Skip to main content

Full text of "They betrayed Czechoslovakia;"

See other formats




by G. J. GEORGE 


A complete list of all Penguin and Pelican Books 
will be found at the end of this volume. If you are 
not already on our mailing list and would like to 
know when new books are added, please send in 
your name and address on a postcard. Suggestions 
for new additions are welcomed. 






with a 

Preface by 






First published November 1938 


This book is the work of a journaUst, and not of 
an historian. History will later pass judgment on 
the occurrences of October 1938. All the state- 
ments contained in this book are based upon trust- 
worthy reports and documents. The texts of the 
letters have been taken from the English White 

G. J. G. 



The incredible has happened. A little people, 
pacific, industrious, freedom-loving, has been be- 
trayed. Betrayed and partitioned. Not by ruthless 
enemies, as Poland was partitioned. Partitioned by 
a State reputed friendly and by a sworn ally. By 
the United Kingdom and the French Republic. 
By Englishmen deliberately and after calm re- 
flection ; by Frenchmen in an hour of panic. More, 
the guilty have accepted praise and rejoicing for 
their act. For did they not save world peace? Is 
anything worth more than peace — honour or free- 
dom or democracy ? What if it is a German peace, 
a Fascist peace, imposed on no longer quite free 
peoples by the threat of war? Faced with the 
choice between possible (though by no means certain) 
war and dishonour, the rulers of Great Britain and 
of France chose dishonour. No wonder they 
have ever since sought shelter behind specious 

In that, at least, they will not succeed. This is 
the story of the betrayal by one of the betrayed, a 
Czechoslovak. In a series of unforgettable scenes 
he traces the stages of a felony. I cannot imagine 
any right-minded person in France or Great Britain 
reading his story without burning cheeks. Mr. 
George does not tell quite all the story. He does not 
tell how the partitioning was prepared in advance. 
But Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain hinted at it. 


He had, he told the House of Commons, long been 
convinced that a settlement of what he called the 
" Czechoslovak problem " was the " last obstacle '' 
to the appeasement of Nazi Germany. Doubtless 
his friends in Berlin told him so. We have heard 
this before. The " disarmed " German Rhineland 
was the " last obstacle " to appeasement, until Hitler 
got up his courage to seize Austria against the wishes 
of probably three-fourths of its inhabitants. Then 
the last obstacle became Germany's desire to seize 
the German-speaking rim of Czechoslovakia (with the 
Poles and Hungarians playing jackal to the German 
tiger). Mr. Chamberlain said so. He will have 
plenty of opportunity to say it again. There are 
still many nuclei of German " race " in the world — 
in Switzerland, in the Italian Tyrol, in Alsace- 
Lorraine, in Eupen-Malmedy, on the southern 
fringe of Denmark, in the Polish Corridor (where 
they were never anything but a minority), in Memel, 
in the Baltic States, in Roumania, along the Volga 
in Soviet Russia, in the United States. Enough 
" last obstacles " to enliven history for many years 
to come, if only Mr. Chamberlain and his likes 
can remain in power, ready to turn the helpless over 
to a ruthless and pirate Ship of State that has hoisted 
the Jolly Roger, made its pacifists, democrats, Jews 
and sincere Christians walk the plank, and is pre- 
pared to sail on until it is sunk. 

With apologies to poor Mr. Chamberlain, there 
was no " Sudeten problem ", thanks to which the 
Sudetens, even supposing they had all so desired, 
had a right simply to walk out of the Czechoslovak 
State and go over to Germany. If they had this 



right, then Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant, who 
prevented the Southern States from leaving the 
Union at the cost of more than four years bloody 
war. If they had, then Wales, Scotland and Cornwall 
can secede from Chamberlain's Britain to-morrow 
without England having a word to say against it. 
The French Canadians have, if they choose, a right 
to join a Fascist France to-morrow, and the unending 
wrong of a subject Indian people must be righted at 
once. Does Mr. Chamberlain believe this? Only 
if he does, can he uphold the right of secession for 
the Sudetens. Or have his German friends " rights " 
he would deny to " inferior " peoples who have not 
et risen to the level of a Nazi regime? 

I say that Messrs. Chamberlain and Daladier 
anded over the Sudetens to Hitler, not because 
the Sudetens were " oppressed " (none but an 
amateur could beheve that), but because Hitler 
shouted and banged on the table and threatened 
war, because his army is strong, and because he must 
be maintained in power, since " after all, he is the 
only remaining obstacle to the bolshevisation of 
Europe", etc., etc. 

Here we reach the real crux of the betrayal. 

But wait. The writer of these lines is neither 
Communist nor Socialist, but a Liberal, a follower of 
Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill. He comes 
of what Ku Kluxers call a " one hundred per cent. 
American, white, Protestant family ", with no known 
trace of Jewish blood. Among his Celto-Nordic 
ancestors were even some Germans. Pitiful epoch 
when pedigree alone bestows the right to state the 


I repeat, Neville Chamberlain and Georges Bonnet 
(let us try to forget Daladier, who surrendered from 
weakness, not from bad will) betrayed Czecho- 
slovakia, just as Sir John Simon betrayed China in 
1931; Pierre Laval betrayed Ethiopia in 1935; 
Sir Samuel Hoare betrayed the League of Nations 
and Pierre-Etienne Flandin betrayed France, in 
1936; Leon Blum and Anthony Eden betrayed 
Republican Spain the same year and China was 
deserted for the second time in 1937. 

But neither Chamberlain, who believes he has 
"saved peace for a generation" (his generation?), 
nor Edouard Daladier, who thought the crowd 
gathered at Le Bourget airport to welcome him 
back from Munich had come to jeer, nor Georges 
Bonnet and his confederates dare say so. 

They say, there was no use in fighting; Czecho- 
slovakia could not have been defended anyway. 

This is probably untrue. It is far more likely 
that had France and Britain taken their places 
beside Czechoslovakia and Soviet Russia, the 
Germans would have been unable to storm that 
fortress, Bohemia. But suppose Bohemia had been 
overrun, was Belgium defended in Belgium or in 
American munitions factories, at Verdun and the 
Dardanelles? Yet Belgium is still there, happy and 

They say, even in case of victory, the Czechs 
would have been compelled by their aUies to yield 
the Sudetens to Germany. 

I doubt it. The Sudetens had never been part of 
Germany. There is no evidence that a majority 
of them wanted to be. To most of us, the spectacle 


of nine and a half million Czechoslovaks outvoting 
three and a quarter million free Sudetens is less 
offensive than that of Germany bullying nine and a 
half million Czechoslovaks. A v^ar would have 
driven the Hitlerophiles from power in London and 
Paris, and Hitler himself from power in Berlin. 

They say, by yielding the Czechs saved their 
country from utter devastation. 

It is possible. So could Belgium and France 
have escaped the horror of their devastated regions 
by submitting in 1914. And if the Czechoslovaks, 
Hke the brave Belgians and Frenchmen of a 
generation ago, preferred total destruction to 
capitulation, this was, after all, their affair, not that 
of Neville Chamberlain. 

They say, the Czechs surrendered to save world 

The facts belie it. The surrender occurred only 
when the French Minister told President Benes in 
the Hradschin at Prague at two in the morning of 
21st September, 1938, that unless Czechoslovakia 
immediately and unconditionally accepted the 
German Dictator's terms, shamefully transformed 
into an " Anglo-British Plan ", France would 
break its pledge and desert the little country in the 
ensuing war ! 

They sa>^, they could not count on adequate 
Russian aid. Lord Winterton chose to repeat this 
charge several times. 

Is it not a fact that the Russians told the French 
Ambassador M. Coulondre in Moscow on 2nd 
September, that Russia would support Czecho- 
slovakia, France's and Russia's common Ally, by 



all means in its power, and that he would welcome 
staff talks between the two countries? Does this 
sound like desertion? 

" But the Russian aeroplanes are no good, the 
Russian Army is completely demoralised." 

Strange that such inferior planes have managed to 
hold their own against the latest German and Italian 
models in Spain, against French and American 
machines flown by Japanese in China. Even a 
demoralised army is, after all, worth more than the 
finest force that will not fight. And none can deny 
that the vast majority of military experts the world 
over, including the French Chief of Staff, General 
GameHn, had little doubt but that the war could be 
won by the democracies with Russia, against the 

" But Lord Runciman reported that, under the 
circumstances, the further peaceful cohabitation in 
one State between Sudeten Germans provoked by 
Hitler and Czechoslovaks had been impossible." 

Sagacious Lord Runciman, welcomed by the 
Sudetens as " Father Christmas," who, curiously 
enough, managed to reach the same opinion as was 
publicly expressed a month or two before by 
Germanophiles like Lord Rothermere and Lord 
Allen of Hurtwood ! If this opinion were correct. 
Hitler needed only to be told to cease provoking 
the Sudetens or he would be slapped on the wrist. 
But it is not correct: for a thousand years Sudeten 
Germans and Czechs have lived in close association. 
And to this day there is no evidence that a majority 
of the Sudetens desired to be transferred to Nazi 
Germany. This transfer was decided without con- 



suiting them or the Government in Prague. And 
after Chamberlain and Daladier had gone through 
the tragi-farce of mobihsation to oppose Hitler's 
Godesberg plans for the amputation of three 
million Germans and about a miUion Czechs, the 
Berlin Committee set up to make effective the 
Munich surrender solemnly allowed him more 
territory than he had claimed at Godesberg, simply 
because neither Chamberlain nor Daladier was 
prepared to stand up against a blustering dictator, 

I ho, by keeping his army under arms while the 
liers demobiHsed, was able to reahse not one but 
K'hole series of " ultimatums ". 
I* But the surviving Czechoslovakia will, because 
Imogeneous, be stronger than before." 
Ilf so, if a country that has been deprived of its 
I but impregnable fortifications, of one-third of its 
population, of nearly three-fourths of its industry, 
is stronger than before, then why this hurry to give 
the rump a " Franco-British guarantee " that will 
never be honoured (are there any pledges that France 
and Great Britain still honour?), why this loan and 
alms-giving to the Czechs? It looks rather like a 
form of hush-money dictated by uneasy conscience. 
" But Chamberlain has nothing to reproach 
himself with. Why should he ? Great Britain had 
no engagements towards the Czechs, a people none 
of us knows anything about." 

No? Is the League of Nations Covenant no 
engagement? Or does the learned Sir John Simon 
maintain that a multilateral contract of this type 
can be annulled simply by one-sided repudiation? 
Less subtle jurists are likely to maintain that so 


long as Britain remained a member and the Covenant 
was not amended, Britain remained honourably 
bound to guarantee both the independence and the 
territorial integrity of member States. But having 
betrayed Ethiopia, why should Britain and France 
bother about another victim, or handing over a 
few hundred thousand Sudeten democrats and 
Socialists to Adolf Hitler for torture? 

One thing only is true. The Government of Great 
Britain never wanted to defend Czechoslovakia, 
and could only have been forced to if France had 
kept its promise to the Czechs. And the French 
failed. Foreign Minister Bonnet intrigued against 
his Ally, Premier Daladier wilted in face of opposi- 
tion, French pacifist and pro-Fascist currents 
combined to insist on peace even at the price of 
betrayal. What else could one expect when even 
prosperous citizens in Paris were openly pro- 
claiming their preference for Adolf Hitler as against 
Leon Blum? But since this was the fact, let it be 
publicly proclaimed and recognised as the fact. To 
have demonstrated this is the merit of Mr. George's 
book. They Betrayed Czechoslovakia. 

