Iran’s Crisis of Legitimacy
An Embattled Regime Faces Mass Protests—and an Ailing Supreme Leader
THE cold-blooded murder of Czechoslovak democracy last February by the ruthless agents of the Cominform shocked the free world. When the other states of Central and Southeastern Europe had been engulfed by Soviet totalitarianism it was often said, by way of explanation, that they had always lived under some form of dictatorship, that they were bound to have authoritarian régimes of some kind after this war, and that since the earlier monarchical and right-wing governments were compromised by collaboration with the Nazis, power naturally gravitated to Communist hands. Moreover, three of those states -- Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria -- had fought against the Russians. Poland had had a bitter territorial dispute with the Soviet Union. And in Jugoslavia, the Communist leader Tito had seized power before the war ended.
In Czechoslovakia matters were quite different. Here was a country which had enjoyed real democracy from its birth in 1918 until the tragic events of Munich in 1938. Its people treasured political and personal freedom above everything else, and at the same time entertained the friendliest possible feelings toward the Russians. Dr. Beneš, the former president, came back to his country enjoying tremendous prestige and was again installed as President of the Republic in the majestic old castle of the Bohemian kings overlooking the Moldau. Throughout the war he had made every effort to keep on good terms with the Soviets, and in some quarters had been called an "agent of Bolshevism" for his endeavors to bring the east and west together. One would have thought that the men of the Kremlin had every reason to be grateful to him.
Stalin and Molotov had promised Beneš on many occasions that they would not interfere with the internal affairs of his country. Yet when the opportune moment came, they let their pack loose on him without the least scruple and ordered the destruction of the democracy which he had salvaged from the ruins of Munich and the Second World War. Sick in body and broken in spirit, with his life's work in ruins and no hope of repeating the miraculous recovery of freedom which he had engineered in 1938-1945, President Beneš left the Hradcany Castle to spend his last sad months as a virtual prisoner guarded by strong detachments of Communist police, at his country seat at Sezimovo Usti. There merciful death released him from his torments.
Today old foes of Dr. Beneš raise a triumphant: "I told you so!" Others, including some of his friends, ask: "Was it not to a great extent his fault? Didn't he foster feelings of confidence in Stalin and in Russia? Didn't he argue that Communism and western democracy can live peacefully side by side? Didn't he sign a treaty of friendship with Soviet Russia? Didn't he give Communists the key government positions which made it possible for them to crush democracy in Czechoslovakia with a few regiments of Communist police and Red workers' militia? Wasn't he in all these respects wrong?"
To understand the facts in their right proportions, one must go back many years. Beneš was a convinced democrat in the western sense, and he never ceased to oppose Communism. But after the Russian Revolution he worked hard to bring Soviet Russia into the commonwealth of civilized nations. He saw that without Russia, the European balance of power was seriously impaired and that there was no eastern barrier against a renewal of the German Drang Nach Osten. This is why he made such exertions to get the Russians into the League of Nations. And this, of course, is why he travelled to Moscow in 1935 to sign the first Czechoslovak-Soviet treaty of alliance. By reinforcing the Franco-Czechoslovak alliance with the strength of the Red Army he hoped to intimidate Hitler and put a brake on any aggressive Nazi intentions against the "Czech bastion." In 1938, when the hour of decision was drawing near, he felt he had done everything possible to protect his country from the Nazi danger. Confronting Germany stood the triple alliance of France, Soviet Russia and Czechoslovakia, and he was convinced that it in addition would have the active support of Great Britain.
Without warning, the western friends of Beneš deserted him. His main ally, France, broke her pledge at the last minute and, with Great Britain, handed him an ultimatum to give up the frontier regions of Czechoslovakia to Germany, to surrender all the lines of fortifications, and to trust the fate of his people to a man who had already showed himself to be, and who gloried in being, a conscienceless liar. Acting on the express instructions of their Governments, the British and French envoys woke up the head of the state in the middle of the night of September 21-22, 1938, to force him to accept the ultimatum. Betrayed and deserted, Beneš had no choice but to bow. Munich followed, then the occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia by Hitler's troops on March 15, 1939, and then six years of terrible suffering for the Czechoslovak people and for the world.
