760F.62151/8: Telegram

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

326. Department’s telegram No. 99, November 3, 7 p.m.31 As far as I can ascertain the situation with respect to the cession of territory is as follows: During the month of September negotiations between Czechoslovakia and certain other countries resulted in an agreement in principle on the part of the Czechoslovak Government to cede to Germany certain portions of its territory. At the Munich Conference [Page 734] four foreign governments reached an agreement among themselves concerning the terms and conditions governing such cession. While a copy of this agreement was handed to the Czech Government the latter’s assent to its provisions was never formally requested. The Czechoslovak Government decided after due deliberation to accept the terms of the Munich Agreement. It communicated this decision orally to the British, French and Italian Ministers and through them to the German Government pointing out at this time that the agreement had been arrived at “without us and against us”. It then made its decision known to the world at large through an official communiqué.32 Finally it proceeded to give effect to this decision by evacuating portions of its territory as the Munich Agreement had provided.

While the International Commission33 has not completed the final delimitation of the new boundary it is understood that the remaining questions to be settled involve differences so small that they are of a technical rather than a political nature. Thus the new frontier as shown on the maps submitted to the Department with my despatch No. 273 of October 19, 1938,34 may be accepted as substantially the final boundary between the two countries. The Foreign Office itself is not aware at this date whether the completion of the labors of the International Commission will be followed by any formal act which would give legal finality to the transfer of territory which has already taken place in the physical sense. Should no such formal act ensue I am inclined to feel that the Government’s communiqué of October 1 announcing its decision to accept the Munich Agreement must be regarded as the nearest thing to an act of cession and that transfer must be regarded as having taken place progressively with the occupation of the territory by German troops which was substantially completed on October 10. Certainly in any circumstances this date could be taken for all practical purposes as the date when the actual transfer of territory became complete. It is of interest to note that the Czechoslovak Government has decreed that persons domiciled on September 29 in the territory now occupied by Germany are not to be considered as Czechoslovak citizens.

I am not aware that either the Czech or the German Government has taken any formal position with respect to the date on which the territory may be considered to have been juridically transferred. I have reason to believe that the Czechoslovak Government if it were to be forced to take a position would hold that the transfer of territory would not become final until the other provisions of the Munich Agreement—those concerning guarantees and financial assistance—should become effective. I doubt, however, whether this view would [Page 735] be shared by the German Government which I understand has already turned the areas in question over to the German civil administrative authorities and is treating them in most respects as integral portions of the German Reich.

Since there appears to be no authoritative expression of opinion and probably not even any agreement on this point between the parties concerned I can only suggest that the Department draw its own conclusions on the basis of the facts reported above.

  1. Not printed.
  2. September 30, 1938, Documents on International Affairs, 1938, vol. ii, p. 326.
  3. Established September 29, 1938; see British Cmd. 5848, pp. 56.
  4. Not printed.