Most of " them ", to be sure, have still only the 
vaguest conception of what they have done. " They " 
cannot hear the chuckles of Hermann Goering each 
time a French or British statesman expresses his 
behef that one " can trust the Fiihrer ". For trust* 
him one can, to make no peace but a Pax Germanica 
with the Duce tagging along behind. " They " do 
not yet know that Fascism is not a philosophy, not 
a political doctrine, but simply the national will to 
aggression brought to its highest point of efficiency 


and readiness. " They " have not yet been tortured 
in concentration camps or seen men herded into 
jails because they sincerely believed in Jesus Christ. 
" They " cannot imagine that a Fascist State cannot 
cease from aggression without ceasing to be. And so 
" they " think that dishonour is adequately repaid 
if it bring peace. But a Winston Churchill knows 
the choice is not between war and a single betrayal 
of a helpless people, but between war and complete 
despoliation, between living free or slave. 

The abandonment of the Czechs has made the 
further defence of European democracy extremely 
difficult. It has given Germany almost complete 
dominion in Central Europe and the Balkans. It 
has accompHshed Chamberlain's apparent aim of 
breaking the " French system" and confining France's 
political activity to Western Europe and Africa. 
It has almost isolated Soviet Russia (which alone 
among European States can stand isolation). It 
has paved the way for a further series of German 
outrages. But it has not yet made the defence of 
world democracy impossible. Britain and France 
can still maintain themselves — if they fight Fascism 
at home; if they quickly save Spain from Italian 
and German clutches ; if they preserve the friendship, 
or even the academic interest, of the American 
people. But it is doubtful if they will do any of 
these things. Was it not to encourage " co-opera- 
tion " with Fascism that the Czechs were " sold 
down the river " ? 

Do London and Paris realise that, faced with 
the choice of overcoming stubborn Russian resis- 
tance or peacefully blackmailing the over-ripe 

xiv PREFACE :; 

Western countries, the Fiihrer and the Duce may I 

well prefer the latter, and that only the Spanish | 

Republican army stands between them and the. \ 

ability to do it? Or that when the day of trial 1 

comes and "SOS Empire caUing " is heard along i 

the ether, one hundred and thirty milUon Americans, ' 
taking their cue from Neville Chamberlain, may 

decide that what is left of European democracy is ; 
just not worth having a war to save? 




Preface by Edgar Ansel Mowrer . . , . v 


I. The Big Four .19 

Stage and Actors 


The Sudeten Germans 

Germany Plays at War 

The Times Causes a Sensation 

Herr Hitler Storms 

The Sudeten Germans go Crazy 

Berchtesgaden — Behind the Scenes 

Two Men at a Table 

II. No. 10 Downing Street. .... 47 

Prague Receives an Ultimatum from her Allies 

Hitler Ponders 

M. Bonnet Takes the Law into his Own Hands 

A Terrible Night and a Sombre Day 

War Knocks at the Door 


III. Herr Hitler Draws a Map .... 73 

Paris Interlude 
Letters Across the Rhine 
The Czechs Ready to Fight 
The " Supreme Effort " 
Midnight Talks 

IV. One Hundred and Twenty Hours Shake 

Europe 106 

President Bene§ sees Hitler's Work 

War or Peace ? 

A Rainy Sunday 

Uncertainty in Berlin 

The U.S.A. Steps In 

The Soldiers' Hour 

Herr Hitler Listens . . . and Speaks 




V. The Balkans Look West . . , .134 
Shadows over Europe 

Two Communiques and a Cabinet Meeting 
Sir Horace Wilson goes Home 
Europe Awaits her Destiny 
A Gentleman's Speech and Two Letters 

VL Mussolini's Return to Glory . . .164 

Speeding Ahead for Peace 
The Pax Germanica 

The Three Phases of the Dispute over Czecho- 

Epilogue 177 

Appendix . 179 






Midnight had come and gone. Four men sat 
round a big table in the Fiihrer's house in Munich. 
At that momentous hour it was for them to decide 
upon the fate of Europe. One after another they 
took up the pen to sign a document which inflicted 
irreparable injuries upon a country not even 
represented among them — Czechoslovakia. 

At the same hour a ray of light which showed 
through a curtained window in the ancient castle of 
Prague told of the man who, in his study there, was 
awaiting the decision : Dr. Edvard Benes, President 
of the Czechoslovak Republic, and joint-founder of 
this State with his predecessor, the great President 
and thinker, Thomas Garrigue Masaryk. 

Far below him the city lay in darkness. Prague 
had for several days been expecting the German 
aeroplanes to raid it. But the planes did not come : 
the Czechoslovak army, counted among the best in 
Europe, had been mobilised to no purpose. To no 
purpose also had the impregnable concrete forti- 
fications been constructed on the frontier, at the cost 
of some 500 miUion dollars. 

The telephone bell rang. President Benes took 
up the receiver and Hstened. The Czech Minister, 
Dr. Mastny, was speaking from Munich. 



Czechoslovakia's fate had been sealed; the 
democratic little country in the middle of Europe 
had lost a war without having waged it. Not only 
was it abandoned by its allies, but it was compelled 
by them to cede to Germany great and rich territory. 

The President was at that hour reminded of the 
saying of Bismarck, the great German statesman: 
" He who possesses Bohemia holds the key to 

Too late to think of that now. The men in whose 
hands lay the fate of Europe did not know, or perhaps 
did not care to know, that the fate of Czechoslovakia 
was at the same time Europe's fate, and that the 
democracies of Europe, in the clutch of a collective 
fear, and capitulating before Hitler, were surrender- 
ing themselves while surrendering Czechoslovakia. 
Once Hitler has subdued Czechoslovakia, he will 
soon be master of the Balkans. The rich cornfields 
of Hungary, Rumania's petroleum wealth, the 
countless raw materials of Central Europe will fall 
to him, and he needs them badly if he is to make 
Germany an invincible Power in Europe. 

Europe has given way before Hitler again and 
again: it permitted him to occupy the Rhineland, 
which, according to the Treaty of Versailles, was to 
be closed to German troops for a term of years; 
it has tolerated Germany's gigantic rearmament 
schemes ; it made no active objections to the invasion 
of Austria, and it has now practically handed Czecho- 
slovakia over to Germany. Who will be the next 
to be sacrificed? 

In Paris and London the signing of the Munich 
pact was the signal for tremendous jubilation. The 


bulk of the people did not realise that it was not for 
Czechoslovakia they were supposed to fight, but for 
a free Europe. Nor do they realise even now that 
the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia is but one more step 
along the road of Europe's decline and Germany's 
domination of the Continent. 

The people of France and England did not under- 
stand that defeat without war is every bit as terrible 
as a lost war. In these days they have been cele- 
brating their own discomfiture as if it were a victory. 

And yet Europe might have been saved from the 
domination of Pan-Germanism even without a war. 
How it was that this did not happen, and how it 
was that the three most powerful nations in Europe 
— Great Britain, France and Soviet Russia — yielded 
to the tremendous bluff of Adolf Hitler, and sur- 
rendered both themselves and Europe, will be told 
in the following pages of this book. 

This is the story of a betrayal prompted by fear ; 
of the great game of poker which was not won by 
the holder of the best cards, but by the player who 
was able to put up the biggest bluff. The stake 
of this game of poker, however, was not merely 
Czechoslovakia — it was Europe. 

Stage and Actors 

The chief role in the most exciting drama in 
modern world-history, which had Europe for its 
stage, and for two months kept a whole world in a 
state of tension, was played by Adolf Hitler, the 
forty-nine-year-old Fiihrer of the German Reich, an 
abstainer, a vegetarian, and a man who believes 
himself to be a prophet sent by God, and receives 


his inspirations direct from the ' Germanic God '. 
But a man, too, who knows how to safeguard his 
chances, and to turn every one of them to the utmost 
account; a player playing on the fears of the 
European democracies as a great musician plays on 
a vioHn. 

His fellow-player, and Europe's second Dictator, 
the fifty-year-old Duce of Italy, Benito Mussolini, 
remained in the background. Not until the great 
final scene did he come forward, rushing into the 
breach as saviour of the trembling European 

The two players opposite, Neville Chamberlain, 
the sixty-nine-year-old Prime Minister of Britain, 
and Edouard Daladier, the fifty-nine-year-old Prime 
Minister of France, and former schoolmaster, were 
no match for the two Dictators. Winston Churchill, 
the English statesman, said of them : " The Govern- 
ments of England and France had the choice of 
dishonour or war. They chose dishonour, but they 
will have war ". In the course of the nerve-racking 
negotiations there were moments when France and 
England seemed minded to choose war rather than 
dishonour. On Monday the 5th September France 
began her mobilisation. By the end of the month 
she had a million and a half men under arms. On 
Wednesday forenoon, the 28th September, the King 
of England ordered the mobilisation of the Home 
Fleet. On the evening before, Tuesday, 27th Sep- 
tember, Neville Chamberlain, in his broadcast 
speech, had said : "However much we may sympathise 
with a small nation confronted by a powerful neigh- 
bour, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to 


involve the whole British Empire in a war simply on 
her account. If we have to fight, it must be on 
larger issues than that. ... If I were convinced 
that any nation had made up its mind to dominate 
the world by fear of its force, I should feel it 
should be resisted. Under such domination the 
life of people who believe in Hberty would not 
be worth Uving." Therefore on Tuesday evening 
Mr. Chamberlain reahsed that the actual aims of 
Germany were the domination of Europe. Then 
on Wednesday afternoon came Hider's invitation to 
Munich, and Thursday and Friday the acceptance 
of the terms laid down by Hitler. On Tuesday 
evening Mr. Chamberlain expressed the opinion that 
Germany wanted to dominate Europe. Did he forget 
this in forty-eight hours when, on the night of Friday, 
he put his signature to the fatal document ? 

The fifth leading role, and the truly tragic one in 
this drama, was played by Edvard Benes, the fifty- 
four-year-old President of the Czechoslovak Repub- 
lic. This man, of small stature but abounding 
energy, had been the most intimate collaborator of 
Masaryk, the founder of the Republic. For fifteen 
years he was the soul of the League of Nations. 
Under the compulsion of those whom he had 
regarded as his allies, he had had to stand idly by 
and watch the mutilation and all but annihilation of 
his life's work. He had had to disregard the most 
outrageous insults heaped upon him by Chancellor 
Hitler in his Nuremberg speech on 12th September, 
and again in the speech at the Berlin Sport Palace on 
26th September. Never before had a responsible 
statesman been known thus publicly to revile the 


head of another country. Dr. Benes could do 
nothing about it: his friends in the West had tied 
his hands. 

Then there were the numerous subsidiary parts. 
There was Konrad Henlein, aged thirty-three, the 
one-time gymnastic instructor from the small town 
of Asch in Bohemia, who had made a name for 
himself as leader of the Sudeten German Party, 
founded by him, and directed by Germany. In the 
last five years alone over three million dollars were 
expended on the various activities of this Party. 
This money, paid by Germany, has been a most 
fruitful investment. The spa of Karlsbad, the coal- 
mines of North Bohemia and its whole industrial 
plant are worth many times the cost of the Sudeten 
German Party. As for the outlay on Germany's 
mobilisation, the whole of the Balkans will settle 
that score. Konrad Henlein was only a small pawn 
in Hitler's great game, as Seyss-Inquart was in the 
case of Austria. 

