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Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

288______________________________________         _
and find out in personal conversation whether there was yet
any hope of saving the peace. I knew very well that in taking
such an unprecedented course I was laying myself open to
criticism on the ground that I was detracting from the dignity
of a British Prime Minister, and to disappointment, and
perhaps even resentment, if I failed to bring back a satis-
factory agreement. But I felt that in such a crisis, where the
issues at stake were so vital for millions of human beings,
such considerations could not be allowed to count.
" Herr Hider responded to my suggestion with cordiality,
and on I5th September I made my first flight to Munich.
Thence I travelled by train to Herr Hitler's mountain home at
Berchtesgaden. I confess I was astonished at the warmth of
the approval with which this adventure was everywhere
received, but the relief which it brought for the moment was
an indication of the gravity with which the situation had been
viewed. At this first conversation, which lasted for three
hours and at which only an interpreter was present besides
Herr Hitler and myself, I very soon became aware that the
position was much more acute and much more urgent than
I had realised. In courteous but perfectly definite terms, Herr
Hitler made it plain that he had made up his mind that the
Sudeten Germans must have the right of self-determination
and of returning, if they wished, to the Reich. If they could
not achieve this by their own efforts, he said, he would assist
them to do so, and he declared categorically that rather than
wait he would be prepared to risk a world war. At one point
he complained of British threats against him, to which I
replied that he must distinguish between a threat and a warn-
ing, and that he might have just cause of complaint if I allowed
him to think that in no circumstances would this country go
to war with Germany when, in fact, there were conditions
in which such a contingency might arise.
" So strongly did I get the impression that the Chancellor
was contemplating an immediate invasion of Czechoslovakia
that I asked him why he had allowed me to travel all that way,
since I was evidently wasting my time. On that he said that
if I could give him there and then an assurance that the British
Government accepted the principle of self-determination he
would be quite ready to discuss ways and means of carrying it