No. 187 NAI DFA 127/116

Confidential report from Francis T. Cremins to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)


(S. 7/27) (Confidential)

Geneva, 24 May 19381

With reference to the German-Czechoslovakian situation, I have to update, for the information of the Minister, that the situation is viewed here with anxiety, but, in international circles, I do not find undue alarm as if the outbreak of war were immediately in prospect. On Saturday night, when the anxiety was at its height, and when I found a very gloomy view indeed taken in certain Swiss circles, M. Soubotitch (Yugoslavia) expressed to me his view that the position was 'serious but not dangerous'. That I think is really the general view here - nobody expects that Germany will at once go to war with Czechoslovakia because of isolated frontier incidents, while practically everybody takes the view that any extensive troubles in Czechoslovakia in which Germans are victims must almost inevitably result in armed intervention by the Reich which would be resisted by Czechoslovakia thereby bringing in France and possibly Great Britain. At the same time, many here express the view that, unless action is dictated by the general European situation, and by Germany's ultimate aims, France will not move to the help of Czechoslovakia, that is, that the mobilisation of France will depend on the extent of German designs in Czechoslovakia, and on the estimated results of such an aggrandisement on the balance of power in Europe. Satisfaction is expressed at the reported efforts of Great Britain to have the Sudeten question settled quickly and peacefully, by almost unlimited concessions by the Czech Government.

I had a conversation on the matter today with the Polish Delegate (M. Komarnicki). He does not expect immediate war, and he thinks that a peaceful settlement is still possible, but he warns against too much optimism. As regards the attitude of Poland, he says that if Germany interferes in Czechoslovakia, Poland cannot remain indifferent and must interfere too. That does not, he adds, mean, as some newspapers pretend, that Poland will support the Czechs. I take it that what it really means is that Poland would take the opportunity of German intervention to settle to her satisfaction her own territorial problem with Czechoslovakia. The Czechs have been unwise all along to incur the enmity of Poland by retaining a comparatively unimportant piece of territory on the Polish border, 90% of the population of which (about 100,000) are claimed to be Polish. At the same time M. Komarnicki says that Poland could not permit Germany to take over the whole of Czechoslovakia. It struck me, when speaking to him, that there is room for a 'deal' between the Czechs' two great neighbours, if there is any armed intervention. He expressed the view that the central European problems will be settled this year - he hoped without war - that the summer will be a time of great anxiety, and that, if war can be avoided, a period of five years' comparative tranquillity can be looked forward to!

I asked M. Komarnicki if he thought that Henlein2 would press for the breaking of the Czech-Russian alliance, and he expressed the view that such a condition would be regarded as indispensable. It is part of Polish policy also. We cannot afford to be surrounded, he said, and added that Czechoslovakia is now suffering for the faith which she always placed in Russia. He ridiculed the idea that the U.S.S.R. would be able to traverse any part of Poland in order to aid Czechoslovakia militarily.

I enquired of M. Komarnicki what he thought of the calling up of reserves by the Czech Government, and he said that in his view such a measure was essential for the maintenance of order, and the Government finds it almost impossible to keep the internal situation in hand. He states that this situation is serious, and that the Slovaks and other minorities, apart from the Germans, are determined to secure a measure of autonomy. He expressed the view that the Czech Government is beginning to suffer from nerves, and that while it is hardly probable, an internal collapse can be visualised.

I attach for your information some propaganda maps which have been circulated here today, apparently from German sources.

[signed] F.T. CREMINS
Permanent Delegate

1 Marginal annotations: 'Dr Rynne', 'Seen M.R., 30/5/38, Registry please P.[ut] A.[way] on file'.

2 Konrad Henlein (1898-1945), founder of the Sudetendeutsch Partie (1935), Reich Commissar for the Sudeten Deutsch territories (1938-45), captured by United States forces, 9 May 1945, committed suicide 10 May 1945.


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