Friday, September 08, 2006

Secret Memorandum to President Roosevelt regarding Mihailovich and Tito forces and the danger of supporting Tito

The following is a declassified, previously secret communication between Office of Strategic Services Director William J. Donovan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president of the United States, warning of the consequences of supporting Yugoslav communist leader Marshal Tito during World War Two.

Declassified July 19, 1984

9 November 1944

Ms. Grace Tully
The White House

Dear Grace:

I believe the President would be interested in the attached report on Yugoslavia. Will you kindly see that it is brought to his attention? Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

William J. Donovan


Approved for Release
July 26, 1984

9 November 1944

Memorandum for the President:

The OSS representative in Caserta has transmitted the following report, summarizing the political conclusions of McDowell, leader of the former OSS intelligence team at Mihailovich headquarters:

Serb Nationalist Leadership is vested less in Mihailovich than in the local leaders in Serbia and Bosnia, who violently oppose the Partisans as Communists but almost equally hate the old Belgrade ruling class. The local leaders and the masses among both the Nationalists and Partisans would quickly agree to unite if the Allies would deny support to the “reactionary” minority in one camp and the “Communist” minority in the other. Entrusting Tito with the Yugoslav Government will insure civil war.

The local Nationalist leaders in Serbia and Bosnia have been fighting Axis forces almost continuously since 1941. Their troops are better armed and disciplined than those directly under Mihailovich. Despite the 1941 massacres by the Croat quisling Ustashi, the Serb leaders in Bosnia are cooperating with Croat and Moslem Nationalists in preparation for a campaign against the Partisans.

In this impending civil war, the Partisans will win the formal battles by virtue of superior arms. However, the Nationalist outnumber the Partisans and will be able to conduct guerrilla warfare for at least two years unless the Allies establish an effective military occupation of all Yugoslavia. The OSS intelligence unit at Mihailovich headquarters personally observed Partisans [Yugoslav communists] attacking Nationalist [Mihailovich’s] troops engaged in fighting the Germans. The unit also has “concrete evidence” of Partisan massacre of Nationalist civilians, including women, and of Partisan failure to launch serious attacks against retreating Germans.

William J. Donovan

Caserta Cable No. 12514, 11/7/44.


Sec’y of State
Ass’t Sec’y of War (McCloy)

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