860F.01/4–2245: Telegram

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

4122. Before Eden57 left he talked to me about our advancing Army into Czechoslovakia and the possible liberation of Prague.58 He told me that he would forward me a note which the Foreign Office has sent me since his departure.59 In substance it reads as follows, stating that it expresses his considered view:

He feels that if it were possible from the military aspect it would be most desirable politically for Prague to be liberated by the United [Page 442] States Army. Apart from the obvious advantage of the Western Allies contributing to the liberation of Czechoslovakia the occupation of the protectorate62 or a part of it by the United States forces would enable your authorities and our own to get a footing in the country and establish our missions there as soon as a link-up with the Russians takes place and the way is opened as no doubt it would be not long afterwards for the Czechoslovak Government to return to their capital. It is true that practical difficulties might perhaps arise out of the hitherto unforeseen meeting of the United States and Soviet forces in this theater and out of the absence of any liberation agreement between your Government or ours on the one hand and the Czechoslovak Government on the other such as was concluded some time ago by the Soviet Government. Nevertheless, Mr. Eden feels that the advantage to be gained is considerable and would be glad to know whether your Government shares his view.

Mr. Eden is aware that there may be operational difficulties which would prevent the United States Army advancing fast enough to participate in the liberation of Prague. He was anxious, however, that I should put these views to you as representing his own estimate of the political aspect of the matter.

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. For a discussion of United States military operations into Czechoslovakia and the inter-Allied correspondence concerning these operations, see Pogue, The Supreme Command, pp. 468–469, and 503–508. For a briefer treatment of some of the same materials, see Forrest C. Pogue, “The Decision to Halt at the Elbe (1945).” in the volume Command Decisions, prepared by the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army (New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1959), pp. 384–387. See also the article “Anniversary of Liberation of Czechoslovakia: Correspondence between SHAEF and Soviet High Command Concerning Decisions To Halt Allied Forces in Czechoslovakia”, Department of State Bulletin, May 22, 1949, pp. 665–667.
  3. Foreign Secretary Eden arrived in Washington on April 15 to attend the funeral of President Roosevelt, who died on April 12, and to confer with the Secretary of State prior to the opening of the United Nations Conference at San Francisco on April 25.
  4. In March 1939, the areas of Bohemia and Moravia of the Czechoslovak Republic were occupied by German troops, and by a German Government decree of March 16, 1939, these areas were declared to be a portion of the Greater German Reich and under its protection as the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.” For text of this decree, see Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. i, p. 45. For documentation regarding the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Germany, March 15, 1939, and the refusal of the United States to recognize the extinction of the Czechoslovak Republic, see ibid., pp. 34 ff.