ISSUE 1-2010
INTERVIEW
Petr Vagner
STUDIES
József Kaló  & Csaba Horváth (†) Ярослав Хрбек & Вит Сметана Анджей Пачковский Vladyslav Hrynevych
RUSSIA AND THE 65TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF WWII
Владимир Воронов Ярослав Шимов
OUR ANALYSES
Иван Поп Petr Vagner
REVIEW
Георгий Касьянов
APROPOS
Mykola Riabchuk


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles and/or discussions are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or positions of the publisher.

TOPlist
OUR ANALYSES
DID CZECHOSLOVAKIA HAVE ANY CHANCE? PRAGUE´S AMERICAN EMBASSY ABOUT THE RED ARMY IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA IN 1945
By Petr Vagner | Historian, the Czech Republic | Issue 1, 2010

            Considerations aboutpost-war Czechoslovakia used to be very often accompanied with statements that the Red Army entering the Czechoslovak territory, particularly its deployment in Prague, had a crucial impact on the later victory of communists in this country. Such an argument is logical and furthermore corresponds well with Stalin´s understanding of the Second World War results. [1]
The Soviet dictator wanted to surround the Soviet Union with Moscow-friendly states which in his understanding meant the states where the U.S.S.R. would be in control. But causality between the stay of the Red Army and the victory of communists on territory controlled by Soviets does not always hold true. The presence of the Red Army on the territory, of course, meant higher threat that communists would try to use this moment but there was possibility to avoid such a destiny.  
 
Austrian Way
After the end of WWII in Europe the position of Czechoslovakia, concerning a choice for the future, was rather more favourable than the position of Poland or Hungary that found itself in a strong Stalin´s grip. However, the final result was the same, i.e. the installation of communist regime took place in this country. The communist regime in Czechoslovakia was installed more than two years after withdrawal of the Red Army and gradually was getting much more rigid than regimes in the mentioned countries.
Czechoslovak communists to come into power did not need the immediate presence of the Red Army. Thus there were other reasons why Klement Gottwald and his party won in the power-struggle where they were the strongest player from the very beginning. The presence of the Red Army could play an important role in the process of the establishment of communist regime but this role did not have to be decisive and it should not be overestimated.
Thinking about chances of Czechoslovakia to avoid communist regime, it is useful to take into consideration an example of neighbouring Austria. There were Soviet troops deployed longer than in Czechoslovakia but communists did not have any chance to come into power. Of course, the conditions in Czechoslovakia and Austria were not the same: stronger presence of allied armies, no illusions about the U.S.S.R, the absence of Slavonic ideas etc. However, a certain analogy can be done.
Similarly like in Czechoslovak case, Stalin tried to use the fact that the Red Army was in an Austrian capital and controlled a big part of Austrian territory. He also succeeded in creating a provisional government under old social democrat Karl Renner: “By ´reactiving´ Renner, Stalin had followed the popular front strategy of engaging all ´antifascist´ political parties under communist leadership with the aim of strengthening Soviet influence achieve a ´peaceful transition to socialism´...”[2]
But the similarity with the Czechoslovak case finishes here. Although there was a government created under the Soviet control and communists were installed in Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Education, Stalin´s attempt failed when communists fatally lost election on 25 November 1945. They gained only 5.42 per cent which might have also been a the result of violent acting of the Red Army: “Austrian electors refused to honour the Communist contribution to the Austrian resistance to Nazi occupation and aggression and instead identified the KPÖ with the Red Army's plundering and raping.”[3]
 Little later Austria joined the European Recovery Plan and Moscow could “only” continue in economic exploitation of the country while Vienna could wait when a forecast of one diplomat is fulfilled: “when the Russian economic needs are satisfied, the Red army will leave the country.”[4] It happened in 1955 when Czechoslovak communists had been for seven years in power. 
   The example of Austria provides us with interesting evidence that the presence of Soviet troops in the country should not have necessarily been fatal. On the contrary, the stay of the Red Army even could work counterproductive if a non-communist representation was prepared and acted in the appropriate way.
