"Chief of the General Staff
Worker and Peasant Red Army
July 5th, 1936
To the People's Commissar of Defense, comrade K. Ye. Voroshilov
While in Czechoslovakia I met with the Chief of the General Staff of the Czechoslovakian army General Krejčí on his request. The meeting was confidential and took place in a seldom visited suburban hotel near Prague.
General Krejčí was accompanied by his deputy General Fiala and a Colonel, Chief of External Relations and military attache in France.
I was accompanied by our military attache in Czechoslovakia, Colonel L.A. Schnitman.
General Krejčí underscored the respect that the Czechoslovakian government and army have for the Soviet government and Red Army and stated that he found it necessary to inform me and discuss a number of important issues to do with Czechoslovakia and the mutual assistance pact.
The issues were given to me as follows:
1. Protective works at the border
The strategic situation in Czechoslovakia, specifically the changes after the Germans occupied the Rhineland, force a situation where the borders have to be fortified and defended until help comes from France or the USSR.
He mentioned French assistance with definite pessimism and mentioned that this help is remote and has a general strategic aim. There is no hope for direct operational cooperation between the French and Czechoslovakian armies. It is more realistic for the Red Army to offer assistance.
Considering its strategic situation, the Czechoslovakian government decided to create defensive lines with powerful concrete fortifications on all portions of its border except the border with Romania. 10 billion kroner will be spent in the coming 3-5 years. Work already started. The border with Germany will be covered first, then Austria, then Hungary, Poland will be last.
There will be no fortifications built on the border with Romania. The Red Army is expected to come through here and this is where the main direction of evacuation will go.
2. Armament and Supply of the Army
All armament and supplies are procured through Czechoslovakian industry. However, the industry cannot produce fast tanks. The value of fast tanks is enormous, which they were fully convinced of when they saw our exercises in 1935.
Krejčí asks to give them one battalion of fast BT tanks to reinforce their army. He offered to exchange the tanks for any of their own products.
Regarding the size and rate of expansion of the army, Krejčí stated that there is an enormous amount of work being done at all factories to build armament and supplies.
He said "we are late with this undertaking and only now are catching up. Industry works on a wartime schedule with a full workload. 10 billion kroner will be spent on armament over the course of ten years."
3. Military tasks as a part of the mutual assistance pact
General Krejčí said that he knew that Romania did not yet permit Soviet troops to pass through its territory when he asked this question. According to Krejčí, president Beneš was presently in Bucharest and was supposed to ask this of the Romanian king and government.
Krejčí proposed to not wait for the formalities to be resolved, as the Romanians would not oppose this and the people and army would be happy to let our troops through to help the Czechs. The only reason for their stalling according to Krejčí is "court etiquette" and no attention needs to be paid to it. Krejčí had a diagram on him depicting a project of a railroad network from Czechoslovakia's eastern border towards us through Chernovtsy-Iași.
The Czechs had a special interest in our aviation, which can be seen in Krejčí's statement that if we need the Romanians' permission to send the Red Army then we don't need this for aircraft. They can fly right to Czechoslovakia. According to him, landing strips are ready for 18 squadrons and landing strips for 16 more squadrons are being built.
4. Invitation to Czechoslovakian army exercises in 1937
Since I was not present at the 1935 exercises and Krejčí was afraid that I could not come this year, he invited me to the 1937 exercises, highlighting that they would be happy to have me and will stage interesting exercises.
Regarding the strengthening of borders and arming the army, I expressed satisfaction, stating that it is necessary to increase the rate of these undertakings.
Regarding purchasing BT tanks, I confirmed that the combat abilities of our tanks are high and that I will report to the People's Commissar of Defense upon my return to Moscow and will inform him of the results.
As for issues pertaining to military cooperation based on the pact, I did not share Krejčí's opinion of the Romanians and stated that a joint plan can be worked out, but development can start when:
- the Romanians agreeing to let the Red Army through
- we know what the French are planning, since as the pact states we will only act when the French join in.
- The Czechs are afraid that help from France will come very late. Such lateness makes it impossible to coordinate strategic cooperation between the Czech and French armies and forces the Czechs to build fortifications around their borders (except for Romania).
- We need to deal with the French fear, as the current situation makes the more afraid than willing to risk in order to save Czechoslovakia.