Lord Runciman, sixty-five years of age, the personal 
friend of Chamberlain, and himself a former Liberal 
Minister, played another secondary part. When he 
came to Prague on the 3rd of August, on the instruc- 
tions of the British Government, but " as a private 
individual ", to mediate between the Sudeten Germans 
and the Prague Government, students of European 
politics in Paris and London noted with dismay that 
Great Britain had that day decided to drop Czecho- 
slovakia. Lord Runciman left Prague on the 16th of 
September, after a six weeks' stay. His week-ends in 
Czechoslovakia had been spent mostly at the castles 
of the pro-German nobihty who had never been able 


to live on a friendly footing with the Czech demo- 
cracy, and backed Henlein's Party in the belief that 
once the autonomy of the Sudeten territory was an 
accomplished fact, they would again play a leading 
part. The owners of those castles in Bohemia had 
never considered the possibility of annexation by 
Germany, for members of the nobihty have very little 
say in Germany. What they will miss now will be 
the free atmosphere of a democratic country. When 
Lord Runciman returned to London he stated that 
Germans and Czechs would never agree, and that 
radical measures were necessary. He had not 
studied history, and therefore could not know that 
Germans and Czechs had been living together in 
Bohemia for a thousand years — until such time, 
indeed, as Hitler and his two great helpers in the 
West arrived upon the scene. 

The European drama of September 1938 was 
crowded with actors, all of whom will duly appear 
in their special roles. It was given to a newspaper, 
however, to play one of the most fateful parts in 
this story, and that newspaper was The Times, with 
its leading article of 7th September. 


Adolf Hitler's house stands like a fortress high 
above the little Bavarian hamlet of Berchtesgaden. 
It is only a few miles from the former Austrian 
border and about seventy-eight miles from that of 
Czechoslovakia. It was in this house that Austria's 
fate was sealed when, on the 12th February, 1938, 
her ill-fated Chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, 
heard Hitler's ultimatum. On the 1st September of 


this same year, not six months after the annexation 
of Austria, the fate of Czechoslovakia was being 
decided in the same place. 

Konrad Henlein, leader of the Sudeten Germans, 
had been ordered to come to Adolf Hitler. Offi- 
cially it was stated that the meeting was taking place 
at the instigation of Lord Runciman ; but actually 
it was Hitler himself who demanded Henlein's 
presence. Thus, what Henlein and his Party had 
hitherto denied now became quite clear to the whole 
world : that they were nothing but a branch of the 
National Socialist Party, and received their orders 
direct from Germany. 

Henlein arrived at Berchtesgaden in the forenoon, 
but was not immediately received by Hitler. He 
had to wait several hours before being admitted into 
the presence of his Fiihrer. Henlein's task was 
difficult. The Prague Government had already 
made so many concessions under pressure from 
France and England that the Sudeten German Party 
might have come to terms with it. It was now 
possible for the Party to administer the German 
territory of Czechoslovakia and to receive sub- 
stantial financial assistance from Prague for that 
purpose, almost, indeed, to form a State of their 
own within the confines of the Czechoslovak Repub- 
lic. Henlein came to Hitler with the task of winning 
the Fuhrer over to acceptance of the Prague pro- 
posals. The Sudeten German population — peasants, 
workers and trades-people — were tired of a tension 
which made work impossible for them. Karlsbad 
and Marienbad were empty, the factories in the 
Sudeten German area had to close down, because 


their products were boycotted by the big American 
department stores. In this part of the country the 
tension was at its highest. The Czechs were buying 
nothing from the German dealers, and the German 
workmen were no longer able to earn a living. 
Throughout the German camp there was a general 
appeal for a cessation of the struggle and an agree- 
ment with Prague. 

But Adolf Hitler was inflexible. He had learned 
from radical leaders of the Sudeten Germans that 
Henlein wanted to give in and was showing himself 
too weak. The Fiihrer was in a rage, and he did 
not conceal it from his underling. 

For more than an hour he talked to Henlein, who 
stood there before him. His words became more 
and more furious and insulting. He banged with 
his right hand on the top of the table to give further 
emphasis to his utterances. Henlein was barely able 
to get out a word or two of the speech which he had 
prepared beforehand. Hitler, well aware of all that 
his henchman wanted to say, would not allow him 
to say it. What he himself wanted was to pursue 
the struggle to a definite decision, no matter at what 
cost — even at the cost of war. But it would never 
come to that, he was convinced of it. What nation 
in Europe would let loose a war for the sake of 
Czechoslovakia? So if Henlein would not carry 
out his instructions, there were others who were 
quite ready to do so. As for himself, he had no 
time for weaklings and boobies. 

On that same day some leading members of the 
Sudeten German Party met at the Party headquarters 
in Prague to await the Berchtesgaden decision. 


They were Frank, Kundt, Sebekowsky and Ullrich. 
Would Henlein's telephone message bid them 
prepare for a settlement on peaceful lines, or must 
there be bloodshed ? They waited in vain. Henlein 
had been bidden to spend the night at Berchtesgaden, 
and to fetch the Fiihrer's orders next morning. 

Next forenoon, the 2nd September, and a cold, 
wet day, Henlein was again shown into the presence 
of Hitler to receive his instructions. This time the 
Fiihrer was not alone : Marshal Goering ; Hess, the 
Fiihrer's representative ; and Goebbels, the Minister 
of Propaganda, were all with him. Some time 
afterwards the Minister for Foreign Affairs, von 
Ribbentrop, arrived also. It was the latter who 
had given Hitler the most valuable advice in the 
whole campaign: He was not to bother about 
England, for England would never fight. 

" Keep on fighting, come what may," were 
Hitler's orders, and he then proceeded to give 
Henlein — by this time so overwrought that he had 
difficulty in grasping them — his future plans of 
campaign. These were: to stiffen the demands of 
the Sudeten Germans sufficiently to make them 
inacceptable to the Prague Government; provoca- 
tion of incidents in the Sudeten area, which might 
possibly be worked up into an armed revolt, in 
which Germany would have an excuse for inter- 
vening if need be. 

As the wretched Henlein was leaving Hitler's 
study, Goering gave him one small word of cheer : 

" Don't be alarmed, Henlein, there won't be any 
war. The Fuhrer always knows what he is up 


The Sudeten Germans 

Towards evening of that same day Henlein 
motored back to Czechoslovakia. He was received 
in his native town with great rejoicings, pelted with 
flowers and everywhere acclaimed. But he did not 
look particularly happy. He was afraid of what lay 
ahead, afraid that his own role would presently be 
played out; for Hitler had the whole affair in his 
own firm grasp. 

The Party leaders held a conference as soon as 
Henlein arrived. Two of the members had that 
same day been received by President Benes, who 
had spoken to them in the clear, persuasive manner 
so characteristic of him: coolly, calmly and dis- 
passionately. He had pointed out all the advan- 
tages which the Sudeten Germans would reap from 
an acceptance of the Czechoslovak offer. The two 
deputies listened politely. They could not negotiate 
until Henlein returned from Berchtesgaden. 

But now that they sat together with Henlein in 
the room where he worked, the two radical deputy- 
leaders recovered their enthusiasm. Late in the 
night a message was dispatched to Prague, that the 
Sudeten German Party were unable to accept the 
offer of the Prague Government, though they were 
willing to continue the discussions. 

After Henlein's interview at Berchtesgaden, the 
Sudeten German question assumed dramatic forms : 
negotiations were shortly to give place to deeds. 

The great majority of the Sudeten German popula- 
tion were not aware of what was actually going on. 


Up to the last few years they had lived more or less 
contentedly, more or less peaceably with their Czech 
neighbours, as they had done during the thousand 
years which preceded. Only when the National 
Socialists seized power in Germany was there 
evidence of some internal disquiet among the 
Germans in Czechoslovakia. They had always 
been very nationalistic, and it was really from the 
German areas in Bohemia that National Sociahsm 
had sprung long before the War. Now it held the 
reins of government in Germany. When, as a 
measure of public security, the Czech Government 
was obliged to put down the National Socialist 
Party, the Sudeten German Party had come into 
existence, and adherents were soon flocking to it. 
The Party reached the summit of its power with the 
annexation of Austria by Germany. It became 
the strongest single Party in the Czechoslovak 
Parliament. Still the wave of German nationahstic 
fervour continued to grow in the Sudeten areas. 
Even so, however, it did not occur to any of the 
3,230,000 Sudeten Germans who made up 22^ 
per cent, of the total Czechoslovak population that 
their country would be annexed by Germany. 
Economically and geographically they belonged to 
Bohemia, as they had done for the last thousand 
years, ever since the Bohemian kings had called 
them in to till the land and build the towns. 

But Germany had her plans all ready. " There 
are still ten milHon Germans on our borders who do 
not belong to the Reich ", had been a favourite 
public utterance of Hitler's. After the Austrian 
' anschluss ' only three milUons of these were left, 


the majority of them being the Germans in the 
mountainous frontier territories known as the 
Sudeten regions. 

The Sudeten Germans hstened when their case 
came up for discussion in the Reich. They responded 
eagerly and enthusiastically to the calls which came 
to them from across the German frontier. But they 
did not know that they were simply mere pawns 
on Hitler's chessboard. They were to be the 
infernal machine which was to blow sky-high the 
fastnesses of Czechoslovakia. The firm democratic 
stand of the Republic, its loyalty to the Western 
democracies, its fortresses, and its good army were 
the greatest obstacles along Germany's route to 
South-eastern Europe. Without Czechoslovakia 
Germany could not dominate that part of the 
Continent. Therefore Czechoslovak resistance would 
have to be broken, and what device lent itself so 
well to this purpose as that of exploiting the German 
minority ? Of course when Hitler had started doing 
this, he did not immediately conceive the idea of 
annexing the Sudeten territory. All he wanted was 
the widest possibly autonomy for the Germans in 
Czechoslovakia, with a consequent undermining 
and weakening of the Republic from within. It was 
not until he had noticed the undecided attitude of the 
Western Great Powers that he carried his game a 
Httle farther, and increased his demands until they 
reached their limits — the claim for an annexation 
of the Sudeten Germans. In this game the Western 
Powers lent him their support. 


Germany Plays at War 

Three weeks before the occurrences which have 
just been described, Germany had suddenly an- 
nounced great army manoeuvres. Europe took 
notice as more and more men in Germany were 
called to the colours and when it was learned that 
Germany was beginning in great haste to erect 
gigantic fortifications on her western frontier in the 
direction of France and Belgium. Hundreds of 
thousands of men were mobilised for labour on 
these fortifications. Motor-cars and motor-lorries 
were seized for military purposes, and after a few 
weeks Germany resembled one huge miUtary camp. 
No less than 750,000 reservists had been called to 
the colours, so that by the end of September there 
were close on two million men under arms in 

The arms and munitions factories were working 
day and night in unbroken shifts. Bombing-planes 
were made ready for service every day, so that finally 
Germany had more war-planes than England and 
France put together. German chemists were pre- 
paring vast quantities of the most frightful poison 
gases that the world had ever seen. With this 
tremendous power of hers, Germany was getting ^ 
ready to strike terror into the hearts of all Europe. 

The plan was quite clear. Europe was to be| 
given a fright, the German fortifications were toj 
prevent the French army from rendering any realj 
assistance to France's Czech allies. 

What were the Western Powers doing in thd 
meantime ? They were negotiating, jointly exertin J 


pressure upon Prague to agree to more and more 
concessions, and, this agreement extorted, it was 
each time refused again by the Sudeten Germans, 
all according to plan. 

Germany was playing at war, and the Western 
Powers trembled. In the diplomatic and political 
salons of Paris and London a scheme was being got 
ready whereby peace might be bargained for at the 
expense of Czechoslovakia. 