 
The conduct of soldiers of the Red Army in Czechoslovakia
The bad conduct of the soldiers of the Red Army in Czechoslovakia could play similar role like in Austria but it did not. According to information from the US embassy in Prague, Czechs[5] were unpleasantly surprised with manners of Soviet soldiers and original enthusiasm was very quickly replaced by disappointment:
“The Czech people enthusiastically greeted the Red Army as liberators, but its popularity has rapidly waned due to its policy of living off the country and due to its general licentious conduct.[6]
It was not only the policy of living off the country whichmade Czechs angry. During the first months after the end of the war they were enforced to face robbery, rape and rude behaviour of soldiers of the Red Army:
 “When the first echelon of this Embassy arrived in Praha in late May 1945, Red soldiers were much in evidence in the city and in the area between here and Plzen. They presented a very poor appearance, even the majority of the officers being obviously unwashed, and their uniforms looked as if they habitually slept in. The attitude of officers and soldiers alike was rude and overbearing; they would steal or simply take anything not battened down. Locked motor vehicles left unguarded for a brief period would be taken away by Red soldiers or officers, even over the protest of the Czech police and with display of weapons. Numerous complaints reached Praha from the outlying districts of robbery, rape etc., by the Red soldiers.”[7]
The author of the dispatch bellow, chargé d´affaires a.i. Alfred W. Klieforth, had his personal bitter experience with Soviet soldiers:
“One of them detained me by force for an hour first in the apartment and then under armed guard in the Embassy car outside. He was rough and insulting constantly threatening me as an American with dire consequences and roughly slapped the American flag on the car, although, he fully realized that I was American Chargé d´Affaires.“[8]
“The Russians have the habit of stopping cars on the roads and forcefully taking possession of them. The British Embassy´s car, once when it was occupied by the Ambassador himself, was stopped twice by Russian who endeavored to take it... Likewise Russians – and in most cases Russian officers – force their way into inhabited as well as empty houses and apartments and remain. Upon their departure they simply take with them furniture and particularly valuables. Often the dwelling is completely emptied of its contents. The Czech occupants, as well as the Czech police, apparently are completely helpless in stopping the Russians.“[9]
Telegrams sent from the U.S. embassy from Prague and describing bad Soviet soldier’s behaviour reminded that Stalin before the Red Army  entered the Czechoslovak territory had warned Czechoslovak representatives that the conduct of his soldiers would not be too amiable and he had apologized in advance:
“When the chief representatives of Czechoslovakia met with Marshall Stalin in Moscow prior to the campaign which resulted in the liberation of the country, Stalin stated that he regretted that the quality of the troops assigned to the liberation of Czechoslovakia was low, and that probably the Czech population would gain a very unfavorable impression of the Red soldiers from them, but these units were the only ones he could spare.”[10]  
It is possible to understand from the telegram of an American diplomat that he had certain problems to believe it; but Stalin´s works published later support the words of the American diplomat´s source:
“The Red Army entered Czechoslovakia and now Czechoslovak people will know it better and they will also discover its imperfection. The Red Army is heading forward, is achieving great victories but it has had a lot of imperfections. In battles the Red Army has undergone a long way from Stalingrad to Berlin gates. Its soldiers experienced this way not like tourists they went through a fire of bullets. They defeated Germans. They consider themselves heroes. This is the way of thinking of nearly all the Red Army soldiers. In any case the majority of them. The less cultural the people are the more they think in this way.
