CHAPTER 8 Americans Might Have Liberated Prague

IN spite of Benes's errors of judgment, in spite of the presence of the Red Army in Slovakia and in spite of Communist machinations in Kosice, Czechoslovakia might still have been saved for democracy and as part of the Western world if American troops had exploited their military possibilities and had liberated Bohemia with its capital Prague.

Why they did not do so can be easily explained. After hesitantly crossing the Czechoslovak border General Patton's army halted on the line KarlovyVary-Plzen-Budejovice (Karlsbad-Pilsen-Budweis) and at the specific request of the Soviet High Command did not move any farther.

The affair has been so consistently misrepresented by the Communists that it is worth quoting from the exchange of telegrams between Eisenhower as Supreme Commander and the Russian High Command, as preserved in State Department records.

In response to a detailed message from Eisenhower regarding American military plans, General Antonov of the Russian High Command, on April 25, 1945, sent the American military mission in Moscow a message intended for Eisenhower, including the following:

The Soviet forces will conduct operations for the cleaning up of German forces from the east bank of the Elbe River north and south of Berlin and from the valley of the Vltava River.

In his reply Eisenhower stated:

The Allied forces holding for the time being the line from the headwaters of the Moldau River approximately along the 1937 frontiers of Czechoslovakia in the Erzgebirge and Böhmerwald [ Ore Mountains and Bohemian Forest], may advance to Karlsbad, Pilsen

-84-

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