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Historical documents

10 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 12 CANBERRA, 11 January 1944


The Australian Government has been following closely your recent

telegrams on the situation in Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy and

much appreciates detailed advice of developments.

2. In general we fear that unless great care is taken Allies may

lay themselves open to the charge of endeavouring to return to the

pre war status quo in these countries and bolstering up old

regimes to which the majority of the populations concerned are

violently opposed.


We fully realise the desirability of preserving the State of

Yugoslavia as an independent entity although all the trends are in

the direction of a loose-knit confederation consisting of at least

three and possibly five or six units.

At the same time we are extremely doubtful whether continued

British backing of the King of Yugoslavia [1] will help towards

Yugoslav unity. In this connection we note in particular the views

expressed by the Head of the British Military Mission to the

Partisan Movement [2], and the British Ambassador to the Yugoslav

Government [3] (D.O. tele gram 1182 of 27th December [4]) that

'the dynasty would not be a unifying factor in Yugoslavia and its

return would be bitterly opposed by the majority of the nation',

that 'the King has been personally discredited in the eyes of the

Partisans', and that 'he is irreparably compromised with the

Partisans and a sudden volte face on his part at this stage would

not affect their attitude'.

With regard to General Mihailovitch [5] we have noted particularly

your telegram (D.1062 of 6th December [6]) giving your analysis of

his position stating that he 'is not only of no military value to

the Allies but has also become a standing obstacle to any sort of

Yugoslav unity either now or in the near future'; and also Mr.

Churchill's statement to the King of Yugoslavia on 10th December

that 'we had irrefutable evidence that General Mihailovitch was

collaborating with the enemy'.

In the light of these views it seems to us that the time has come

to withdraw support finally from Mihailovitch and to consider very

serious ly whether it should not also be withdrawn from the King

and Government, henceforward concentrating support on Tito [7] and

his National Committee and allowing the question regarding the

monarchy to stand over for decision by the Yugoslav people after

the war. in particular we feel that it would be ineffective and

imprudent to send the King to Tito's headquarters.


With regard to Greece we welcome the steps that are being taken to

promote unity in Greek resistance but feel that here again as in

the case of Yugoslavia too much stress has been laid on the

position of the King. [8]


With regard to Italy we are disturbed by the views recently ex

pressed by the British Minister to the Vatican [9] reported in


Telegram D.3 of 1st January. [10] Bearing in mind our basic war

aims we feel that it is now desirable to strengthen the hands of

the democratic groups in Italy, with a view to formation of a

widely based and representative Government as early as possible.

1 King Peter II.

2 Brigadier Fitzroy Maclean.

3 R. C. Skrine Stevenson.

4 On file AA:A989, E43-44/1000/4/1.

5 General Draza Mihajlovic, leader of the Serbian royalist Cetnik

resistance organisation and Minister of War in the Yugoslav Govt

until 18 May.

6 On the file cited in note 4.

7 Marshal Josip Broz Tito, President of the National Committee of


8 King George II.

9 Sir Francis D'A. G. Osborne.

10 In AA:A31?05, 1944, 1.219. The camblegram noted the U.K.

Minister's view that Italians seemed to look to the Monarchy for

national stability and that parliamentary democracy was unlikely

to appeal to Italians for an appreciable time'.

[AA:A989, E43-44/1000/4/1]

Last Updated: 2 February 2011
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