They consider they are heroes and they think they are allowed to do extravagances. They think they will be forgiven because they are heroes. They went through a fire the enemy fire and each of them thinks he can be killed by a hostile bullet tomorrow. Com. Stalin said these soldiers very often behaved bad, they raped girls. Com. Stalin said he wanted Czechoslovak people not to be too enamoured of the Red Army because they could become later too disappointed. He, com. Stalin, wanted Czechoslovak people to understand the psychology of an ordinary Red Army´s soldier soul to understand soldier´s emotions that he has undergone a long and difficult way risking his life. Com. Stalin said he was raising his glass to Czechoslovak people to understand soldiers of the Red Army and to forgive them.”[11] 
Grounds for behaviour of Soviet soldiers given by Soviet authorities in Czechoslovakia sounded variously. American diplomats offered us several of them:
“[The higher Russians officers] explained that the soldiers were very ignorant and did not realize that they were in a friendly country and not dealing with an enemy population.“[12]  
„Of the bona fides of the Russian government and the Russian higher commanders there is little doubt, but they suffer from lack of cohesion and lack of control of and authority in respect to the lower echelons. A higher officer and close associate of Marshal KONIEV recently stated that Russia, and particularly the Red Army, was now paying the price for having killed off most of its educated classes in the Revolution and was suffering under a 25-years´ handicap in replacing this class. He blamed the difficulties and shortcomings enumerated above on this fact, plus the fact that so large a percentage of the Russian troops in Czechoslovakia are Asiatics.“[13]
 “Russian authorities are aware of their sinking prestige and try to blame Russian deserters and other criminals in stolen Russian uniforms for the mounting criminality. They suggested that the population should request proper identification papers before submitting to rape and looting.“[14]
In accordance with American reporting about the situation, Stalin also provided Czechoslovak representatives with his explanation of his soldiers the bad conduct:
„A member of the Czechoslovak government who returned to the country via Moscow in April 1945 reported that Stalin in conversation with various prominent Czechoslovaks stated that the cream of the Red Army had been killed, that the present troops are a mixture of later levies from various districts who are less disciplined and are also accustomed to being in enemy territory and hence to licentious conduct.“[15]
Messages describing the Red Army sent by American diplomats were not also too complimentary. However, it is necessary to take into consideration a certain disgust, particularly among American higher officers, resulting from problems which they had to face in the contact with their Soviet counter partners.[16]
“Discipline is relaxed in the Russian Army and the average soldier is anxious to return home. This admitted to me even by the Russian Ambassador. In their occupied zone American forces are more popular because they are well behaved and mainly live from supplies of their own.”[17]
“Even casual observation showed that the majority of the Red soldiers were Mongols, and it was often observed that guards at the various barriers into or within the Russian zone of occupation were illiterate... When observed at work or play, their stupidity is obvious.”[18] 
“The chief difficulties in dealing with Russians are:
a. No one will assume any responsibility or authority; even high-ranking General Officers refer minor questions to Moscow. It is, therefore, almost impossible to get action on anything.
b. Agreements reached at the highest level are slow in percolating to the lower echelons, if they get there at all; this results in abuses being continued in the lower echelon long after the higher commanders have promised to have them stopped, and have taken appropriate action.
c. The stupidity and thick-headedness of the Russian enlisted men and junior officers. It often happens that Czech or American officers holding all needed passes and documents issued by higher Russian headquarters are turned back or detained for a long time because a guard or junior officer will only recognize the signature of his Company Commander; one such stated that he took orders from his Captain and STALIN only.
d. The habit of taking anything that strikes the Red soldier´s fancy. They themselves say that they do not understand the term ´private property´; therefore, they do not respect it.”[19]
Alfred W. Klieforth, evaluating the behavior of Soviet soldiers, expressed his opinion that Soviets were not acting intentionally:
“In many cases it is quite evident that Russian depredations are not intentionally malicious but merely primitive.”[20]  
American diplomats were also puzzled with the fact that Soviet government did not understand how much a bad behavior of the Red Army could harm the image of the U.S.S.R. in Czechoslovakia:
“There is little evidence thus far the Soviet Army Command or that high political circles in Moscow realize fully how much their prestige in Czechoslovakia has deteriorated. The partial or total withdrawal of Russian troops from Czechoslovakia may depend to a considerable extent upon recognition of this fact by the Soviet Government.”[21] 
Gradually Soviet representatives started more or less to understand an emerging threat and took measures to prevent the worst.[22]
“Finally, action was taken by the higher Russians officers ...a few malefactors, caught red-handed, were shot without trial, and the general behavior of the Russian soldiers improved considerably in all respects except as to the theft or preemption of motor vehicles; (on three occasions, for instance, one very recent, Russian soldiers or officers tried to take the British Ambassador´s car away from him!).”[23]
However, ambassador Steinhardt wrote in September:
“Relatively few Russians soldiers are in evidence on the streets in daytime but there are continued attacks after dark on women and to acquire wrist watches.”[24]
            The same diplomat in the same month recorded the discussion with President Benes who complained about Soviet living off the country and a bad behaviour of the Red Army:
            Remind Koniev of Stalin´s promise made about two months ago that more than eight Soviet divisions would remain in Czechoslovakia after July 20 and that these division would be withdrawn to the northern Czechoslovakia frontier, and to ask him reconcile the recent Soviet request for food and supplies for over 300, 000 men with Stalin´s promise. The President said he instructed Svoboda to inform Koniev that the amount of food and supplies requested would not repeat not be furnished.
