Editorial Note

On April 12, 1950, following his arrest and interrogation by the Czechoslovak police on April 6 and his release the following day, Ivan Elbl, a Czechoslovak citizen employed by the United States Information Service Library in Praha, resigned his post. Elbl’s resignation statement, denouncing the USIS and its library, accusing American Embassy Press Attaché Joseph C. Kolarek of directing a propaganda campaign against the Czechoslovak state, and warning that Czechoslovak employees of the American Embassy were committing treason, was distributed by the official Czechoslovak news service and was prominently published by the Praha newspapers. In a note of April 12 to the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry, the American Embassy requested the Czechoslovak Government to publicize an official correction of the Elbl statement and to give assurance that it had no objections to the employment of Czechoslovaks by the Embassy. For the text of the Embassy’s note, see Department of State Bulletin, April 24, 1950, page 632.

On April 13, at the close of a one-day trial, the Czechoslovak State Court sentenced Lubomir Eisner and Dagmar Kačerovska, Czechoslovak citizens employed by the USIS in Praha as translators until their arrest by the police in March 1950, to 18 and 15 years imprisonment, respectively, for alleged acts of espionage and anti-State activities in connection with their work at the USIS under the direction of Embassy Press Attaché Kolarek. In a statement issued to the press on April 14, the Department of State expressed grave concern over the Czechoslovak Government’s “deliberately planned propaganda attack” against the American Embassy aimed at discrediting the USIS, as evidenced by the Elbl resignation statement and the Elsner-Kačerovska trial. For the text of the statement, see Department of State [Page 545] Bulletin, April 24, 1950, pages 632–633. In a sworn affidavit, the text of which was presented to the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry under cover of a brief note of April 15, Katherine Kosmak, an Embassy Assistant Attaché and Director of the USIS Library in Praha, described the attempt by Czechoslovak security police to persuade her to defect in connection with the arrest and resignation of USIS employee Elbl. For the texts of the note and the affidavit, released to the press in Washington on April 21, see ibid., May 1, 1950, pages 685–686.