May 19, 1945
New York Times.
Text of the official Allied military announcement on the occupation dispute with Marshal Tito:
Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander, Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean theatre, issued today the following special message to Allied armed forces in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations:
(1) The territory around Trieste and Gorizia and east of the Isonzo River is part of Italy known as Venezia Giulia. The territory around Aillach and Klagenfurt is part of Austria.
(2) The above Italian and Austrian territory is now claimed by Marshal Tito, who wishes to incorporate it into Yugoslavia. We have no objection to claims being put forward by Marshal Tito to the territory. His claims will be examined and finally settled with fairness and impartiality at the peace conference in exactly the same manner as other disputed areas throughout Europe. Our policy publicly proclaimed is that territorial changes should be made only after thorough study and after full consultation and deliberation between the various Governments concerned.
(3) It is, however, Marshal Tito's apparent intention to establish his claims by force of arms and military occupation. Action of this kind would be all too reminiscent of Hitler, Mussolini and Japan. It is to prevent such actions that we have been fighting this war.
We have agreed to work together to seek an orderly and just solution of territorial problems. This is one of the cardinal principles for which the peoples of the United Nations made their tremendous sacrifices in the endeavor to obtain a just and lasting peace. It is one of the cornerstones on which our representatives, with the approbation of world public opinion, are now at work at San Francisco to build a system of world security.
We cannot now throw away vital principles for which we have all fought. Under these principles it is our duty to hold these disputed territories as trustees until their ultimate disposal is settled at the peace conference.
(4) Within these territories our duty and responsibility is to keep lawful order by our military forces and ensure peaceful and secure life for their peoples through our Allied Military Government. We may be relied upon to act impartially, as we do not covet these territories ourselves.
(5) In this situation I tried my best to come to a friendly agreement with Marshal Tito, but did not succeed. The United States and British Governments have therefore taken up the matter directly with Marshal Tito. The Soviet Government has been kept fully informed.
We are now waiting to hear whether Marshal Tito is prepared to cooperate in accepting peaceful settlement of his territorial claims or whether he will attempt to establish them by force.
(6) It always has been my policy to keep you all, whatever your rank, fully informed about the general situation and objects for which you have fought. I send you this message so that you may know the issues which are now at stake.
The Army also released the following "background" statement on the Alexander-Tito talks:
Marshal Alexander pointed out to Marshal Tito [in conversations at Lake Bolsena in July, 1944] that their two forces would probably meet at a point somewhere along the coast at the head of the Adriatic Sea and that the line dividing the occupation zones should be established.
In the discussions that followed it was mutually agreed for military reasons that this line should run roughly due north of Fiume, with Marshal Tito's forces controlling the port of Fiume and the territory to the east of the line and Marshal Alexander's troops controlling Venezia Giulia.
More detailed discussions of the zones of occupation for the two forces after the defeat of Germany were held at meetings between Marshals Alexander and Tito in February, 1945, in Belgrade. The same general principles outlined in the talks at Lake Bolsena were again agreed to by Marshal Tito. He also agreed to the Allied Military Government for the Trieste area, and Allied planning for occupation of northeast Italy and Austria was based on Yugoslavia's adhering to commitments made by Marshal Tito at both of these meetings.
At the Belgrade meeting Marshal Alexander informed Marshal Tito that when forces under the Supreme Allied Commander occupied Austria it would be necessary for him to control lines of communication to and from Trieste as well as Trieste itself. The field marshal further pointed out this might readily involve control of all territory west of the 1939 frontier between Italy and Yugoslavia, and certainly would involve the establishment of an Allied Military Government in the areas in question.
He emphasized to Marshal Tito that this would be done without prejudice to the final peace settlement.
Marshal Tito replied he agreed and accepted the idea of an Allied Military Government, provided such civil administration as was established would. remain. At the same time he agreed his civil authorities should be responsible to the Allied Military Government.
Marshal Alexander reported the results of the conference to the Allied Governments through the combined Chiefs of Staff.
Approximately two months later the predicted junction of the two forces had taken place, and Marshal Alexander congratulated Marshal Tito on his successes against the common enemy and informed him:
(1) That New Zealand troops under Lieut. Gen. Sir Bernard C. Freyberg entered Trieste on the afternoon of May 2, capturing some 7,000 Germans who were part of the enemy garrison.
