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The Student Organization Whose Fighting Faith Is
The American Student Union believes that:
to keep democracy working, it muse be kept moving forward.
This is the objective of 20,000 ASU'ers on 200 campuses and in.
100 high schools.
Aubrey Williams, Director of the National Youth Administration
"The American Student Union has become in its few years of existence an.
important channel for the expression of progressive student opinion. . . ."
Max Lernjer, former Editor of The Nation, and professor at Williams
"My visit to the Summer Camp of the American Student Union has con-
vinced me that it is capable of offering intellectual excitement to American
youth, as well as evoking from them fresh social energies for the renewal
of our democratic strength."
THE AMERICAN STUDENT UNION
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Home Address -.- ■'■
FOURTH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE
AMERICAN STUDENT UNION
Keep Democracy Working by Keeping it Moving Forward
The University We Want to Study In
The America We Want to Live In
The World that Will Give Us Peace
Place: New York City
Dates: December 27-30, 1938
Meet and mingle with a thousand other students whose fighting faith is de-
mocracy. Hear an unusual group of speakers. Fashion policy that will make your
campus a fortress of democracy.
If your Club desires to send fraternal delegates or visitors write for further in-
formation to the Convention Arrangements Committee, American Student Union,
112 East 19th Street, N. Y. C.
The Munich "Peace" Is Not the Peace
the Peoples Wanted
By JOSEPH P. LASH
National Sectetary, American Student Union
"They are ringing bells today, but they will be wringing
their hands tomorrow."
On September 30, alighting after his flight from Munich,
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared: "I believe it is
peace for our time.'' On October 6, closing the historic debate
on the Pact in Parliament, the Prime Minister qualified his
optimism: "I hope that the members will not be disposed to
read into those words — used in moments of some emotion —
more than they were intended to convey."
"I believe it is peace for our time," and on October 9 at
Saarbruecken in a truculent speech Adolf Hitler announced the
strengthening and extension of his western fortifications. He
told England to mind its own business and brazenly informed
the English people that the election to power of a Duff Cooper,
an Eden, or a Churchill would be construed as an unfriendly
"I believe it is peace for our time," and, within a week addi-
tional troops were pouring into a Palestine whose troubles were
increasing because of Nazi encouragement.
"I believe it is peace for our time," and October 10, Premier
Stoyadinovich of Jugoslavia, in the moment when opposition
parties favoring friendship with the democracies were suffering
embarrassment from Munich, dissolved Parliament to get a
popular mandate for more extensive, cooperation with Germany
"... peace for our time," and by October 10 it was clear that
the price of forestalling further military occupation of martyred
Czechoslovakia included giving access to German armies for
war in eastern Europe.
"... peace for our time," and within the month Japan took
Mr. Chamberlain's pacifism at face value and marched into
Canton. British trade and investment not only in the Yangtse
area but in southeastern China will now continue only upon
"... peace for our time," and by the weekend of October 15
every nation had announced vastly increased armaments ex-
penditures. Germany hinted at permanent air superiority,
English statesmen spoke of conscription, and Maginot lines
were being planned for every frontier.
"I believe it is peace for our time," and irony of ironies within
the week the moving finger of aggression began to point to
"I believe it is peace for our time," and Mr. Chamberlain
prepared to impose his kind of "peace" upon Republican Spain
by blockade and starvation.
If the Versailles Pact helped conjure up Hitler and the night-
marish era through which we are living, what demons of fury,
strife and dictatorship have not been released by the Munich
Pact which marks English and French reconciliation not only
to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, but to the seizure of
Austria, of Ethiopia and every aggression undertaken by
fascism in the last decade? Yet those who loudly condoned
Hitler because of the injustices of Versailles become strangely
complacent before the Munich "peace."
