The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

No. 1197

Sir: With reference to my top secret telegram No. 146, October 17, 6:00 p.m.,88 regarding the question of the retention of United States forces of occupation in Czechoslovakia, I have the honor to enclose a paraphrase of the USFET telegram to the War Department which sets forth General Eisenhower’s recommendation to General Marshall on this subject.

The Department is informed that at General Eisenhower’s request, accompanied by Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Bull, I proceeded to Pilsen and Prague on October 14. At Pilsen a thorough review of the situation from the Army point of view was had. At Prague General Bull and I thoroughly canvassed the situation with Ambassador Steinhardt and members of his staff. I enclose for the Department’s information a copy of my report to General Eisenhower dated October 16.

A supplemental report will be made to the Department regarding other features of our conversations with Ambassador Steinhardt, particularly with reference to the subject of restitution of property looted by the Germans in Czechoslovakia and which is now subject to claim [Page 498] by the Czechoslovak Government. I believe that our visit was fruitful in developing closer cooperation between American authorities in Czechoslovakia and those in Germany and a better understanding of mutual problems developed. The Department is assured that every effort will be made by this office to support and assist Ambassador Steinhardt in his delicate mission.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Murphy
[Enclosure 1—Telegram]

The Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theater (Eisenhower) to the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Marshall)

S–28266. When I visited Prague recently I conferred with General Harmon, Ambassador Steinhardt, and others with regard to the problems connected with the continued maintenance of occupational forces in Czechoslovakia or alternatively to the withdrawal of US Forces. When I returned to Frankfurt I immediately directed General Bull and Ambassador Murphy to visit Prague and Pilsen with a view to making a detailed study of a withdrawal and all its implications. After carefully considering their reports, I am transmitting herewith the following comments and recommendations for your consideration.

Previous cables have outlined the situation existing in the part of Czechoslovakia occupied by US Forces. The two understrength divisions now in occupation, it is emphasized, are strung out along the US/Russian boundary for approximately 266 miles, with all units disposed on operation of road blocks and border patrol except for one battalion. General Harmon has successfully completed all missions given him when he entered Czechoslovakia. Law and order has been established under the Czechoslovakian Government. The population is tranquil, the enemy has been defeated and disarmed, the bulk of enemy captured material has been disposed of, and United Nations Displaced Persons have been repatriated. General Harmon’s troops at present are placed in the position of protecting German minorities against Czech aggression and of blocking the movement of Soviet troops into the US sector of the country.

Expansion to a strength of approximately 150,000 Czechoslovak Forces is being made and within a month it is believed that they will have partially equipped and trained 50,000 men who can assume duties of occupation.

Desire was expressed by Ambassador Steinhardt to retain the US troops to influence Czechoslovakian development in a manner sympathetic to the Western Democracies and as a stabilizing influence, but now he does not believe that it is intention of Soviet authorities to [Page 499] occupy Czechoslovakia permanently but do intend to quarter and feed a considerable number of troops there during the coming winter and to exploit the country’s resources.

In view of foregoing, I recommend the following:

Due to the necessary transfer of a vast number of Sudeten Germans to the American Zone of Germany, there should be retained in Czechoslovakia the present strength of 1 corps of 2 divisions augmented by authorized strength replacements, under [until?] we are assured of the orderly evacuation of Sudeten Germans. (Our presence in Czechoslovakia, it is believed, will materially contribute to an orderly evacuation, all to our advantage.)
That in agreement with the Czechoslovak Government, our government inform the Soviets that there seems to be no necessity for further occupation of this friendly country by the military and request agreement by the Soviets for the withdrawal of occupational forces, stating a specified date when such withdrawal is to be completed. (Simultaneous withdrawal of US and Russian Forces need not be necessary).
That US troops be withdrawn, in cooperation with Czechoslovak authorities, in the event that Soviet agreement to the proposed withdrawal is not obtained. Withdrawal is to be initiated and completed within a two week period after the orderly evacuation of Sudeten Germans is assured. (It is recommended by Mr. Murphy that our proposal to the Soviet Government and the effective withdrawal date be announced publicly prior to this unilateral withdrawal.)
That our troops be withdrawn in accordance with A above in the event that the Soviet authorities agree on the withdrawal by a specified date.
Upon withdrawal of our forces, we should precede and accompany the move by an appropriate and effective publicity campaign describing the contribution we have made to the liberation and welfare of Czechoslovakia and the friendly cooperation we have maintained.

State Department is being informed by Murphy.

