Minutes of the Eighth Meeting of the International Commission

Minutes of the Eighth Meeting of the International Commission Held in Berlin on October 13,1938

The meeting opened at 6 p.m.

The chairman informed the Commission as a matter of routine that he had received a large number of letters and telegrams, the contents of which did not for the most part come within the competence of the Commission. They were partly concerned with Sudeten-German aspirations regarding the final frontier determination.

The chairman then turned to the question of the plebiscite. He said that Germany had examined this question very closely on the basis of the Munich Agreement. The Reich Government was of the opinion that an ethnographic frontier had already been found and established in the demarcation line and that under these circumstances it was possible to avoid the holding of plebiscites in the areas beyond this demarcation line. The chairman added that he would not state in detail the reasons for the German view. He asked for the Commission's views on the question of the plebiscite.

The Czechoslovak delegate answered that his Government would accept the German proposal with satisfaction. Indeed he was well aware of the disadvantages of a plebiscite operation. At a time when, according to the wishes of the Czechoslovak Government, efforts were being made to establish a true friendship between the two countries, it was necessary to avoid anything which from the psychological point of view might; disturb the course of German-Czechoslovak relations.

The question of the plebiscite could thus be regarded as solved, likewise the question of frontier delimitation which was now settled, with the exception of individual points of detail.

The Czechoslovak delegation, however, emphasized that in the interests of living side by side in a friendly manner it was important to settle questions of economy and traffic as soon as possible.

The exchange of population by option provided for in article 7 of the Munich Agreement was also still to be carried out. This problem could be examined in direct talks between the German and Czechoslovak delegations. Regarding the question of option, the Munich Agreement provided for the setting up of a German-Czechoslovak commission to solve this.

The chairman proposed that the Commission record in writing the decision to dispense with a plebiscite. He read the text prepared for this purpose by the German delegation. After a few alterations the following text was accepted:

"The International Commission puts on record that the final delimitation of the Sudeten-German area falling to Germany can be carried out on the basis of the line established by the Commission on October 5, with such alterations as the Commission may propose in accordance with the text of article 6 of the Munich Agreement.

"In these circumstances the International Commission has unanimously resolved that plebiscites may be dispensed with."

The Commission resolved to include this text in the press communiqué to be published later.

After lengthy deliberation the text of the press communiqué was drawn up and accepted by the Commission.

In reply to a question by the French Ambassador, the chairman stated that, according to the Munich Agreement, the settlement of the option question was a matter for a German-Czechoslovak committee and that this question had only been brought before the International Commission because, in accordance with the Munich resolutions, that body had to take cognizance of the appointment of the committee, which would certainly bring its work to a satisfactory conclusion.

The Commission thereupon asked the chairman of subcommittee B for a report on the present state of work of this subcommittee.

Ambassador Bitter stated that in the last few days subcommittee B had been mainly concerned with reaching agreement in principle on the condition in which territory was to be handed over in accordance with the Munich Agreement. Agreement had been reached on the general principle that the territory was to be handed over in an "orderly condition," and on an the other points. There was only one point still at issue, the effective date from which the Czechoslovak Government had to guarantee the "orderly condition," and, if need be, to restore the "orderly condition." The Czechoslovak delegation was of the opinion that the effective date was October 1; the German delegation, on the other hand, thought that it should be at least September 21, that is, the day on which the Czechoslovak Government had accepted as binding the Anglo-French proposal regarding the cession of the territory. The obligation of the Czechoslovak Government to cede the territory ran from that date, therefore so did the obligation to hand it over in an "orderly condition." This question was of great practical importance, as precisely in the period between September 21 and October 1 a great deal of material had been removed from the area, in particular railway rolling stock

The representatives of Britain, France, and Italy on the subcommittee had expressed no opinion on this question. The British representative had moved that it be brought before the International Commission.

Ambassador Ritter then reported on the rest of the work since his last report. The railway experts had already gone a long way toward settling technical questions, so that it was expected that railway traffic could be resumed at the end of that week or the beginning of the following week. That of course also depended in very large measure on when and to what extent railway rolling stock was returned. The German Reich naturally could not provide rolling stock from its own resources to start Czechoslovak rail traffic..

Questions dealing with posts, telegraphs, and telephones, the problems of clearing, especially as they affected money orders and postal savings transactions, had already been dealt with in detail. Negotiations were in progress between the Reichsbank and the Czechoslovak National Bank regarding the branch offices of the latter. The conclusion of the negotiations depended on the return of' the Czechoslovak experts who had fun powers to deal with this.

The return of files, plans, documents, and archives, part of which had been removed as a precaution from the German area and part of' which was in the central offices in Prague, had already begun.

The subcommittee was also already dealing with the manner in which exchange of goods between the Sudeten areas and Czechoslovakia could be resumed. In accordance with the recent recommendation of' the International Commission, and as it was closely bound up with future politico-economic relations between the two states, this whole question will be dealt with at first between the German and Czechoslovak delegations. The subcommittee will be informed of the progress of these negotiations.

In reply to a question by the British Ambassador, the chairman proposed that the Commission should now deal with the question of the effective date from which the Czechoslovak Government had to guarantee the "orderly condition." This question was, as had been stated, of great practical importance. The British delegate on subcommittee B had moved that this question should be brought before the International Commission. In his (the chairman's) view, the obligation of the Czechoslovak Government already existed as from September 21.

The French Ambassador recalled that subcommittee B had reached agreement on the definition of the "orderly condition" in which the territory to be evacuated was to be handed over and on the definition of the word "installations." The subcommittee had decided that this term included an public-utility installations including their accessories and irrespective of whether they were publicly or privately owned.

In the future therefore it was only a matter of translating the principles established into practice. In the case of the installations as defined by subcommittee B there was no need to fix a date. The date September 21 meant nothing. It referred to an outdated agreement, as the negotiations between the Governments concerned during the time in question had been in a state of' flux and the details of one obligation assumed had been canceled or superseded by the assumption of another obligation. He therefore considered the fixing of an effective date superfluous.

The Italian Ambassador agreed with this view. All that could be done in the International Commission was to establish principles. Everything that was decided on there would have to be carried out according to "faith and good will." One must rely on that in the case in point.

The British Ambassador, however, held that the fixing of an effective date in some form was necessary.

The chairman proposed that the question of an effective date be dropped. He agreed with the view of the French Ambassador that the principle of the transfer of territory in an "orderly condition" must suffice for its execution. The International Commission could not concern itself with such details.

In reply to this the British Ambassador stressed the practical importance attached to the fixing of a date.

The Czechoslovak delegate also pointed out the importance of an effective date.

The chairman ruled that, as the members of the International Commission had stated their views, the question of an effective date should be referred back to subcommittee B. On the basis of' the French Ambassador's proposal the subcommittee should deal further with this question. This matter should not be brought before the International Commission again unless subcommittee B failed to reach agreement. If the question were again brought before the International Commission while the latter was not in session, the members of the International Commission could appoint representatives.

In conclusion the Commission adjourned for an indefinite time.

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

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