The Munich Pact marked no settlement of reason, of justice,
of mercy. No basis was laid for international amity and well-
being. Trade has not commenced to flow more freely, only the
blood of German democrats and Jews in the Sudetenland. Mu-
nitions factories are not being dismantled. The post-Munich
world is not a world of reconciliation and Christian brother-
hood. Instead the struggle only now begins for the Roumanian
oil fields. Instead the struggle only now begins to reduce the
Balkans to German vassals. And are there not many other Ger-
man minorities to be used, when Hitler is ready, as the Trojan
horses of aggression — Eupen-Malmedy, Schleswig-Holstein,
Alsace-Lorraine, Luxembourg, German Switzerland, German
Tyrol, Poland? The Greater Germany that is Nazi gospel still
has not been achieved. Nor has Mussolini abandoned his dream
of a new Roman Empire with the Mediterranean as an Italian
Or the Munich Pact may become, as its sponsors hope, a re-
vival of the Holy Alliance to snuff out democracy in Europe,
starting with Spain, to police the continent against its revival,
and ultimately to launch an attack upon the U.S.S.R. The
Munich Pact may be any of these things but it is not peace nor
the hope of peace for the peoples of the world.
Did Munich Save Peace?
Was the Munich Pact necessary then, if only to gain respite
from war? In every instance of aggression from Japan's seizure
of Manchuria, through Italian invasion of Ethiopia, fascist
intervention in Spain, Nazi seizure of Austria, and now the dis-
memberment of Czechoslovakia, the abettors of aggression
within the democracies have prevented resistance with the cry,
"resistance means war." And they have promised us that con-
cession and appeasement would bring peace. And in every
instance international tension instead has increased, the aggres-
sors have been strengthened and emboldened, and each suc-
cessive incident has proven merely a prelude to further ulti-
Would Hitler have gone to war over Czechoslovakia ? In an
astute analysis of the British White Paper, Walter Lippmann
has pointed out:
"The disclosure of the fact that Lord Runciman accepted annexa-
tion before Hitler demanded it is the crucial fact in the whole
situation. That was why, without tisking a general European war,
Hitler could demand annexation and back up his demand with a
threat of invasion. . . . Hitler could threaten war safely because he
could always retreat to a position which gives him peaceably more
than he started to ask and all that he ultimately wanted. And
by threatening war, and frightening the people of the world out
of their wits, Hitler made it psychologically possible for Mr.
Chamberlain and M. Daladier to surrender what they never could
have surrendered in cold blood. By threatening a war that he knew
he would not have to fight, Hitler made the peaceable surrender of
Chechoslovakia seem to the peoples of the world like the triumph
of the diplomacy of peace."
Secure in his knowledge that Tory concern was chiefly with
how to put over the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, Hitler could
scjuash any moderating elements among the German ruling
group. That there were such was made clear by Hitler himself
in his Saarbruecken speech when he declared that "Among us,
too, there were weak characters," weak characters, we may con-
strue as those who were opposed to adventurism. All news-
paper correspondents commented upon the lack of enthusiasm
in the German public for the war that seemed to them in the
offing. And from Italy the Herald-Tribune correspondent re-
"For one of the most striking features of that black week was
the tremendous longing of all sections of the Italian public for a
peaceful solution. Coupled with that was their freely expressed
antipathy to the German alliance reinforced often by an intense
hatred of Chancellor Adolf Hitler, whom they regard as willing
to risk a world war rather than abate his expansionist aims."
Hitler would have backed down before the united resistance
of the western democracies, the Soviet Union, and the con-
demnation of the civilized world. Both peace and Czecho-
slovakia could have been saved. And not only did the Munich
Pact betray peace and Czechoslovakia, but it gave back Germany
to Hitler and Italy to Mussolini. This was summed up by
Winston Churchill in his broadcast of October 16th:
"I hold to the opinion, expressed some months ago, that if,
in April, May or June, Great Britain, France and Russia had
jointly declared that they would act together upon Nazi Germany
if Herr Hitler committed an act of unprovoked aggression against
this small State, and if they had told Poland, Yugoslavia and
Rumania what they meant to do in good time and had invited
them to join the combination of peace-defending powers — in
that case 1 hold that the German dictator would have been con-
fronted with such a formidable array that he would have been
deterred from his purpose.
This also would have been an opportunity for all peace-loving
and moderate forces in Germany, together with the heads of the
German Army, to make a great effort to re-establish something
like sane and civili2ed conditions in their own country."
Why Did the Tories Sell Out?
Deals with dictators, prejudicing the stability of peace and
democracy, represent no new policy upon the part of British
and French reaction. In 1935 the Hoare-Laval plan was nego-
tiated with Ethiopia as the sacrifice. When popular pressure
prevented its execution, the English Tory government sabo-
taged the vital oil sanction rather than see Mussolini defeated.
Mussolini's defeat by a semi-colonial nation would have been
an example to the millions of black people in the English em-
pire. Moreover it would have spelt the end of Mussolini, whom
the English Tories have always regarded as a vital ramp against
Italian invasion of Spain in 1936 again confronted English
and French reaction with a conflict between the interests of
their nations, which would be impaired by Italian domination
of Spain, and the interests of their class. Italian spokesmen
have openly declared their intervention in Spain to be part of
their drive to convert the Mediterranean into an Italian lake:
"It is time to understand that the Spanish campaign is an ex-
tension of the Ethiopian campaign." (General Berlotti, FeK,
1938) The victory of Franco would give France a third border
to defend in addition to imperiling her communications with
Africa. Nevertheless, British Toryism and French reaction have
connived through non-intervention to assure the victory of
Franco. In this way they hope to forestall the enlargement of
democracy that a victory of Republican Spain would entail,
and the encouragement such a victory would give to the popular
forces throughout the world.
The same issues have been involved in the dismemberment of
Czechoslovakia. The New York Post's Washington cor-
respondent reported on September 23rd:
"The President shares the opinion of liberal observers generally
that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has been motivated,
consciously or unconsciously, by class loyalty as much or more
than by concern for the welfare of all the English people."
In the debates in France following the Munich betrayal, an
uproar was caused by the revelation of a telegram from Hitler
to Flandin, former Premier and leader of the appeasement
forces in France during the crisis. In this telegram Hitler
thanked Flandin for his efforts toward "complete collabora-
tion between France and Germany." Rather than see fascism
weakened, Chamberlain, Flandin and their allies sacrificed a
country which typified liberal, capitalist democracy. Coopera-
tion with Hitler in aggression was more to their taste than
cooperation with the USSR in defense of international law and
Did Collective Security Fail?
The Munich Pact represents a future plot as well as a past
betrayal. It portends a plot against the people of Spain and
against the people of China upon whom it is desired to impose
a Munich "peace." Like the Holy Alliance of Metternich's
time, it is a plan against western democracy. But to achieve this
is it necessary to sow defeatism and confusion among the
peoples of the world? This campaign of defeatism involves
convincing the peoples of the world that collective struggle
for peace and democracy was an illusory and self-defeating
In his speech defending the Munich pact before Parliament,
Chamberlain makes the point:
"If we are going to war, broadly a war of democracies against
totalitarian states, not only must we arm ourselves to the teeth,
but clearly we must make military alliance with any other power
whom we can get to work with us. . . . That is what some honor-
able members call collective security. ... It appears to me to
contain all the things the party opposite used to denounce in
entangling alliance and balance-of -power pacts."
Mind you, not the Munich Pact nor the betrayal of Spain
represent power politics, but the collective system to defend
peace! Chamberlain, who does not bother to consult Parliament
until after the deed, who negotiates secretly with Hitler and
Mussolini, protests against "power politics" and entangling
alliances ! It is not concern for open and frank diplomacy, how-
ever, that animates Mr. Chamberlain, but a desire to sow utter
despair and confusion among the people. Only in that way
can the full implications of the Munich Pact be brought to
Shall the people who cherish peace and their democratic
rights succumb to the counsels of despair given us by rhe be-
trayers of peace? Has the struggle to stop the fascist drive to-
ward war through collective security been demonstrated as
illusory? Has collective security failed? We must first say
that the turn events took at Munich must constitute a profound
mystery to those who declared that collective security was the
new shibboleth of the reactionaries to mobilize the masses of
people in defense of imperialism. For Munich showed that
reaction feared the application of collective security and was
prepared to go to any length to prevent the mobilization of an
international anti-fascist front. Reaction managed to prevent
a collective stand against Hitler. But no more than the defeat
of a social security measure in Congress proves that measure
invalid, has collective security been proven invalid.
When progressives are defeated in Congress in their struggle
for a wages and hours bill, they begin again to build a more
extensive and firmer unity among the people. They work for a
Congress more responsive to the needs of the people. They do
not declare that the objective of a wages and hours bill has
been proven invalid.