Only those who were with Dr. Beneš on those tragic occasions in September 1938 and March 1939 can fully understand the effect they had on all his subsequent political actions. During the war the memory of the terrible night of September 20-21, 1938, never seemed to leave his mind. The thought of Munich was with him when he was seated at his desk in his small villa in Putney, a suburb of London, preparing the lectures which he was to deliver at the University of Chicago. It travelled with him across the Atlantic. He himself did not speak about it, and his reticence was generally appreciated; but the sense of outrage was deep in his heart. It was what made him believe that he could not guarantee his people's security except by a pact with the cynical men in the Kremlin, and it was what drove him, in consequence, into the arms of the Soviets. It is the clue to his tenacious belief that mutual tolerance between Communism and democracy was possible and that there even could be active coöperation between the two systems.
The Russian attitude at the time of Munich actually was by no means as straightforward and courageous as the world was led to believe by clever Soviet propaganda and the reluctance of those who knew the full facts, to speak in a derogatory way about the U.S.S.R. In order to find out whether he could rely on Soviet aid in case Germany attacked 'in those critical days of September 1938, Dr. Beneš sent for the Soviet Minister at Prague, Alexandrovsky. He described the situation to the Soviet Minister and requested him to obtain clear and unequivocal assurance from Moscow regarding the aid that might be expected. On September 21 Alexandrovsky came back with a reply. It contained two points: "1, that the Soviet Union was ready to fulfill its obligations arising from the Soviet-Czechoslovak treaty of alliance to the last letter, and that it would help immediately and efficiently if France too remained faithful to her obligations; 2, that the Soviet Union was prepared to fulfill all its obligations as stipulated in articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant of the League of Nations."
Such a promise to fulfill all legal obligations must certainly be put down as quite correct behavior; but for practical purposes the Soviet assurance was worthless. For the Russians knew that the French would not honor their obligation, and Beneš knew it also. In fact, the Russians knew it before the Czechoslovak Government did. Our Minister in Moscow at the time, Fierlinger, reported to Prague as early as the end of August that the Soviets did not believe that France would stand by us in the coming crisis. In making his offer to honor her obligation conditional upon French action, Soviet Russia reduced it to an abstract gesture. Similarly his promise to fulfill his obligation in the manner prescribed by the Covenant was without substance. With Britain and France committed to another course, who could rely on positive action by the League of Nations? Beneš was, of course, fully aware of the abstract character of the Russian promises, and that was why he saw no other way out than capitulation. Nevertheless, he never forgot that while Chamberlain and Daladier were working to break down his resistance, the Russians at least made a gesture of willingness to help, and no other country did even that.
Another factor which pushed Beneš toward dependence upon the Soviets was the difficulty which he experienced during the war in persuading Great Britain and France to proclaim the Munich agreement and its consequences null and void. He thought that they would repudiate Munich as soon as its disastrous results became apparent. In fact, he had to wait four years before the British fully admitted the error of Munich. It was not until August 1942 that innumerable discussions and persistent effort brought him formal vindication. Here is a typical entry from my diary of April 9, 1942, when Beneš, then almost at the end of his proverbial patience, urged the matter in a talk with the British Ambassador, Philip Nichols:
New negotiations about repudiation of Munich with Nichols. This time Dr. Beneš entered into the matter in a very sharp manner. Again he repeated to him all the reasons for which he considered imperative that Munich should be liquidated in a proper manner between us and Britain. "If you do not want to grasp this," he said, "I shall have simply to state failure of negotiations and inform Mr. Eden and Mr. Churchill about it. I shall also have to consider whether or not to inform our friends of the Liberal and Labour Parties of this sad failure, in order to have it clear that we, Czechoslovaks, have done all that was in our power to have this blot erased, and that it was the British Government which not even at this stage of the war was prepared to repudiate Munich. Every Englishman has to be aware that Munich still lies between our nation and Britain and that it will not be forgotten unless it is repudiated. I am afraid that you, Englishmen, with your lack of political imagination and anticipation, do not realize what consequences for postwar Central Europe and European Continental politics in general this attitude of yours might have.
What Beneš said on this and many other occasions was not bluff. He well knew that in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere the Communists were rubbing their hands in expectation of the profit they would draw from Munich and from Britain's reluctance to make good the wrong she had committed. "Dr. Beneš who a year ago preferred to capitulate rather than let his people fight side by side with the Red Army," reads one of the many anti-Beneš pamphlets which the Czech Communists were distributing in Czechoslovakia throughout 1940, "who preferred to save capitalism from the consequences of the defense of the Republic, now capitulates again . . ." That is to say, he was capitulating to western "plutocrats," while "only the U.S.S.R. is helping the oppressed to realize in a dramatic way the full consequences of the principle of self-determination."
