Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs (Beam)
|Participants:||Mr. Jan Masaryk, Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia|
|Mr. Lovett, Acting Secretary of State|
|Mr. Beam, Chief, Division of Central European Affairs|
Mr. Masaryk called ostensibly to inquire concerning the possibility of Czechoslovakia acquiring radio isotopes for hospital use. He was informed that the Department would look into the matter, particularly US Government legislation regarding the export of these isotopes and that the pertinent information would be communicated to the Czechoslovak Embassy.
Mr. Masaryk’s visit was mainly a social call, in the course of which he gave a full demonstration of the charm and type of humor commonly associated with him. Between anecdotes, he brought out the following points of interest: [Page 238]
- The Czechs have proved indigestible to any power attempting to swallow them. Although sympathetic to the Russians, they are a different type of Slav, have a more advanced culture, and cherish their independence. Many Czech Communists are sincere patriots.
- Present Communist strength is 38% of the electorate. While a decrease was desirable, a radical reduction might prove dangerous, since it might give the Soviets cause for direct action.
- He, Masaryk, was the most popular man in Czechoslovakia and would do his best to see that the Communists did not get 51% of the vote. He had not joined any party but would do so if necessary to prevent Communist domination.
- The Czechs were in a most difficult position. As Foreign Minister he had had to make speeches in the UN attacking US policy, but he had always been careful to observe the proper forms. All the outward aspects of freedom were still apparent in Praha, although Communism was ever present as an ominous influence.
- Masaryk made an appeal for continued show of US interest in Czechoslovakia. The British were doing a good propaganda job with few resources. The US should leave the way open for free culture exchange, since Czechoslovakia avidly desired contact with the west. This would help it preserve its autonomy and resist Soviet encroachment.