We must say the same today about the struggle to establish a
collective peace system. The end has not been proven undesir-
able. If anything the collective defense of peace and democracy
today is more imperative than ever before. The victories of
fascism have so strengthened it that only the most imposing
array of united power can halt further aggression. In France,
England and the United States, larger sections of the popula-
tion than ever before have been awakened to the true nature of
fascism and the peril that hovers over the whole world because
of the Munich betrayal. More widely than ever before it is
realized that the condition for the successful struggle to save
peace is the overthrow of the 5th column Tory elements within
the democracies who betray their countries and peace at every
The Munich Pact dictates the character of the renewed move-
ment to halt the fascist drive toward world domination. The
masses of people must unite to take control of foreign policy
out of the hands of the Chamberlains and Daladiers. Only in
that way can we rally the forces of democracy against the
Munich Holy Alliance and save western civilization from a
winter of reaction and wars.
The Role of the U. S.
In this struggle the people of the United States and, through
them, the government must play a decisive role. Could one talk
of American isolation in the recent crisis when 120 million
Americans had their ears glued to loud speakers during the
entire course of the crisis ? The wide acclaim that greeted Presi-
dent Roosevelt's intervention indicates how unanimously the
people of the U. S. realized that the outbreak of a war in
Europe would not make it easier to keep America out of war. As
events sped rapidly to a climax, millions of Americans began
to ask themselves why American foreign policy had not previ-
ously been brought into play to halt aggression and the break-
down of international law. "A stitch in time saves nine," de-
clared the common people, who now realized that had Ameri-
can foreign policy been a force for peace yesterday, America
would not be in such great peril of war today.
The Gallup poll reports that 60 per cent of the American
people believe that the Munich Pact will result in a greater
possibility of war. 78 per cent of them are opposed to further
concessions to Germany, such as colonies. Throughout America,
as a result of the Munich betrayal, there is a deep sense of
anxiety and a deep hatred for fascism which has been height-
ened by Nazi outrages against Catholics. The reign of interna-
tional lawlessness inaugurated by the Munich betrayal already
is vitally affecting the U. S. in the plans for an unprecedented
outlay for armaments.
The answer to fascist aggression and fascist threat to peace
must be given by our foreign policy. The latter is our first line
.of defense. Only when foreign policy fails to defend peace and
international law must a nation fall back on armaments. And it
is an indictment of our whole past foreign policy of isolation
that today the United States considers it necessary to jack its
armaments up to the sky.
Our isolationist "friends, the sum and substance of whose
program has been fighting for disarmament and echoing Cham-
berlain's slogan that collective security is "power politics" now
judge the present circumstances as propitious for a renewed
struggle for disarmament. Yet their very policy of opposing
international action to stop aggression has helped bring about
the present frenzied armaments race. Those who were respon-
sible for Munich by preventing cooperative action of the democ-
racies to stop aggression are likewise responsible for the present
In a world that has been imperilled by fascist aggression, our
first line of defense must be a foreign policy which makes a
distinction between aggressor and victim, a foreign policy that
is the ally of the popular forces throughout the world that are
struggling for peace and democracy. As the popular revolt
against Munich acquires momentum in England and France, it
will be strengthened if there is a parallel movement among the
American people to align American foreign policy with that of
the international forces for peace and democracy.
That must be the aim of the American people. Specifically
this means that the American people demand that the forth-
coming session of Congress modify the neutrality laws so that
they will distinguish between victim and aggressor, denying our
resources to the latter and aiding the former.
No Munich "Peace" for Spain
More immediate and more urgent is the need to defeat the
moves of the "betrayal axis" to impose a Munich "peace" on
Spain. The withdrawal of 10,000 Italian troops from Spain, is
camouflage designed to aid Chamberlain and Daladier in an-
other sell out, since over 50,000 Italians remain. The with-
drawal of the Italian troops is a prelude to a Chamberlain
move to grant Franco belligerent rights so that with the aid
of Italian warships he can blockade Loyalist ports. The with-
drawal of Italian troops is a prelude to closing down the French
frontier to shipments of food and clothing.
The morale in Franco's territory has sunk so low that unless
the "betrayal axis" can put through another "peace" maneuver,
the fascists will be defeated. And the defeat of Franco would
spell the defeat of Munich. The American people can prevent
this betrayal of Spain by compelling the Administration to lift the
embargo. This is to the interests of the United States, for one
of the consequences of Munich will be increased fascist pene-
tration in Latin America. The channel of dispersion will be
Franco, since Latin America is bound by many racial, cultural
and economic ties to Spain. Those who are concerned with
keeping the western hemisphere free from aggression and
fascist turmoil must help defeat a new betrayal of the Spanish
people. The victory of Loyalist Spain will be worth more in
keeping fascism and Nazism out of North and South America
than a score of monster battleships. There are people in the
State Department who want the United States to go along with
the "betrayal axis" in its sinister move against Spain. The people
of the United States who cherish democratic institutions must
First on the agenda of every person of goodwill who wishes
to repair the damage of Munich is: NO MUNICH "PEACE"
The United States must cease being the ally of Japanese ag-
gression, as it is today by supplying 54 per cent of Japan's war
materials. American foreign policy must be directed toward ob-
taining a quarantine of Japan. In light of the events around
Changkufeng, which demonstrated that Japan was having
enough trouble with China without taking on another opponent,
it is absurd to say that embargoing Japan would have any other
effect than shortening the war in the Orient.
Coupled with this demand for governmental action, the
people must rally more widely than ever before to provide
humanitarian aid to Spain. Students of America must give the
fullest cooperation to the International Student Competition
for Aid to Spain. They must give the fullest support to the Far
Eastern Student Service Fund.
Italy, Germany and Japan are plotting in Central and South
America, hoping to convert the Latin American countries into
fascist bases to be used as a rearguard threat to the democracies.
The United States must extend and strengthen its Good Neigh-
bor policy, but it must become a Good Neighbor of the peoples
of Latin America not the bulwark of the reactionary and fascist-
minded dictators who dominate in many areas.
Peace must and can only be organized internationally. As
Secretary Hull declared on August 16th:
"Each day's developments make more and more clear the fact
that our own situation is profoundly affected by what happens
elsewhere in the world.
"Whatever may be our own wishes we cannot, when thete is
trouble elsewhere, expect to remain unaffected. When destruc-
tion, impoverishment and starvation afflict other areas, we cannot,
no matter how hard we try, escape impairment of our own eco-
"When freedom is destroyed over increasing areas elsewhere
our ideals of individual liberty, our most cherished political and
social institutions are jeopardized ... the longer this drift con-
tinues the greater becomes the danger that the whole world may
be sucked into a maelstrom of unregulated and savage economic,
political and military competition and conflict."
Recognizing the indivisibility of peace, Secretary Hull called
for adherence to the basic principles of international law, eco-
nomic reconstruction, limitation and progressive reduction of
armaments, respect for treaties, abstention from the use of force
in pursuit of national policies, abstention from interference in
the internal affairs of other nations, and international coopera-
tion to implement this program.
Had the United States followed such a program in the crisis
over Czechoslovakia, peace and Czechoslovakia could have both
been saved. Had the United States lived up to this program,"
we might have been spared the present armaments race.
Were the United States to follow such a program at the
present moment we would be aiding Czechoslovakia solve the
problem of refugees.
Were the United States to follow such a program, we would
lift the embargo on Spain, which violates long standing treaties
with that country.
Were the United States to follow such a program, we would
embargo Japan, which has violated treaties, laws and the in-
tegrity of China and whose moves prejudice the future possi-
bilities of peace in the Pacific.
Had American foreign policy been actively consistent with
these principles, there could have been no Munich betrayal.
Unless the student who inhabits the post-Munich world rallies
his government to the active prosecution of these principles in
the future, the Munich betrayal will not have been the last.
"In the name of my Government and the people of Spain, I want to express
to you my most profound gratitude for the constant, enthusiastic, and efficient
labor done by the American Student Union to help those who fight in Spain with
heroism, in order to defend the ideals of liberty and justice."
Fernando de ios Rios
October 1, 1938
"Because of the pressure of work I was not able to express to you earlier our
sincere thanks for the effective work which the American Student Union has
undertaken on behalf of the Czechoslovak cause in making known the truth
among its members."
October 4, 1938