860F.01/417

The President of the Provisional Government of Czechoslovakia in Exile (Beneš) to President Roosevelt

Mr. President: I have hesitated before deciding to send you this personal letter. Since the date of the conversation which I had the honour of having with you just two years ago / on May 28th, 1939/, and in which, in discussing possible war developments which have since been realized, I laid before you our intentions with regard to the restoration of Czechoslovakia, much has happened.

The plans which I then outlined have now been realized. In agreement with my country we have created a new Czechoslovak army on British soil and organized our Air Force, which has now been fighting for a full year with the R. A. F.20 in repelling German attacks on England. We have unified our political emigration and we are working in close collaboration with our country, with the political leaders of the nation at home, with the intelligentsia and with the other classes of the people. We are proceeding with them in unity and undoubtedly have the nation behind us. We have created a government and all its machinery on British soil.

The British Government and all the British Dominions, having become acquainted with these facts, have given us recognition. And we have just reached agreement with the British Government with [Page 30]regard to the extension of our international status to include full de jure recognition. In the same fashion we have been recognized by a number of other states.

On 28th May, 1939, I had the honour of speaking to you regarding the great assistance which was afforded by the Government of the United States in 1918 to President T. G. Masaryk in the struggle in which he was at the time engaged in the liberation of our people. Similar support by the United States for my country during this difficult time, after all that has happened to it since Munich, and after all its present sufferings and its really heroic resistance to the German invasion, would constitute an invaluable service to us as well as a great encouragement, giving to the people at home invincible moral and political strength.

In declining, Mr. President, to recognize the occupation and destruction of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, you rendered our nation assistance which they will never forget, and which has been a great support to them. But the fact that the Government of the United States has not yet found itself able to recognize our Government which has its seat in London is being taken advantage of by the Nazis in order to break down the resistance of our people in their struggle to renew freedom and democracy in our country, to weaken them morally, and to destroy all their hopes for a better future. If, on the other hand, recognition was accorded to us by the United States, a really far-reaching step would be taken against the Nazi dictatorship, by aiding not only the struggle of Czechoslovakia, but that of the whole of Central Europe. Our state and people were a true democratic state; we were the only democracy who were able for a full twenty years to preserve our happy and successful democratic freedom; and had it not been for the events of Munich our land would still be the home of one of the finest democracies in Europe. In the present war it is in the same military and political fight and position as to-day Poland, Norway or Holland. I think that this fact entitles us to your confidence, and to that of your Government.

Should the United States decide to take the same step as that now being taken by Great Britain, I believe that their action would correspond with the spirit of your policy for the support and protection of the freedom and dignity of the modern man, for the preservation of democratic institutions in Europe, and for the elimination from the political world of the barbarous regime which is to-day personified by that Nazi dictatorship which is destroying the small peoples of Europe.

The Czechoslovak Minister in Washington, Mr. Vlad. Hurban, has already approached the State Department with our request, and negotiations [Page 31]are in progress. I myself had the honour of approaching your Ambassador in London, Mr. Winant, in this matter, and laid before him all the necessary information with regard to the question. It would appear, however, that there are certain difficulties in the way of the recognition of our Government by the United States. Forgive me, therefore, Mr. President, if, recalling again my visit to you in Hyde Park, the kind reception which you gave me, and the sympathy which you manifested with regard to our Czechoslovak cause and our Czechoslovak people, I approach you again after two years—in the course of which our movement has achieved a great advance and our people at home have demonstrated beyond doubt in which camp they are uncompromisingly standing—with the request for further aid.

Should assistance be afforded, history will demonstrate that it was not given to those who did not deserve it. And, what is most important of all, it will have been afforded to a nation to whom a great injury was done, and whose cause is a just one.

I wish all your activities unqualified success, and I thank you for all the sympathy and friendship which you have already shown to my country, as well as for everything which your great and powerful country is doing today for the freedom of oppressed European nations, and for the democracy and freedom of the world.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Eduard Beneš
  1. Although this letter was dated June 4, it was not received by President Roosevelt until July 25.
  2. Royal Air Force.