File No. 763.72119/2464
The President of the Czecho-Slovak Provisional Government ( Masaryk) to the Secretary of State
Mr. Secretary: You will allow me to express my views on the last Austro-Hungarian note,1 as it primarily concerns our nation, and I can claim a fairly good knowledge of all questions involved.
The note again reveals the Austro-Hungarian and Hapsburg meanness and duplicity. The note says that the Austro-Hungarian Government “adheres to the same point of view contained in the last (President’s) note”; that means that they accept some general views which can be deduced or inferred from the President’s note. But the President clearly stated that our National Council is a de facto Government clothed with proper authority to direct not only the military, but also the political affairs of the Czechoslovaks. That means that Austria-Hungary must negotiate with us. President Wilson says so expressedly in his note, insisting that not he, but our Nation, shall be the judge of how Austria-Hungary can satisfy our aspirations and rights. The National Council is not only the recognized representative of the Czechoslovak Nation, but also authorized to act as such by the Nation herself (repeated declaration of the Czech leaders, (Staněk, Stránský) who explicitly stated that the Austro-Hungarian Government must deal not with them, but with the National Council in Paris, also the action of the Czech deputies in leaving the Parliament on October 9, with the declaration that they forever sever all relations with Austria-Hungary).
It is for this reason that I think the President cannot answer the Austro-Hungarian note without weakening his position; it is quite evident that Austria-Hungary, like Germany, is trying to continue the discussion. Austria-Hungary apparently deserts Germany, but I am not quite sure whether this desertion is not made in Germany; at any rate even when we accept the services of a traitor, we do not respect him. The Hapsburgs betraying their ally, who in this war twice saved them from destruction (first against the Russians, then against the Italians), will betray their opponents.
I do not see any other possibility than that you, Mr. Secretary, notify the Austro-Hungarian Government that the President cannot enter into further parleys with them, giving the reasons.
In the question of “overtures” it is evident that Austria-Hungary, like Germany, is trying to induce the President to begin the [Page 859] overtures in a way which would enable them to say that America is war-weary.
Finally, I must emphasize the fact that up to the present, Austria-Hungary was ruled in a quite absolute manner: if America cannot enter into negotiations with the absolute masters of Germany, she cannot enter into negotiations with the absolute masters of Austria-Hungary, who declared the war without ever thinking of asking for the sanction of Parliament or the people. That is required by political consistency and by President Wilson’s repeated utterances. In case of Germany, it means negotiation with representatives of the German people; in case of Austria-Hungary with representatives of the different peoples of the Empire.
I enclose a copy of what I think should be included among the conditions under which an armistice could be granted.1
Believe me [etc.]