Externally there were no signs of wavering as yet. 
On the very Sunday which preceded the National 
Sociahst Congress at Nuremberg, M. Bonnet, 
Foreign Minister of France, unveihng near Bordeaux 
a memorial to La Fayette, the hero of Franco- 
American liberty, took occasion to address a word 
of warning to Adolf Hitler. He said : " France, at 
all events, will remain true to any agreements she 
may have entered into ". He was referring to the 
Pact of Assistance concluded with Czechoslovakia 
in 1925, by which France had promised to hasten 
to the aid of Czechoslovakia if the latter were 

On Monday, the 5th September, the eagerly 
awaited Congress of the National Socialists opened 
in Nuremberg. Amid the ringing of bells. Hitler 
drove in triumph through the streets of the ancient 
city. In his eyes was no look of triumph, however : 
they looked tired and strained, and his whole face 
was lined with anxiety. The German Dictator 
realised that he was playing a life-or-death game. 
He knew that he could scarcely begin a war in which 
England, France, Soviet Russia and Czechoslovakia 
would all be against him. Germany was short of 


reserves ; he might risk a war lasting for six months, 
but that was the limit. Shortly after the Congress 
opened he had heard the news that France was 
beginning to mobilise: numerous reservists and 
technicians had been called up the night before. 
The famous Maginot Line was to be ready in a few 
days. In Nuremberg, Paris, London and Prague 
the tension was becoming unbearable, and it was 
in the midst of this tension that an article in Eng- 
land's venerable newspaper The Times burst like a 
bomb upon the world. 

The Times Causes a Sensation 
On Wednesday, the 7th of September, The Times 
had a leading article which made a tremendous stir 
throughout the world. This article dealt with the 
difficulties of a solution of the Sudeten question 
within the confines of the Czechoslovak State, and 
went on to say : " It would be better if Czecho- 
slovakia could simply cede the Sudeten German area 
to Germany." 

In Nuremberg, Paris, London and Prague the 
article had an overwhelming effect. M. Corbin, the 
French ambassador in London, at once called on 
Lord Halifax, in order to protest against it in the 
name of the French Government. The Prime 
Minister interrupted his holiday and came back to 
London with all possible speed. The Prague 
Government protested in London and Paris. The 
Foreign Minister of the Reich, on the other hand, 
went into the Fiihrer's study in Nuremberg with a 
smile on his face to tell Hitler all about it. Hitler 
listened unmoved, and although knowing at once 


what immense perspectives opened before him, he 
never smiled. He smiles very seldom in any case 
— only when there are photographers about does he 
occasionally summon up a smile. 

In London the Foreign Office twice denied that 
the view contained in The Times articles coincided 
with those of the Government, and no doubt there 
was ample justification for this statement. 

Meanwhile the engagement, voluntarily entered 
into by France to assist Czechoslovakia, was still 
in force ; England was still aware that she would be 
bound to hasten to the aid of France if the latter 
were involved in a war with Germany. So some- 
thing would have to be done at once. England did 
not want a war at all just then, least of all a war 
against Germany and for Czechoslovakia, even if 
the future of Europe were at stake. Therefore 
France must be persuaded that it would be advisable 
for her to drop Czechoslovakia. 

Obviously, this would not be altogether easy. 
Of course, the French Government contained a 
strong group, headed by M. Bonnet, who were 
absolutely opposed to war and would have been 
prepared to drop Czechoslovakia ; but French public 
opinion was at first all in favour of the Czechs ; so, 
too, was the French General Staff, while Daladier, 
the Prime Minister, held a position midway between 
these two groups. 

French public opinion, however, had undergone 
a complete change during the course of events. 
Not all that was written in Paris during the month 
of September against Czechoslovakia, either directly 
or indirectly can be attributed to skilful German 


propaganda. A great deal of it was quite honest 
in intention. There were reminders of the enormous 
losses suffered by France in the World War; there 
was a genuine desire for peace. The Press which 
supported this section was jubilant when the out- 
come of the Munich discussions became known. 
Peace had been saved. But what kind of peace, 
and for how long ? 

Herr Hitler Storms 

The prelude to the great speech whidi Hitler was 
to deliver at Nuremberg was extremely ominous. 

In Czechoslovakia negotiations with the Sudeten 
German Party had finally collapsed. Urged by 
France and England, the Czech Government had 
gone so far as to agree to divide the country into 
cantons on the Swiss model, and to allow the 
Sudeten Germans complete autonomy inside their 
own cantons. The offer was really magnanimous, 
and the Sudeten German negotiators could find no 
motive for refusal. Then, as if by chance, in 
the large Czechoslovak manufacturing town of 
Moravska Ostrava, there were violent demonstra- 
tions among the Sudeten Germans, who now for the 
first time protested against the imprisonment of 
some of their number who had been arrested a 
week previously for disorderly behaviour. The 
trick proved useful; there were clashes with the 
police; the Sudeten German leaders protested to 
Lord Runciman and to the Czech Prime Minister, 
and in token of their attitude broke off negotiations. 
Herr Frank, a Sudeten Member of Parliament, went 
to Nuremberg to report to Hitler. 


In Nuremberg the British Ambassador, Sir Nevile 
Henderson, sought vainly for an interview with Hitler, 
to utter a word of warning. He did not get past 
Ribbentrop. " Your Excellency ", said the British 
diplomat, " I have been instructed to warn Ger- 
many. If France is involved in a war with Ger- 
many, England could not stand aside." 

But the Reich's Minister for Foreign Affairs, the 
man who once greeted the King of England with 
the Nazi salute, merely laughed : " Surely you are 
joking, your Excellency ", he replied in an easy, 
conversational tone. " I know England, and I know 
that she will not wage a war on Czechoslovakia's 
account. Just leave us to settle our accounts in the 
East. We have nothing more to seek in the West." 

Sir Nevile reported this conversation over the 
telephone to his chief. Lord Halifax, and on its 
way to London the news reached Paris. Other news 
came along at the same time. The Sudeten Germans 
declared that they would take the law into their 
own hands. This was the signal for open revolt. 
And in a speech at Nuremberg Adolf Hitler said 
threateningly : " Those who count on our weakness 
will find themselves mistaken ". 

France's retort to this was the calling up of her 
naval reservists. Gamehn, the French Chief of 
Staff, sent for the German mihtary attache in Paris, 
and gave him a detailed report of all the military 
measures already taken by France — this by way of 
warning to Germany. 

The French soldiers did their duty, while the 
pohticians endeavoured to safeguard what they 
called peace. There would have been time to bring 


Germany to her senses if the soldiers had been 
allowed to act, and not the politicians. Germany 
would have drawn back if confronted by the clear 
determination of France, England and Soviet Russia. 
The German General Staff had repeatedly warned 
Hitler against a war in which half Europe would be 
his foes. But Hitler was not to be scared. He 
counted on the Great Powers' fear of war, and went 
on playing his game. 

On Saturday, the 10th September, two days before 
Hitler's Nuremberg speech. Dr. Benes, President of 
Czechoslovakia, broadcast a speech in his own 
country. He expressed his belief in peace and 
justice, calling upon the populace to keep calm: 
" Citizens, keep calm ", he said, " the democratic 
structure of the Republic will remain intact ". 

A few hours earlier Goering had made a speech 
in Nuremberg — a violent, venomous address — to the 
soldiers, in which he described the Czechs as a 
" nation of pigmies of whom nobody knows whence 
they came ". 

In Paris M. Daladier conferred with his Chief of 
General Staff as to further military measures. 
General GameHn exerted all his powers of persuasion 
to convince M. Daladier and the French Government 
of the importance of Czechoslovakia in the European 
balance of power. In the afternoon Enghsh Min- 
isters in London also conferred with the miUtary 
men on the General Staff, and here, too, Czecho- 
slovakia's importance was acknowledged; but, at 
the same time, so was England's unpreparedness 
for war. 

Twenty-four hours before Hitler's speech, all 


Europe was engaged in a collective effort to scare 
the German Dictator. Edouard Herriot, President 
of the French Chamber, and possibly future President 
of the French Republic, was using all his influence 
to induce M. Daladier to stand firm. Further con- 
tingents of men were dispatched to the Maginot 
Line. Journalists in London were authoritatively 
informed : " In the event of Czechoslovakia being 
attacked, and the French joining forces with her, 
England could not stand aside ". In Paris on the 
day of Hitler's speech on the 12th September a 
meeting of the Cabinet Council took place, and 
there was another conference between General 
Gamelin and the Supreme Council of Defence. 
Switzerland, Holland and Belgium adopted measures 
of precaution. 

Apparently all these measures were not without 
some effect. The speech which Hitler made to the 
whole world on Monday evening was outrageous in 
tone, but in reality much more moderate in content 
than had been feared. The German Dictator con- 
tented himself with a peremptory challenge to the 
Prague Government to get on with its task of 
, coming to agreement with the Sudeten Germans 
" one way or the other " (" So oder so "). 

Only a few persons realised that Hitler was biding 
his time before boldly demanding the surrender of 
the Sudeten area. On Monday the 12th September 
Europe was not yet prepared to grant Hitler what 
he wanted. In England and France some show of 
resistance was still being put up, and order still 
prevailed in the Sudeten territory. 


The Sudeten Germans go Crazy 

Hitler's speech marked the close of a period of 
comparative calm in Europe. It was the signal for 
occurrences which in seventeen days were to bring 
Europe to the brink of war — war which then, cer- 
tainly, could not have been stopped once Germany 
had let it loose. Nobody in Europe realised that 
that day was one of the last on which war could 
have been prevented and European order safe- 
guarded, if the Western Powers had shown them- 
selves strong enough. All that then ensued were 
merely measures of desperation taken by the states- 
men at the prompting of fear. Hitler had a firm 
grip of all the strings. 

Encouraged by Paris, and strengthened by the 
decision of the French War Council to proceed to 
further military measures, the Prague Government 
on 12th September proclaimed martial law in those 
Sudeten districts in which there had been disturb- 
ances just after Hitler's speech. Eight Czechs and 
four Germans had been killed in that outbreak. 

In Prague, Paris and London important minis- 
terial deliberations took place. The Prague Govern- 
ment asked the French Government through its 
Minister in Paris : " Will France support Czecho- 
slovakia if she is attacked by Germany?" and an 
affirmative reply was given by Paris. 

On Tuesday afternoon at 5.30 the Sudeten German 
Party handed an ultimatum to the Prague Govern- 
ment, demanding an immediate suspension of martial 
law in the Sudeten areas. The ultimatum was to 
expire in six hours. 


Prague and Paris were in communication again, 
and again the French Government fortified Czecho- 
slovakia in her resistance. " Maintain order and 
calm at any price ", was the advice given to Prague 
by Paris. 

The Czechoslovak Government stated that it was 
prepared in principle to negotiate with the Sudeten 
Germans regarding the ultimatum ; but no reply to 
this offer came from Henlein's headquarters in Asch. 
The time-limit fixed by the Sudeten German Party 
was approaching, and nothing happened. The 
Prague Government extended the martial law to 
more districts in which there had been disorders. 

Some days later Henlein and other representatives 
of the Sudeten German Party fled from Czecho- 
slovakia to Germany. For a day or two the Ger- 
man broadcasting stations maintained that Henlein 
was still in Czechoslovakia, but such was not the 


It was the British Intelligence Service that was 
immediately instrumental in bringing about the first 
meeting between Hitler and Chamberlain. 

In much the same way as the European demo- 
cracies have shown themselves to be no match for 
the Dictators, so, too, the famous British Secret 
Service fell a victim to German bluff. It must be 
admitted, of course, that this bluff was of such an 
outrageous nature that it was an easy matter to fall 
victim to it. 

Late in the night of Tuesday, 13th September, 
No. X, an official of the Intelligence Service in 



Germany, obtained possession of a piece of informa- 
tion which was apparently absolutely trustworthy. 
The German General Staff — according to this — ^had 
met in the evening in Munich, and resolved, on 
Hitler's orders, to march into Czechoslovakia on 
Wednesday at 6 p.m. To this end the German 
troops were already massing along the Czech fron- 
tier. No. X collected some more information 
which confirmed that the German troops were 
indeed on the move. And now this sensational 
item of news was sent to London in the usual way. 

