The Minister in Czechoslovakia (Crane) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 1

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.

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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.

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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.]

Richard Crane
[Enclosure 1]

Remarks of the American Minister (Crane) on the Occasion of His Reception by President Masaryk, June 11, 1919

Mr. President: I have the honor to place in your hands the autograph letter of the President of the United States accrediting me as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary near the Government of Czecho-Slovakia.

It is a great privilege for me to enter into official relations with the Government of Your Excellency at this moment when the triumph of the principle of self-determination of peoples, for which our respective countries have fought, is made a reality in the firm establishment of the Czecho-Slovak Republic. I count it a peculiar honor to be the first diplomatic representative of my government to the republic. As such it will be my constant effort to cultivate the existing bonds of sympathy which should always unite these two peoples who have so many common interests.

Realizing the serious problems of an economic, political and social nature which confront all of the nations of the world today, and especially those nations which like Czecho-Slovakia have experienced the ravages of the great war, I shall do all in my power to enlist the active support of my government in meeting the problems of reconstruction which the people of your country will have to solve.

As one who has a personal knowledge and admiration of the great work which you have accomplished in America and in Europe, during the war, in bringing about the early recognition of your country by the United States and its Associates, and in securing their economic assistance, it is my firm conviction that the high qualities which you, Mr. President, bring to the present task will insure its [Page 91] successful completion and will more firmly bind the ties of friendship between our two countries.

In the name of the President and the people of the United States of America, I have the honor to convey to you their sincere wishes for the greatness and prosperity of the new republic.

I beg leave to add to these greetings all best wishes and assurances of my own.

[Enclosure 2]

Reply of President Masaryk to the Remarks of the American Minister (Crane) on the Occasion of His Reception, June 11, 1919

Mr. Minister: I am happy to be able to greet you in these historic halls as the first diplomatic representative of the great American republic accredited to the Czechoslovak government. The nations of Europe had their representatives accredited to the court of the Bohemian kings centuries ago; you are the first American to enter these walls in diplomatic capacity. The fact is, perhaps, not without significance; it certainly carries with it great possibilities and a great deal of responsibility. The nations of Europe all have been wholly or almost our neighbours, and have often played an important role in our history; our relations with them have been often very close and our people know them therefore quite well. America has been a little out of the way; it came upon the stage of world’s history only after we lost our independence, and our people began learning to know it only recently; wherever they came into direct contact with it, they very quickly adapted themselves to its way of life, and proved most useful in aiding to build and uphold its great institutions. I am thinking here of the numerous Czech and Slovak colony in America, and the work some of its members have done for the victory of America and of its ideals in the present war. The people here have now learned to know America from one of its noblest sides; the generous, humanitarian, altruistic side. But the soul of America consists of many other things—and it will be your great and beautiful task—and therein also your responsibility—to represent and interpret all these things to us, to show our people on practical problems of international and political life what is meant by the American spirit, what are the American ideals; and I who am proud to know them, can assure you that our people will be glad to be Americanized in this sense.

Mr. Minister, you mentioned our work in America; work, in which I am glad to be able to acknowledge our indebtedness also to yourself; in the few days you have spent here you have no doubt had the opportunity to notice the depth of gratitude with which our people look up to your great nation and its President. They all [Page 92] know, old and young, what America has done for them during this war, what generous help I met there in my work last year. Allow me at this moment to assure you that this gratitude is of the kind that lasts: that we shall never forget America’s generous and active interest in our national struggle for freedom. Please, tell your President, when you thank him on our behalf for the kind wishes he is sending thru you, that the Czechoslovak nation is not ungrateful, and that it will prove itself worthy of the confidence he placed in it.

You mentioned, Mr. Minister, the difficult problems that confront a young nation like ours entering upon a new era of its national life; we shall be only too happy to enlist yours and your government’s aid in meeting them.

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  3. See undated telegram No. 2402, received June 4, from the Commission to Negotiate Peace, p. 86.
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