760F.62/1564: Telegram

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

286. The Government released through the press this morning a fairly detailed description of the fifth zone of German occupation to which it is stated the Czech representatives had been forced to agree at the categorical insistence of the four powers.

[Page 722]

The new border, a description of which follows in section 2 of this message,22 obviously deprives Czechoslovakia of most of its strategic defenses and many of its industries. Every one of the larger cities now will lie in immediate proximity of the German frontier. As the Foreign Minister anticipated all main railway lines will be cut. Traffic from Praha to Bratislava on the main line will pass three times through German territory. It is estimated that 800,000 Czechs reside in the territories to be taken over by Germany.

Careful comparison fails to reveal any important differences between this border and that which was demanded by Hitler in the Godesberg memorandum. The few minor points of difference appear to be mostly to the disadvantage of Czechoslovakia. A considerable district west of Moravska Ostrava, for example, which was marked out at Godesberg as a plebiscite area is now to be included in the Reich.

While Czechoslovakia rejected these terms when included in the Godesberg memorandum, its strategic position is now such that military resistance is almost out of the question and the Government thus had no choice but to yield. Two classes of reservists are already being demobilized. And there is yet no confirmation of the reports that the Czechs would be allowed to keep war materials now in the occupied areas.

The Czech people had never heretofore been officially informed even of the exact limits of the first four zones of occupation. They are shocked and bewildered by the realization of the full import of the agreement arrived at by the powers and forced upon their Government, the actual effect of which they had no means of knowing until this morning. Now they realize that the agreement as interpreted is in all essential respects that which their Government refused to accept and against which it was ready to fight.

While the Government continues to put up a bold front in an endeavor to preserve morale and order there are few men in public affairs who have much confidence in the future of the state. It is widely recognized that despite Hitler’s statements to the contrary, the new frontiers dictated by him at Berlin indicate no intention on his part to permit what remains of Czechoslovakia to continue to prosper as an independent state.

These people as I have repeatedly reported are remarkable for their self-control but they are now being tried to the utmost. They have the feeling that they have been deserted by their friends and they are facing a readjustment and relief problem of very large proportions for what will be a small state deprived of many of its principal resources.

  1. Section 2 of message not printed.