Stalin raised the question the very day Beneš arrived in Moscow in December 1943 to conclude a treaty of alliance with the Soviets. The writer accompanied Dr. Beneš as secretary on that journey, as he did again in 1945. Our train arrived at Kurski station at ten a.m., and at eight p.m. an official banquet was held in Beneš' honor at the Kremlin. Hardly an hour had elapsed, and only the first third of that huge dinner had been eaten, when Stalin shot a sharp question across the table to Beneš, who was sitting opposite: "And why didn't you fight in September 1938 ?" A few days later the Czech Communists, headed by Gottwald, raised the same question. In a long and by no means polite harangue they attacked both the attitude Beneš had taken in September 1938 and the validity of his explanations.
Of course, it was no coincidence that both the Russian Communist leader and the subservient Czech lieutenant "spontaneeously" took up the Munich question and, each in his own way, reproached Beneš for the Czechoslovak capitulation. Both were well aware what a trump card Munich represented in their bid to Communize Czechoslovakia and crush democracy there, and they began preparing to play it long before the final showdown.
Thus Munich influenced the relations of Beneš with Soviet Russia in two ways. Betrayal by the west convinced him that he must seek guarantees of safety for his country in the east. And because he knew that the Communists could exploit the feelings which Munich left in all Czechoslovak hearts, he had to try to be on the best possible terms with the Soviets. He based his whole policy on the expectation that Soviet Russia would participate in the war as an ally of the western Powers. Many Americans who met him while he was in the United States in the spring of 1939 can testify to this. He did not allow himself to be deflected from his deep conviction either by the Soviet-Nazi pact of nonag-gression of August 1939, or by the signs of coöperation which marked that bargain almost to the very day when the German Luftwaffe began blitzing Russian airfields and towns.
Here is a message, typical of many others, which Beneš sent to his collaborators of the Czechoslovak underground movement on September 1, 1939, the very day of the German invasion of Poland, conveying to them his opinion of the Nazi-Soviet pact:
The Soviets think that it is impossible to stop the further development of war in Europe. They apparently wished to drag Europe further into the conflict with Germany and to proceed in such a manner as to avoid becoming involved in the war from the outset as in 1914. They wished that the war might break out first between the west and Germany, so that they could stand aside for a while and could then intervene at a moment most suitable to their own purposes. Do not place any reliance upon the words of Hitler that there is eternal peace between Germany and Russia.
It is evident that the Soviets are expecting a social revolution in the spirit of their policy. Therefore, even we shall have to be careful concerning this. It may well be that they could later overestimate their chances. I do not think they judge Western Europe correctly just as they didn't in 1918, when they expected a world revolution. Western Europe is socially and economically very strong and will certainly oppose a social revolution very strongly even if this war will change it quite a lot in that direction. Poland, Germany, and Central Europe are, however, in a much more dangerous situation.
No wonder Beneš felt himself the luckiest man in the world when, on that sunny Sunday, June 22, 1941, war began between Russia and Germany. The great anti-German alliance between east and west which he had been advocating for so many years became almost at once an established fact; and through it victory was assured. His relief personally was very great, for in the west he had been denounced as an agent of Bolshevism and in the east as a tool of capitalists.
A fortnight after the German invasion of Russia, Ambassador Maisky was reading to a jubilant Beneš the following message from Moscow:
1. The political program of the Soviet Government includes an independent Czechoslovakia with a national government.
2. It is self-evident that the Soviet Government will not interfere in the internal affairs of Czechoslovakia and that her internal regime and structure will be decided by the Czechoslovak people alone.
3. If the Czechoslovak Government wishes to send an envoy to Russia, the Soviet Government will be pleased to receive him. The Soviet Government will willingly give assistance to organize Czechoslovak military units in Russia. In that case they think it will be possible to establish a special Czechoslovak National Committee which will help to organize the Army. The only condition is that these units will be subordinate to the High Command of the Russian army in operative and technical matters. Otherwise they will have a Czechoslovak commander as well as Czechoslovak officers.
Of course, Beneš welcomed all this -- except the idea that a special Czechoslovak Committee in Moscow should have a hand in organizing the Czechoslovak Army in Russia. Poland's experience with a similar procedure demonstrated the wisdom of his political instinct in this particular.
