Czechoslovakia between Stalin and Hitler: The Diplomacy of Edvard Benes in the 1930s

By Igor Lukes | Go to book overview

President Beneš had a good understanding of the situation. He could tell that the foundations of Czechoslovakia's security system had started to crack. Although it remained firmly committed to help maintain Czechoslovak national security, France was afraid of Germany; Great Britain was officially disinterested in the Czechoslovak-German crisis, privately hostile to Prague, and cautiously sympathetic to the Konrad Henlein movement; and to top it off, Moscow's stock in Prague, as Newton observed, had sunk to a new low. 80 It was hard to imagine a worse scenario. Yet there was one. What if behind the facade of hostile rhetoric between Berlin and Moscow there lurked the possibility of a rapprochement? In that case, the information Beneš started receiving from Berlin would put the show trials in Moscow in an altogether different light. He had a reason to fear precisely that development.


Notes
1.
ACC CPC, Fond 19, inventory no. 5.
2.
The Klement Gottwald faction won over the so-called opportunists at the party's 5th Congress in Prague, from 18 to 23 February 1929. Thereafter, the CPC attempted--with minor exceptions--to follow Moscow's instruction with complete obedience.
3.
ACC CPC, archival number 66062. This is an undated and unsigned forty-three-page analysis of the CPC. The document was written in the 1930s, possibly by someone from the counterintelligence section of the Ministry of Interior.
4.
Before World War II, Bruce Lockhart wrote, " Czechoslovakia had been the European democracy with the least contrast between wealth and poverty." See R. H. Bruce Lockhart , My Europe ( London: Putnam, 1952), 123.
5.
ACC CPC, Fond 19, inventory no. 5, signature 1223; the intelligence report is dated 13 November 1936. Ibid., signature 1063. A top-secret Communist party of Czechoslovakia report on party membership up to I July 1935 states: October 1932 (59,405), October 1933 (50,647), January 1934 (27,367), January 1935 (32,051), June 1935 (43,491), and July 1935 (48,000). From another report (ACC CPC, Fond 19, inventory no. 5, signature 1223), the Intelligence Central of the Police Directorate, 2 July 1937, reported to the Police Presidium that at the end of 1936 the CPC had about 75,000 members; as a result of a large-scale campaign to recruit new members, the party had about 90,000 by June 1937. The number of the party's elected representatives in the two houses of the Czechoslovak parliament remained unchanged between 1929 and 1935 (30 members in the house, 16 members in the senate). The ups and downs in party membership are explainable, at least partly, by intermittent purges.
6.
ACC CPC, Fond 19, inventory no. 5, signature 1223. The report of the Intelligence Central of the Presidium of the Police Directorate is dated 2 July 1937.
7.
Ibid. The confidential report on CPC finances was dated 13 November 1936.
8.
According to an official publication of the Comintern's Executive Committee, Thesen und Beschlüsse ( Basel: Prometheus, 1933), 24, the Comintern spent $650,000 annually in support of communist movements worldwide.
9.
ACC CPC, Fond 19, inventory no. 5, signature 530.
10.
Ibid., signature 67, Central Committee plenum of 11-13 March 1933. The resolution was published as Rozviňme veliký, zápas za sjednocení dělnictva proti hladu, fašismu a válce ( Prague: Nakladatelství Senátora J. Hakena, 1933).
11.
Ibid., signature 69. "Proti jednotné frontě fašismu, jednotnou frontu komunismu!" Rudý večernik, 27 October 1933.
12.
Ibid., signature 70; Central Committee Resolution of 29 October 1933, Proti fašistické diktatůře, za diktatůru proletariátu ( Prague: Max Forejt, 1933).

-86-

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