Czech Exiles Blame Benes for Communist Coup in Czechoslovakia
April 22, 1948
Red Rebuff in Italy Brings Regrets To Czech Exiles; Benes Is Blamed
By PAUL GHALI The Chicago Daily News Post-Dispatch Special radio.
PARIS, April 22. It could have happened in Czechoslovakia-- that is the wistful reaction of one group of Paris residents as they view the anti-Communist victory in Italy. They are Czech exiles, and their consensus is that President Eduard Benes could have saved their country from Bolshevism just as Premier Alcide de Gasperi saved Italy if he had only insisted on general elections.
Now, the realistic Czechs in People in Prague are joining the Communist party. There is no other way to keep their jobs. There is no other way to keep their jobs.
Purge committees are asking everyone in a position of responsibility to swear allegiance to the Communist party. Refusal means Immediate "indefinite'' sick leave with names of recalcitrants sent to the "official work assignment office."
This is the office which sends anyone unemployed, whatever his profession to manual work in mines, quarries and forests.
Benes had all the. power necessary to proclaim martial law and general mobilization. If free elections had been held under a government representing all parties, they argue, the Communists would not have got more than 30 per cent of the votes, for they were only a minority in the Parliament. However, tired and ill, Benes refused to act and instead allowed himself to be convinced by Communist Premier Klement Gottwald that Czechoslovakia should align itself more closely with Russia which alone could prevent the rebirth of Germany.
Current Czech reports say the prestige of Benes is at low ebb. recalling three dire failures in Benes's political career first, Munich; second, subservience toward the Soviets as manifested during his 1945 trip to Moscow; third, refusal to call out the army on the eve of Gottwald’s accession to power.
Recent arrivals here, who have been in contact with members of Benes's staff, report that he has decided to remain in Czechoslovakia whatever happens but to resign the presidency. The word is that Socialist Party Chief Zdenek Fierlinger, whose last minute collusion with the Communists made the Red coup possible, has already been secretly designated as his successor.
At this stage, according to Czech residents here, opposition to Communism, within Czechoslovakia, is non-existent. Czechs are realists. They feel they cannot hope for outside support and therefore are not expending their energies uselessly. There is some slight sign of resistance in University of Prague circles, but even there the time is considered inopportune and they are awaiting developments in the tension between the United States and Russia.