Minutes of the Fifth Meeting of the International Commission

Minutes of the Fifth Meeting of the International Commission Held in Berlin on October 4,1938

The chairman opened the meeting at 5: 30 p.m.

The Czechoslovak Minister at once broached the question of the work of sub committee A. This subcommittee is at present employed in deciding the area beyond zones I-IV which, according to the Munich Agreement, is to be occupied by German troops by October 10 (zone V). The Czechoslovak Minister said that, according to reports of the Czechoslovak members of this subcommittee, considerable differences of opinion had arisen on this question. The problem was in fact a very delicate one. The Czechoslovak delegation, however, had a very definite view on this: the demarcation line to be fixed by the German subcommittee should include only those areas which were at least 76 percent German.

The Italian Ambassador said he thought the question of percentage could not be dealt with apart from the whole problem. He asked on what basis the subcommittee was working.

The French Ambassador went on to say that for the solution of the problem they must abide by the Munich Agreement. The participants in the talks there had left it to the International Commission to define the vorwiegund ("preponderantly" In the English text) German areas.

He thought that the train of thought of the responsible statesmen at Munich could be reconstructed as follows:

(a) All areas with 100-85 percent population [sic] were to be occupied by German troops at once. These areas were included in zones I-IV.

(b)The International Commission defined a fifth zone to be occupied by German troops by October 10. This zone must have a definitely German character. A simple majority is not sufficient for this. The expression "preponderance" led one to suppose that a compromise between 50 and 100 percent, i.e. 75 percent, should be chosen as a percentage. The areas involved are not wholly German, but the German element is so preponderant that there cannot be the least doubt.

(c) For the other areas, which have only a slight majority and over which doubts might arise, the Munich Agreement provides for a plebiscite.

Thus it could be said that the agreement of September 29 provides the Commission with a clearly defined basis for its work. The preponderantly German areas could be established from the ethnographical maps. Which ethnographical documents should apply? That was the question.

The Ambassadors of Great Britain and Italy were of the opinion that the Commission must decide without delay the terms of reference for the work of subcommittee C.

The chairman admitted that subcommittee C had begun its work without previously established principles. This empirical method had worked well yesterday. This morning it had worked less well. As far as the nature of the problem was concerned, the German delegation did not share the view of the Czechoslovak delegation. In his opinion, the important thing was to find a final frontier between the two states as quickly as possible. For this frontier demarcation two basic principles should be taken into account:

1. The demarcation line to be fixed by the Commission.

2. The line settled by plebiscite, that is, by the will of the people themselves.

Two methods could be applied:

1. To extend line No. 1 as far as possible. That would have the advantage of reducing the plebiscite areas. The disadvantages of a plebiscite were indeed generally known. This first method was preferred by the Reich Government.

2. Not to extend line No. 1, and thus leave larger areas for a plebiscite.

The German delegation for their part proposed that demarcation line No. 1 should be fixed so as to give the greatest possible consideration to the "preponderance allemande." According to the exact text of the Munich Agreement the methods employed at the time of the Saar plebiscite could serve as a basis for this. Considerations must therefore be based on the population statistics of the period when this population came under Czechoslovak rule. That meant that, just as in the Saar, the ruling date was October 1918.

No official census of population had taken place in October 1918. Therefore they must fall back on the immediately previous one, that is, the census of 1810.

With reference to the percentage, the Czechoslovak delegation proposed 76 percent; the German delegation demanded 51 percent. In view of the obvious divergence between these two claims the chairman moved that discussion should be continued in the small committee of the five heads of the delegations.

This suggestion was agreed to by the Ambassadors of Great Britain, France, and Italy and by the Czechoslovak Minister.

Before the meeting of this small committee the chairman of subcommittee C read the list of localities forming the demarcation line of the area adjoining zone I.

This line was accepted by the Commission, while reserving the question of the town of Prachatitz.

The State Secretary remarked that in the German view the town of Prachatitz possessed a German majority. This point could, however, also be discussed in the small committee.

He proposed that the line read above and adopted by the subcommittee should be set down in a special protocol which was then to be signed by the delegates.

The reading of the points which form the demarcation line for the territory bordering on zone II was postponed, as this line was not yet adequately fixed.

The chairman proposed that subcommittee A should be instructed to prepare or the occupation of the territory bordering on zone I.

The French Ambassador inquired about the results of the work of subcommittee B.

The Commission invited the chairman of subcommittee B to make a report. The latter gave a brief outline of the present state of negotiations in his subcommittee. So far a certain number of questions had been examined in direct talks between the Czechoslovak and German delegates.

The Commission approved the method of direct negotiations between the two interested parties. In cases where this method was not possible, the Commission Could intervene and deal with any possible differences.

The session was thereupon adjourned to give the small committee of the five heeds of delegations an opportunity of meeting.

Thee session was resumed at 8 p. m.

The chairman stated that the deliberations of the small committee had not yet led to agreement on the terms of reference and principles for the work of subcommittee C. The members of this subcommittee, however, should not delay their work but continue it and thus reduce as much as possible the number and extent of the doubtful areas.

The Italian Ambassador emphasized that subcommittee C should be guided by the principle of limiting the plebiscite areas as far as possible in numbers and extent.

The Commission adjourned at 8:15 p. m.

Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945
Series D Volume IV
United States Government Printing Office : Washington, 1955

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