Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)

The Czechoslovak Minister called this morning. He said that yesterday afternoon he had received a telegram in clear, signed Chvalkovsky,81 directing him to turn over the Legation to the German Embassy and to follow the latter’s instructions.

After considering the matter and consulting with Beneš, Jan Masaryk, and with Professor Shotwell,82 he had this morning sent a telegram in Czech to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Praha stating that he could not recognize the capitulation of President Hacha because the latter, under the Czech Constitution, did not have the right [Page 45] to do what he did. Accordingly, he would not turn over the Legation property to the German Embassy.

The Minister said that he wished to cause us the least possible embarrassment and was prepared, if we desired, at any time to leave Washington. He would not, however, surrender the Legation property. I told him that I saw no embarrassment in his remaining for the present but that if the situation should change we would let him know informally.

The Minister’s mind is revolving upon the future of the Legation property. He inquired whether he could transfer title to the Masaryk Institute or to a committee for relief in Czechoslovakia. I told him that this question involved so many legal considerations that I could not answer it but would ask Mr. Hackworth83 to consider the points involved. I thought that in any event title would be questionable.

The Minister went on to say that he had directed the various consulates to liquidate the activities of their offices, to terminate leases and to store archives in their personal names. As for state money, he had directed the consuls to open special accounts in their name under his (the Minister’s) control. As to other people’s money in their possession he had directed them to open a second special account.

Pierrepont Moffat
  1. F. Chvalkovsky, Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. James T. Shotwell, professor of history, Columbia University, and president of the League of Nations Association.
  3. Green H. Hackworth, Legal Adviser of the Department of State.