The Czechoslovak Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Embassy in Czechoslovakia 43
By a note of the beginning of June, 1945, concerning Czechoslovak claims on the area of Kladsko, the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the liberty of informing the Representative of the Government of the United States of America that the Czechoslovak Government were preparing proposals for the rectification of the frontiers of Czechoslovakia to the disadvantage of hostile Powers. The Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a similar note to the Representatives at Praha of the Government of Great Britain, of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, and of France.
At the same time, the Czechoslovak Government informed the Polish Government through their Minister at Warsaw of the preparation of such proposals. The Czechoslovak Government did this in the knowledge that a rectification of the north-east boundaries of Czechoslovakia to its advantage could affect the future boundaries of Poland, and with the determination to settle problems of this kind in amicable accord with the Polish Government. From the note of the Czechoslovak Minister, as well as from different oral communications, made by competent persons, the Polish Government learned that the Czechoslovak proposals also concerned the Kladsko, Hlubčice and Ratiboř districts and that the Czechoslovak Government intended [Page 522] supporting their claims to those regions also by ethnographical arguments.
It is true that, by the Potsdam Agreement, the administration of the Kladsko, Hlubčice and Ratiboř districts has been entrusted to Poland, but the final decision regarding the western frontiers of Poland, and therefore, the settling of the question into which State these districts should be incorporated, has been reserved for the Peace Conference.44 The Czechoslovak demands for the rectification of the frontiers in these regions have not, therefore, become meaningless and, for this reason, the Czechoslovak Government cannot be indifferent if the Polish authorities in the said districts take measures against the local Czech population which create the impression of having as their object the eradication of the Czech element in these regions and thus the depriving of the Czechoslovak Government of one of the arguments which they intend to put forward in favour of their territorial demands; neither can they be indifferent if the Polish authorities and Polish troops act in a manner which must necessarily result in the total cessation of all economic life in those districts.
According to authentic reports, the population of Czech nationality in the Kladsko, Hlubčice and Ratiboř areas is being subjected to systematic oppression of all kinds on the part of the Polish State authorities.
This population is constrained by all means to take part in demonstrations for the annexation of these regions to Poland and is compelled to sign manifestoes calling for this annexation. The Polish authorities have started a forcible action for the acquisition of Polish State citizenship. They summon inhabitants of Czech nationality, particularly supporters of families, and confer upon them Polish State citizenship. Everyone is obliged to sign and protests are of no avail. In Communities where Czechs are living, Polish schools are being established and church-services in Polish are being introduced: sermons in the mother-tongue of the people, customary from time immemorial, are interdicted.
Hand in hand with nationality oppression goes unscrupulous economic oppression. The economic situation in these parts is so dreadful that they are faced with absolute ruin. The army units, which are being constantly changed, requisition, expel, beat and persecute, and the administrative authorities do not remain far behind in similar activities. The local population is driven to despair by the terror reigning everywhere. Bedding, furnishings, including wall-clocks [Page 523] and sewing-machines, as well as agricultural machines and implements, cattle/down to the last cow/ and even crops are being taken from the inhabitants. Czech farms are being occupied by Polish colonists from the East, who force the Czech population to work in the fields; for their work they give them neither food nor money. In some places the inhabitants are being driven out altogether from their farms and dwellings, are being assembled in camps and then taken to unknown destinations. Before being taken away, the Czech inhabitants, in some places, have been tortured by official Polish organs in rooms specially equipped for that purpose.
It is no wonder that, in this dreadful economic situation, famine is setting in and, in consequence of that as well as of the severe mental and physical torment to which this population is being subjected, mortality is increasing at an amazing rate. In Ratiboř, for instance, between twenty and thirty persons die every day, mostly children. There are no hospitals, no doctors, no medicaments and, in some communities, typhoid fever is beginning to spread.
These horrors are crowned by the fact that both soldiers and civil commissaries and their assistants every day utter threats to the effect that, if the population does not remain in those regions, the time will come when “trzy dni nie bendzie Boga a slitowania” /for three days there will be neither God nor mercy/. Under these circumstances, and for fear lest they should be transferred to Poland the inhabitants, often with only a small suitcase, are fleeing across the frontier into Czechoslovakia.
Since it cannot be concealed that, by this method of proceeding, the Polish authorities are pursuing in the Kladsko, Hlubčice and Ratiboř districts a policy of faits accomplis which, in their consequences, might impair some of the premises in favour of the satisfying of the Czechoslovak claims to the said districts or, on the satisfying of those claims, might, to say the least, cause Czechoslovakia to come into possession of territory ethnically estranged and economically depreciated, the Czechoslovak Government take the liberty of drawing attention to this state of affairs.
It is true that the Potsdam Conference entrusted Poland with the administration even of those parts, but at the same time it stressed the fact that the definitive frontiers would be determined by the Peace Conference. Hence, in the opinion of the Czechoslovak Government, it plainly follows that the Polish Government are not empowered to effect in those districts changes in the situation such as would prejudice the decision of the Peace Conference. The settling of those areas with Polish population alone creates a state which is of itself prejudicial. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew the attention of the Polish Government to the matter in their note of August 20th, 1945, with the request that they should remedy it and now take the liberty [Page 524] of requesting the Government of the United States of America to be kind enough to act accordingly.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs avail themselves of this opportunity to express to the Embassy of the United States of America the assurance of their highest consideration.
- Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 70, August 30, from Prague; received September 13.↩
- For the decision of the Conference of Berlin (Potsdam Conference) regarding the western frontier of Poland and the administration of certain former German territories by Poland, see section IX B of the Protocol of the Proceedings of the Berlin Conference, Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, p. 1491. For additional documentation, see ibid. , entries in index under “Poland: Frontiers and Areas of Administration,” vol. i, p. 1077, and vol. ii, p. 1631.↩