(2) That due to recent successes of both forces an overlap of operational areas had resulted, but that this overlap should not cause any serious difficulties in view of the agreements reached at the Lake Bolsena and Belgrade meetings.
(3) That Allied military interests in the Department of Venezia Giulia remained exactly the same as had been outlined at the Belgrade meeting-namely, to use Trieste as a base for the large forces with which the Allies intended to proceed to Austria; that it was agreed the Allies must have effective control of Trieste through the AMG and road and rail communications leading from and into Austria.
To avoid any possibility of misunderstanding over the commitments agreed upon at Belgrade and Lake Bolsena, Marshal Alexander sent Lieut. Gen. W. D. Morgan, Chief of Staff at Allied headquarters, to Belgrade May 8, 1945, to meet Marshal Tito. General Morgan carried with him a written document outlining all points previously agreed upon by Marshals Tito and Alexander.
All of Marshal Tito's previous requests were incorporated, and the purpose of the written document was merely to verify once more, briefly and concisely, all the terms of the two previous meetings.
The agreement provided:
(1) That the Allies under Marshal Alexander were to control the port of Trieste and railways and roads from there to Austria via Gorizia and Tarvision to maintain Allied forces in northeast Italy and Austria and were to control a portion of the Department of Venezia Giulia required to safeguard this line of communications.
(2) That all naval, military, and air force units in the area were to be placed under Marshal Alexander's command.
(3) That Marshal Alexander should govern this area, using an Allied military government. Use would be made of any Yugoslav civil administration already set up and working satisfactorily.
(4) That to facilitate and simplify the workings of the agreements in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3, Marshal Tito would withdraw Yugoslav regular forces now in this area.
(5) That any irregular forces in these areas would either hand in their arms to AMG authorities and disband, or would withdraw from the area.
(6) That in order to establish safe shipping lanes in the north Adriatic and particularly the approaches to Trieste, the port of Pola and anchorages on the west coast of Istria between Pola and Trieste would be open to unrestricted use by Allied naval forces.
(7) That this agreement was limited purely to military matter and in no way would prejudice or affect the long-term policy regarding the ultimate disposal of Venezia Giulia.
On reading the document, Marshal Tito said that an understanding could not now be reached on the basis suggested and that recent events had changed the position.
Marshal Tito said that, owing to the changed situation, the problem was now a political one and not a military one. He considered that Yugoslavia had a right as one of the Allies to occupy those territories which it had conquered. He therefore did not intend to withdraw his forces from the area east of the Isonzo River which they now occupy and insisted his civil administration should remain in control there. He added that at the peace conference he would also claim territory west of the Isonzo.
Although he offered to Marshal Alexander facilities in the port of Trieste and on road and rail lines of communication leading from there into Austria, Marshal Tito insisted that this area must remain under Yugoslav control. The essence of his counterproposal was that the territory should be occupied by Yugoslav troops and that Yugoslav administration would be established.
General Morgan replied that he would submit a report of the meeting to Marshal Alexander, who in turn would have to consult with the Allied Governments because of the political aspects raised by Marshal Tito. He also told Marshal Tito that Marshal Alexander would be disappointed in the outcome of the meeting because he had expected, in view of the previous agreements, that matters would proceed differently.
When General Morgan returned to Allied Force Headquarters he reported to Marshal Alexander that, because of Marshal Tito's attitude, further military conversations would avail nothing.
On receiving General Morgan's report, Marshal Alexander sent a message to Marshal Tito stating that since the latter's counterproposal raised a political issue, the matter would have to be referred to the British and United States Governments. Meanwhile he informed Marshal Tito that he would continue to use the port of Trieste and maintain Allied forces in northeast Italy and Austria. Further, he told Marshal Tito that he trusted he would take steps to assure that no regrettable incidents took place.
On May 11, 1945, Marshal Alexander informed Marshal Tito that he had been ordered by the British and American Governments to occupy and administer the provinces of Styria and Carinthia. He further stated that Allied troops had occupied Klagenfurt and Villach in Austria, where an Allied military government had been established, and had made a junction with Russians at Voitsberg, west of Graz.
In the same message Marshal Alexander requested Marshal Tito to forbid his troops to move over the Austrian border and to withdraw those already across.
This request has so far not been complied with.