Complain of the behavior of the Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia.
Inform Koniev that the Czechoslovak Govt would not repeat not permit the Soviet military authorities to requisition the very large amount of sugar they had demand...”[25]
            Soviet marshal was not too pleased but promised to establish the order:
“Although Svoboda and Clementis had been cooly received by Koniev, the President said that after a full discussion of the grievances presented by them Koniev had promised to stop the depredations by Soviet troops from Germany and Austria and to withdraw the garrisons and other establishments outside of Prague, Brno and Bratislava, and to reduce the Soviet forces in Czechoslovakia to eight divisions. Also he agreed to the creation of mixed Czech-Soviet units to deal on the spot summarily with attacks on civilians (including many murders), other transgressions and irregular requisitions.”[26]
Not only the President complained about The Red Army. Even so a hard pro-Moscow oriented politician as Prime Minister and former Czech ambassador in the U.S.S.R.  Zdeněk Fierlinger admitted to American ambassador problems with Soviet soldiers:
When then discussed general economic conditions which Fierlinger said were gradually improving. He did not deny the disastrous effect on the food ration of the population resulting from wholesale seizure by the Russians of cattle and food supplies in general. He said that one time or another during the past few months between 2 and 3 million Russian troops had been in Czechoslovakia and that while they had brought some of their own food their local seizures had seriously affected livestock conditions throughout the country.[27]
The situation was not improving too intensively because another American diplomat wrote in October in the report about his trip to Vienna:
“During the three-week trip of the under-signed, which trip led through Czechoslovakia to Vienna and back again, not a single good word was heard about the Russians. It was always the same old story - raping and looting – and it is hard to say who complained the most; German enemies or Czech allies. The Czechs, a very thrifty nation, also resent the Russian occupation which taxes the country´s food supply heavily. The Russians received an enthusiastic welcome when they entered Czechoslovakia, but this brotherly Slavic love and friendship did not last.”[28]
 
First symptoms of the arising totality
Reports from American embassy give us not only information about the conduct of the Red Army. They provide us also with information about the impact of its presence on the situation in the country. In these reports it is possible to catch relatively clear features of strengthening Soviet influence and emerging features of future totalitarian regime:
“All classes of people greeted with real joy return on May 29 to Prague of This Mission...On June 2 a short account of this Embassy´s reestablishment was published on second pages. The censor under Russian control delayed the news. Interviews or taking of photographs by Czech correspondents have not been permitted thus far.”[29]
[Benes] daily obtains more concessions from the Russians but major political matters are still decided by Moscow; such matters as foreign relations and the strict censorship of press and radio. Most of published news is about Russian events and the exploits of their Army. Other foreign news is obscurely reported such as it is in Moscow.”[30]
“In military matters, a great deal of favoritism is shown Czech officers who served in Russia. According to Russians, the forces who served in Russia suffered greater hardships and casualties and so deserve greater rewards. Pro-Western officers do not enjoy the same prestige as pro Russian. The well-trained and equipped British-Czech Brigade which received much public acclaim when it paraded in Prague has now been assigned to less important work in the countryside.”[31]
“…the presence of the Red Army gives undue encouragement to factory committees which hamper production, and to all kinds of dissident elements many of whom have not borne the Communist label before May 1, 1945.”[32]
“All German schools are closed and Czech schools are being reorganized to include instruction in Russian language, pro-Russian history and attainments of Soviet Russia. Pro-Russian educators hope to make Russian the second langue of the country. Pro-Western teachers are definitely at a disadvantage.”[33]
“Russian propaganda is extremely active particularly in the exhibition of photographs of Stalin, flags, motion pictures and through the press and in the dissemination of rumors. The Russians continue to engage in undercover activities of a political nature and are maintaining a tight grip on the press although no formal censorship exists.”[34]
