IO Files: US/S/287

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy United States Representative on the Interim Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations (Jessup)


Subject: Events in Czechoslovakia1

[Page 168]
Participants: Secretary-General Trygve Lie
Andrew Cordier, Secretariat2
A. H. Feller, Secretariat3 (and other members of Mr. Cordier’s staff)
Dr. Philip C. Jessup, United States Mission

I called at Mr. Cordier’s office at about 12:45 to keep a luncheon engagement. He had just come from Mr. Trygve Lie’s office where the Secretary-General had been in consultation with Mr. Papanek, the Czechoslovak Representative at the United Nations, for nearly an hour. Cordier told me that their first understanding was that Papanek was submitting his resignation as Czechoslovak Representative and he raised with me the possibility of assisting him to find some academic position in the United States. He was then called again into Mr. Lie’s office and on coming out told me that Papanek had formally submitted, as the accredited Czechoslovak Representative to the United Nations, a paper asking that the Czech question be immediately brought before the Security Council. I understood that he asked for consideration under Article 34, but am not definite on this point. While we were discussing this aspect of the question we were joined by Mr. Lie and Mr. A. H. Feller. Mr. Lie said that Papanek insisted that he would fight any attempt to cancel his credentials and would insist that any such orders coming out of Prague were not issued by the Government of Czechoslovakia. Mr. Lie told him that if he received new credentials for someone else signed by Beneš4 and Gottwald,5 he could not do anything but receive them and place them before the Security Council. It was indicated by one of the group that the question would arise whether the United States would continue to accord the diplomatic privileges to Papanek under such circumstances. It further appeared that following the usual Secretariat procedure, Mr. Lie had told Cordier to take Papanek’s paper immediately to Sobolev,6 which was done. The group, after Mr. Lie had left us to keep a luncheon engagement, were agreed that Sobolev would undoubtedly telephone at once to Gromyko7 who would in turn communicate with Moscow, with the likelihood that action would come out of Prague terminating Papanek’s status within perhaps six hours. Cordier and some of his staff and I went on to luncheon and continued to discuss there the question of the role of the Secretariat in connection with the recognition of a representative under these circumstances. Cordier’s view seemed to be that the Secretariat could not undertake to pass judgment in such a situation. At this point Mr. Feller joined us in considerable [Page 169] excitement, saying that Mr. Papanek was already holding a press conference at which he was informing the press that he was laying the matter before the Security Council. (I was subsequently told by a member of the press that he made the direct charge that Masaryk8 had been murdered by the Russians.) Feller was insistent that the Secretariat was bound to get Papanek’s paper documented and distributed before his credentials could be cancelled. They seemed to agree that when the paper was handed in, Papanek was the accredited Representative of Czechoslovakia, and that his paper therefore must be treated as an official paper. Cordier left the table and telephoned Sobolev and came back and reported that Sobolev said that he had to speak to Mr. Lie about something in the paper before he could have it processed. Cordier had not been able to persuade him to the contrary and I understood that Cordier and Feller were endeavoring to reach Lie with a view to his directing Sobolev to proceed. No further development occurred before I left the group at 2:10.

  1. For documentation regarding the recent political changes in Czechoslovakia, see volume iv .
  2. Executive Assistant to Mr. Lie.
  3. Director of the Legal Department.
  4. Eduard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia.
  5. Klement Gottwald, Czechoslovak Prime Minister.
  6. Arkady A. Sobolev, Assistant Secretary-General in charge of Security Council Affairs.
  7. Andrei A. Gromyko, Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union at the United Nations.
  8. Jan Masaryk, late Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs.