The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary (Penfield) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: As so many meddlers are showing a disposition to become interested in the subject of Austria-Hungary’s representation at Washington, I want to repeat to you what I have said in a formal despatch—that this Government has no thought of sending an Ambassador at this time, and probably will take no action in that direction until the war is over. Baron Burian repeated this opinion to me but a few days since, after certain journalists had sought to interview him on the strength of a hint from Copenhagen that somebody in the Danish capital was arranging to have Austria-Hungary send a new Ambassador to the United States. The Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke approvingly of the service being rendered by the Austro-Hungarian Chargé, and smilingly added “It would not be easy at this time for us to get an Ambassador over to your country.”

A foolish news message went forth from Vienna recently—a “Wireless Press despatch,” whatever that means—to the effect that the Austro-Hungarian Government had “administered a rebuff” to me for attempting to intervene on behalf of two Czech ladies of Prague, Miss Masaryk and Mme. Benes, who have been imprisoned in Vienna for many months awaiting trial by the military authorities for treason. Of course I have “intervened” in no manner, nor been “rebuffed” in any degree. In fact I know of Mme. Benes only through the news despatch spoken of.

When I showed Baron Burian a clipping from The London Times he said it was mischievous and had absolutely no foundation of fact. He then volunteered the opinion that the case against Miss Masaryk was probably not serious, perhaps nothing more than that in her [Page 658] possession were found incriminating letters and documents left by her father when he fled the country. “Anyway,” said he, “the affair has not the making of a Cavell case.” His remarks gave the distinct idea that he looked upon the Miss Masaryk case as of minor importance, and this I learned and gathered without asking a question.

I am informed that the prisons contain many persons whom the Government for reasons serious or trivial object to having their liberty. Hence these unfortunates are not promptly brought to trial.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I am [etc.]

Frederic C. Penfield