Late on Tuesday night the British General Staff 
had been advised by a Czech source of the German 
troop concentrations. Similar information was sent 
by Prague to Paris also, and via Paris to London. 
Taken in conjunction with the report of the Intelli- 
gence Service, this was all highly disturbing. 

Very early next morning all these reports were 
submitted to Mr. Chamberlain. Coming as they 
did from three sources, it would naturally not occur 
to him to doubt their accuracy. One fact stood 
out: unless someone intervened now, Europe 
would be plunged into war within twelve hours. Sir 
John Simon and Lord Halifax were called into 
consultation with the Prime Minister. 

At the same time M. Daladier and M. Bonnet 
were closeted together in the former's study in the 
Rue St. Dominique in Paris, and anxiously going 
through the reports: Sudeten German ultimatum; 
concentration of troops on the German-Czecho- 
slovak frontier; a situation charged with menace. 
Would it come to war that very day ? 

It may very well have been that, just at this 


juncture, when the two French statesmen were 
anxiously conferring together, they were interrupted 
by a telephone call from No. 10 Downing Street, 
and heard Mr. Chamberlain himself acquainting 
them with his decision to send a telegram to Hitler 
asking for an interview. That this meant a breath- 
ing-space, and was therefore warmly welcomed, 
cannot be doubted. 

At noon on Wednesday, after a meeting of the 
English Cabinet, the telegram drawn up by Mr. 
Chamberlain himself was sent to the British Embassy 
in Berhn. Towards evening Mr. Chamberlain pro- 
cured the assent of the Leader of the Opposition, 
Major Attlee. But by that time he was already in 
possession of Hitler's favourable reply. The inter- 
view was to take place on Thursday at Berchtes- 

French Government and General Staff circles 
received the report of the interview between Hitler 
and Mr. Chamberlain with a good deal of uneasi- 
ness ; M. Daladier was besieged with warnings, and 
in the afternoon he communicated with the British 
Prime Minister, and asked him to accede to nothing 
in Berchtesgaden which might be in the nature of a 
dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Mr. Chamber- 
lain's reply was reassuring. 

Once more German bluff had been successful. 
The information which No. X had received in 
Berlin ' from a trustworthy source ' was false. The 
only point of truth in it was that concerning a 
movement of troops on the Czech border. It would 
never have occurred to Hitler to march into Czecho- 


Slovakia in this fashion. His method, as revealed 
in his book ' Mein Kampf ', is first of all to isolate 
his victim diplomatically. He had not as yet suc- 
ceeded in doing so in the case of Czechoslovakia. 
The small Republic was by no means isolated, see- 
ing that France was still firm and Britain still 
resolved to stand by France if she went to the aid 
of the Czechs. No, he would have to wait for a 
better opportunity. 

It is not known who conceived the idea of giving 
the British Intelligence Service false information of 
such far-reaching effect. But whoever he may be, 
he merits the highest distinction that present-day 
Germany has to bestow — the golden swastika. 

Two Men at a Table 

On the Thursday morning when Mr. Chamber- 
lain, in his seventieth year, set out on his first trip 
by air, the European sky was far from peaceful. 
Martial law had been extended to eighteen districts 
in Czechoslovakia; frontier affrays and shootings 
were becoming a regular occurrence; in Eger, the 
border town between Germany and Czechoslovakia, 
two hotels, in which adherents of the Sudeten German 
Party had barricaded themselves, were fired upon; 
in the Czech frontier village of Schwaderbach forty 
Czech police and six customs officials were dragged 
on to German soil by an armed band; at Weipert, 
another village on the frontier, some German S.A. 
men crossed the frontier and carried a man and 
woman off" to Germany. 

And late at night the leader of the Sudeten German 
Party — Henlein — had issued a proclamation stating 


in the name of the Sudeten Germans that the German 
population in Czechoslovakia demanded incorpora- 
tion with Germany. 

Mr. Chamberlain knew nothing of this proclama- 
tion as he alighted from his aeroplane at the Munich 

At Berchtesgaden, as he was slowly ascending 
the steep steps leading to Hitler's famous terrace, 
Hitler came a few paces to meet him. The Fuhrer 
was wearing the uniform of the Germany army, 
with the iron cross, his only war-decoration, pinned 
on his breast. His face looked tired and his eyes 
were red-rimmed. It was easy to see that he had 
been suffering from lack of sleep. Report has it 
that Hitler gets scarcely an hour's sleep at night. 

He now led his guest into the study. There the 
two men were alone, except for the interpreter, an 
official of the German Foreign Office, and one who 
was well able to cope with his difficult task; for 
Hitler's words, as ever, flowed from his lips in a 
torrent. The talk lasted altogether two hours, half 
of which time was devoted to the general situation, 
and the other half to particular instances. Hitler 
did far and away most of the talking, Mr. Cham- 
berlain contenting himself with scribbling down a 
few notes for future reference. 

When the two hours were over, came the climax 
of the interview. With a " Please read this ", Hitler 
handed to Mr. Chamberlain a carefully prepared 
English translation of the Sudeten German pro- 
clamation. The British Prime Minister read it with 
some uneasiness ; simple, short and clear, the docu- 
ment required no second reading. 


Then Mr. Chamberlain said that he had come to 
save the peace, and that this proclamation could 
not have been drawn up without the knowledge of 
the Reich Government. He pointed out that this 
was not a good beginning to their talks, and he 
asked why Hitler had allowed him to take this trip 
if the Reich Government had already come to its 

Hitler replied that he had decided to free the 
Sudeten Germans only when he saw the impossi- 
biUty of an agreement between them and the Prague 
Government, and when he came into possession of 
the Sudeten German proclamation. 

At this stage Mr. Chamberlain might have remem- 
bered that the Sudeten Germans had wilfully repudi- 
ated all Prague's concessions; he might have 
thought of The Times article, which had doubtless 
inspired Hitler's decision. Did he think of it ? 

Mr. Chamberlain's answer was that it appeared 
that he was wasting his time, but that he did wish 
to put one question. This was : did he want peace 
or war in Europe ? 

In affirming that he had never wanted anything 
but peace, Hitler replied that until the Sudeten 
Germans were satisfied, there could be no peace, 
but that it was in Mr. Chamberlain's hands to bring 
the Czechs to reason, and that the Prague Govern- 
ment would do what it was advised to do by the 
Fiihrer and the Prime Minister. Hitler asked for 
a guarantee that the British Government would 
acknowledge the right of self-determination for the 
Sudeten Germans, saying that he was prepared to 
consider with Mr. Chamberlain some method of 


accomplishing this without a war. If this guarantee 
was not forthcoming, he would have to agree with 
Mr. Chamberlain in thinking that to continue the 
negotiations would be futile. 

It was not in Mr. Chamberlain's power to give 
such an assurance. But he was prepared to discuss 
the matter with the members of the British Govern- 
ment if Hitler would promise that nothing in the 
meantime would be done to the prejudice of Czecho- 

To this Hitler gave his consent, but on one con- 
dition. That was, that in the meantime nothing 
should occur in Czechoslovakia which would compel 
him to hasten to the aid of the Sudeten Germans. 

With that the talk came to an end between the 
two men. Later they met at the tea-table, where 
the other members of the party were already sitting : 
von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister; Sir Nevile 
Henderson ; Sir Horace Wilson, the economic adviser 
of Mr. Chamberlain ; and the German General Keitel. 
Hitler's demand was then discussed in detail. 



We must now give a short account of events between 
Mr. Chamberlain's departure from Berchtesgaden 
on Thursday, 15th September, and the decisive 
Conference between the British and French Ministers 
in London on the Sunday. 
In Czechoslovakia the Sudeten German Party was 


dissolved and warrants were issued against the 
fugitive leader, Henlein, and his colleagues. Arms 
were discovered hidden in coffins at the clinic of 
the German University of Prague and were con- 
fiscated. Martial law was extended and order 
thus maintained throughout the country. Nervous- 
ness was increasing among the Sudeten inhabitants. 
The agitators had fled to Germany, where they were 
said to have been formed into a Sudeten German 
Corps. Peace now reigned in the Sudeten regions 
and a short respite was granted. A strong move- 
ment was afoot in favour of an understanding with 
Prague, and certain moderate leaders among the 
Sudeten Germans, particularly the leaders of the 
CathoHc section, were negotiating with the Govern- 
ment. They did not wish to be transferred to 
Germany, still less did they want to become the 
cause of war. They had long criticised the intran- 
sigence of Henlein and his supporters, and wanted 
to settle matters with the Prague Government on 
the basis of the substantial concessions already 

This news caused alarm in Germany. Such a 
course had at all costs to be prevented. Czecho- 
slovakia must not be allowed a moment's peace, 
or she might come to terms with the Sudeten Germans 
and it would be seen where the truth really lay. 

During the night of Saturday and Sunday, on 
which day MM. Daladier and Bonnet were to fly 
to London at the invitation of the British Govern- 
ment, an armed attack was made from Germany 
against the customs house at Eger. Innocent members 
of the Czech minority in Germany were imprisoned. 

At this point MussoUni, from whom nothing up 


to then had been heard, thought it time to take a 
hand. For the moment, however, he was too late. 
Speaking at Trieste, he urged a plebiscite in the 
Sudeten areas, obviously unaware that Hitler was 
merely laughing at his ally's zeal — if he was still 
in the mood for laughter. Hitler's demands went 
much further than that: he wanted the Sudeten 
areas without a plebiscite. 

When the negotiations between the British and 
French statesmen began at No. 10 Downing Street 
early on Sunday morning, Czechoslovakia had not 
yet abandoned hope. The people still did not know, 
though President Benes and the Government had 
already been told by Paris and London, that Hitler 
was demanding from the Czechs all districts in 
which there were more than 50 per cent. Sudeten 
Germans. This without a plebiscite and as soon 
as possible. 

During the days between Thursday and Sunday 
President Benes had exerted with the Western 
Powers the whole of his not inconsiderable influence. 
The Czechoslovak Ministers in London and Paris 
had done the same. On Sunday morning, when 
the discussions in London began, it was still believed 
in Prague that France would not give way. 

M. Daladier himself, when he entered the aeroplane 
at Le Bourget, did not know whether he would 
yield. During the previous two days he had been 
swayed by the influence of various personal and 
political friends. There was no lack of powerful 
opinion in favour of supporting Czechoslovakia 
firmly against Germany. At the same time there 
was. much influence in the opposite direction. 
Above all, the Foreign Minister, M. Bonnet, was 


in favour of giving way, if Germany offered certain 
guarantees. And he had the majority of the French 
Cabinet behind him. The Prime Minister alone 
was still undecided. 

The discussions between the French and British 
Ministers in London lasted the whole of Sunday 
and, after a long debate, ended in an undertaking 
by MM. Daladier and Bonnet to recommend the 
French Cabinet to accept a decision by which 
Czechoslovakia should hand over to Germany all 
districts where there were more than 50 per cent. 
Sudeten Germans. Those areas with a smaller 
percentage of Germans should receive extensive 
rights of self-government. The territory to be handed 
over would be fixed by an international commission, 
and only then be occupied by the German Army. 
The population of the ceded areas would of course 
be granted all rights, including that of emigrating 
and carrying its personal property with it. More- 
over, before Czechoslovakia ceded the areas in 
question. Great Britain, France and Germany would 
provide a joint guarantee. M. Daladier had had 
to fight hard for the British guarantee, which Great 
Britain was unwilling to give. She agreed, however, 
at last, and, after mutual congratulations, the French 
Ministers left London in the morning of Monday, 
19th September. 

