860F.00/10–3147: Telegram

The Ambassador in Czechoslovakia (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State


1444. Highly reliable source reports Slovak Democratic Deputy Prime Minister Ursiny resigned this morning in face of ultimatum from Prime Minister Gottwald expiring noon today which gave Ursiny choice of resignation in which case he would not be prosecuted or prosecution similar to that of Bugar and Kempny. Ursiny had previously admitted to his governmental colleagues that he made available to his employee Otto Obuch secret minutes of governmental sessions. Police claim they have proof that Obuch was principal liaison with subversive Slovak plotters abroad, Durciansky and Sidor.

Most likely successor is Ivan Pietor.1

While the resignation of Ursiny if confirmed will be a blow to Democratic Party in Slovakia, it will not be a fatal blow if for no other reason than because of the general impression in Slovakia shared by Czechoslovakia anti-Communist leaders and this Embassy that Democratic [Page 239] Party in Slovakia has been badly in need of a housecleaning for a long time. Much will depend on type of leaders who will succeed Ursiny, Bugar, Kempny and others. If they are courageous Democrats who do not bear the taint of their predecessors, consequences to party may even be good in long run as it seems quite clear that purge of leadership is not causing any serious defection among followers of party who remain adamant in their opposition to Communism. As it is generally conceded that not less than 60 percent and perhaps as much as 70 percent of population of Slovakia is bitterly anti-Communist, it remains to be seen to what extent element of fear may cause them to change their votes at the election.

  1. Minister of Transport and a member of the Slovak Democratic Party.