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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States, 1947. Eastern Europe; The Soviet Union

Czechoslovakia,   pp. 196-255 PDF (23.1 MB)

Page 255

860F.OOB/12-2247: Telegram
The Charge in Czechoslovakia (Bruins) to the Secretary of State
SECRET                          PRAHA, December 22, 1947-10 a. m.
  1670. In view recent Communist setbacks in Zecho and failure of
Communists in France, Italy and other western European countries
to make gains, Embassy has been on alert for signs indicating possible
answer to question 'of whether Zecho (Communists are likely resort
t6 extra-legal methods of gaining majority in elections scheduled
-While it may be presumed that agenda of Communist parties in
various countries contain plans for such action, it appears at present
Czech Communists will make every effort in drive beginning next
January to obtain their aims within constitutional framework. While
there is no conclusive answer to question at present, several highly
placed contacts of Embassy point out three reasons against extra-
legal action in Czecho: (1) non-revolutionary character of Czech peo-
ple who would probably react to such methods in manner unfavorable
to Communists; (2) Czecho is only Soviet periphery country with
highly developed industry. Soviet Union greatly needs Czech prod-
ucts. Unorthodox Communist election methods would impair Czech
ability to get necessary raw materials from west; (3) President Benes
is regarded as "ace in hole" who is highly popular and respected
who could be &iuhnte&dupon in emergency to use his position strongly
to resist extra-legal action. While President has suffered physical set-
back, he is far from being incapacitated and his intellectual vigor is
  In telegram 1677, December 23, from Praha, not printed, Charge Bruins
reported that the previous day he had raised with Foreign Minister Masaryk
the question of the possibility of the Czechoslovak Communists resorting
extra-legal methods in the forthcoming elections. Bruins' telegram reported
Masaryk's comments as follows:
"He [Masaryk] said Gottwald had never misled him in matter of this nature
and had replied Communists would seek to obtain 51 percent majority by con-
stitutional methods, that great amount of good-will had been created in world
press by fairness of last Czechoslovak elections and Communists would be
wise to adopt irregular methods. Consequently Masaryk believes this will
strategy at least in early part of election campaign and is unlikely to be
unless orders to contrary from Moscow are received." (860F.OOB/12-2347)
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