The Minister in Czechoslovakia (Crane) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received August 7.]
Sir: I have the honor to report that I arrived in Prague on May 29 last at one-thirty in the afternoon. (Please see my telegram No. 1 of that date3).
As the Department is aware, the only staff that came with me to Prague was Colonel Sherman Miles, acting Military Attaché, and Mr. Lyle Alverson, appointed Legation Assistant. On account of his previous experience in Legations, Colonel Miles was able to advise me on many diplomatic matters.
Before my arrival I fortunately received a telegram from Consul Wallace Young here, announcing that a delegation would meet me at the Wilson Station, Prague, so that I was partially prepared for a reception. As soon as the train stopped a military band commenced to play the “Star Spangled Banner.” I was escorted to the waiting room of the station between lines of troops, and was greeted there, on behalf of the Czecho-Slovak Government, by Professor Karel Domin, head of the Foreigners’ Bureau, Dr. Joseph Scheiner, Inspector-General of the Czecho-Slovak armies, and Mr. John Masaryk, son of the President of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia. In the waiting room I was also met by Consul Young and Captain Frank Jedlicka, now Assistant Military Attaché.
Outside the station, the street for several blocks was lined with men and women in national costume, and an escort of Sokols accompanied me to the President’s Palace where Colonel Miles and I had lunch with the President and his family.
After luncheon the President was scheduled for a conference with Dr. Alois Rasin and Dr. Adolph Stransky, who had shortly before, at the request of the leaders of the Young Czech party, tendered their resignations from the cabinet as ministers of finance and commerce, respectively, as a protest against the demonstrations reported by Consul Young in his despatch number seventeen of May 31.3 The President seemed to be considerably agitated, which was probably due to the fact that I had arrived just after the disturbances and at the time of the resignations, and which he seemed to fear would produce an unfavorable effect upon me.
After luncheon Colonel Miles and I were taken to our quarters in the Palace of the Archbishop of Prague, presumably as guests of the Government. We were met, however, at the door of the palace [Page 88] by a representative of the Archbishop, who extended an invitation on the latter’s behalf to be his guests in the palace. The Archbishop’s servants are still at the palace, the Archbishop himself being in Switzerland and it is not considered likely that he will return to Prague. A new Archbishop more national in his sympathies will be probably elected, but as the attitude of the Church in affairs in Czecho-Slovakia is not determined, it will be some time before this takes place.
Mr. John Masaryk, the son of the President, who is an old friend of mine, having been for some time connected with the Crane Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was extremely helpful in making the necessary arrangements in connection with my living accommodations, and also in arranging informally my presentation to the various officers of the government.
On May 30, 1919, I addressed a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs asking for an interview in order to place in his hands a copy of my letter of credence.
I was informed that during the absence of Dr. Edward Benes in Paris, Mr. Anthony Svehla, Minister of the Interior in the present cabinet, had the portfolio of Minister for Foreign Affairs, although Dr. Frederick Stepanek bore the title of Ministerial Counsellor and discharged the functions of the office.
As reported in my telegram number three of June 3, 1919,5 I had an audience with Dr. Stepanek on June 2, Colonel Miles accompanying me. Dr. Stepanek, speaking in French, first brought up the matter of my formal presentation to the President, which he said would take some time to arrange as the government wished to make it an impressive ceremony, and wanted a delay of a week or two in order that the necessary arrangements might be made. I told him that I would suit the convenience of his government in this respect but that I had expected to present my letter of credence to the President shortly after my arrival. He replied that he hoped it could be arranged within a week or ten days.
Dr. Stepanek then expressed to me on behalf of the Czecho-Slovak Government and people the great appreciation they felt for the work which America had performed in the way of furnishing food and other supplies for the people of the Czecho-Slovak Republic. He impressed on me that it was no mere matter of words to say that the United States had really saved the country of Czecho-Slovakia and that, had it not been for America, the country would in all probability now be in disorder.[Page 89]
He then spoke in a complimentary manner of my father, Mr. Charles E. Crane, whose long standing interest in the Slavic world, and especially in the Czechs and Slovaks, was well appreciated in Prague.
Dr. Stepanek concluded his remarks by thanking me on behalf of his country for the great help I had been to President Masaryk during the latter’s visit to Washington in 1918.
On June 6 I received a letter from Dr. Iri Guth, Master of Ceremonies for the President, naming July [June] 11th at 11:30 A.M. as the time the President would receive me. On the morning of June 10th Dr. Guth called on me to arrange the details of my presentation and informed me that, on account of the active military operations against the Magyars then being conducted in Slovakia, the presentation ceremony would be quite simple. I replied that this was entirely agreeable to me.
At eleven-thirty on the morning of June 11th, the garrison of Prague unexpectedly called upon the President to assure him of their loyalty and of their readiness to fight against the Magyars should their services be needed. This delayed the ceremony of my presentation until noon.
The route from the Archbishop’s Palace to the entrance of the President’s Palace (a distance of about four hundred yards) was lined with troops. Colonel Miles proceeded alone in a victoria drawn by two black horses; and I followed (accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Liska, Military Aide to the President) in a carriage drawn by four white horses, with coachmen and footmen attired in the livery of the City of Prague.
After presenting my letter of credence to the President, as reported in my telegram No. 16 of June 11, 1919,6 I read my speech (a copy of which is enclosed, together with the President’s reply). The President spoke in English, and in a most impressive manner. I was then presented to Dr. Svehla and conversed with him and with Dr. Stepanek, Colonel Liska and one or two other officials who were present.
In the anteroom adjoining the reception room were a number of Americans, including one or two newspaper men, and immediately after my return to the Archbishop’s Palace these gentlemen called on me to pay their respects.
During the afternoon of June 11th Colonel Miles and I paid our official calls, but not without some difficulty, as the Foreign Office did not have a complete or correct list of the diplomats in Prague and many of the addresses they gave were incorrect.[Page 90]
On the evening of June 13th a performance of the opera “The Bartered Bride” was given in my honor at the National Theatre. The American Minister to Roumania, Mr. Vopicka, being in town, he and I occupied the box opposite to the President’s. The American and Czech National Anthems were played, and during the last act Mr. Vopicka and I sat with the President in his box. The President later entertained us at dinner at Hradcany Palace, which formerly belonged to the Austrian Emperor, but which is now the official residence of the President of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia.
My reception on the day of my arrival and subsequent demonstrations show the real feeling of friendship which exists here for the United States, and this feeling, I believe, will prove a good foundation for the development of future relations between the two republics.
I have [etc.]