Czechoslovakia: Anvil of the Cold War

By John O. Crane; Sylvia E. Crane | Go to book overview
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21 The Communist Coup (1947-48)

A glimmer of some improvement in relations was announced to Washington, indecisively, by Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt on November 13, 1947, in his report of his conversation with Hubert Ripka, "moderate" Socialist minister of foreign trade. This reputable minister had "stated that if a $20 million cotton credit could be obtained from the U.S. in the near future, he was in a position to assure me that [the] Czechoslovak Government would promptly settle large American claims for nationalized property." Steinhardt speculated that otherwise "there was little hope for a settlement. I would not be averse to extension of cotton credit provided there is a really worthwhile quid pro quo." Ripka had told Steinhardt in confidence that the "Soviets had already informed him of a significant shortfall in their promise to deliver 20,000 tons," which would now be reduced to 14,000.1

Just at this time, Jan Masaryk was in Washington, accompanied by Ambassador Juraj Slávik, meeting with U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall and Jacob Beam, in charge of Central European Affairs. The department had that day received Steinhardt's telegram. On the table for discussion were the long deferred cotton credit and the retention by the Western Powers' Tripartite Control Commission of a gold pool in Germany, in which Czechoslovakia had a frozen $50 million claim.* The Czechoslovak application for the long-term loan

This gold had been taken by Hitler from the Czechoslovak treasury after the occupation on March 15, 1939, and it subsequently was transferred to U.S. possession. The U.S. government retained the gold for use in compensating Czechoslovaks who became American citizens, whose enterprises were nationalized. (Told to Sylvia


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