740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–2645

The Secretary of War (Patterson) to the Secretary of State 91

Dear Mr. Secretary: In my letter of 15 October,92 I explained the military implications of extending, beyond 15 November, the time limit our forces will remain in Czechoslovakia. At that time, I pointed out that General Eisenhower was studying this problem further and had sent Ambassador Murphy and General Bull to Czechoslovakia on 14 October. Ambassador Murphy and General Bull have made their study and General Eisenhower, on 17 October, submitted certain recommendations to the War Department.

General Eisenhower pointed out that his two-divisional strength of about 30,000 is now spread over a 266 mile front engaged in blocking the movement of Soviet troops into the U.S. sector of Czechoslovakia and in protecting the German minorities against Czech aggression. He also pointed out that all missions assigned to our forces at the time they entered Czechoslovakia, have been substantially completed. These missions included: the establishment of law and order; the defeat and disarmament of the enemy; the repatriation of United Nations displaced persons; and the disposal of captured enemy materiel.

General Eisenhower recommended on 17 October: that our two-divisional strength be retained in Czechoslovakia until an orderly evacuation of Sudeten Germans was completed; that, if possible, an [Page 503] agreement be reached with the Soviets on a schedule of withdrawal; that, if agreement was not possible, our withdrawal be inaugurated when the orderly evacuation of the Sudeten Germans was assured, to be completed within two weeks thereafter; and, in any event, our move be accompanied by appropriate publicity describing our friendly cooperation with the Czechs and our contribution to their liberation and welfare.

To secure added data, General Eisenhower was queried further to determine: first, the estimated period until evacuation of the Sudeten Germans could be completed; and second, whether there was any military necessity for retaining our troops in Czechoslovakia until that completion. To this query, General Eisenhower replied on 22 October: that it is estimated that a minimum of four months will be required, with a possibility that movement will take longer if winter conditions are severe; that the Czechoslovakian government is considered capable of effecting the orderly evacuation once an inter-allied agreement is reached; that detailed arrangements, in accordance with Section XIII of the Potsdam Conference, are still being negotiated by the Allied Control Council; that final plan for the movement awaits completion of a census by the Czechoslovakian government, and the determination of certain other factors by the Allied Governments; and that there is no military requirement for retaining U.S. troops in Czechoslovakia until the evacuation is completed.

In view of the information outlined above, it is believed there is no military necessity for the retention of our troops in Czechoslovakia after the target date of 15 November. Any retention after this date must be justified by non-military considerations. Because of the effect that any extended retention would have on the demobilization, as outlined in my letter to you of 15 October, it is requested that, should it be felt that a longer retention is required, this matter be referred to the President pointing out the implications. Since General Eisenhower’s present instructions lapse on 15 November, a decision on the matter should be reached by 1 November.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Patterson
  1. The record of the meeting of the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy, October 30, 1945, 10 a.m., contains the following statement by Secretary Byrnes regarding Secretary Patterson’s letter: “Mr. Byrnes told Mr. Patterson that just before receiving his letter on this subject he had given instructions to proceed with the message to Stalin proposing simultaneous withdrawal of Soviet and American troops. The message has gone to the White House for approval since it is one to be sent by the President. Mr. Byrnes said that in view of the necessary delay in sending this message he suggested a fortnight’s extension of the time for beginning our re-deployment out of Czechoslovakia. Mr. Patterson agreed to postpone the withdrawal from November 15 to December 1.” (740.00119 EW/10–3045)
  2. Not printed.