Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Philip A. Mangano of the Division of United Nations Political Affairs


Participants: General Terence Airey
Mr. Hoyer-Millar, British Embassy
Lord Jellicoe, British Embassy
Colonel Parsons, UK Officer, AMG, Trieste
Mr. Baldwin—USPol-Ad, Trieste
EUR—Mr. Hickerson
S/P—Mr. Joyce
WE—Mr. Achilles
SE—Mr. Barbour
SWE—Messrs. Unger, Greene, Simpson
UNP—Mr. Mangano

On Friday afternoon, April 29, Mr. Hickerson took advantage of General Airey’s presence in Washington to hold a meeting in his office at which interested officers of the Department and of the British Embassy could discuss with General Airey various questions connected with the Free Territory of Trieste and could get a first-hand expression of his views. It is understood that General Airey is also to have discussions with responsible officers of the Army Department, and that it is [Page 505] intended that he see the Secretary of State in a few days, after which the Secretary may issue a short press statement with general comment on the situation in Trieste.

Mr. Hickerson opened the meeting by telling General Airey that his visit here was most opportune and had been long desired; he added that the present meeting was for the purpose of getting his personal views on the whole situation and of permitting a frank and informal exchange of ideas at this time. Mr. Hickerson first drew attention to the pending local elections at Trieste (scheduled for June 12), and reminded the General that the Department had tended to favor a later date—possibly in September—but had deferred to his judgment.

General Airey explained that he had felt that the election should not be delayed so long. Since AMG was not so much a military occupation force as a “caretaker regime” under the peace treaty, and since AMG’s rule had already stretched far beyond what was originally contemplated, he felt that the local population would grow unduly restless unless permitted, via elections, a greater participation in local government, particularly at the communal level. In addition, he felt that the fortunes of Communism locally were at a reasonably low ebb now and that the more enduring economic benefits of ERP to Trieste would not begin to be felt for another 8 or 10 months. As he put it, there would be a period of “doldrums” between the first few months of ERP and the later stage when its longer-range effects would really begin to take hold. Local elections could not wisely be postponed until that latter stage was reached. In connection with the elections, General Airey guessed that the real Communist strength in Trieste was about 20 thousand, although there were doubtless other “hangers-on.” In the city proper, he felt that the overwhelming Italian population would assure success for non-Communist forces. It needed also to be understood that representatives elected in the outlying communes (where Slav elements predominate) would not represent nearly so large population groups as those elected in the principal communes of the city itself. This was a peculiarity of the electoral structure of the commune system. He added that the balance of forces between the pro-Tito and pro-Cominform Communist groups seemed to be in favor of the latter by about two to one. The General expressed the opinion that the Italian political parties in Trieste were not as cohesive nor as well organized for election purposes as they might be, but hoped that they would improve on this as the elections approached.

Mr. Hickerson then guided the discussion to UN aspects of the Trieste problem. He referred to the pending Soviet resolution in the Security Council calling for appointment of Flückiger (Swiss) as Governor. The consensus of the meeting was that this resolution would [Page 506] fail decisively if pressed to a vote. With respect to further implementation of the tripartite March 20 proposal for the return of Trieste to Italy, Mr. Hickerson seemed to have in mind that it might become necessary to obtain from the Security Council some expression of approbation of the March 20 proposal, or at least a recommendation for consultation among the signatories on the possibility of revising the treaty. Mr. Hickerson regarded the present situation as reasonably Satisfactory to us, and said that as far as we could see, the US–UK forces might have to stay there indefinitely. Eventually, he thought, a solution might be worked out based on Italo-Yugoslav agreement to divide the FTT on the basis of the present zones. If this should occur, it could not represent a formal treaty revision, but could be put into effect on an administrative basis, subject always to some future regularization as a treaty matter. For the time being, we were maintaining that the entire FTT should be returned to Italy.

The General concurred substantially with Mr. Hickerson’s view and referred to the encouraging trade negotiations between Italy and Yugoslavia. He said also that AMG was now paying more attention to trade relations and transit traffic with the hinterland countries.

The discussion then turned to other economic phases of the Trieste problem. Mr. Unger reported that the two former U.S. baby carriers, now in possession of a British shipping firm and presently located at Norfolk, would be ready to sail immediately to Trieste and to be refitted as passenger-cargo vessels, but that there was some U.S. Navy regulation which stood in the way. Mr. Hickerson and General Airey both felt that the early arrival of these vessels at Trieste before the elections would be highly beneficial and that the employment which their refitting would create would be politically important. Mr. Hickerson proposed to take this matter up with Mr. Hensel of the Navy Department as a matter of urgency and to endeavor to obtain a waiver of the Navy regulations which prevented departure of the two vessels.

During more informal discussion which followed, Mr. Joyce wondered whether the Russians might not soon, in order to embarrass Tito and accomplish other objectives, suddenly indicate a willingness to discuss implementing the March 20 proposal. Under such circumstances, what would be our reaction? The consensus was that we would greet this as an encouraging development and would proceed with necessary consultations, but that, of course, it would be impossible to dislodge the Yugoslavs from their zone in the FTT without their consent.

I took occasion to inquire of the General whether, in the light of our well-known position that treaty provisions on the FTT were unworkable and that the Yugoslavs had practically annexed and created a police state out of their zone, there had been signs that the Yugoslavs were trying to build a defense against such charge by a softening in [Page 507] their administration. He [Hickerson] said that it would be very awkward for us and the British to be compelled to furnish proof of Yugoslav mal-administration if, in fact, the Yugoslavs took steps to put their house (in zone B) in better order. The General did not feel that there were any appreciable signs of such developments.

General Airey will be in New York early this week for consultation with the UK and US delegations to the United Nations. His latest (sixth) quarterly report is now ready and will be presented to the Security Council in the next few days. There is some thought that General Airey might present it personally to the President of the Security Council while he is in New York.

One idea which the General has in mind is that AMG should soon be civilianized to a much greater extent than heretofore. He recognized that, under the peace treaty, the military command and supporting forces would remain the governing authority, but felt that the time was approaching when his immediate administrative staff should consist predominantly of British and American civilians. He attached great importance to the psychological and political advisability of such a step because it would make the administration more palatable to the local population. Budget conscious, he also felt that such a step would result in greater economy. The problem would be that of obtaining competent civilians to replace the British and American Army officers on his staff. In that connection, he said that he was going to recommend to our military that the officer next in line to him (presently an American)1 should no longer be designated as Deputy Commander of the Allied Forces, but should be Deputy in Charge of AMG. He felt that this would moderate the military tone of the administration. With most of these latter points, Mr. Hickerson expressed general agreement, indicating that, of course, we were moving toward greater civilian authority in the occupation zones of Germany.

  1. Maj. Gen. William M. Hoge, Commanding General of the U.S. troops in Trieste.