680F.116/65

Memorandum by Mr. Joseph C. Green of the Division of Western European Affairs 4

Mr. Kabelac called at the Department this afternoon to bring with him the Department’s note of May 23, 1933, in regard to Czechoslovak discrimination against American motion pictures.

Mr. Kabelac began by emphasizing the importance of motion pictures as an organ of propaganda, stating that motion pictures in the German language were used in Czechoslovakia as a means of propaganda directed against the cultural and political interests of the country. He [Page 143] stated that the restrictions on the importation of films into Czechoslovakia were made with a view to controlling this propaganda.

Mr. Green replied that we recognized the importance of the motion picture as a means of propaganda, but that we could not see why in the present case a quota system was applicable to a situation which could apparently be met by censorship or, if necessary, by a prohibition of the importation of German language films. This Government would have no objection to such measures as these.

Mr. Kabelac said that the chief difficulty between the American motion picture producers and the Czechoslovak authorities arose from the fact that the Prague agents of American companies were in many cases Germans who because of their participation in propaganda directed against Czechoslovak cultural and political interests were not personae gratae to the Czechoslovak Government. The presence of these agents was retarding the progress of the negotiations in Prague.

Mr. Culbertson replied that if this were the case the facts should be brought to the attention of the American motion picture producers who would probably be glad to change their agents if, by this action, they could arrive at an agreement with the Czechoslovak authorities which would protect their interests.

Mr. Green said that the use of the German language and the character of the agents in Prague were subsidiary questions, that the main question was the existence of a quota system administered to a large extent by the Czechoslovak motion picture producers, and that the system so administered was unfair to American interests and would never be acceptable to this Government.

We made it clear that we had no desire to shift the locus of the negotiation from Prague to Washington.

Mr. Culbertson ascertained by telephone from the Department of Commerce that Colonel Herron5 would be in town tomorrow and he told Mr. Kabelac that he would arrange to put them in touch with each other.

Joseph C. Green
  1. Of a conversation between Messrs. Green and Culbertson, of the Division of Western European Affairs, and Mr. Kabelac, First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Legation.
  2. Frederick L. Herron, Foreign Manager, Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc., New York.