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December 28, 2022
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April 13, 2017
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June 25, 1942
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4 SECRET .-._...Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992.- � 1 � . 14 � i � sscot v/ OFFICE OFTRATEGIC SERVICES r- � FOREIGN NATIONALITIES BRANCH Number 41 THE YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT-IN-EXILE AND THE SERB ANTI-CROAT CAMPAIGN June 25, 1942 (The writer of this informal memorandum, Stoyan Pribichevitch, is a Serbian by birth, he came to the United States in 1935 and is nowan American citizen. He is one of the editors of Fortune. He spent the six weeks from April 5 to Play 21, 1942 in London.) I went to England on a special assignment, to collect information and write on the subject of the governments-in-exile. During -my Stay in England I was in touch with members of the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile. I also had personal interviews With numerous British officials: Min- istry of Information, Intelligence Service, and Foreign Office (Anthony Eden). Among other things I discussed with them the Yugoslav problem, particularly the Serbian chauvinist propaganda in England and in the United States. (See "The Serb Anti-Croat Campaign" I and II, this series.) It is my impression that the storm center of tpe anti-Yugoslav and Greater Serbia movement in the United States can be found in the Yugoslav Government in London. As is well-known, this Government-in-exile is "composed of Serb, Croat, and Slovene nationals. Unfortunately) however) there is no one outstanding and dynamic personality among them. , The majority of the Serbs are "liberals," favor a permanent agree- ment with the Croats and Slo'venes,. stand for a federate( democratic Yugoslavia, and advocate even broader schemes. For lack dr'proper leadership, however, they are more or less helpless and ' ve not been tC able to steer Yugoslav paiczell these lines. The Se ianchauvinists , are a minority, but are mor 'a gressive and have greater power than the "liberals." 05570. ............ ...,- ...... ) .Among the civilian me be �itioraremuEED Dr. Momphilo Nincichl* Minister of Fore n-Ate-airs�-and-Dr--Msiaan-a rilovich, Min- ister of Justice and former goslav Minister to iosco . Dr. Gavrilovich in the pffeas been a man in whom the British Intelligence Service has 0,,RLAd&i a,:Naeat deal of confidence. At present, however, the British S Pam to be very much dissatisfied with his attittldes, and it is not un- likely that he will lose their Confidence. (249) Approved .for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 4)) ,-r:.gcRET Number 41 - 2 - June 25, 1942 -----Other-leaders of the chauvinistic Serbian propaganda are a group of igliiii-igei:13WalPeffieera who -participated in the Yugoslav coup dtetat of March 27,1941. 1he moit Nigressive in this group is,Captain (or Major) Vohoska,:0(41Oie family comes from Czechoslovakia). This group or cam- arilla makes up the permanent entourage of young King Peter. The Queen-Mother of Yugoslavia, whose husband Alexander II was . assassinated, constantly has before her eyes the fate of her husband and fears that a similar fate might befall her son. Dr. Momchilo Nincich, Minister of Foreign Affairs, is the man 'who Aeeps himself in power by visiting the Queen more often than is necessary. ,The leaders and perpetrators of the violent anti-Croat and anti- Yugoslav propaganda, in the United States, auch'as YOvan,Duchich (former Yugoslav Minister to Bucharest and Madrid) and Bishop Dionisije, are nbt only on the payroll of the Yugoslav Government in London, but also through Yugoslav Minister Fotitch, are linked directly with the London group of Serbian chauvinists. The separatist political line of prop- ' aganda in the American Srbobran of Pittsburgh is directed from London -- although the Yugoslav Minister Fotitch also plays an independent hand in it -- and most of the condemnatory material against the Croats for instance, the hair-raising report of last fhll describing the massacre of three hundred thousand Serbs by the Croats in Yugoslavia, which was published in the Srbobran was sent from London through the Yugoslav' Legation in Washington. I want to add that massacres undoubtedli"did occur: The figure, however, is impossibly exaggerated and'was intended to present the Croatians .in an unfavorable light so as,tajustify both the extremist Serb propaganda and the breaking up of the-idea of wfutura , Yugoslavia. Another example of chauvinist Serb prOpaganda:is the so-called "London Croat Memorandum." This memorandum was written .last summer and was the brain-child of a minor Croatian official in London. In London I have collected enough evidence to piece together the links between Serb propaganda in the United States and the Nazi: propa-, ganda machine in Germany. This is how it is done. "Phoney" refugees presenting themselves as confidants of Dr. Vladimir Machek (now interned by the Germans) began to arrive in London last fall. I met one such person. He was the man who had brought the memorandum on Serbian OFFICE 'OF STRATEGIC SERVICES FOREIdN NATIONALITIES BRANCH (249) Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 1 SECRET . Number 41 - 3.