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The French Yellow Book


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No. 45 :
M. V. De Lacroix, French Minister in Prague, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Prague, February 7, 1939.

THIS morning I had a conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on his journey to Berlin. First of all, M. Chvalkovsky told me that, according to the desire expressed by the German authorities, it had been agreed not to publish anything on the conversations which had taken place. Taking advantage of this official silence, the Press published countless pieces of information, either inaccurate or entirely invented. M. Chvalkovsky denied especially that he had been ill-received in Berlin or that he had been disappointed with the result of his journey. He told me his visit was not meant to include any negotiation, that he went to discuss current affairs concerning both countries and in order to find out what was expected of Czechoslovakia.

The position of his country in regard to Germany supplied the atmosphere in which the Minister stated the facts and expressed his views. He stressed the fact that he was received by the F├╝hrer as an acquaintance and that the interview he had with him took the form of a conversation and not of the receipt of instructions.

The Foreign Minister summarized the indications he had given me and linked them up with the question of the guarantee of Czechoslovak frontiers. What appears to have impressed him most was the importance which Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop attach to the Jewish question-absolutely out of proportion to the importance given to the other questions dealt with. The Foreign Minister of the Reich, as well as the Chancellor, are said to have stated emphatically that it was not possible to given a German guarantee to a State which does not eliminate the Jews:

"Do not imitate the sentimental and leisurely manner in which we ourselves treated this problem," the two statesmen are reported to have said. "Our kindness was nothing but weakness, and we regret it. This vermin must be destroyed. The Jews are our sworn enemies, and at the end of this year there will not be a Jew left in Germany. Neither the French, nor the Americans, nor the English are responsible for the difficulties in our relations with Paris, London, or Washington. Those responsible are the Jews. We will give similar advice to Rumania, Hungary, etc.... Germany will seek to form a bloc of anti-Semitic States, as she would not be able to treat as friends the States in which the Jews, either through their economic activity or through their high positions, could exercise any kind of influence."

In connection with this part of M. Chvalkovsky's conversations, I learnt that the Director of the Commercial Department in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Herr Friedmann, and the former Consul-General in Paris, Herr Butter, at present attached to the Press Department at the Czernin Palace, have been relieved of their posts.

The second point which the Reich Chancellor is said to have emphasized during his talks with M. Chvalkovsky, inasmuch as it concerns the guarantee as well as the general relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia, is the question of the rights to be granted to the German minority within the Czechoslovak State: the right to teach according to the National-Socialist ideology in the German schools from which the Jewish teachers must be expelled; the right to organize themselves according to National-Socialist principles; the right for the German minority to wear National-Socialist badges. Then, M. Chvalkovsky mentioned that the Social-Democrats of the German minority had merged into the National-Socialist party, as had been the case in Germany. Only a few hundred people, who have compromised themselves too much to take the risk of returning to Germany, are remaining faithful to their original convictions.

Finally, the German statesmen are said to have asked for a reduction of the Czechoslovak army, in greater proportion than the reduction in territory and population already suffered. According to M. Chvalkovsky, who did not express himself quite definitely, no demand was made. The Reich seems to have mentioned that they would be prepared to give their guarantee to a neutral State, taking for granted that such a State would have no need for a strong army.

As the Foreign Minister reminded me, the Czechoslovak Government was waiting for the Munich Powers to state clearly the conditions upon which they were ready to give the international guarantee mentioned as early as September by France and Great Britain. According to M. Chvalkovsky, the conditions stipulated in the Munich Agreement had been fulfilled long ago.

In concluding, the Foreign Minister mentioned that Czechoslovakia remained faithful to the treaties signed, and to the alliances entered into by her Government.

LACROIX.

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