“The Communists are well organized and are carrying on an active and effective campaign throughout country –mostly surreptitious. The moderates are apathetic, non to well organized, fear the Communists who, they believe, rightly or wrongly, are receiving support from Moscow, and are disposed to rely on what they refer to as the common sense of the people and the bad impression created by Russians, to offset the Communist campaign.”[35]
Telegrams also clearly demonstrate arising fear among high Czechoslovak representatives to say what they think:
“When Czechs are alone with American officials they say with unquestionable sincerity ´why did not you liberate Prague?´”[36]
“Finally he [Jan Masaryk, MFA] suggested that we should not to take seriously his kind public remarks about the Russians, saying that such an attitude is necessitated by temporary present political and local situation.”[37]
Concerns were felt not only among high politicians but in the whole society:
“The average Czech will play safe and not make enemies of the Communists as long as the Russians occupy the country, because he learned that the future remains uncertain under any occupation.”[38]
 “The Czechs are psychologically tired and seem too timid even to make an open protest against the actions of the Red Army.”[39]
 
Czechoslovak´s reaction on the Soviet occupation
            American diplomats first of all highlighted the process of the disappointment which Czechoslovaks were going through. Step by step a long expected liberation was turning into nightmare:
“After looking forward for so many years to the ejection of the Germans, they are now frankly disappointed at the situation. Some of the more despondent Czechs say they cannot recall any instances of a voluntary withdrawal of Russian troops during this war. The more philosophical believe that the present situation is useful as being likely to end definitely any possibility of Communist domination of domestic politics.” [40]
“The main indictment of the Red Army is that it lives principally off the country. This, together with the withdrawal of the former German organization of food supplies, creates a bad food situation. The second objection is that while the Czechs do not have the Anglo-Saxon loathing of rape, they nevertheless are becoming disgusted at the continuance of a certain amount of rape by Russian troops. Evidence on this is scarce and it is possible that the stories may be exaggerated.”[41]
“Aside from the private looting, robbery and rape, probably the one thing that has alienated the Czechoslovakia people from the Red Army more than anything else is the systematic way in which the Russians have carried away machinery and anything movable from German-owned factories in Czechoslovakia, and particularly the wide interpretation they have placed on the term ´German-owned´. Even uninformed, armed guards placed over the Czech-owned factories have not always been able to prevent the Russians carrying away goods and materials – after the proper Russian authorities have admitted Czechoslovak ownership.”[42]
“The universally expressed wish of all Czechs is that American Army will remain in Czechoslovakia as long as there is one Red soldier left in the country. Despite the lip service paid by USSR and underlying feeling of kinship with the Russian people as fellow Slavs, Czechoslovakia would have preferred greatly had the American Army occupied all of Czechoslovakia.”[43]
“As a Czech communist said in melancholic manner: ´Communism is nice and good, but the Russians are impossible people.´”[44]
The gratitude for the liberation was quickly vanishing and the question ´The Russians liberated us from the Nazis; now, who will liberate us from Russians?”[45] was emerging. The fact that Soviets came for a long time disturbed a big part of Czechoslovak society. A. Klieforth, describing the implementation of pro-Soviets elements at the schools, characterized a reigned mood using witticism:
The reaction to above by people, including many professing Russophil attitude, but not real Communists is that Czechoslovakia was sold to Germany in Munich and to Russia at Yalta. Although the former was temporary, they fear the latter is not.”[46]
As it results from Klieforth´s report, communists had very few  problems with Soviet occupation. And it is logical because the  presence of the Red Army helped them, in certain extent, in their struggle for the power; however, this support had its pros and cons:
“All political parties are trying to strengthen themselves. The Communists had good headstart and gain support from presence of the Russian troops and have progressed the most in technical organization but not in popularity. The Communist members dominate National Committees and therefore, other parties can not as easily obtain facilities for quarters, public meetings, transportation, etc. as Communist party.“[47]
According with national tradition Czechoslovaks reacted on a complicated situation with jokes:
„A current joke circulating in Prague goes like this: “Stalin made two mistakes – He showed the Russians to Europe and Europe to the Russians.”[48]
 