Prague Receives an Ultimatum — from her 

For seventy-two hours the President of Czecho- 
slovakia and the members of his Government had 
had scarcely any sleep. The terms communicated by 
the two Western democracies to the small democratic 


State in Central Europe were harder than those 
imposed upon a defeated foe after a war. 

Within the shortest possible time the Czecho- 
slovak Government was to make up its mind to 
cede large, wealthy and important territories, to 
surrender factories, coal-mines, power-stations, iron, 
porcelain and radium, and to deliver over the natural 
mountain frontiers of the State because its friends in 
the West desired it. 

When, towards evening, the first reports reached 
Prague from London concerning the progress of 
the British and French discussions, a Cabinet 
meeting was summoned, over which President 
Benes presided. Discussion turned upon what was 
to be done if France left Czechoslovakia in the lurch. 
Deepest pessimism prevailed, but no one believed 
that France, in whom so much faith had been placed, 
could sacrifice her friend and ally to the enemy at 
this most critical hour. 

Further reports arriving from London during the 
meeting foreshadowed the worst. 

Towards three in the morning the French Minister 
in Prague asked for an audience with the President. 
Their conversation lasted a full forty minutes, and 
when Dr. Benes returned to the waiting members 
of the Cabinet, they read their fate in his look of 

The Prime Minister asked if the reports were 
true. Benes nodded. The Ministers then departed. 

At 10 a.m. on Monday the Czechoslovak Foreign 
Minister, Dr. Krofta, invited the French Minister 
in Prague to visit him at the Foreign Office. Dr. 
Krofta, like other members of the Czech Govern- 
ment, had had very little sleep of late. He was 


tired, but pulled himself together when the French 
Minister arrived. The latter told him that he had 
nothing favourable to report, and that the Ministers 
in London had agreed on matters of principle. The 
Foreign Minister nodded and said nothing. The 
French Minister added that the Cabinet was meeting 
in Paris at that moment, and from what he had 
heard, he did not doubt that they would accept the 
arrangement proposed. M. de la Croix then took 
his leave. 

The Foreign Minister seized the telephone and 
asked for Paris. There was still some faint hope 
of a Cabinet crisis in France. Surely France could 
not betray her ally and abandon her at the critical 
moment? The call came through. No, there was 
no likelihood of a Cabinet crisis ; individual Ministers 
might resign, but not the whole Cabinet. More- 
over, the whole of public opinion was against a 
strong line, fearing that Hider might carry out his 
threat of war. Public opinion was bewildered. All 
talk was of the necessity of peace at any price. 
The Czechoslovak Legation in Paris could report 
nothing which would justify optimism. 

The meeting of the Paris Cabinet, presided over 
by M. Lebrun, ended at midday. M. Daladier 
reported on the London discussion. This was 
followed by a debate, in which a number of Ministers 
at first refused to join. When M. Paul Reynaud, 
Minister of Justice, pointed out that France would 
be breaking her treaty obligations, the Prime 
Minister denied that this was the case, and said 
that they were merely recommending to Prague 
the resolutions adopted in London. When asked 
whether, if Prague refused, France would insist 


Upon Czech acceptance, M. Daladier replied that 
in that case the Cabinet would meet again to decide 
on its further course. At the end of the meeting 
the Foreign Minister was instructed to transmit 
the results to the French Minister at Prague. 

The scene now changed to the Castle at Prague 
at 5 p.m. The British and French Ministers called 
upon President Benes. What they had to tell him 
was no news, for he had known for hours that he 
had nothing better to expect. When the Ministers 
handed him the British and French Note, he thanked 
them, saying that he would submit the matter to 
the Czechoslovak Government. The British Minis- 
ter reminded the President that time was short, and 
Dr. Benes, as he shook hands with them, promised 
to bear that fact in mind. 

In Paris, at 6 p.m., the French Foreign Minister 
telephoned to Dr. Osusky, the Czechoslovak Minis- 
ter, saying that he would Uke to communicate to 
him the London decisions. These Dr. Osusk;^ 
already knew. When told that there was not much 
chance of any negotiations, he asked whether there 
was any purpose in his visiting M. Bonnet, but, as 
the French Foreign Minister was insistent. Dr. 
Osusky left on what must have been the bitterest 
mission in his life. 

Journalists waited impatiently for him in the 
lobbies of the Foreign Ministry at the Quai d'Orsay. 
The conversation lasted only about twenty minutes. 
Dr. Osusky observed diplomatic correctness as 
long as he was with the Minister, but, on leaving 
the room, dropped further pretence. 

" A country has been condemned without being 
heard ", he said to the surrounding journaUsts. 


And it was true; his country was condemned. Its 
friends and allies had delivered an ultimatum to it. 

Hitler Ponders 

Meanwhile Adolf Hitler was locked in his study 
at Berchtesgaden and refused to see anyone. His 
henchmen knew what this meant, for this was 
Hitler's way when he had to make an important 
decision. What would it be this time? 

The world would soon know, for on Thursday 
there was to be a second meeting between Hitler 
and Mr. Chamberlain at Godesberg, an attractive 
little town on the Rhine. 

Hitler interrupted his meditations for one short 
space on the Tuesday morning, when he received 
the Hungarian Foreign Minister, de Kanya, and 
the Polish Minister in Berlin, M. Lipski, who at his 
request had hastened to Berchtesgaden. 

Hungary and Poland, both Germany's friends, 
felt that their moment had arrived, for they 
guessed that Hitler was about to enforce territorial 
cessions by Czechoslovakia. Both countries would 
be glad to share in these. Poland laid claim to a 
small area, known as the Teschen district, inhabited 
by 100,000 Poles, which had been allotted to Czecho- 
slovakia in 1920 after a local plebiscite. Hungary 
wanted part of Slovakia, where Hved some 700,000 
Hungarians. The district had been aL 
Czechoslovakia by the Treaty of Versailles, in order 
that the new State might have access to the Danube, 
the most important river in Central Europe. 

The representatives of the two States now gave 
respectful ear to Hitler's word. 

Hitler was calculating that, since the Great 


Powers had accepted his first plan so easily, he would 
now make much more sweeping demands, which 
they would also have to accept. 

The details of the plan were discussed shortly, 
and on the same day the diplomatic representatives 
of Poland and Hungary notified to all the capitals 
of Europe their claims to parts of Czechoslovakia. 

This was another master-stroke by Hitler. For 
years Hungarian claims to territorial revision had 
been sponsored by Signor Mussolini, but now Hitler 
secured the friendship of Hungary, which he urgently 
needed for the pursuit of his aims in Central Europe. 

With the Abyssinian adventure and the increase 
in Germany's strength, Mussolini's star in Central 
Europe was on the wane. In spite of her friendship 
with Italy, Germany had already seized Austria, 
Mussolini's second protege in Europe. And now 
she was performing immensely valuable service for 
Hungary. She could thus feel sure of Hungarian 
loyalty, and Hungary would no longer be an obstacle 
to Germany's progress towards the oil-fields of 
Rumania and the wheat-fields of the Ukraine. 

Mussolini watched these developments with sus- 
picion. He travelled from one North Italian town 
to another, from Trieste to Udine, from Udine to 
Verona, from Verona to Vicenza, everywhere mak- 
ing speeches to which nobody in Europe paid any 
attention. o{ He was furious, but there was nothing 
he could do. For the moment he had to look on 
helpless, while Hitler arranged things in Central 
Europe. Mussolini was fettered to the Rome- 
Berlin axis. 


M. Bonnet Takes the Law into his own 

The Czechoslovak Government was maintaining 
order in the Sudeten districts and was continuing 
to negotiate. It negotiated throughout Tuesday, 
until six in the afternoon. The decision was difficult, 
but it had to be taken, and time pressed. The 
Ministers of Great Britain and France had already 
made two demarches to the President. London and 
Paris were impatient. Czechoslovakia must not be 
too long committing suicide, for the sake of European 

In London and Paris demonstrations were being 
held in favour of Czechoslovakia. In London 
crowds paraded the streets, in Paris delegations 
waited upon the Czech Minister. 

And in Prague discussion still went on. It was 
not until evening that they concluded and an official 
note was sent to London and Paris. It accepted 
the arrangement in principle, but asked that an inter- 
national conference, attended by Czechoslovakia, 
should decide in the matter, and that the existence 
of the Republic should be duly safeguarded. 

Within an hour Paris and London replied that 
this was not enough, and asked for a further decision. 

Late that night the Czechoslovak Cabinet met 
once more. This time the proposal by the Czech 
Minister in Paris was accepted, and Paris and 
London were told that Czechoslovakia was willing 
to submit the case to a court of arbitration. This 
court had been agreed upon between Germany and 
Czechoslovakia in a Treaty concluded in 1925. 

Obviously, the main concern of the Czechoslovak 


Government was to gain time. If only there were 
a respite for a few days, all German democrats and 
all Sudeten Germans who did not wish to join the 
Reich could be mobiUsed and show the world 
that, if not a majority, at any rate a very large 
number of Sudeten Germans did not want to be 
united with Germany. If only there were a respite 
for a few days, things might change in Paris. If 
only there were more time ! 

At 11.30 p.m. the French Minister in Prague 
learnt from his British colleague that London had 
sent him instructions to make a fresh demarche to 
the Prague Government, at once and in strong terms. 

At 11.40 the telephone rang in the office of the 
French Minister. M. Bonnet himself was on the 
line. He had just been talking with London and 
had heard of this new demarche. He now instructed 
his Minister in Prague to act jointly with his British 
colleague, and he pointed out that France, too, 
insisted upon acceptance of the ultimatum. 

The French Foreign Minister had apparently 
forgotten that the Paris Cabinet had decided on the 
previous day to meet again, should Czechoslovakia 
refuse the London proposals. It had never been 
said that Paris would compel the Prague Govern- 
ment to accept. If the Prague Government had 
refused, and had thereupon been attacked by 
Germany, France would have had to come to her 

But M. Bonnet had already once declared that, 
as long as he was in the Government, there should 
be no war. Even without a Cabinet decision, the 
Prague Government should still be forced, by Paris 
also, to accept the conditions. Thus French foreign 


policy was directed from London, and what London 
decided, Paris approved. The Prague Government 
would now accept and the French Foreign Minister 
would be justified by success. 

At midnight the French and British Ministers 
asked President Benes for an audience. The 
President could not receive them at once, for the 
Cabinet was still sitting. Even now it was believed 
that France would support Czechoslovakia if things 
came to the worst. 

A Terrible Night and a Sombre Day 

Through the silent streets of the old city of Prague 
two cars dashed up to the Castle, the residence of 
the President of Czechoslovakia. It was 2 a.m. 
on Wednesday, 21st September. 

A few minutes before, the French and British 
Ministers had been informed by telephone that 
President Benes would receive them in a few moments. 

At exactly 2.15 a.m. the two Ministers were shown 
into the President's study. Dr. Benes rose from his 
desk and, advancing to meet the men who had 
brought him so much bad news in the past two 
days, shook them by the hand. 

M. de la Croix, the French Minister, was a friend 
of the Czechs and hated his duty, but he had to 
obey orders. Mr. Newton, the British Minister, was 
showing a more detached attitude towards the 
struggle of a small people for its very existence. 
He was not very fond of the Czechs. 

Mr. Newton spoke first. He said that he had 
been instructed by his Government to say that the 
Czech counter-proposals were unsatisfactory. His 
Majesty's Government insisted upon the immediate 


acceptance of the proposals made jointly with the 
French Government. Otherwise the Czechoslovak 
Government must take all the consequences. 

