File No. 763.72119/1690
The Diplomatic Liaison Officer with the Supreme War Council ( Frazier ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 29, 5.50 a.m.]
62. For the Secretary and Colonel House:
Referring to my 46, April 20, 10 p.m.1 A deserter from the Austrian Army and a former resident of the Trentino now in the Italian air-service called on me yesterday and informed me that the congress of the subject races of Austria which took place in Rome a short time ago had succeeded beyond all expectations as it had directly brought about the manifestation of the subject races of Austria at Prague on the 16th instant. He was of the opinion that a few words from President Wilson recognizing the aspirations of the subject races of Austria would be of incalculable help to the revolutionary movement in Austria-Hungary.
Doctor Beneš, Secretary of the National Committee of the Czechoslovak Party in Paris, with whom I discussed this matter at length today, entirely bore out the statements of the Austrian deserter above mentioned. He told me that at the manifestations of the 16th of May, President Wilson’s name had repeatedly been acclaimed, and that the speakers made supreme use of the phrases regarding the ideals of democracy, league of nations, etc., proclaimed in President Wilson’s recent utterances. Doctor Benes assures me that the Czechoslovak, Jugo-Slav and Polish movements are essentially democratic in spirit and he anticipates the formation of independent states in Bohemia, Poland and the territory occupied by the Jugo-Slavs. All of these could be united by close alliances, especially Poland and Bohemia which have a common frontier and which comprise a total of 40,000,000 inhabitants. He thinks it is a mistake to suppose that Austria-Hungary is on the verge of an immediate collapse: although the state is tottering, the forces of the army, the bureaucracy, the church and the dynasty still bind the heterogeneous elements together. The Czechs he tells me are preparing for a revolutionary movement which will take place at a moment when the Allies are able to deal a successful blow on the western front. For this reason [Page 808] a message from President Wilson to the subject races of Austria would be a moral consolation and would enable them to await the decisive moment with patience. At the present time an uprising would merely mean further massacres in Bohemia. Doctor Benes thinks that the final collapse of Austria will come in March of next year and that it will be preceded by outbreaks of Bolshevism in Galicia, Hungary, and German Austria. Bolshevism he thinks can make no headway amongst the Czechs as there are no illiterates amongst the people. The national movement and the passion for independence in Bohemia Doctor Benes states was not dictated by the bourgeoisie or the upper classes but is derived from the lower classes who have been inspired by their own history of systematic oppression. Doctor Beneš informed me that Professor Masaryk, President of the National Common Council of the Czecho-Slovak Party, at present in Washington, exercised an authority in Bohemia almost comparable to that of President Wilson.
In view of all the facts, Doctor Beneš, I may add, has during the last few days discussed the subject of this telegram with Mr. Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, and Mr. Clemenceau all of which statesmen, he tells me, are in sympathy with his views and have promised support, but he is convinced that President Wilson’s words would carry far greater weight than those of any European statesman.
- Not printed.↩