Editorial Note

In a note of April 19 to the American Embassy in Praha, the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry demanded the immediate closing of the United States Information Service Libraries in Praha and Bratislava, which they accused of serving as centers of espionage and anti-State activity, and the recall of Embassy Press Attaché Joseph C. Kolarek, who was accused of using his position as head of the USIS in Czechoslovakia to carry out espionage and anti-State activities. The text of the Foreign Ministry’s lengthy note was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram 559, April 19, from Praha, not printed (511.49/4–1950). The Embassy’s note of reply of April 21, the text of which was also delivered to the Czechoslovak Embassy in Washington and released to the press the same day, strongly rejected the allegations that Kolarek and other American officials or Czechoslovak employees had engaged in improper activities, and denounced the police methods used in obtaining statements and confessions from former Embassy employees. The note agreed to close the USIS libraries and withdraw Kolarek, but also requested the closing of the Czechoslovak Consulate in Chicago.

For the text of the note, see Department of State Bulletin, May 1, 1950 or American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents (Department of State Publication No. 6446, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1957), volume II, page 2095. According to a brief memorandum by the Secretary of State of his meeting with President Truman on April 20, the President approved the proposed retaliatory action against Czechoslovakia which was intended to put the Czechoslovak Government on notice that it could not proceed further in its reckless course without the gravest consequences (Secretary’s Memoranda, Lot 53 D 444, Secretary’s Memorandum of Conversations with the President). In a statement made at his press conference on April 21, Secretary of State Acheson reaffirmed the vital mission of the Voice of America and the United States Information Service to serve as the only channel through which the American people and their Government [Page 551] could speak to the peoples of Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries. For the text of the Secretary’s statement, see Department of State Bulletin, May 1, 1950, page 685. Lot 53 D 444 is a comprehensive chronological collection of the Secretary of State’s memoranda and memoranda of conversation for the years 1947–1953, as maintained by the Executive Secretariat of the Department of State.