From that time the Russians gave Beneš repeated and absolute assurances of Soviet noninterference in Czechoslovak internal matters, and reënforced these direct promises in other ways. Three weeks after Maisky's declaration, the Soviet Commissar, Beria, a member of the newly established Committee of Five for the Defense of the State, took pains to stress the promise of noninterference in a conversation with the Czechoslovak military delegate in Moscow, Colonel Pika. And the principle of noninterference was solemnly pledged in the Soviet-Czechoslovak treaty of friendship of December 1943.
But on Wednesday, February 25, 1948, the means used by Gottwald to extort from Beneš, broken and sick as he was, the signature which he demanded for setting up his "people's" government was the threat that if the Communist police and Red workers' militia encountered opposition, the Soviet Army was on the border, ready to march in.
In 1941 -- and until the late autumn of 1944 -- Beneš took the Soviet assurances at their face value. Typical of his belief in the sincerity of Soviet intentions regarding Czechoslovakia is the letter which he sent to Marshal Stalin on August 6, 1941, by Dr. Fierlinger. The main passages of that letter read as follows:
I take the liberty of citing to you what I am simultaneously writing in a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. V. J. Molotov, concerning our present and future relations with the Soviet Union:
"I would like to stress that from the year 1935, in spite of all that has happened in the world, in nothing and never have I changed my policy. I expected that the Soviet Union would take part in this new war in one form or another, and I therefore consistently and systematically prepared myself for the moment when both our countries would again be able to renew the policy which I regard to be natural and obvious for them, and essential to their present and future interests and of course preëminently corresponding also to all feelings and requirements of the nations of both states.
"On this reality I should also like to establish our relations and our coöperation. By this I express the desire of a tremendous majority of the people of my country. I shall continue to pursue this line during this wartime coöperation and especially during preparations for the future peace and even after its conclusion. For I believe that, even after victory has been won, the interests of our countries will not conflict and that in the future organization of Europe the foundations of our mutual relations, established in 1935 and renewed on 18th July, 1941, will be one of the most important factors for preserving peace in Eastern and Central Europe."
Even then, however, Beneš qualified his confidence in one very important respect. He was aware of the duplicity of the Soviet Government's pretense that it knew nothing at all about Communist activities. Here is what he wrote to his collaborators in Czechoslovakia four days after his conversation with Maisky:
The Soviet declaration concerning our internal affairs can be taken seriously. The Soviets as a State will actually proceed in this manner. Naturally, the Comintern and the Communist Party will carry on their policy as before. On the other hand, our Communists here and at home have no influence, or very little, on the course taken by the Russian Government and State. During the entire negotiations with Maisky there was not the slightest indication from the Soviet side that they would request anything in regard to our Communists.
The trust which Beneš placed in the Soviets, and his belief in the happy outcome of the Anglo-American-Soviet brotherhood in arms, reached their peak during his visit to Russia in December 1943. This visit took place about the time of the Teheran Conference in an era of special good feeling between the east and the west. The visit made a profound impression on Beneš. We entered the U.S.S.R. through Azerbaijan and the big Baku oil fields. For four days and nights we travelled by train through towns and villages which had recently been the scenes of terrific battles. Beneš was shown Stalingrad, where the backbone of Hitler's attack was broken. He was taken to factories where he saw the feverish war effort. He spoke not only with statesmen but with soldiers and common people. And when he compared what he saw and heard with what he had witnessed during his last visit to Moscow and to Stalin in 1935 he was amazed at the tremendous progress which he seemed to find. He returned to London with the firm conviction that the Soviet régime, having stood the most difficult test of a war, was now passing through a stage of gradual transformation into a Socialistic democracy. As a sociologist he knew that a revolution can be victorious only if in due time it evolves into peaceful forms. He thought he saw that process at work in Russia in 1943. One of his comments to me on our journey back to London was: "T. G. Masaryk persistently refused to believe that the Soviet régime would last. I wonder what he would have said now." And another: "A régime which can improve the living standard of 90 percent of the people is bound to maintain itself. That is what so many people in the west failed to realize."