M. de la Croix then said that the French Govern- 
ment was of one mind with the Government of 
Great Britain and recommended the Czechoslovak 
Government to accept the London proposals, and 
declared that Czechoslovakia, should she decide 
otherwise, could not rely upon French help. 

There was a silence. The clock of St. Vitus' 
Church near by struck half-past two. 

President Benes then spoke. He seemed to have 
thrown off his fatigue, and with his right hand, in 
which he held his glasses, he emphasised his words. 

The result of the interview at Berchtesgaden 
between the German Chancellor and the Hungarian 
Foreign Minister and Polish Ambassador had been 
made known to him, he said, a few hours earlier. It 
had there been decided that these three countries 
should co-operate in dividing up Czechoslovakia be- 
tween themselves or in making her existence impos- 
sible. Here was further proof that Germany's main 
concern was not to bring the Sudeten Germans within 
the Reich. Germany wanted to destroy Czecho- 
slovakia, because it was an obstacle in her eastward 
path. Once Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, or if 
her resistance was crippled, there would be nobody 
to oppose Germany. In a short time she would be 
on the shores of the Black Sea and threatening 
British influence in Asia Minor. It had to be 
borne in mind that the question of Czechoslovakia 
was a European question, a world question even. 
If the Western Powers now yielded to Germany 
and allowed her to destroy Czechoslovakia, it 


would be the first step towards German domination 
over Europe. Surely it could not be Great Britain's 
purpose to allow this? 

President Benes had finished. He is not a good 
speaker. His words are dry, and he lacks fire; 
he aims at convincing by force of argument rather 
than by persuasive tones. On this occasion, how- 
ever, all his arguments were in vain. 

The British Minister rephed courteously, but 
drily, that the British Government had taken note 
of the conversations between Hitler, de Kanya and 
Lipski, and he felt justified in assuming that his Gov- 
ernment were aware of President Benes's views. 

It was a diplomatic refusal. 

President Benes then asked how long Czecho- 
slovakia would be given to answer the Note. Until 
that same afternoon, he was told. The President 
rose, and the two Ministers followed suit. The 
French Minister expressed the hope that the Czecho- 
slovak Government would accept the terms. If 
they did not, he said, it would be simply suicide. 

The President replied : " We shall do what the 
Western Powers believe to be in the interests of 
European peace ". 

Europe slept. Only on the borders between 
Czechoslovakia and Germany small detachments 
of Czechoslovak police still kept watch. There 
were not many soldiers in the frontier districts, 
for Czechoslovakia was afraid that this would be 
regarded by Germany as provocation. In con- 
sequence, isolated Czechoslovak sentry-posts were 
continually exposed to attack by armed Sudeten 


Germans, who came over from Germany and escaped 
back again. 

Europe slept. Only at the Castle in Prague the 
responsible leaders of Czechoslovakia still conferred 
on the fate of their country. Some were in favour 
of a flat refusal by Czechoslovakia and a fight to 
the last man. But reason finally prevailed. A 
resolution was adopted in the early hours of the 
morning, and was communicated to the repre- 
sentatives of the political parties, who proceeded to 
negotiate with the Government throughout the 

Quite early, however, the Ministers of the two 
Western democracies were informed that the answer 
was an acceptance. 

The Foreign Minister, Dr. Krofta, handed the 
Czechoslovak reply to the British and French 
Ministers at five in the afternoon : Czechoslovakia, 
under pressure from her friends, accepted Hitler's 
terms and was ready to surrender large territories 
to Germany. 

The news of the Czech acceptance and of the 
dramatic events of the night of Tuesday- Wednesday 
was received in Western Europe with relief, but with 
no enthusiasm. 

France felt ashamed. It was the first time in her 
history that she had failed to observe a treaty and 
left a friend in the lurch. It was an open con- 
fession of weakness and a bad omen for the future. 

Between M. Daladier and his Foreign Minister 
there was a stormy scene. The Prime Minister now 
learnt for the first time what had happened during 
the preceding night, and he blamed the Foreign 
Minister for taking matters into his own hands and 


compelling the Prague Government to accept the 
terms. Several members of the French Government 
clamoured for M. Bonnet's resignation, and 
threatened to resign if he did not. But no resigna- 
tions followed; the headlong course of events had 
dazed everyone. 

At Geneva M. Litvinoff, the Soviet Foreign 
Minister, declared that Russia would come to the 
help of Czechoslovakia under her treaty, provided 
France did the same. 

France felt ashamed, but she had no intention of 
coming to Czechoslovakia's help. Even had she 
wished to, it was now too late. The public had been 
told of Prague's acceptance. 

In London Winston Churchill said : " This is the 
bankruptcy of the Western Powers. Such a settle- 
ment cannot bring peace. Not Czechoslovakia 
alone is threatened, but the liberties of all peoples." 

At Stratford-on-Avon the former Foreign Minister, 
Mr. Anthony Eden, uttered words of warning and 
urged the Government to stand fast. 

Already by Wednesday morning dark rumours 
were circulating in Prague, but nothing definite was 
known. It was not till late in the day that the 
Minister of Propaganda announced on the wireless : 
" We have accepted in order to avoid bloodshed. 
The case is unique in history ; our friends and allies 
have imposed upon us terms which are usually 
dictated to a defeated enemy." 

From the loud-speakers in the streets the crowd 
heard the message teUing them that their country 
had been deserted by all its friends and aUies and 
forced to accept hard terms. A cry of despair broke 


from all lips. Cars and trams came to a standstill 
and the streets filled with people wishing to give 
voice to their feelings. 

Exactly a year before, the streets of Prague had 
been filled with the lamentations of the crowd 
which attended the burial of Czechoslovakia's 
greatest citizen, Thomas Garrigue Marasyk, president 
and philosopher. 

Now, a year later, the people of Prague were again 
plunged in grief and despair. It was not so much 
that Czechoslovakia was compelled to hand over 
rich districts to Germany, her oppressor. It was 
rather grief at being deserted by those whom she had 
looked upon as her friends and allies — the thought 
that the small Czechoslovak Republic was being 
sacrificed by the two great Western democracies. 

War Knocks at the Door 

" The Hitler-Chamberlain conversations at Godes- 
berg have broken down ! Czechoslovakia is mobilis- 
ing! In one night France has called up 340,000 
more men ! " 

Such were the sensational reports which set 
Europe quaking on Friday, 23rd September. In the 
course of twice twenty-four hours this unhappy 
Continent had been plunged from expectation of 
peace to the verge of war. 

Tanks, mechanised artillery and infantry were 
marching through Prague towards the German 
frontier. Trains crowded with reservists were leaving 
the Paris Gare de TEst for the Maginot Line. 

Throughout the night of Friday-Saturday Prague 
and Paris awaited the invasion of Czechoslovakia by 
the German army and the outbreak of a European war. 


The German wireless stations had told their 
listeners to keep their sets turned on, as an 
important announcement would be made. Mean- 
while the * Deutschlandsender ' played gramophone 
records. At first, ominous military marches. Then 
hght music by Schubert, selections from Weber and 
Lortzing, with nothing martial about them. 

Was it possible that music of this sort could be 
the prelude to universal slaughter ? 

It was not. No declaration of war followed. At 
3.10 a.m. the following official communique was 
read over the German wireless : — 

" The three-hour conversation between Prime 
Minister Neville Chamberlain and Chancellor Adolf 
Hitler ended at half-past one this morning. When the 
friendly conversation ended Chancellor Hitler handed 
the British Prime Minister a memorandum stating 
Germany's final proposals, which Mr. Chamberlain 
will transmit to Prague." 


The Grand Hotel Dreesen, at Godesberg-on-the- 
Rhine, where Mr. Chamberlain and Hitler were to have 
their second conversation, has historical associations 
for Adolf Hitler. It belongs to an old fellow- 
combatant and friend of his. Here it was that 
Hitler, before he became Chancellor, built up his 
Party and made propaganda for it ; here, too, he often 
came for relaxation. It was there that, on 30th June 
1934, he learnt of the revolt plotted against him 
by his friend and fellow-combatant, August 
Roehm, and other members of the Party. On that 
occasion he had flown at once to Munich and shot 
Roehm with his own hand. During the days that 
followed, the General in command of the German 


army, his wife and many hundreds of others met a 
violent death in the ensuing purge. 

It was certainly not by accident that Hitler had 
arranged this second conversation at the Hotel 
Dreesen at Godesberg. Like many Germans, he is 
fond of symbols. 

When the British Prime Minister landed at Cologne 
on this Thursday, 22nd September, the scenes that 
had attended his departure from London were still 
fresh in his mind. 

" Stand by Czechoslovakia ", the crowd had 
shouted as he left No. 10 Downing Street for the 
aerodrome. At Heston airport many people had 
waved Czech flags to show the sympathy of the 
people of Great Britain for a small country. 

Mr. Chamberlain had come to Godesberg armed 
with the assent of the Czechoslovak Government and 
with a French power of attorney. It was his intention 
to conclude with Hitler all reasonable arrangements 
arising out of this Czechoslovak acceptance. 

And yet he did not feel too hopeful. During 
Wednesday he had received news that Germany was 
going to demand a great deal more, and intended to 
espouse the claims of Poland and Hungary against 
Czechoslovakia. That had not been foreseen. 
France and England had certainly no wish to destroy 
the whole Czechoslovak State. 

Towards midday, when Mr. Chamberlain was still 
on his way from Cologne to Godesberg, Chancellor 
Hitler sent for his generals at the Hotel Dreesen and 
gave them a lecture: 

On the table lay a large map of Czechoslovakia. 
It was a map prepared by the German General Staff, 
and all the fortifications of Czechoslovakia were 


shown in black. Hitler's generals had already given 
several warnings of these fortresses, saying that they 
were strategically well placed and that, if it came to 
war, their capture would cost hundreds of thousands 
of lives. Czechoslovakia was a fortress and, before 
it could be taken, effective help would arrive from 
the Western Powers and Soviet Russia. The 
generals repeated these warnings, but Hitler cut them 
short. These were his orders : 

" I want all measures taken for an immediate 
invasion of Czechoslovakia. We shall march in even 
if it means a world war. I have pledged my word to 
the whole German people. I am not going to be 
intimidated by Czech fortresses or by anybody." 

The meeting continued some twenty minutes 
longer. Hitler issuing further instructions and 
receiving information from his generals on technical 

The Generals left in silence. Even the most loyal 
of them were filled with apprehension. They knew 
better than anyone how long Germany could wage a 
war and who would have to bear the whole blame if 
the war were lost. 

Was there perhaps some truth in the rumours 
current in Paris and London that the Generals would 
arrest Hitler if he ventured on war ? 

But Hitler knew exactly what he was doing. 
He knew, of course, that his bluff had already 
been so successful that he could no longer withdraw, 
even if he wished to. That, however, did not worry 
him. During these past years Hitler had banked 
upon his luck — and upon a sound calculation of the 
weaknesses of others. 

A few minutes after the Generals had gone he told 


his Foreign Minister that he would not sign 
anything with Chamberlain until he held the Czech 
fortifications. What he might sign then, he would 
decide for himself. 

At the Hotel Petersberg, high up in the hills across 
the Rhine, where Mr. Chamberlain and his suite were 
to stay, rumours were rife : at Prague popular indigna- 
tion had overthrown the Hodza Government and 
replaced it by a Cabinet with General Syrov^ at its 
head. Only Syrovy and one other general repre- 
sented the army in the new government; all the 
rest were civilians. But it augured ill for the 
beginning of the talks. Around Downing Street 
there had been clashes between the crowds and the 
police. Demonstrators were carrying posters 
" Chamberlain must go ! Stand by Czecho- 
slovakia." The leaders of the Sudeten Germans 
were beginning to occupy villages in the Sudeten 
regions. On orders from Prague the Czechoslovak 
gendarmerie were not resisting. The German morn- 
ing and afternoon papers demanded the removal of 
Czechoslovakia from the map of Europe. 

