoslav claim that Embassy employees have acted in a manner unfriendly to Yugoslavia and detrimental to the development of normal relations between the two countries. Mr. Acheson replied that, as the Ambassador is aware, the American Government does not agree with the Yugoslav position in this regard.

Issuance of Visas to Yugoslav and American Officials

Mr. Kosanovich stated that upon his arrival in Washington he had, in an effort to improve relations between the two countries, obtained authorization from his Government for his Embassy to issue visas to American officials proceeding to Yugoslavia without prior approval from Belgrade in each case. He said the Yugoslav Embassy here has been acting on that authorization but has now been informed by the Department that the United States Government is not in a position to authorize the American Embassy in Belgrade to issue such visas without prior reference to Washington on a reciprocal basis. In the circumstances, it was the Ambassador’s opinion that his Embassy will find it necessary to alter its procedure accordingly but he urged reconsideration [Page 759] of the United States position. It was pointed out to the Ambassador that the requirement of prior clearance is a regulation which has been in effect since the beginning of the war and the various divisions of the Department concerned do not feel able to waive that requirement in the case of Yugoslavia at this time.

US Refusal to Issue Passports to American Citizens Desiring to Proceed to Yugoslavia

Ambassador Kosanovich read excerpts from two letters written by the Passport Division to American citizens stating in essence that, in view of conditions in Yugoslavia at present, this Government is not able to afford protection to American citizens there and consequently cannot issue passports for persons to proceed to that country. The Ambassador expatiated at some length on this subject referring to the treatment of American citizens in Yugoslavia and apparently endeavoring to indicate that conditions there are not such as to justify the refusal of passports on that ground. He alleged that the American citizens in concentration camps in Yugoslavia are of German origin, that they assisted the Germans during the war, that they did not, during the war, hold themselves out as American citizens and thus be interned by the Germans as was the fate of Americans in other parts in Europe and that consequently they are not “good” American citizens. Mr. Acheson said that our list of Americans in camps in Yugoslavia or under other restraints and restrictions there does not confirm the Ambassador’s statements and, as regards protection, invited the Ambassador’s attention to the case of Mr. Pintar mentioned above.

Lecture Tour of Ambassador Patterson

Ambassador Kosanovich then referred to the lecture tour on which the Honorable Richard C. Patterson, US Ambassador to Yugoslavia has been engaged.6 In remarking that the Ambassador’s statements appear unfriendly to the country to which he is accredited, Ambassador Kosanovich presented Mr. Acheson a formal note (No. Pov. br. 223,) dated January 13, 19477 in that connection. He also showed Mr. Acheson a quantity of publicity literature in connection with Ambassador Patterson’s lectures. Mr. Kosanovich said that these activities of Ambassador Patterson were embarrassing to him.

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Remittances to Heirs in Yugoslavia of the Proceeds of Estates of Individuals Deceased in US

Turning to the question of the payment to heirs in Yugoslavia of the proceeds of the estates of persons deceased in the United States, the Ambassador said that the Yugoslav Consuls throughout US are now handling the estates of Yugoslav nationals here but that the proceeds of such estates cannot be remitted to Yugoslavia under existing US freezing controls. He professed to be unable to understand the reason for this action.


Ambassador Kosanovich stated that the deadline on shipments by UNRRA to Yugoslavia is now fixed as March 31 and he asked whether it would be possible to extend that period in order that some $65,000,000 worth of UNRRA goods already contracted for but not deliverable by March 31 could reach Yugoslavia. Mr. Acheson said he would inquire into the matter with Mr. Wood8 but that it was his impression that shipments beyond March 31 were not possible owing (1) to an UNRRA decision and (2) to provisions of the US Appropriation Act preventing US contributions to UNRRA from being used after March 31, 1947.9

Blocked Yugoslav Gold

Ambassador Kosanovich asked what steps were necessary to obtain the unblocking of Yugoslav assets in the US. Mr. Acheson did not comment on this request.


