Skip to main content

Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

See other formats

---------------------------------------_________________ 289
out; but, if, on the contrary, I told him that such a principle
could not be considered by the British Government, then he
agreed that it was of no use to continue our conversations.
I, of course, was not in a position to give there and then such
an assurance, but I undertook to return at once to consult
with my colleagues if he would refrain from active hostilities
until I had had time to obtain their reply. That assurance he
gave me, provided, he said, that nothing happened in
Czechoslovakia of such a nature as to force his hand. That
assurance has remained binding ever since. I have no doubt
whatever now, looking back, that my visit alone prevented
an invasion, for which everything was ready. It was clear to
me that with the German troops in the positions they then
occupied, there was nothing that anybody could do that
would prevent that invasion unless the right of self-determi-
nation were granted to the Sudeten Germans and that quickly.
That was the sole hope of a peaceful solution.
" I came back to London next day, and that evening the
Cabinet met and it was attended by Lord Runciman, who, at
my request, had also travelled from Prague on the same day.
Lord Runciman informed us that although, in his view, the
responsibility for the final breach in the negotiations at
Prague rested with the Sudeten extremists, nevertheless, in
view of recent developments, the frontier districts between
Czechoslovakia and Germany, where the Sudeten population
was in the majority, should be given the full right of self-
determination at once. He considered the cession of territory
to be inevitable and thought it should be done promptly.
Measures for a peaceful transfer could be arranged between
the two Governments. Germans and Czechs, however,
would still have to live side by side in many other areas of
Czechoslovakia, and in those areas Lord Runciman thought
that a basis ought to be sought for local autonomy on the lines
of the Fourth Plan which had been published by the Czecho-
slovak Government on the seventh of this month. Moreover,
he considered that the integrity and security of Czecho-
slovakia could only be maintained if her policy, internal and
external, was directed to enabling her to live at peace with all
her neighbours. For this purpose, in his opinion, her policy
should be entirely neiitral? as in the case of Switzerland. This