[Enclosure 2]

Memorandum by the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theater (Eisenhower)

In accordance with your wishes, General Bull and I proceeded to Pilsen and Prague. These are my impressions:

United States Army Occupational Forces

The XXII Corps with present strength of about 18,000 which is to be increased to about 26,000 is operating under a mission which it seems to me has expired. Since its arrival it has accomplished what was required of it under its directive. The enemy has been [Page 500] subdued and disarmed, the population is tranquil, the problem of United Nations DPs has been liquidated, enemy materiel disposed of, a recognized Czechoslovakian Government is in authority and its administration rapidly gaining in efficiency and authority, a Czechoslovakian army with growing strength and improved organization has come into being. If United States forces are to remain, a new directive should be issued to justify their continued presence. What can be said in support of such deployment? These are arguments proffered by Ambassador Steinhardt which undoubtedly reflect the personal sentiments of some elements at least of the Czechoslovakian administration:

The presence of United States Forces serves to influence Czechoslovakian development in a manner sympathetic to the Western Democracies.
Their presence also serves as a stabilizing force and as a deterrent to Russian excesses (requisitions, pillage, disorder).
According to General Harmon and members of his staff an additional reason for the retention of our forces in the area would be that their presence may prevent Czech excesses against the German minority which constitutes the bulk of the population in the area. If our forces move out, Russian forces undoubtedly will move in and in that case again the German population may suffer severely at the hands of the Russians as well as the Czechs.
I might add that it could also be argued that the United States’ adherence to Article 13 of the Potsdam decisions89 regarding the orderly transfer of German populations could be invoked as an added reason for the retention of United States Forces in Czechoslovakia. At Potsdam the three Governments agreed to recognize that the transfer to Germany of German population from Czechoslovakia will have to be undertaken. They also agreed that any transfers that take place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner. As our forces in Czechoslovakia occupy the area where the greatest number of Sudeten Germans reside, it could be said that our forces are there to ensure the execution of the Potsdam decision in the manner prescribed.

Against the foregoing arguments the following considerations deserve consideration.

The radius of influence of our forces on Czech thinking is exceedingly limited. An insignificant number of our soldiers speak the language or have relations of political value with Czechs. Contacts are principally social of the boy meets girl variety. However the majority of these contacts appear to be with the German population which is in the vast majority in this region. In Marienbad according to General Harmon, there are about thirty thousand Germans as compared with only about one thousand Czechs. Our soldiers frequent German women and are welcomed by their families who see in such relationship protection and advantages whereas similar association [Page 501] between our soldiers and Czech women is often resented by Czech men.
According to our officers, our troops have developed a certain hostility to the Czechs where they have witnessed rough treatment by the latter of German evacuees. This develops the possibility of incidents between our troops and the Czech population.
Our troops continue to occupy the territory of a friendly power without agreement or official invitation.
Ambassador Steinhardt admits that because of the adverse effect which Russian conduct has had on the Czech population due to excesses in the area of Soviet occupation, Communist sentiment in that area, which was high at the beginning of the occupation is dwindling with the months. However, we are told that there is no similar decline in the zone of our occupation where the population has not been in contact with the Russian forces. Pilsen, for example, is a Communist stronghold.
It would be difficult and undesirable to attempt to justify the deployment of U.S. forces in the territory of a friendly power for the protection of the German minority.
If a question should be raised in Congress, for example, regarding the necessity of United States forces in Czechoslovakia, what reasons could be advanced in favor of it? We could hardly say that we consider them necessary to offset the political effect of the USSR and its forces of occupation.
The danger of incidents between Soviet forces and our own is not to be excluded. Similar incidents with the Czech population are possible and should be avoided.
The Czech Government and the Czech Army should assume their responsibilities and apparently are about ready and able to do so.

On balance there would seem small profit, if any, in the indefinite retention of our forces in Czechoslovakia. I would recommend that once we have worked out with the Czechs a program covering the evacuation of the remaining German DPs90 and the Sudeten Germans, and that should happen shortly, that preparation for the departure of the United States forces be authorized.

If our forces move out, the move should be preceded and accompanied by an effective and appropriate publicity campaign describing our friendly cooperation with Czechoslovakia and the contribution we have made to its liberation and welfare. By analogy, the fact that we leave and the Russian forces remain in the country should stand out in contrast. In that connection, I suggested to Ambassador Steinhardt that some thought should be given to the use of the Munich radio transmitter to beam programs in the Czech language to Czechoslovakia. Ambassador Steinhardt had complained that he was unable to get sufficient coverage of American news in the Prague newspapers.

Incidentally, Ambassador Steinhardt stated that the Czechs seem to take a calmer view regarding the German minority. He said that the Czech Government now discriminates between “good” and “bad” [Page 502] Germans (the former wearing white armbands and the latter yellow). Of the former, the Government wants upwards of 700,000 to remain because they are useful citizens. The Government, he believes, will in the end be willing to organize the evacuation of the remainder on a very reasonable basis, and after the departure of a certain number over a period of weeks, he thinks that the Czech fervor will die down, once the principle is established, and it may well be that the Government will end up by permitting a good many more than 700,000 to remain in Czechoslovakia. But he would like to see an early start made in the evacuation with our cooperation for its immediate political effect, and in this I believe he should have our full support.

Robert Murphy
  1. Not printed; it outlined briefly the matters taken up in this despatch and its enclosures (860F.01/10–1745).
  2. Article XIII of the Protocol of the Proceedings of the Berlin Conference, August 1, 1945, Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, pp. 1478, 1495.
  3. Displaced persons.