760F.61/3–3145: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State

993. Yesterday afternoon Dr. Beneš came to the Embassy alone for tea and we had a talk lasting for 2 hours. He is satisfied with his discussions with Stalin and Molotov. He has concluded all of his arrangements with the Soviet Government including such details as air transport and radio communications to the outside world, except for one matter. The Soviets appeared to agree to the diplomatic corps [Page 431] being moved from London to the seat of the new Czechoslovak Government at Košice. They were to sail on a ship leaving England March 26. The Soviet Government however did not give its approval in time and therefore the Diplomatic Corps remains in London. The Soviet Government has not refused but for some undisclosed reason is delaying approval of permission to travel through Rumania and Hungary to Czechoslovakia. Beneš is most anxious to have these diplomatic representatives with him and is disturbed by the delay. He hopes however that the situation will be straightened out shortly. He is well satisfied with his reception by Stalin and by what Stalin said during the dinner at the Kremlin given in his honor. Stalin made two speeches at the dinner which Beneš thought were particularly significant. In the first Stalin explained that the Soviet Government had no desire to promote the old czarist policy of pan-Slavism. This policy had no realistic bases. On the other hand he emphasized that the Slavic countries had a historic common objective of security against German aggression and in this Czechoslovakia was particularly interested. Jin his second speech he spoke of the fact that many people had been suspicious that the Soviet Union wished to bolshevize Europe. Turning to Beneš he said “you were justified in sharing this suspicion. On the other hand there was no longer a justification for this fear as; the Soviet Government’s policy had been reoriented to present conditions. The various Communist parties would become nationalist parties interested in the national interests of their own countries. In private conversation Stalin explained that he knew the Czechoslovak Communist leaders well as they had been in Moscow for the last 5 years. He said they were good, patriotic men but wore “blinkers” meaning that they were concentrating too much on their own ideology and he suggested to Beneš that he should undertake to broaden their outlook.

Beneš was not however as well satisfied with the composition of the new government which is to be announced after Beneš’s arrival in Košice.31 His comment was that “it might have been worse” and he maintained that his difficulties were with the Czechoslovak parties and personalities are not because of interference on the part of the Soviets. Fierlinger, Czech Ambassador to Moscow, is to be the new Prime Minister and Beneš feels that he can control him particularly as he is a career diplomat and has no political following in Czechoslovakia. [Page 432] He told me in strict confidence that Stalin was not pleased with the selection, saying that the Western Allies would feel that this selection had been dictated by the Soviet Government and as an incorrect indication of Soviet domination of Czechoslovak internal affairs. Stalin assured Beneš that he had no intention of so doing and did not like the implication which would be drawn from this selection.

In the discussions between the Czechoslovak leaders from within the liberated areas, from London and Moscow, it was first agreed that all parties should have the same number of posts in the government. Then the Communists pulled a fast one (Beneš called it a “trick”) by contending that the Slovakian parties were different from those of the western provinces.32 It will be recalled that in Slovakia all parties have merged into two. The Communist Party now includes the Social Democrats33 and the various liberal parties have joined in what is called the Democratic Party. It was further insisted that the Slovakian parties should have one third of the membership. After endless argument the following setup was agreed upon: there are to be 25 ministers, 2 [22?] senior and 3 junior. By the above maneuvers the Communists have succeeded in obtaining six senior posts and one junior.34 The posts are made up as follows: three from the People’s Party (Catholics), three Czech National Socialists (Beneš’s Party), three Social Democrats, three Czechoslovak Communists, three from the merged Slovakian Communists and Social Democrat Party, and three from the Slovakian Democratic Party (consolidation of the liberal parties), four non-party individuals, including Masaryk. Since these non party members were Czechs it was agreed that the three under ministerial posts should be filled from Slovakia, one from the left party and two from the Slovak liberals. He is reasonably well satisfied with the individuals who were selected from the different parties and states the Communists and more radical socialists will be in the minority. Beneš expects that when Moravia and Bohemia are liberated there will be a reorganization of the Government and that the conservative sentiment [Page 433] of these areas will be given a stronger representation. The Agrarian Party has been left out as the leaders did not behave too well during the occupation but places will be given Agrarians when men can be selected who are untainted by collaboration. No representation is given to Ruthenia which will continue to be administered as it is now.

In speaking with Stalin of matters of general interest, Beneš told me that both Stalin and Molotov had indicated great satisfaction with the Crimea Conference and the Dumbarton Oaks Agreement and indicated determination to support the establishment of the world security organization in accordance with our agreement. Beneš said that he thought the Soviets were having some difficulty with the Ukrainians and participation in the world security organization for the Ukraine was important for the internal situation. Beneš said that Poland35 came up several times in the conversations. He feels that the Warsaw Poles are pressing the Kremlin for a narrow interpretation of the Crimea Agreement as they do not want to bring in new strong elements. Molotov on several occasions indicated that Mikolajczyk36 was unacceptable to the Warsaw Poles. I assured him that it was my personal conviction that neither the British or we would accept a whitewashed settlement. He said that he thought Stalin was getting bored by the Polish problem and wanted to have it settled but on the other hand Beneš could give me no assurance that Stalin would give in to our point of view. Beneš firmly states that he will not do anything to embarrass our negotiations such as concluding the proposed tripartite pact with the present Warsaw Government.

Beneš leaves this morning for Košice. He expects to travel extensively through the liberated areas to get in touch with the sentiment and attitude of the people.

  1. President Beneš arrived in Košice on April 3. On April 4 he accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Jan šramek (head of the London Czechoslovak Government) and appointed a new government headed by Prime Minister Zdenek Fierlinger.
  2. i.e., Bohemia and Moravia.
  3. On September 17, 1944, elements of the Social Democratic and Communist Parties of Slovakia joined to form a new Communist Party of Slovakia.
  4. In telegram 1510, May 8, 8 p.m., the Chargé in the Soviet Union, George Kennan, analyzed the composition of the Czechoslovak Government. He indicated that there were 6 known Communists among the 22 senior Cabinet officials: Deputy Prime Minister Klement Gottwald, Deputy Prime Minister Viliam Siroky, Minister of Interior Vaćlav Nosek, Minister of Information Vaćlev Kopecký, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Josef Soltész, and Minister of Agriculture Július Duris. Under Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Vlado Clementis was identified as a Communist among the junior members of the Cabinet. In addition, the following were identified as “thoroughly Sovietized members of the Government”: Prime Minister Zdenek Fierlinger, Minister of Education Zdenek Nejedlý, and Minister of Defense General Ludvik Svoboda (860F.01/5–845).
  5. For documentation regarding the negotiations between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union concerning the establishment of a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, see vol. v, pp. 110 ff.
  6. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, former Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile in London and a leader of the Polish Peasant Party.