860F.00/9–1547: Telegram

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


1235. President Beneš interrupted vacation at end of last week and returned Praha to deal with political situation. Following account of his conversations with political leaders is derived chiefly from National Socialist sources. While slanted their way it is believed to be accurate in substance.

Beneš first saw Social Democrats Vilim and Tymes (he refused to see Fierlinger) and is reported to have taken them to task for their action in signing joint communiqué with Communists and thus creating bloc within National Front (ReEmbtel 1227, September 121). President then saw Food Minister Majer to whom he was very cordial and whose resignation he refused to accept.2

President next saw PriMin Gottwald to whom he is reported to have spoken in strong terms. Beneš declared Communists were destroying National Front and subverting normal political life of country. He Stated that even if Communist millionaire levy proposal should be passed by National Assembly, which he doubted, he would not sign it. He attacked recent Communist action vis-à-vis Social Democrats and said he would not stand for non-Communist parties being eaten up one by one as had occurred in other eastern European countries. He declared that in case of Putsch he would not ease Communist way by resigning or leaving country. He added that though he had been ill he had no intention of dying for some time to come. Gottwald is not reported to have had much to say in reply.

[Page 232]

President finally saw National Socialist leaders Drtina and Ripka with whom he discussed all phases of situation.3 Beneš has now left Praha for annual visit to Slovakia but it [is] believed he will remain only week or two rather than until October 15, as he had anticipated.

  1. Not printed; it reported that Blažej Vilim, Secretary General of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party, and František Tymes, both of whom were moderate leaders within their party, had been persuaded to sign a joint communiqué with the Communists which pledged both parties to strive for a renewal of a “Socialist bloc” within the National Front (860F.00/9–1247).
  2. Telegram 1233, September 12, from Praha, not printed, had reported that Social Democratic leader Vaclav Majer had resigned as Minister of Food, presumably as a result of his party’s pledge of close collaboration with the Communist Party (860F.00/9–1247).
  3. Telegram 1216, September 11, from Praha, not printed, reported on the official announcement of the attempt to assassinate Deputy Prime Minister Zenkl, Foreign Minister Masaryk, and Minister of Justice Prokop Drtina. Parcels had been sent to them through the mail containing TNT and designed to explode on opening. Chargé Yost commented that the attempt appeared to be the “work of some crank” but was bound to be blamed at least indirectly on the Communists who had been denouncing these ministers as enemies of the people (860F.00/9–1147). Like Zenkl and Drtina, Minister of Foreign Trade Hubert Ripka was a leader in the National Socialist Party.