No. 688

249.1111–Oatis, William/7–1651: Telegram

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


40. There was not even approx mtg of minds during conversation this afternoon with FonMin Siroky re Oatis. After summarizing contents note (Deptel 25 July 111) I had Protocol Chief Chalupa translate it. This precipitated acrimonious and at times almost violent discussion substance of which on Siroky’s part was that note by daring criticize judicial procedure was an attempted infringement of Czech sovereignty. FonMin said note accordingly “rejected”, although he did not try to give it back. His statements were all on premise trial fair and “Oatis was guilty and has accepted his sentence”.

I told Siroky I saw no profit in debate along these lines but that since he had expressed his views he shld likewise understand my govt’s estimate of proceedings which I thereupon gave him.

[Page 1380]

After approx one hr of this, Siroky stated he would communicate note to Cabinet tomorrow and convey to Emb shortly thereafter Czecho Govt’s decision response US request for Oatis release.2

  1. Following the conclusion of the Oatis trial, the Department of State and Ambassador Briggs worked out, in an exchange of telegrams, an urgent new approach to Foreign Minister Široký in the Oatis case. The approach involved an Embassy note to the Foreign Ministry, the final instructions for which were transmitted in the telegram under reference here, which condemned the injustice of the Oatis trial and demanded his release and departure from Czechoslovakia as a means of improving U.S.-Czechoslovak relations. (249.1111–Oatis, William/7–1151)
  2. The Embassy received a note from the Foreign Ministry on July 21 stating that U.S. demands represented a gross attempt at interference into matters exclusively under Czechoslovak jurisdiction and were therefore refused. (Telegram 58 from Praha, July 21, 249.1111–Oatis, William/7–2151)