860F.00/9–947: Telegram

The Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Yost) to the Secretary of State


1204. Sharp evolution has occurred in Czech Communist Party strategy and hence in Czech political situation during past week. As reported Embtel 1187 and 1189, Sept. 51 heat has very suddenly been turned off Slovak Democrats and turned on Czech moderate parties particularly National Socialists. Communist close to party leaders has informed member of Embassy staff that Communists have been obliged by united opposition of other members of National Front to shelve program of liquidating Slovak Democrats and will be satisfied now with purge of few of most objectionable leaders of that party. Embassy inclined to feel, however, that primary reason for shift in strategy may be decision that enemy number one is leadership of National Socialist Party and chief energies must be concentrated on its elimination or neutralization. This does not mean, of course, that Slovak campaign will cease to play appropriate part in overall Communist strategy.

Controversy over “levy on millionaires” reported Embtel 1187 has produced unprecedented inter-party bitterness and may conceivably presage disintegration of National Front. As reported, Communists pilloried publicly ministers who opposed levy and Communist press and leaders have continued denunciations. For instances, chief editor of Rude Pravo2 writes that “other two Socialist parties” have thrown to winds obligations assumed at time of formation “Socialist bloc” by Communist, National Socialist and Social Democratic parties on June 8, 1945 and that “defeated, discredited and economically emasculated forces of reaction” are influencing to large extent policies of non-Communist parties and sabotaging reconstruction of country. Editor concludes that there are only two alternatives: “loyal cooperation with the Communists for the good of the people and the country or an anti-Communist alliance with reaction”. In the same vein Communist Minister of Information Kopecky privately told Social Democratic informant of Embassy “You have only two alternatives now—either you swallow any suggestions we put forward now or you will have elections within the next three weeks”. On another tack Communist Party Secretary Slansky at Congress of Moravian Partisans declared that to be “adherents of western reactionary circles” is “high [Page 230] treason”, that such adherents still exist in Czech Army and that they must be purged.

Non-Communist parties, particularly National Socialists and Social Democrats are reacting with extraordinary bitterness. Secretariat of National Socialists has published manifesto headed “against Communo-Fascist demagogy” stating that “reactionary elements” have penetrated into Communist Party and are misusing millionaire levy proposal “to carry out irresponsible and demagogic agitation in factories and national committees”. Manifesto demands that Communists accept will of majority and declares “a politically educated nation will never submit to Communo-Fascist trap”. Zenkl in public speech took a similar though milder line and declared if Communists want premature elections National Socialists are ready.

Position of Social Democrats particularly interesting since millionaire levy issue has separated them from Communists and strengthened right and center influence in party. Minister of Industry Lausman submitted to party presidium his resignation from Cabinet, citing reason as continuous partisan political disturbances and useless strikes in nationalized industry, though Embassy understands Communist denunciation and his vote on millionaire levy also played part in resignation offer. Resignation not accepted by party presidium but nevertheless widely publicized. Party Secretariat and press are denouncing Communist tactics and terror and appealing to workers not to be led astray.

As Department will of course note, degree of present party strife considerably outstrips previous domestic political agitation in Czecho since liberation. It possible Communists may be merely attempting to intimidate opposition into joining Communist-dominated “Socialist bloc”. If so, they would appear to have miscalculated temper of opponents to an extent which hardly seems plausible. It also possible Communists may be setting stage for early elections either to National Committee or conceivably to National Assembly on theory that elections would be more likely to go in their favor this fall than next spring. Finally it possible that Communists may be laying groundwork for drastic action along line suggested concluding paragraph Embtel 904, July 15 in case increasing international tension should persuade Kremlin that Communist control of Czecho must be radically strengthened.

At all events non-Communist parties are so far exhibiting admirable firmness. Outcome of struggle between right and left wings of Social Democratic Party which will presumably be determined at Party [Page 231] Congress now scheduled for mid-November may well prove decisive as far as lineup in government and Parliament is concerned. Vital question remains, however, whether political developments in Czecho can and will be held within bounds of normal party and Parliamentary activity.

  1. Neither printed. In telegram 1187, it was reported that the Communists had proposed a heavy capital tax against “millionaires”, the proceeds from which would be used for subsidies to farmers. Communist propaganda had been directed against those who opposed the tax who were depicted as protectors of speculators and big businessmen (860F.00/9–547).
  2. The newspaper of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.