Political impact of the Red Army´s stay
            Observing the bad conduct of the Red Army on the territory of Czechoslovakia, several American diplomats gained the opinion that this fact could play an important role in the political struggle. According to their assumption it could influence the result of parliamentary elections:
“The Red Army was received throughout Czechoslovakia with great enthusiasm as liberators. The Czechoslovak Communist elements played this situation to the hilt, and anywhere the Communist-dominated National Committees took control and instituted a number of steps reminiscent of the action of the original local Soviets in Russia. It was stated that, had an election been held immediately after liberation, the Communists might have polled 50% of the total vote. However, the Red soldiers behaved very badly in many places; aside from the fact that the Red Army ´lives off the land´, there were innumerable instances of ´requisitioning´ by individual Red soldiers, robbery, rape and general misbehavior, so that the population soon became disillusioned, and the conservative Czech element now states that for every day the Red Army remains, the Communists lose votes. A good guess is that, were general elections to be held now, the Communists would poll barely 25% of the votes.” [49] 
Such a supposition should be confirmed by Czechoslovak Minister of Defence then Ludvik Svoboda to A. Klieforth. From meeting with K. Gottwald Klieforth also concluded that communists were disturbed by the behavior of the Red Army because of its possible political consequences:
[Svoboda] “told me that in his opinion the excesses of the Red Army in Czechoslovakia while inflicting painful hardship on the people were a blessing in disguise in that they will cure the Czechs of “radicalism”. He was confident that in the elections now envisaged for December, will result in a decisive defeat of “radicalism” in the country and in the return of vast majority for the Benes party, followed, closely by the Catholic Party (the two rightist parties).[50]
 “I gained the further impression that he was worried by the excesses of the Red Army and that eventually he and the Communist Party would be held responsible for them.”[51]
The effort of the Communist Party to postpone elections as if confirmed the presumption that if elections had been organized as soon as possible, like in Austria, communists would not have reached such favourable results:
 “There is much discussion about general elections. Country´s desire to return soon to constitutional government in thus indicated, but this unlikely while country is still occupied by Russian troops. President Benes, the Government and all political parties except Communists desire to hold general elections as soon as possible in order to profit by President´s popularity and Russia´s unpopularity because of excesses of the Red Army. Similarly, the communists prefer to postpone elections and so they may be put off until end of the year.”[52]
            President Edvard Benes also wanted to hold the election until the end of 1945 and tried to push political parties to it through a provisional parliament:
            “After the luncheon given today by President Benes in honor General Patton, The President told me in the course of a conversation that he had decided that the election would take place ´sometime in November or December but before Christmas,´ so that political suspense would not mar the people´s Christmas. He had informed the leaders of the four parties, he said, that he disapproved of government by decrees for any considerable additional time and that he would sign no further decrees after September 1. His reason for so informing the party leaders, he added had been to force them to accept as soon as possible his proposal of provisional parliament.[53]
But the President did not succeed and the elections were held on 26 May 1946 with the result shocking the majority of Czech politicians apart from communists who had expected it. Czechoslovakia did not manage to follow the example of Austria and communists got an opportunity to hold elections at that time when it was favourable for them, so exactly as their leader K. Gottwald had wanted:
            “I think we should try to carry out elections only then when positive features of our measures are visible. When we overcome the most critical moments.”[54]
            It is questionable if Gottwald considered the impact of excesses of the Red Army on public opinion “critical moments” but it seems that in the second half of 1946 this fact did not play a significant role. Any party did not use the conduct of the Red Army as the means of their election campaign. Furthermore, most of them declared that building socialism was their programme.  Each of them had a different kind of socialism in their minds but it was not too important.
