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Exposing the Third ReichColonel Truman Smith in Hitler's Germany$

Henry G. Gole

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813141763

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813141763.001.0001

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(p.334) Appendix E: Marshall on Smith's Assessment of the Balkans, 1943

(p.334) Appendix E: Marshall on Smith's Assessment of the Balkans, 1943

Exposing the Third Reich
University Press of Kentucky

Smith's advice to Marshall went well beyond estimates regarding Germany.

WDCSA/000.24 (20 Oct 43)

20 October 1943


Colonel Truman Smith in talking to me about the Balkans said that really the most important thing now was to make some effort to compose, at least temporarily, the differences between the various guerrilla bands; that it was probable rather than merely possible, that they would neutralize each other. On the other hand if for a moment at least they would strive together, along with the supplies that probably now can be given them by plane and by boat, great things might be achieved to embarrass the Germans on their Mediterranean front.

I commented that apparently we needed another Lawrence of Arabia and he thought that was exactly the point; some man to go in there in the effort to influence these people for the time being. Offhand I proposed that we might send General Donovan. He has been there before and was supposedly partially responsible at least for the Yugoslavs entering the war against the Germans. You may remember that he left Yugoslavia just as the campaign began. I don't believe he can do us any harm and being a fearless and aggressive character he might do some good.

I spoke of this to Admiral Leahy and he thought it was a fine idea and that we should go ahead and do it. I added that it would certainly have to be coordinated with the British, that we must not send somebody in there without even telling them. He called me up a little while ago to say that the President was in favor of sending Donovan in and that he saw no necessity for informing the British.

I explained again to Admiral Leahy that we could not do it (p.335) that way and he agreed. It is now up to me to prepare a message either for Dill from the U.S. Chiefs of Staff to be transmitted to London for quick acquiescence, or for the President to the Prime Minister.

Have some of your bloodhounds take a flyer at this this afternoon.


20 October 1943


Attached is a draft of a proposed message from the President to the Prime Minister. The only hope of getting action at once is to go to the top.

The guerrillas are fighting each other in the Balkans. Also, as I understand it, the situation in this area is further complicated by rivalries and competition between our O.S.S., the British S.O.E., and similar Russian agencies. You know that the Russians are extremely touchy on any question affecting the Balkans and feel that they should have the say. It will be difficult enough to get our efforts and those of the British united. It probably will be impossible if we attempt to bring the Russians into the picture.

Another factor is the possibility of a major United States involvement in the Balkans if we take the lead in guerrilla activities there. If General Donovan's activities were successful, it would have an enormous popular appeal and we might be subjected to pressure from our own people to move forces into the Balkans. This is exactly what the Prime Minister has wanted right along.

All the activities in support of the guerrillas are handled from the Middle East. The Chiefs of Staff yesterday took action to get Eisenhower to help. If Donovan goes, both the Middle East and Eisenhower should be instructed to support him.

I suggest that you submit the attached draft to the President through Admiral Leahy. If the President agrees to send it, then furnish a copy to the British Mission here.

THOS. T. HANDY, Major General, Assistant Chief of Staff.

(p.336) To Admiral Leahy:

Attached is a proposed message re Donovan

20 October 43

Draft of Message President to Prime Minister

The chaotic condition developing in the Balkans causes me concern. I am sure you are also worried. In both Yugoslavia and Greece the guerrilla forces appear to be engaged largely in fighting each other and not the Germans. If these forces could be united and directed toward a common end they would be very effective. In the present confused condition the only hope I see for immediate favorable action is the presence of a “Lawrence of Arabia.” The only man I can think of now who might have a chance of success is Donovan. I do not believe he can do any harm and being a fearless and aggressive character he might do much good. He was there before and is given some credit for the Yugoslavs entering the war against the Germans. If we decide to send him in all agencies of ours now working in the Balkans should be placed under his direction and the resources we put into this effort should be at his disposal. I understand that your General Gubbins is now in the Middle East. Donovan could consult with him en route.

I feel this is an urgent matter. If you are inclined to agree to my idea I will discuss the possibilities with Donovan at once.