Also very influential with Beneš were his personal meetings with Stalin, Molotov and some other of the Soviet leaders. Stalin in particular impressed him very powerfully. Stalin apparently was sincerely realistic and took a practical, almost pragmatic attitude, devoid of every kind of doctrinaire dogmatism. With this he showed an obvious disdain for excessive ideology, a sense of good humor and an appreciation of jokes -- all of which helped convince Beneš that he was dealing with a fatherly national leader rather than with World Communist Number One. His feeling was that Stalin had no other ambition than to lead his people out of their seclusion and gain for them a fair and equal share with the other Great Powers in shaping a new and better world. He almost saw in Stalin another Peter the Great, opening the windows of Russia to the breezes of the west -- with the difference that this time the current of fresh air was to go in both directions, that of political liberties from west to east and that of social improvements from east to west.
If it was the purpose of the Soviet leaders to stage "Potemkin villages" for Beneš during his 1943 visit to Russia, and to lure him deeper into the Soviet net, then I must say that it succeeded beyond all their expectations. Whatever Beneš asked was granted, generously and without hesitation. Stalin and Molotov promised to support Czechoslovak claims to the pre-Munich Czechoslovak frontiers (while the British, be it noted, were still stubbornly refusing to give any promise of that kind). Stalin even suggested himself that Czechoslovakia ought to take the Glatz region (which, however, the Poles were given in 1945). He was very eager to help the Czechs to get rid of the Sudeten Germans. When Beneš requested that Czechoslovak military units should march into Czechoslovakia together with units of the Red Army, and that the liberated territory should be transferred to Czechoslovak civil authorities without delay, Stalin immediately gave his consent and said that he would issue orders accordingly. When Beneš attempted to outline for Molotov the solution of Czechoslovak internal questions which he had in mind, Molotov almost refused to listen and made every effort to show that the Soviets were not at all interested in that, since they adhered to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs of other states. Both Stalin and Molotov had abundant praise for the results of the Teheran Conference and for President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill.
To make the optimistic picture brighter still, it should be added that Beneš also was returning to London full of hopes that a fair compromise could be reached in the Soviet-Polish dispute. At the moment that seemed the only serious threat to the unity of the Allies. Beneš discussed the matter at length with Stalin and Molotov, cleared the ground for Mikolajczyk (with whom he had talked before he left London for Moscow), and made Stalin promise to give back to the Poles the districts of Bialystok, Lomza and Przemysl, and to reëstablish diplomatic relations with Mikolajczyk's Government, with no conditions except that it be cleared of inveterate anti-Russian elements.
"We came to a complete agreement about everything!" was the triumphant exclamation of Beneš when he returned from his final talk with Stalin, just before we left Moscow. His pleasure, however, did not last a year. When the Red Army began to liberate Czechoslovakia from the east, in the autumn of 1944, the Czechoslovak Government Delegate came to the liberated areas to take over, according to the agreement between Beneš and Stalin and according to the Soviet-Czechoslovak treaty signed in May 1944. To his bewilderment, he soon discovered that Stalin's pledge did not seem to have any importance for the Russian commanders in the field. Despite the Soviet recognition of the pre-Munich frontiers of Czechoslovakia, repeated on so many occasions, the Communist emissaries who arrived in Czechoslovakia with the Red Army started a campaign for the annexation of Ruthenia to the Soviet Union. They forced the local mayors to sign petitions asking "reunion" with the Ukrainian brothers on the other side of the Carpathians. They organized "spontaneous" meetings and caused telegrams advocating "reunion" to be sent to Stalin and Beneš. The Ukrainian radio propaganda took the same line.
The Czechoslovak Delegate protested, but to no avail. How could one expect, asked the Russian generals, that they would oppose the "will of the people"? This was the first flagrant breach of a Russian pledge. For the first time since July 1941, when Maisky gave his government's formal assurance of noninterference, Dr. Beneš understood the Russian interpretation of that word. Yet so deep was his trust in Stalin that even then he was unable to believe that he deliberately intended to cheat him. Here is a message which he sent to the Czechoslovak Government Delegate in reply to the latter's desperate complaints about the Russian behavior:
1. Immediately upon receiving news about the difficult situation in the liberated territory we took steps in Moscow. On two occasions, I personally negotiated with Lebedev who, after our second conference, brought me Molotov's reply. Simultaneously we asked Fierlinger to intervene, which he in fact did.
2. I presume that these matters do not please Moscow very much, that they do not welcome them just as our Government does not, and that they would like to settle them in a conciliatory manner in agreement with our Government. I believe that both governments are proceeding with all sincerity in this matter.
