Howard Fast

Tito and His People

The Allies Recognize Tito

A point should be made here — that the guerrilla bands which Marshal Tito had dispatched southward into Serbia the year before had played havoc with German lines of communication. At the time when the British were sorely pressed at El Alamein in North Africa, Tito ordered his guerrillas to spare no effort to delay German reinforcements. The result was that train after train bearing German troops and supplies for Rommel's army was derailed or blown up, and thereby the Yugoslavs became one of the most important factors in the eventual Allied North African victory.

Perhaps this more than anything else convinced the British that Mikhailovich was, if not a traitor and Axis collaborationist, at least a straw man, blown all out of proportion by the Yugoslav government-in-exile. At any rate, the British were fed up and disgusted with the government-in-exile's incompetence and inactivity.

In a ringing speech in November, 1943, a few days before he became a marshal, Tito spoke these stirring words:

"It was necessary to pour out river of precious blood of the nation before the truth about the situation in Yugoslavia could force its way to the world's opinion."

But force its way it did. And Anthony Eden, speaking in the House of Commons December, 1943, made the following statement:

"For many months past the head and front resistance to the enemy in Yugoslavia have been the Partisans under their commander in chief, Tito. From all reports which we received, it is clear that these Partisans are continuing and engaging a larger number of German divisions. We are doing all we can to supply them with munitions and to support them in every way possible. Our action in this respect has of course been endorsed by our Allies, Soviet Russia and the United States."

C. L. Sulzberger, the distinguished correspondent for The New York Times reported in that paper on July 22, 1943, that:

"The British government has established military liaison with the Yugoslav Partisan movement, led by the chieftain who bears the nom de guerre Tito."

Tito was indeed happy to establish military liaison with the general headquarters for the Middle East for Tito was happy to work with anyone who fought the Axis. Its total annihilation above all else, was first on his agenda.

The military mission Anthony Eden was talking about was under the leadership of a member of the British House of Commons, Brigadier Fitzroy McLean, who proceeded to establish excellent relationships with Tito and followed Captain Deakin, now Lieutenant-Colonel Deakin, D.S.O., a personal friend of Winston Churchill's, who entered Yugoslavia by parachute, some time in February, 1943, and was for eight months at Marshal Tito's headquarters. It was Deakin who was one of the first to bring back first-hand accounts of the struggle and its personnel.

On December 11, 1943, the Soviet government also decided to send a military mission to Tito's headquarters.

When Anthony Eden was in Moscow and Teheran, Molotov, representing the Soviet government, announced to Anthony Eden that the Soviet government would send a mission to join the British mission with the Partisans and it was agreed that the two missions should work together in closest collaboration.

The Partisan army is being supplied with war materials by the Allies to the full extent that the military situation permits and Partisan operations have on numerous occasions been supported by our air forces.

Vernon Bartlett, the well-known member of the English House of Commons, speaking in the House on December 14, 1943, made a very significant statement: "We have been much too reluctant to realize that in Yugoslavia, Spain, Italy, and to a slightly different degree in Greece, the future is in the hands of the masses of the people and not in the hands of whoever happens to be king at the time, however gallant he is or however great his services were in the past."

This statement shows a clear realization on the part of men in public life that we are living in changing times and that our old conceptions of diplomacy must be changed in keeping with the times. The Allies realized the wisdom of the old saying: "A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody."

At last the Allies placed their trust in the proper hands. How The Allies Help Tito One example among many: In Zagreb, the Croatian capital, underground sabotage harassed the Germans to such an extent that the Nazis proclaimed a 24-hour curfew. Anyone found on the streets was to be shot and as we know, the German's aren't squeamish about keeping such promises. All through the day, Nazi storm troopers were to make a house-to-house, room-to-room search for Tito's men.

Marshal Tito, fearing that a search would unearth and jeopardize his underground secret service in Zagreb got in touch with Allied headquarters. Together they evolved a plan and in a few hours the plan was in operation. Over 100 American heavy bombers could be seen coming over the city. The Nazis, fearing annihilation, sounded an alert. Air raid sirens screamed, people rushed for cover and in the confusion, all the Partisans managed to escape the Nazi dragnet.

But the bombers didn't drop any bombs. They had no intention of dropping any. They just came to form a blanket to cover up and help in the escape of Tito's "saboteurs."

Today with closer Allied co-ordination, such feats take place more and more often than is recorded in the daily press.

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