The Minister in Czechoslovakia ( Wright ) to the Secretary of State

No. 142

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that Captain Anthony Eden, the British Lord Privy Seal, arrived in Prague at 8 o’clock in the morning of April 4th, on his return to England from visits to Berlin, Moscow and Warsaw. He left for London at 1 o’clock the same day. During his stay in Prague he had a two hour conference with M. Beneš, who also entertained him, the members of his suite and the British Minister, at luncheon.

From an official of the Foreign Office, who is in close touch with M. Beneš, I am able to give what is apparently the official Czechoslovak reaction to the visits of Sir John Simon and Captain Eden to Berlin, and of the latter to Moscow, Warsaw and Prague.

With regard to the Berlin visit of the British statesmen, official opinion in this country is to the effect that, while the conversations there have established considerable differences in opinion on important issues between Great Britain and the Hitler regime, the visit has served a useful purpose, in that it has tended to clarify the general situation. The Foreign Office’s information, as a result of M. Beneš’s talks with Captain Eden and reports received from the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, is to the effect that Hitler cannot be won over to a collective security pact, such as was originally drafted by France and accepted by the Little Entente countries.

Czechoslovakia is pleased at the community of views between England and Soviet Russia, with regard to the general European situation, and the best means of insuring its peaceful development, which Captain Eden’s conversations with Russian officials have seemingly brought out. She is glad that Russia seems to have succeeded in convincing England that the Soviets have no intention of directing any pact that they might sign toward the isolation or encirclement of [Page 226] Germany. The fact that Moscow officials were apparently able to allay Captain Eden’s fears as to Bolshevik propaganda abroad have likewise gratified officials here, who have always feared lest the Bolshevik bogy might, in the final analysis, prevent England from cooperating with Soviet Russia.

The change in the attitude of certain European countries toward Soviet Russia, which until comparatively recently they had distrusted, as a result of the ever present fear of a Bolshevik menace, is ascribed by prominent Czechs to the following causes:

The conviction that Russia has considerably modified her doctrines and methods, and has resolved to refrain from propaganda abroad;
Russia has forsaken her previous policy which had for its object the overthrow by force of other governments;
Russia is now making all possible efforts to maintain peace in concert with other countries.

Czechoslovakia therefore argues that it should not be difficult for European countries to decide whether to join a powerful country, like Russia, which stands for peace, or cast their lot with a country like Germany, known to be aggressive and to place “racial doctrines” before everything.

Captain Eden’s visit to Warsaw was not so successful. Like his Berlin visit it was purely informative and, while undoubtedly serving the purpose of making better known the Polish point of view, it has seemingly not advanced matters with regard to general European security. M. Beneš does not attempt to hide his concern over the lack of cooperation being evinced by the Poles and, during the last few days, has spoken to more than one diplomat in this vein. It would appear that in his conversations with Captain Eden the latter held out the hope that he had succeeded in inducing Poland to drop her present attitude of “passive resistance”, thereby increasing the possibility of cooperation in one form or another between the countries of Europe. M. Beneš, however, does not seem to share Captain Eden’s optimism in this matter.

Czech officials with whom I have talked during the past few weeks, explain Poland’s present foreign policy as follows:

Poland is vain enough to insist that she must be recognized and treated as a full-fledged Great Power by other countries, and she reproaches France and consequently feels vexed that that country failed to consult her before launching the Eastern Locarno Pact. She feels similarly toward Mussolini, on account of his Four Power Pact proposal. Czechoslovakia also believes that Poland is to a certain extent justified in opposing the Eastern Locarno Pact, as long as Germany refuses to become a signatory, since it is obvious that [Page 227] in any war between Germany and Russia, Poland would become the battleground with resultant devastation and even threats to her independence.

The conversations between Captain Eden and M. Beneš in Prague were mainly informative. While the official communiqué, which I quote below in translation, states little, I understand that Captain Eden and M. Beneš were in entire agreement with regard to the matters which they discussed, namely, the four points of the London declaration of February 3rd last:

“At their meeting Minister Anthony Eden and Minister Dr. Beneš exchanged in the warmest and most friendly manner views with regard to the matters treated of in the London communiqué of February 3, 1934 [1935]. Minister Dr. Beneš warmly thanked Minister Eden for his visit to Prague and for the information which His Excellency gave him relative to the result of his trip to the other capitals. Minister Dr. Beneš himself gave a concise picture of Czechoslovakia’s peace policy.

“Both Ministers found absolute agreement in the policies of their countries for the maintenance of general peace, as well as their strong and unalterable support of the policy of the League of Nations.”

M. Beneš, I understand, explained to Captain Eden that his country’s point of view with regard to the Eastern Locarno Pact, as well as the Central European Pact, has not changed; and that he hopes that the Great Powers, whose representatives will shortly meet at Stresa, will be able to find a solution for a collective security pact, in order to prove to Germany that neither France, Soviet Russia nor the Little Entente states have any intention of giving their signatures to a treaty which would mean either her isolation or encirclement. Thus Germany would be placed in the position of having to accept such a pact, failing which her bad faith would be definitely established.

I gather that M. Beneš is in favor of the Great Powers making as many concessions as possible to Germany, in order to win her support of a general security pact, which would take the place of the proposed Eastern Locarno Pact, which, in his opinion, would lose a large degree of its importance and significance without Germany. He also feels that England, in her endeavor to maintain the peace of Europe, has actually gone further than might have been expected. Nevertheless, while he believes that England might not oppose the conclusion of an Eastern Locarno Pact without Germany and Poland, he is convinced that France, Soviet Russia and the Little Entente countries should labor under no illusion as to the chances of that country signing a collective security treaty to which Germany refused to adhere. M. Beneš also believes that Signor Mussolini is in an excellent position to act as intermediary between Germany and the other powers, and [Page 228] he hopes that at Stresa he will be able to advance a general security proposal which, acceptable to France and the Little Entente countries, will also meet with the approval of Germany.

Respectfully yours,

J. Butler Wright