860f.4016/6–2845: Telegram

No. 438
The Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the Secretary of State ad interim

44. Regardless of the importance and gravity of Zecho-Russian relations, the outstanding issue in Zecho, on which the country’s reconstruction depends, is solution of the minority problem involving transfer to Germany and Hungary of about three million Czech nationals who constitute 20% of the country’s population. Replacement of minority people by approximately the same number of Czechos, 90% of whom will have to be uprooted and transferred, constitutes the second and related phase of this problem. Transfer and replacement of minorities will involve 40% of Zecho population.

Zecho Govt realizes that transfers must be undertaken in agreement with the Allied Govts. However it is essential that the earliest possible agreement be reached in this matter. All reconstruction is makeshift until the transfer problem is solved. The people of Zecho demand an early solution or at least an agreement outlining the proposed stages of the transfer and, most important of all, the time envisaged to complete the operation. This problem unsolved presents the greatest danger to President Beneš’ prestige. The possibility cannot be excluded that the situation affords opportunity for a dramatic leader with radical support to arouse the people and seek solution by force, on the model of similar action elsewhere in Europe after 1918.