Secretary’s Letters, lot 56 D 459, “B–C”

No. 15
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of Protocol (Simmons)



  • Call on the President of the newly appointed Ambassador of Czechoslovakia
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  • The President
  • His Excellency Dr. Karel Petrzelka, Ambassador of Czechoslovakia
  • Mr. Karel Brus, Third Secretary, Embassy of Czechoslovakia (Interpreter)
  • John F. Simmons, Chief of Protocol
  • Mr. K. Charles Sheldon, Division of Research for USSR and Eastern Europe (Interpreter)

The newly appointed Ambassador of Czechoslovakia called on the President at 12 noon today in order to present his credentials. He entered, presented his documents to the President and awaited the President’s first words.

The President said that relations between Czechoslovakia and the United States were not good. He spoke of his own First World War experience, saying that he liked and admired the first Czechoslovak Government, formed after that War. He had always thought particularly highly of its democratic and friendly character. This situation, however, was not repeated after the Second World War, following which the present Czechoslovak Government came into existence. He described this Government as having been formed on the basis of the outrageous treatment which Czechoslovakia received on the part of the Soviet Union.

The Ambassador said that he did not like to contradict the President, but that Czechoslovakia’s relations with the Soviet Union were those of an ally. He felt it necessary to set forth his view that the Soviet Union’s actions were in no way outrageous. They occurred, he said, in a spirit of alliance and of the constructive programs, based on the friendly, democratic relations between the two countries.

The President said that he could not agree but that, if he knew his recent history well, the Czechoslovak Government is no longer democratic at all, but rather is a totalitarian state. He said that he could not have any sympathy for a totalitarian regime, in any form or shape. He could only express the hope for improvement when Czechoslovakia might once more be a free and democratic nation.

The Ambassador answered that he did not wish to get into an argument with the Head of a State, but nevertheless felt that he must insist that he considered the present Czechoslovak as free and democratic and as responsible to the will of its people.

The President said that even if he and the Ambassador could not agree on this issue, he wished to emphasize his hope that the Ambassador’s stay here would be fruitful and conducive to better relations, wishing him luck in this regard.

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The Ambassador expressed to the President his thanks for receiving him.

No reference whatever was made to the Oatis case.

The Ambassador’s attitude during the entire interview was courteous and respectful.

John F. Simmons