- June 25, 1942 massacres to London. He left Serbia with a Nedich passport and arrived in Istanbul without being molested by German or Bulgarian government of- ficials. From Istanbul he went to Ankara. The Yugoslav Information Bureau in Ankara is not under Yugoslav Government control, and it is here that the tendentious news is being fabricated. From Cairo, where there are quite a number of formerly pro-Axis Yugoslav diplomatic of- ficials, come similar reports. It is from there that the man whom I mentioned above arrived with the anti-Croat memorandum in London, where at present he continues his vicious work. Further, pictures of mas- sacred peoples are photographed by the Germans, who take great pains to see to it that Serbians who leave the country take them with them. The propaganda being disseminated in the .United States is actually gathered in Germany, though most of the people disseminating it in the United States might not be aware of this fact. Thus they play into Hitler's hands 'And do exactly what Hitler wants them to. do. This is part of Hitler's diabolical warfare. He makes these people believe that they are fighting for a great Serbian cause. Since the storm center of the Yugoslav problem can be found in . London, I do not believe that it would be in itself sufficient merely to check the Srbobi-ctn (official organ of the Serb National Federation) or take the matter up with Mr. Potitch. I believe that .the whole matter should be taken up directly with the Yugoslav Premier in London, Dr. Slobodan Jovanovich, preferably with all the members of the Yugoslav Cabinet in London. This could be done through Mr. Biddle. Of course, action here in the United States, particularly with Mr. Fotitch, also would be helpful; but a complete cure can be effected only in London. As I view it, Yugoslav quarrels on British soil have different im- plications from Yugoslav quarrels on American soil. In England these wrangles are considered 4 diplomatic nuisance since they are carried on simply between the refugees and exiles themselves and thus do not seriously affect the interests of the British Empire. In the United States, however, such propaganda of hatred affects at least one million Americans of Yugoslav extiaCtion. It must be remembered that most of the Yugoslays in the United States live in important defense centers, and adverse propaganda thus undermines the national unity of the American veQple in this war. For this reason the American Government OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES FOREIGN NATIONALITIES BRANCH (249) Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 Approved for Release. 2017/03/08 C06673992 111 SECRET Number 41 � 4"- June 25, 1942 cannot afford to view the matter as a purely foreign, quarrel, but must look at it as a problem of paramount importance ,concerning which not only the State Department should take a serious attitude, but also the Department of Justice, the Office of Facts and Figures, and Colonel Donovan's office. Members of the British Government discussed the Yugoslav problem quite freely, in fact mentioned it to me without being asked to discuss it. They consider the situation as serious. (Confidentially, Mr. Eden expressed himself in rather unflattering terms about the Yugoslav Government in London.) The British asked me to use my influence to persuade the Yugoslays in London to settle their disputes and map out a Yugoslav national policy which would satisfy all dissident groups. It was hinted to me that the British will be forced to take some action, however gentle, even though they are less concerned than we are by what is going on. It is possible, for instance, that the British might ask for the removal and possible transfer to Libya 'Of some of the young �erb officers from King Peter's entourage. By May 21 a mevement had been started among the Slovene, Croatian, and some Serbian members of the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile for the purpose of getting together' on a common platform and deciding on future policy. This movement was started by Milan Grol, Minister for Commu- nications and an old-time Serbian democrat, and Dr. Turaj Krnjevich, Deputy Prime Minister. The aim of this new ,movement is to agree on a common Serbian, Croat, and Slovene democratic policy, next to impose this policy upon the Government-in-Exile, and finally to impose it on all diplomatic representatives abroad. The greatest difficulty in the situation is the absence from the Yugoslav baVernment-in-Exile of any one strong dynamic personality. For instance, Dr. Milan Gavrilovich, the Serbian extremist, is the most aggressive member of the Cabinet. Mr. Grol, though the most brilliant, is only a pseudo-intellectual without much willpower, besides being a poor politician. Dr. Turaj Krnjevich is just a Croat. The ultimate success of the above-mentioned conitructive mOvement is still in doubt. However, I do. think that the eft45A� of this Serb-Croat combination should be encouraged and helped by those in the American Government who are interested. If successful, such a movement would undoubtedly. OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES FOREIGN NATIONALITIES BRANCH (249) Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 ...a...