            In the elections of 1946, different factors than the behaviour of the Red Army, that was withdrawn from the Czechoslovak territory at that time, played more substantial role. An American diplomat noticed one of these factors long before the elections:
 “Without Russian influence, there is a definite Czech trend towards a moderate left and this is helped indirectly by the alliance with Russia and the presence of its army. There are also such tendencies in the American zone of occupation.”[55]
            Klieforth´s opinion was later confirmed byRobert D. Murphy, the United States Political Adviser for Germany, in the discussion about withdrawal American troops from Czechoslovakia. Murphy polemized with the opinion of the ambassador Steinhardt that a bad behavior of the Red Army could have the negative impact on the support of the communists by Czech:  
“Ambassador Steinhardt admits that because of the adverse effect which Russian conduct has had on the Czech population due to excesses in the area of the Soviet occupation, Communist sentiment in that area, which was high at the beginning of the occupation is dwindling with the months. However, we are told that there is no similar decline in the zone of our occupation where the population has not been in contact with the Russian forces. Pilsen, for example, is Communist stronghold.”[56]
R.D. Murphy was right. Communists in the general election, which was held on 26 May 1946, gained in Pilsen, where American troops were deployed until their withdrawal by the end 1945, 44.8% of votes which was the result fully comparable with the results of communists in other big Czech towns where the Red Army was deployed.
 
Every man is the founder of his own fortune
It is evident that the presence of the Red Army on the territory played a certain role in the establishment of pro-Soviet regimes step by step turning into communist dictatorships but Czechoslovakia had a chance to avoid such a destiny. Stalin was not so intensively interested in the full control of Czechoslovakia as in Poland or Hungary and in Czechoslovak case he probably got more than he had expected. 
As it results from dispatches of U.S. embassy in Prague the Red Army´s entering the Czechoslovak territory had its pros and cons. Firstly Czechoslovak people were grateful for liberation; however, they could not have the slightest idea about its outgrowths, and subsequently they were disgusted by the Red Army´s soldiers conduct. However, several American diplomats thought or better said hoped that a bad behaviour of Soviet soldiers could have its impact on electoral preferences of Czech people the result of following election in 1946 showed that there were several stronger factors which played their crucial role. Several of them were described even by American diplomats. It was particularly their trust in abilities of the President which prevented them to see real state of matters.
The answer to a question why Czechoslovakia was not able to take advantage of its situation, that was better than situation of Poland or Hungary, lies mainly in three  reasons: 1) a pro-socialist thinking of Czechoslovak people who had only very dim image what this socialist or communist idea in the Soviet version meant; 2) the existence of the fifth Soviet column in the shape of Czechoslovak communist party using the popularity of the U.S.S.R. after WWII in Czechoslovakia; 3) a tragic role of president Edvard Benes considering that it was possible to play with Stalin and communists fair. His sad sigh in the end of his political career –“they lied all, without exception. Who is a communist he is a liar”[57]- is only a bitter confession of his fatal mistake having a fatal impact on the further history of Czechoslovakia.
 


[1] This study is based on the exploration of materials located in the edition Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945,IV. and at The National Archives and Records Administration. I would like to express my the deepest gratitude to my friend Petr Kadlec who provided me with copies of documents from The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at College Park, Maryland, USA.  
[2] Steininger, R., Austria, Germany, and the Cold War: from Anschluss to the State treaty 1938-1955, New York, Berghahn Books, 2008, p. 44.
[3] Beer,S. The Soviet occupation of Austria, 1945-1955. Recent research and perspectives. www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-05-24-beer-en.html
[4] Rauchensteiner, M., Der Sonderfall: Die Besatzungzeit in Östereich 1945 bis 1955, Graz 1979, p. 11. Quoted by Beer, S., The Soviet Occupation.
[5] However, it would be right to use term Czechoslovaks, it means citizens of Czechoslovakia, there is used the term Czechs because American reports mainly described the situation in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia.
[6] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 3, 1945. Telegram.
[7] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[8] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 21, 1945. 123: Telegram. FRUS, 1945, IV, p. 459.
[9] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 21, 1945: Telegram. FRUS, 1945, IV, p. 460. Quoted text in the notice 21.
[10] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[11] Сталин И.В., Речи на обеде в честь Э. Бенеша, 28 марта 1945 года. In: Сталин И.В. Cочинения. Volume 18, Тверь: Информационно-издательский центр «Союз», 2006. p. 359.
[12] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[13] Ibidem, p. 3
[14] NARA, The Ambassador (Murphy) to the State Secretary, Berlin, October 25, 1945, 1193: Telegram. Report on Political Situation in Czechoslovakia. Enclosure from October 19, 1945 by John H. Backer 1st Lt.