3. But it appears to me that the Ukrainian Government, Ukrainian soldiers and especially the Ukrainian Communist Party intentionally proceed differently. The Ukrainian Communist Party wants to confront Moscow and ourselves with accomplished facts and does not respect anybody but follows its own aims heedlessly. I do not think that Moscow is playing a double game in regard to this, and I have the impression that the situation is beginning to get out of the hands of the central government. This would, of course, be a serious development. One should not forget that Ukrainian nationalism is and will be dangerous in every respect, and Moscow must reckon with this. This is, at least, how I view the matter at present.
4. We shall proceed in this situation as follows: (a) Come what may, we shall adhere to the treaty and will ask in Moscow that it be fulfilled. We shall not relinquish anything and shall not abandon our rights. (b) Where we shall be prevented from asserting and exercising our rights, as you are, we shall state the fact, and will become observers and passively await future developments. It would be a mistake on our part to use force. On the one hand, we do not possess sufficient executive power and on the other, they would use such an act as a pretext against us and would exploit it. (c) We shall not relinquish our position, but will remain correctly at our post and fulfill our duty to the last.
It was no use, however. True, Stalin was full of excuses, but he made it perfectly clear that nothing could be done. "The will of the people" was sacrosanct for him, and it was being made clear through the telegrams which he and Beneš were receiving from the Ruthenian "population." So Beneš had to swallow the bitter pill and make the best of the situation.
He might have refused to acquiesce, of course, but he was convinced that it would not help and that it would make the whole situation even worse. He knew that in Slovakia the Communists had agents like the ones in Ruthenia and that it would not be difficult to begin to evoke "the will of the people" there in much the same manner. He knew that some of the Slovak Communists were playing with the idea of a "Soviet Slovak Republic." He looked at his map of the war fronts and saw that while the allied armies were still battling on the far side of the Rhine, the Red Army was penetrating deep into Slovakia. And what was worse, he knew by this time that, without consulting him and without even having deemed it necessary to notify him, the western allies made some sort of agreement with the Russians regarding zones of occupation, and that under this plan Czechoslovakia was to be put in the hands of the Red Army. This had become painfully apparent when the British and Americans disregarded his urgent requests for arms for the Czech and Slovak patriots.
Thus Beneš became convinced that against his wishes, against his warnings, and against their own vital interests, the western allies once again were giving a single Power a monopoly of influence over his country and the rest of Central Europe. And General Patton's sudden halt 50 kilometers from Prague, which was desperately entreating help -- a halt fraught with fatal consequences -- was corroboration of his forebodings.
When Beneš had gone to Moscow in 1943 to sign a treaty of friendship and alliance with Russia, his first purpose, of course, was to obtain an ally against the possible renewal of German aggression. But he also wanted to bind the Soviets by a treaty which included a firm principle of noninterference. He reasoned that it would be much more difficult for the Russians to violate an unequivocal written agreement than a vague oral declaration. He had the same end in view when he favored a Soviet-Czechoslovak agreement, signed in May 1944, delimiting the rights of Soviet commanders on Czechoslovak territory and stipulating that Czechoslovak authorities would take over the administration of the country at the earliest possible moment. If the Russians do break such pledges, he thought, the whole world will know it, and the western allies will react sharply. He hoped that the Russians would hesitate to push their differences with the west to the breaking-point. In both these basic expectations he was refuted by events. The Soviets showed utter disregard for their treaty obligations, and Stalin's pledge proved as worthless as Hitler's.
It can be argued that this or that detail of the Beneš policy was not correct. In particular it might be held that Beneš ought not to have yielded to Gottwald's ultimatum, but should have left the country and begun another fight for its liberation. But on the whole a responsible statesman could not have followed any other line in the given circumstances. Whatever policy any small country of central and southeastern Europe might adopt in the face of Soviet expansion, the result would be the same unless western armies were present to stop the Red Army. Somewhere an attempt had to be made to see whether sincere and honest coöperation between east and west, between Communism and democracy, was possible. Czechoslovakia was the test case and Beneš was its protagonist. The attempt failed, and the destruction of Beneš proved to the world that no pledges by the Soviet Union, written or oral, however fine they may sound, are a basis for cooperation. The lesson is not unlike that which the fate of Beneš taught the democratic world in 1938.