740.0011 EW (Peace)/7–1047

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs (Riddleberger)


Mr. Slávik called late today at his request, He opened the conversation by recounting to me what he knew of the present situation with respect to the participation of Czechoslovakia in the forthcoming Paris Conference. He said that he had received yesterday, as we had no doubt received, official information that the Czechoslovak Government had decided to participate, which information had given him great personal satisfaction. However, just before coming to the Department, he had had ia telephone conversation with Agronsky, radio broadcaster, who had told him of his conversation by telephone with Masaryk in Moscow which was not too encouraging. Just before leaving the Embassy, the Ambassador said he had received a, call from U.P. advising him that the Czechoslovak Government had decided not to participate in the Paris Conference.

Mr. Slávik then said that he thought the Praha end of this affair had been “badly mismanaged” and would certainly have far-reaching consequences on Czech relations with the Western countries. I merely observed that the decision not to participate, if it were correct, would certainly be interpreted as Soviet dictation of Czech foreign policy.

The Ambassador agreed that this was the case.

Mr. Slávik then turned to the question of the $50,000,000 reconstruction loan by the Eximbank, the negotiations on which were suspended [Page 220] in September 1946. He said he had received a cable from Praha conveying the following: A member of the American Delegation to the ITO meeting in Geneva had indicated to Mr. Augenthaler1 of the Czech Delegation there that if Czechoslovakia accepted the invitation to the Paris Conference the U.S. would be disposed to reopen negotiations on this loan. If this were the case, the Czech Embassy had been instructed to resume negotiations at once on this matter.

I replied that I thought this information was not correct. I told the Ambassador that I did not necessarily see all the instructions to our Delegation in Geneva but that I thought I would certainly be aware of any decision to reopen negotiations on this loan. I told him that as far as I was aware there had been no decision in the sense indicated and that I was certain no such instruction had been sent to our Delegation in Geneva. The Ambassador then observed that it might have been a general conversation rather than any definite offer on our part to resume the negotiations. I told the Ambassador that if there were any substance to this report which he had, I would communicate with him later but I thought that there had obviously been some misunderstanding in Geneva.

Mr. Slávik then took up the question of attacks in the Slovak language press in the U.S. against the present Czechoslovak Government and against President Beneš personally. He had three or four Slovak newspapers with him from which he translated to me several paragraphs vigorously attacking the Czechoslovak Government and Beneš personally. One line he translated accused Beneš of being a “traitor and murderer”. The Ambassador recalled that Mr. Steinhardt had recently had occasion to protest to the Czechoslovak Government against vilification of President Truman by certain Czechoslovak newspapers. He was debating whether to send the Department a formal note of protest against these articles. He said he realized that the State Department had, of course, no control over such newspapers but that he hoped something might be done about personal attacks of this nature against Beneš.

I said that, of course, such excerpts as he had translated for me in no sense represented the official policy of this Government and the State Department deplored any such references to President Beneš. I said that on various occasions in the past I had received delegations of Slovak–Americans protesting against this or that action by the Czechoslovak Government and that this Department had invariably made it plain that it had no intention of interfering in internal Czechoslovak questions. I said that I was certain that both the Ambassador [Page 221] and the Czechoslovak Government were aware of the official attitude in such cases and that he could be assured that attacks in the Slovak press had no official sanction.

The Ambassador then said that rather than send a formal note, he thought he would send me a personal letter listing some of these articles in the hope that we might be able to mitigate their vicious character. I agreed that this would be a good way to handle the matter.

With further reference to the Slovak language press, Mr. Slávik said that movements were under way, which were publicized in the Slovak press, to raise money for a memorial to Tiso. He wanted to know whether there were not some control which this Government could exercise over such fund-raising activities on behalf of a person whom the Czechoslovak Government regarded as a traitor. I replied that I would have to look into this as I was not fully informed respecting the legal position. I said that I seemed to recall that during the war there had been some type of control exercised over fund-raising activities in behalf of foreign causes but that I would have to verify this with the Legal Division and inform the Ambassador later.

J[ames] W. R[iddleberger]
  1. Zdenek Augenthaler, Chief of the Economic Section of the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry.