860F.01/381: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

1805. For the President and Secretary. Supplementing my despatch No. 242, April 10 and my telegram No. 1271, April 2, 1 p.m., Dr. Beneš has told me that he understands that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are favorable in principle to recognizing him as the legal head of the Czechoslovak Government and he hopes that he may be able to work out with the Foreign Office during the next couple of weeks the details of signing formula which will give his Government more nearly the status of other governments in exile. For the Department’s information the Foreign Office revealed that while no definite commitment has been made Dr. Beneš’ request for a more definite form of recognition in all probability would be met but there were certain difficulties which had not yet been satisfactorily worked out in the minds of the Foreign Secretary and others who would have to make the decision. Among these are the absence of any technical continuity in Dr. Beneš’ Government with any prewar government, the problem of the relations of Dr. Beneš’ Government to the democratic Slovakian and Sudeten German groups and more importantly the need of avoiding any action which might so associate Dr. Beneš’ Government with the Czechs in Czechoslovakia as to cause the present Czech set-up in Prague to be thrown out by the Germans. Foreign Office apparently is inclined to think that Beneš unduly stresses the difference between de jure recognition and the loose form of recognition which has already been accorded to him.

Foreign Office also emphasizes that any formal recognition that might be given to Beneš’ Government would involve a reservation on their part making it clear that the recognition did not commit the British to any postwar frontiers for the countries occupied by Germany. Foreign Office thinks Beneš’ contacts within Czechoslovakia are good and that he has the support of the vast majority of the people. But while Foreign Office has high regard for Beneš, Foreign Office officials feel that he is a little too opinionated on the exact form of recognition.

Beneš is frankly troubled about the continued omission of our Government to recognize in any form the Czechoslovak Government in Exile as he thought that you were very sympathetic with his plans as he explained them to you in Hyde Park in the summer of 1939 before he left for Europe. It is true that one hears complaints that [Page 29]Beneš’ Government does not include representation of all political groups in Czechoslovakia but whatever difference of opinion may exist with regard to some of the excluded groups the reasons for the exclusion of the Extreme Eight and the Extreme Left are not difficult to understand. As far as I can discover the Beneš Government whatever its imperfections is as democratic as any other government in exile and has as much if not greater influence and contact with the democratic groups in its home land and it is of course pledged to the restoration of democratic government. Being sympathetic with Beneš’ desire for recognition and fearing that our failure to recognize his Government is being exploited by the Nazis I should like very much to be helpful in clearing up the difficulties if any which may stand in the way of some form of recognition.

Eden has expressed the hope that our two countries might go along together on this matter of Czechoslovak recognition.

Winant