760F.62/1625: Telegram

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

293. Last night the new Minister for Foreign Affairs told me that Czechoslovakia deeply appreciates and will never forget the sympathetic attitude of President Roosevelt and the press and people of the United States during the critical period through which it has been passing. He said that it is now urgent that frontiers be defined and if possible the delay and agitation incident to holding plebiscites be avoided so that a President may be elected and a condition established permitting permanent plans to be made. For this reason he has asked to be received in Berlin. The response has been favorable but a date for his visit has not yet been fixed. He hopes by direct negotiations to speed up decisions and impress von Ribbentrop with the conviction of Czechoslovakia that its policies must henceforth not be inconsistent with those of Germany.

Replying to my inquiry he said confidentially that the idea of a German-Czechoslovak customs union was proposed to Beneš 10 years ago by Dr. Ritter who is now again in the Berlin Foreign Office and renewing the proposal. It is being advocated by some local financial institutions with large investments in the Sudeten area but the Czechoslovak Government is opposed. The Minister stated that the establishment of a customs union with Czechoslovakia would be only the first step in the German ambition to bring all Central and Southeast Europe into such a union. One of my colleagues told me that Ashton-Gwatkin is also advocating exemption from duty of products of Sudeten land imported into Czechoslovakia as essential to the economic welfare of Sudeten.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs said that the Polish Minister is demanding cession of the entire region south of a line running just north of Bratislava, Nitra, Kosice, Uzhorod, and Kralova to the Rumanian boundary and a plebiscite in the remainder of Slovakia and Ruthenia on the basis of the Austro-Hungarian census of 1910. The Czechoslovak delegation, all of whom are Slovaks, have resisted on the ground that the Slovaks and Ruthenians are opposed to a plebiscite outside the Hungarian inhabited areas. Hungary is now to submit a new proposal. The Minister for Foreign Affairs said that the Poles and Hungarians seem to have no agreement between them about Slovakia and Ruthenia. He said also that neither Germany nor Italy want Hungarian and Polish ambitions in this region realized but are not disposed to oppose them.