Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Allied Liaison Officers in Yugoslavia with Tito and Mihailovich forces treated differently
STATUS OF ALLIED LIAISON OFFICERS WITH THE PARTISANS in Yugoslavia
From THE MCDOWELL REPORT November 23, 1944
In many communities visited which had at one time or another experienced occupation by Partisan troops [Tito's Yugoslav communist forces], conversations with the Mission staff turned to the presence of Allied Liaison officers with the Partisans. No question was raised as to the reason liaison was maintained. But invariably in communities which had been visited by such liaison officers the question was raised as to why there were so few, or no, contacts on the part of these officers and the local population. Invariably the story was told of efforts to meet and talk with such officers which were frustrated by the Partisans around them. The free manner in which the present misson mingled with the local population emphasized in their minds the apparent fear on the part of the Partisan leaders of the results of the free contacts. In some communities there was a conviction that the officers in British uniform were actually only Partisans trying to pass as British, and that this explained the barrier. There is ample evidence, of course, from both British and American officers that the Partisan commanders in most instances do discourage or forbid personal investigation by liaison officers of the local situation and sentiments. To the undersigned, indeed, it is truly astonishing that this practice on the part of the Partisans -- and the contrasting freedom consistently enjoyed by liaison officers attached to the Nationalists [Mihailovich forces] -- is not given the significance which it deserves. For only those who fear and mistrust public sentiment seek to throttle its free expression. But the point the undersigned wishes to make here is that the Nationalists do recognize the significance of this Partisan practice, and it serves to complete their mistrust of Partisan leaders and their unwillingness to come to terms with them. Repeatedly Nationalists of all classes have insisted to the undersigned --
"If we accept a government by Tito we are lost. The Partisans lie, and the British believe them. The British send officers, but they see and hear nothing. We will be persecuted and killed, and the outside world will know nothing of it."
This conviction on the part of Nationalists is sincere and deep, and it again explains the elevation of the Partisans to the status of most dangerous enemy.
Robert H. McDowell Lt. Col. M.I.
Head of American Intelligence Mission RANGER sent to the Mihailovich forces from August to November 1944