Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Bernard C. Connelly of the Division of Southern European Affairs


Dr. Franges,1 who is a Croat, called by appointment at his request to urge that the United States extend moral and some small financial support to Dr. Machek and also to other Eastern European peasant leaders now in exile in this country. Dr. Machek, he said, was worried over his financial situation, and a subsidy to these persons, which need not exceed $20,000 for all, would do away with their personal [Page 413] anxiety over this serious problem. Dr. Machek was also disturbed over the fact that so far as his supporters, both in this country and abroad, were concerned he had completely dropped from sight. At the slightest sign of United States backing or urging, Dr. Franges continued, Dr. Machek would organize an effective opposition to Tito and, in cooperation with exiled leaders of other Soviet satellite countries, to Russian aggression.

Dr. Franges referred to his own fear of a United States-Soviet compromise settlement which would divide Europe in two, and that the “Munich peace” which such an agreement would bring about would provide an opportunity for the complete extermination in the Russian-dominated countries of all persons considered “dangerous” to the Communist regimes. The opposition elements, he asserted, were largely peasants who comprised some 70 percent of the people in the Eastern European countries, and whose hatred of their Communist rulers would find expression if encouragement were given. In his view the establishment of national committees in this country, such as Hungarian, Polish, Czech, and Bulgarian, together with a Yugoslav National Committee, would, if supported materially by the United States, be the starting point for the formation of widespread and powerful underground opposition forces.

The Yugoslav National Committee Dr. Franges had in mind would be composed of Serb, Croat, and Slovene elements, the settlement of whose internal disagreements would be postponed until after the liberation of Yugoslavia from Communist domination. All the Committee’s efforts would, until that date, be directed toward freeing their country. Dr. Franges said that the outstanding Croat and Slovene leaders, Dr. Machek and Dr. Krek,2 are already in this country and a Serbian leader could be picked from any one of a dozen Serbian political exiles. He suggested as suitable Serb representatives Mr. Fotich, Mr. Sumenkovic (Choumenkovitch), ex-Yugoslav Ambassador to Turkey, now a permanent resident in Washington, or one of the Serbian political leaders in London. A representative committee of this nature would be able, with United States financial and moral support, to provide direction for the various now separated opposition groups, set up an effective underground, and pave the way for the liberation of the country from the Communists.

I expressed my appreciation of Dr. Franges’ visit, and in reply to his question said that I would be glad to see him and hear his views when he was next in Washington.

  1. Ivan Franges, wartime Chargé in Washington for the Yugoslav Government in Exile.
  2. Mina Krek, exiled leader of the Slovene Clerical Party.