860F.01/374

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

Participants: Karel Červenka, First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Legation
Mr. Coe of the Division of European Affairs
Mr. Atherton

Mr. Atherton stated firstly that this Government was not prepared to change its present position regarding the Czech National Committee in London which is headed by Dr. Beneš.2 The United States Government, he said, has continued to recognize Mr. Hurban3 as Minister of Czechoslovakia to the United States. He referred to the previous question of Dr. Červenka as to why Ambassador Biddle4 had not been appointed to the Czech Government in London, as well as to the various other governments to which he is accredited. Mr. Atherton stated that there was a lack of continuity surrounding the “Government” or Committee in London, a condition which does not exist in connection with our relations to the other governments to which Mr. Biddle is accredited.

Dr. Červenka countered by saying that the resignation of Dr. Beneš from the Presidency of Czechoslovakia was a forced one and had in fact been brought about following German pressure, that the Czech Parliament had never ratified the Munich agreement,5 that certain guarantees given in the Munich agreement had never been fulfilled and that President Hacha’s6 election as President was unconstitutional [Page 22]due to the fact that the Czech Parliament was not in full session when Dr. Hacha was elected because the deputies from the separated territories were absent. This, he said, was unconstitutional and, therefore, made President Hacha’s election to the Presidency questionable.

Mr. Atherton reiterated that this Government was not at the present time willing to change its position regarding the Czech National Committee.

Mr. Atherton then said that the Czechoslovak Minister had discussed with Mr. Welles the question of the transfer of certain consular officers in the United States from one office to another. Mr. Welles had told him that we wished to be as helpful as possible and that we were willing to accede to the request of the Czechoslovak Legation for such an interchange of officers and, furthermore, that we were willing to accept the requested transfer of a person serving on the staff of the Consulate General in New York to the Legation here as Attaché. Mr. Atherton asked Dr. Červenka to present a list of the required changes, to which we would give our sympathetic consideration.

On leaving, Dr. Červenka said that the Minister would return in a few days and that he would inform him of this conversation.

R[ay] A[therton]
  1. Eduard Beneš, former President of Czechoslovakia.
  2. Vladimír S. Hurban.
  3. Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
  4. For text of agreement of September 29, 1938, between Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, see Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939, 3d ser., vol. ii, p. 627, or Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. ii, p. 1014.
  5. Emil Hacha.