[15] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945. 10: Telegram.
[16] “One such guard examined my pass, in Russian, gravely and at length, and then saluted and let my vehicle through – having studied the pass upside down all the time.”NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[17] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 3, 1945: Telegram.
[18] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[19] Ibidem, p. 2-3.
[20] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945. 10: Telegram.
[21]Ibidem.
[22]NARA,  The Ambassador (Murphy) to the State Secretary, Berlin, October 25, 1945, 1193: Telegram. Report on Political Situation in Czechoslovakia. Enclosure from October 19, 1945 by John H. Backer 1st Lt.
[23] NARA, Military attaché in Czechoslovakia (Woldike) to the State Secretary, Prague, July 7, 1945. Telegram.
[24] NARA, The Ambassador (Steinhardt) to the State Secretary, Prague, September 7, 1945. 320:Telegram.
[25] NARA, The Ambassador (Steinhardt) to the State Secretary, Prague, September 7, 1945. 320:Telegram.
[26] Ibidem.
[27] The Ambassador in Czechoslovakia (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State. Prague, July 23, 1945. 860G.5034/7-2345:Telegram. FRUS 1945, , IV, p.479. Fierlinger criticized the conduct of the Red Army´s soldiers even publicly at the meeting of Social Democrats in October 1945. See: NARA, The Ambassador in Czechoslovakia (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State. Prague, October 4, 1945. 421: Telegram. 
[28]NARA, The Ambassador (Murphy) to the State Secretary, Berlin, October 25, 1945, 1193: Telegram. Report on Political Situation in Czechoslovakia. Enclosure from October 19, 1945 by John H. Backer 1st Lt.
[29]NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 3, 1945: Telegram.
[30]NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 8, 1945: Telegram.
[31] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945: Telegram.
[32] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945. 10: Telegram.
[33] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945: Telegram. It is interesting to compare this telegram with telegram of June 17 where Klieforth recorded the meeting with minister of education Zdeněk Nejedlý who tried to persuade him that American model of education is the most applicable for Czechoslovak educational system. One could find rather strange that American diplomat did not make any comment to his report.
[34] NARA, The Ambassador (Steinhardt) to the State Secretary, Prague, September 7, 1945. 320:Telegram.
[35] Ibidem.
[36] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 8, 1945.10: Telegram.
[37] NARA, The Ambassador  (Steinhardt) to the State Secretary, Prague, July 27, 1945. 214:Telegram.
[38] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 8, 1945: Telegram.
[39] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945. 10: Telegram.
[40] Ibidem.
[41] Ibidem.
[42] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[43] Ibidem.
[44] NARA, The Ambassador (Murphy) to the State Secretary, Berlin, October 25, 1945, 1193: Telegram. Report on Political Situation in Czechoslovakia. Enclosure from October 19, 1945 by John H. Backer 1st Lt.
[45] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[46] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945: Telegram.
[47] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 8, 1945: Telegram. .
[48] NARA, The Ambassador (Murphy) to the State Secretary, Berlin, October 25, 1945, 1193: Telegram. Report on Political Situation in Czechoslovakia. Enclosure from October 19, 1945 by John H. Backer 1st Lt.
[49] NARA, The Czechoslovak Reaction on Russian Occupation. Military Attaché Report (Woldike), Prague, July 7, 1945. R-5.
[50] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 17, 1945. 21: Telegram.
[51]Ibidem.
[52] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 8, 1945: Telegram.
[53] NARA, The Ambassador (Steinhardt) to the State Secretary, Prague, July 27, 1945. 122:Telegram.
[54] Kaplan, K., Kronika komunistického Československa. Klement Gottwald a Rudolf Slánský, Praha, Barrister&Principal, 2009, p. 42.
[55] NARA, Chargé in Czechoslovakia (Klieforth) to the State Secretary, Prague, June 12, 1945: Telegram.
[56]The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the State Secretary. Frankfurt, October 16, 1945. 860F.01/10-175-45: Telegram. Enclosure 2: Memorandum by the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theater (Eisenhower). FRUS, 1945, IV, p. 501.
[57] Táborský, E.: Prezident Beneš mezi Západem a Východem, Praha 1993, p.271.
      

 

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