No. 679

749.00/5–2551: Telegram

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


754. 1. Whether or not Czech RFE note (Embtel 734 May 21)1 constitutes fundamental challenge involving maintenance this mission, local Commies undoubtedly consider it important propaganda vehicle even though idea of Commie government accusing non-Commies of inciting to revolution seems somewhat ironic. Picture of Sov satellite raising formal published objections to propaganda which crosses natl frontiers is equally ironic in light overwhelming evidence (including no doubt published statements by Sov Commie theoreticians) that world wide propaganda one of principal instruments of Comintern and of present day Cominform and in view fact officially sponsored Czecho foreign broadcasts demonstrate no restraint on part Czechs to broadcast propaganda across natl boundaries. These thoughts may serve Voice pending official US reply to note.

2. As for tactics assume our reply when made will likewise be with eye to gallery but we see little profit in making hasty reply. While certain advantages might accrue to having reply single package nevertheless since Commie note covers three items we cld extend period our response by sending separate notes, first of which might be on Czech complaint charging border violations. If our info correct Czech border personnel are constantly crossing to Ger side and strong case cld probably be made (after stating that of course US does not condone border violations) by citing series Czech visitations for everything from cigarettes to borrowing Waidhaus phone for msg to girl friend.

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In reply to Czech point three on espionage we cld doubtless likewise if deemed advisable produce telling response citing Czech transgressions (for example Heidelberg’s Nr 47 to Dept, rptd Nr. 8 to Prague2).

In regard both points two and three Czech complaint, Emb confident strong convincing cases can be made and recommends separate replies first of which to be made if possible within about ten days of my [May] 21 note.

3. Czech complaint against RFE self-evidently contains more substance and if not bluff it raises issue muzzle RFE or abandon Emb.

Suggest as first move US announcement Prochazka agreement3 since Czecho can be made look rather silly simultaneously striking menacing pose and arranging send new amb Wash. Thereafter Dept or Emb cld indicate orally in due course to Czecho that RFE complaint receiving careful investigation and arrival new Czech amb will provide opportunity discuss situation and exchange views. Purpose this slow-motion procedure wld be permit situation cool while we simultaneously explore it. Recognize danger explosion instead if our delay too protracted, especially if RFE continues build bonfires and toss firecrackers into local wigwam.

4. If RFE does constitute fundamental challenge, then danger point maintenance relations may be in period beginning with Czech receipt US reply on RFE operations. As already reported our impression is that Czecho may not be averse break but wld prefer final step by us rather than them; we also aware Czecho capable producing break any time by creating intolerable provocation.

5. We emphasize foregoing issues go considerably beyond Oatis case solution of which nevertheless hope can be actively bought notwithstanding other considerations. For that reason and also because reluctant leave so offensive communication as FonMin’s note quoted Embtel 732 May 214 unanswered on record, Emb sent communication (Embtel 744 May 23)5 in effect calling Siroky’s exposition our interview distorted and reiterating request renewal Oatis discussion. As indicated Embtel 737 May 22,6 chances early Oatis release do not seem bright but we nevertheless seek take every possible step that might help that direction. Not intended make public our note unless FonOff shld give out their May 21 note which seems improbable.

  1. Regarding the Czechoslovak note of May 21, see Document 675.
  2. This telegram reviewed Czechoslovak intelligence activities in West Germany during the 1949–1951 period. (749.00/5–2351)
  3. See Perkins’ memorandum to the Secretary of State, Document 677.
  4. Not printed, but see footnote 1, Document 676.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Not printed.