Alleging that he represents Albania in this country to some extent, Ambassador Kosanovich asked what is expected of the Albanians in the present circumstances. Mr. Acheson replied that he was not disposed [Page 761] to talk about Albania, that the Albanians had acted outrageously towards us and towards the Mission we had sent to Tirana, and that the Albanians know perfectly well that it is necessary for them to behave in a civilized manner and to meet their obligations. Mr. Acheson concluded that our patience with the Albanians is exhausted.10

  1. Ivan Pintar was born in Chicago and had lived in Yugoslavia from 1933. He had married a Yugoslav citizen but had not himself renounced American citizenship. Pintar was arrested in Croatia on October 20, 1946, and despite repeated requests, including a formal note of December 7, 1946, addressed to the Government of Croatia, the American Consulate was unable to see him or learn the reasons for his imprisonment. Pintar was placed on trial on January 16, 1947, in Sisak, Croatia, and on January 21 he was sentenced to death for alleged acts of espionage. The American Consul at Zagreb made immediate representations to the local Yugoslav authorities on learning of Pintar’s trial. Following the announcement of the death penalty, the Consul entered a protest with the Croatian authorities, and on January 24, 1947, the Embassy at Belgrade made representations to the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry.
  2. The reference here is to the note of January 24 presented to the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry by the Embassy at Belgrade, not printed.
  3. A statement of the facts regarding the trial and sentencing of Pintar was transmitted to Ambassador Kosanvić on February 14. Ambassador Kosanvić called on Under (Secretary Acheson on February 25 and informed him that Pintar’s sentence had been reduced to 20-years imprisonment. The Under Secretary informed the Ambassador that this was a step in the right direction. Pintar was finally released from prison and departed from Yugoslavia in December 1950. For additional items raised by Ambassador Kosanović during his February 25 call, see footnotes 9 and 10 below (360H.1121 Pintar, Ivan/2–1447, 2–2547).
  4. A statement of the Department’s information in respect of the arrest of the two Embassy employees was transmitted to Ambassador Kosanović on February 14 (360H.1121 Pintar, Ivan/2–1447).
  5. For the report on the conversation in Paris on September 5, 1946, between Ambassador Kosanović and the then Assistant Secretary of State and member of the United States Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference, James C. Dunn, see telegram 4446, September 5, 1946, from Paris, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vi, p. 948.
  6. Ambassador Patterson had been on leave from his post since October 1946. He submitted his letter of resignation to the President on March 26, 1947.
  7. Not printed. On the occasion of his call on Under Secretary Acheson on February 25, Ambassador Kosanović submitted a further communication complaining of subsequent remarks attributed to Ambassador Patterson. This second communication, Pov. br. 256, February 24, is also not printed.
  8. C. Tyler Wood, Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and an expert on UNRRA affairs.
  9. On the occasion of his call on Under Secretary Acheson on February 25, Ambassador Kosanović once again raised the question of post-UNRRA relief for Yugoslavia. Walworth Barbour’s memorandum of the conversation read as follows on this matter:

    “The Ambassador further endeavored to plead Yugoslav needs for food after UNRRA terminates stating among other things that as a result of a drought Yugoslavia had a 600,000 tons grain deficit principally in corn. It was pointed out to the Ambassador that Marshal Tito had recently stated publicly that the Yugoslav Government has succeeded in providing adequate food supplies for the Yugoslav people to insure somewhere around a 2,200 calorie diet. Mr. Acheson stated that while information on the Yugoslav food situation is not complete it is our impression that the Yugoslav diet is at a considerably higher calorie level than most other countries in Europe. Some discussion ensued concerning the post UNRRA relief bill now before Congress and Mr. Acheson pointed out that until Congress takes action in this matter the Executive Branch of the Government could do nothing.” (360H.1121 Pintar/2–2547)

  10. For documentation on the efforts of the United States to establish diplomatic relations with the Albanian regime and the withdrawal of the unofficial United States mission from Albania in November 1946, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vi, pp. 1 ff.