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264_____.------------------------------------         ,
-who now cordially hated one another; had come to the conclusion
that cession to Germany of the predominantly German areas of
Chechoslovakia was the only solution left. These conclusions
he reported to the British Government, urging that the transfer
on an approved ethnological basis should take place at the earliest
possible moment and condemning even the idea of a plebiscite on
the ground that such a "formality" in a case where the ethnologi-
cal issues were so clear, would by causing delay " serve to excite
popular feelings with perhaps dangerous results." Lord Runci-
mans general opinion, as expressed in his formal letter to the
Prime Minister ofzist September, was that, though the Sudeten
leaders were responsible for the final break, C^ech rule of the
German areas granted to them in 1919, " while not actively
oppressive and certainly not terroristic " (as the Na^i Press was
maintaining), " has been marked by tactlessness, lack of under-
standing, petty intolerance and discrimination to a point where the
resentment of the German population was inevitably moving in
the direction of a revolt"
British public opinion, however, long accustomed to the
promulgation of very different views, was not yet ready to accept
so novel an idea. On jth September The Times had first
mooted it in a leading article, that " it might be worth while
for the Czechoslovak Government to consider the project, -which
has found favour in some quarters, of making Chechoslovakia a
more homogeneous State by the secession of that fringe of alien
populations who are contiguous to the nation -with which they
are united ly race." This suggestion of post-war frontier revision
by peaceful means found little apparent support in any other
section of the Press. The second week of September saw a
return even in peaceful Britain to the rising passions of 1914.
The outbreak of a general European War was imminent, and
every successive and seemingly inevitable act of the Chancellories
and War Offices concerned brought it hourly nearer.
Such was the situation when on the afternoon of the 14^
September the Prime Minister came to a momentous decision
and put into effect a plan which he had long contemplated as a
last resort to save the world from the shameful tragedy of another
war. He sent to Herr Hitler the following message :
" In view of increasingly critical situation, I propose to come
over at once to see you with a view to trying to find peaceful