=����������F Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992 111 .SECRET Number 41 - 5 - June 25, 1942 undermine the strong position which the extremists hold today. Dr. Slobodan Jovanovich, the Premier, is my former professor. For a period of fifty years he taught social science, history, and politics. He is a brilliant scholar and has amazing abilities as an analytical critic. He is slow, however, to accept advice; furtherj he is not a man of action. He is definitely one of the greatest living scholars in the galkans. Now at the age of seventy he has been placed in a position of responsibility where he has, to rule an unruly crowd and is forced to make decisions. I have seen him several times and am under pression that he is afraid to face reality. Constantly surrounded by Serbian extremists, he is terrorized by them. For this reason he cannot be held responsible for anything that goes on within the Yugoslav Government-in-Exile. Another important factor which should be taken into consideration when evaluating the problem is the following: Almost the entire bureaucratic apparatus in exile with which this or any other Yugoslav Government has to work is nearly one hundred percent the remnant of the former pro-Axis Serbian apparatus. (From Ankara, to Cairo) io London, Capetown, New York, Washington.) The formerly pro-Axis Serbs are now the most radical Serbs because they obviously need an alibi. For this reason also most of the officers in London are anti-Croatian. The quick collapse -- actually only six days -- of the Yugoslav Army in 1941 was due to the incompetence of the high command. To justify such a catas- trophe the blame is now put on the Croats who, it is alleged, betrayed the Serbs. .1 My impression about Krnjevich is that as a Croat he lacks elasticit3;. He is so rigid an set in his point of view that.he is un- able to do the right thing at the right moment. Often he comMits blunders of omission, which are then used against him. He should have immediately safeguarded Croat interests and by so doing could have fore- stalled the disastrous effects which the Croat memorandum has had on the Yugoslav people in the United States. The Serbian "liberals!' have had continuous difficulties with Krnjevich. It was only last April that he came out with a stern and complete condemnation of the Croat memorandum. Another instance of his stubbornness occurred just recently when he OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES FOREIGN NATIONALITIES BRANCH Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992- pproved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992� .---�.�A SECRET ' Number 4I '= 6-- June 25, 1942 refused to speak over the British broadcasting station to the Croatians against the Pavelich kegime on the anniversary of the foundation of the so-called Independent Croatian State. It would have been better for A him to have made an explanation that his refusal was based simply on the (0% ,.ground that the Serb extremist circles had him under pressure. Such is the characterization Of a man,.1whOJ though utterly honest, is not ; politically-minded. Tbe British,-who like,him a great�deal, also com- plain about his rigidity; He must .be harldled With great care in *order no to offend him.-' The Slovene members of the Cabinet, even though Catholic, as a group and for obvious reasons support the idea of a Yugoslavia. King Peter, whom I mentioned before, is very immature mentally,' though he has reached the age of 18., I.interviewed him, and during the course of our interview he showed much interest in American technology, - the way f was when I was 14 or 15 years old. I understand that he is planning to come to America in the near future. In my opinion, his visit to America would create a great deal of harm unless it is handled very carefully. Of course King Peter would love to, come to America -- for reasons which are utterly non-political. He would be accompanied, _ however, by Momchilo Nincich, although Nincich does not speak a word of English. The men who would like particularly to see the King come to America are those who could in this manner fortify their positions. Obviously the King would be received by the President of the United, � - 4 � 6 States. Celebrations would be arranged where people like Duchidh,, Fotitch and others would play a most prominent 'role. On the ' other handl I just don't ..know what the attitude of the American Croats and, Slovenes, who number Well Over halt a be. I doubt very much that the King's vis4.t to America danbe,cancelled: However,. . _ the American, Governments should'handle,.ithid- matter with ektreme cart.- � - R:ouwpwr,./ n.t has just been, learnect that44...tme,MiniiterNincich and Map* SVetislav Vohoska, together with Minister Of. the CourtRadoje Kuezevich, will accompany the Xing to the United: States,... . OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES FOREIGN NATIONALITIES BRANCH (249) Approved for Release: 2017/03/08 C06673992