Mr. Chamberlain, as he looked from the windows at 
the lovely valley of the Rhine below, felt pessimistic 
about the probable outcome of the conversations. 
Across the river stood the Hotel Dreesen, draped in 
flags. There Adolf Hitler awaited his British guest. 

At 4.35 p.m. a car drove up to the Hotel Dreesen 
and, as Mr. Chamberlain ahghted, Adolf Hitler 
appeared in the hotel doorway. 

This time Neville Chamberlain had no steep steps 
to cUmb, as at Berchtesgaden a week earlier. Only 
five steps led from the drive to the lounge of the 
hotel, where the talk was to begin. 


Hitler welcomed his guest and, after inquiries 
about his journey, led him in. It was tea-time, and 
von Ribbentrop, formerly German Ambassador in 
London, was well versed in British customs. Mr. 
Chamberlain sipped his tea with relish. Hitler 
drank with him, for, though he touches no alcohol, 
he likes a good cup of tea. 

The conversation turned upon indifferent matters. 
Hitler drew his guest's attention to the up-to-date 
furnishing of the hotel and, as proudly as if he were 
himself the owner, pointed out that the whole grounds 
could in the twinkling of an eye be converted into a 
covered winter-garden. He even offered to perform 
this miracle for Mr. Chamberlain, who, however, 
smilingly waved the suggestion aside. 

Then, a few minutes before five, the two men 
withdrew. Once again they were alone together. 
The interpreter was the only other person present. 

This time Mr. Chamberlain spoke first. He said 
that he had brought with him the reply of the British 
and French Governments to Hitler's proposal of the 
previous Thursday. They had, he said, asked the 
Prague Government to hand over to Germany areas 
where there were more than 50 per cent. Germans. 
The Prague Government had agreed. He had come to 
Godesberg to report this fact and to communicate 
at the same time the British and French proposals 
as to how the plan should be executed. 

" I did not expect ", Hitler answered, " that Great 
Britain and France would recognise the right of 
the Sudeten Germans to self-determination ", and 
there was something Hke a smile on his jaded 

Mr. Chamberlain was taken aback. The .Chan- 




cellor's words rankled, but he kept his feelings to 

He then outlined the plan which London and 
Paris had prepared and which had been com- 
municated to Czechoslovakia before she accepted 
the terms dictated by London. 

It was, in the circumstances, a fair settlement, the 
aim of which was to allow unfortunate Czecho- 
slovakia to make the transfer of the Sudeten German 
territories with the maximum of honour and the 
minimum of unnecessary sacrifice. An inter- 
national commission was to fix the areas to be 
ceded to Germany. Until then those areas were to 
remain under Czechoslovak control, and only be 
handed over when the frontiers were settled. Order 
might in the meantime be maintained by members 
of the British Legion. The new frontiers would 
naturally be drawn in such a way as to take into 
account the most essential economic requirements 
of the country. If necessary, there should be an 
exchange of populations. The inhabitants would, of 
course, be allowed to take with them all their movable 
property. Finally, France and Great Britain offered 
to guarantee the new Czechoslovak frontiers. They 
expected, of course, Mr. Chamberlain concluded, 
that Germany would participate in this joint 

For a few moments there was silence. Then 
Hitler jumped up. Resting his right hand on the 
edge of the table, and gesticulating freely with his 
left, he spoke, as if addressing a big meeting. 

" Shortly before we began our conversation, I 
received news from Prague that a military dictator- 
ship has been proclaimed. They want to threaten 


me, you see, to force my hand. This Bolshevist 
crowd in Prague wants nothing less than war and 
to bring Soviet Russia into Central Europe. At 
the very moment when you propose that I should 
guarantee the Czech frontier, a miUtary dictatorship 
is proclaimed in Prague." 

Hitler had begun his remarks in comparatively 
moderate tones, but the more he said, the quicker 
his words became, the louder his voice. Hitler was 
never a diplomat. Before becoming Chancellor, 
he had been a party leader, a popular orator. He 
does not therefore choose his words Hke a diplomat. 
It is his habit to say exactly what he thinks. 

Fortunately, Mr. Chamberlain understood no 
German. The tone of Hitler's voice betrayed his 
excitement, but the interpreter was tactful enough 
to reproduce the Fuhrer's words in more moderate 

Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that the new 
Government in Prague was not a dictatorship, still 
less a military dictatorship. There were only two 
generals in the Cabinet. To this the reply was that 
Hitler refused to put up with such impudence on the 
part of the Czechs. They had taken advantage of his 
leniency. He had wanted to march into Czecho- 
slovakia a week ago, and only desisted to please 
Mr. Chamberlain. Now his patience was exhausted, 
and he would give the order that day. Everything 
was ready. 

Mr. Chamberlain, not used to this form of con- 
versation, began to feel uncomfortable. A British 
Prime Minister is not accustomed to discussions 
conducted on such lines as these. Still, an EngUsh- 
man stands his ground, and Mr. Chamberlain in his 


turn raised his voice. Such orders were quite 
unnecessary, he said, for the Czechs had voluntarily 
abandoned the Sudeten areas. 

The Czechs were a pack of liars, said Hitler, and 
he didn't believe them. 

Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that the British and 
French Governments should surely be good enough 
guarantors to assure him that Czechoslovakia would 
fulfil the obligations she had accepted. 

Hitler agreed, but only on other conditions. Mr. 
Chamberlain felt dismayed, realising that the reports 
were true which said that Germany would demand 
much more, and expressed surprise that the con- 
ditions were to be altered. 

Hitler refused, above all, to allow any inter- 
national commission to decide what belonged to 
him, saying that such a commission would just suit 
the Czechs, who would in the meantime continue to 
terrorise the Sudeten Germans, carry off everything 
movable and leave the whole country in ruins. 

Hitler was thinking no doubt of the Czech 
fortresses, but he did not say so. 

Such a commission would take far too long. He 
did not want to waste time. He wanted the Sudeten 
districts united to Germany with the least possible 
delay. If this was not done voluntarily, Germany 
was strong enough to enforce her rights by arms. 

Mr. Chamberlain suggested that the question of 
an international commission might be settled by 
negotiation. He inquired whether Hitler was willing 
to guarantee the new Czech frontiers jointly with 
England and France. 

What did England want in Central Europe ? asked 
Hitler. Why should they want to guarantee the 


Czech frontier ? Mr. Chamberlain repHed with some 
warmth that it was for England to decide whose 
frontiers she desired to guarantee. 

Hitler modified his tone a little. He saw that he 
had offended Mr. Chamberlain, and that was not 
his intention. 

He explained that Germany would guarantee the 
Czechoslovak frontiers provided that other neigh- 
bouring states and Italy did the same. He would 
like to point out that Poland and Hungary had 
submitted just claims to Czechoslovak territory. 

Mr. Chamberlain knew it. The Pohsh and Hun- 
garian Ministers in London had officially informed 
him of this on the previous day. His fears that 
Hitler would make himself the spokesman of these 
States were now confirmed. 

" But you," he said, now tired and discouraged, 
" are only concerned with the cause of the Sudeten 
Germans. Once the Sudeten Germans are satisfied, 
surely Germany could be asked to guarantee the new 

Hitler answered that he stood by what he had just 

Despite his disappointment, Mr. Chamberlain per- 
sisted. He asked whether Hitler would be willing 
to conclude a pact of non-aggression with Czecho- 
slovakia, supposing his claims were met. 

Hitler's answer was that he would conclude no 
such pact unless the Polish and Hungarian claims 
were satisfied. 

The me-a-tete was at an end. It had lasted an 
hour and twenty minutes. 




The surprises which the day held for Neville Cham- 
berlain were not yet over. 

The two men withdrew to an ante-room where 
several people were already assembled, amongst 
them von Ribbentrop and Sir Nevile Henderson. 

A large map was spread out on the table. It was 
a map of Czechoslovakia, on which curious lines 
had been drawn by hand in red and green pencil. 

Hitler's intimates have an anecdote to tell about 
this map. Hitler had drawn it himself in Berchtes- 
gaden and shown it to his collaborator, von Ribben- 
trop. The Foreign Minister had ventured to say 
that it might be a good idea to get a similar map 
printed, but Hitler is reported to have said that as 
long as it was only drawn in pencil, it could be 
modified with an indiarubber. 

I cannot say whether this anecdote is true or not. 
This much we do know, however : Hitler had done 
a thorough piece of work. The map he displayed 
to the British Prime Minister showed nothing 
remaining to Czechoslovakia but the caricature of a 
State. Bohemia and Moravia were completely 
surrounded on all sides by Germany. At one point 
the scrap of country remaining in Czech hands was 
only twenty miles across. The most vital railway 
lines of the country, the two connecting Prague with 
Brno, the Moravian capital and Bratislava, the 
Slovak capital, respectively were each twice cut 
across by German territory. 



Mr. Chamberlain had never himself seen the 
country ; the map did not mean a great deal to him, 
but the red and green lines caught his eye. 

The German Chancellor explained that the red 
Hues denoted the districts which must at once be 
handed over to the Germans ; the green ones showed 
the districts where a plebiscite must be held. There 
was no objection to the plebiscite taking place under 
international supervision. 

The idea of a plebiscite surprised Mr. Chamber- 
lain, who thought that it was quite unnecessary, and 
that Germany would be getting, without a plebiscite, 
all the territories in which there were more than 50 
per cent, of Germans. 

Hitler then pointed out that there were several 
other districts in Czechoslovakia containing Germans. 
All German groups living in Czechoslovakia should 
be given the opportunity of expressing themselves 
in favour of a return to Germany. Who cared for 
percentages, when the rights of the German People 
were at stake ? 

By this time Mr. Chamberlain was thoroughly 
bewildered. It is true that he did not then know that 
compact Czech majorities existed in the districts 
which Hitler had outUned in green ; nor did he know 
that these were districts containing the headquarters 
of the Czech heavy industries. He was quite clear, 
however, about one point. Here was something 
quite different from what had been discussed in 

Stiffly he inquired whether there were any further 
communications to make. 

Certainly there were. The solution proposed by 
London and Paris was by no means acceptable to 


the Fiihrer. He wished the territories which he had 
indicated to be occupied by the German Army 
within the shortest possible space of time, so that the 
Sudeten German population might be protected from 
further territorism by the Czechs. 

That being the case, Mr. Chamberlain considered 
that further negotiations were superfluous, and 
decided to return to London to take counsel with his 
Cabinet colleagues and with Paris. 

The two men looked at each other. 

Hitler had arranged a private telephone connection 
for Mr. Chamberlain between London and his hotel 
on the Petersberg, having already explained that 
time was pressing, and that if Mr. Chamberlain 
flew to London for a consultation much valuable 
time would be lost. Hitler added that his patience 
with the Czechs was exhausted, and he could give 
no guarantee that he might not immediately 
intervene if there were any unrest in the Sudeten 

The interpreter rendered Hitler's statement into 
English, word for word. 

Finally Mr. Chamberlain yielded. 

He said he would stay and continue the discussion 
on the next day. Meantime he would get into touch 
with the Cabinet in London and, through London, 
with Paris. 

Hitler could scarcely conceal his pleasure. A few 
minutes later, when they began to draw up a joint 
communique, he grew obstinate again, and would 
accept nothing which might serve to encourage 
Czechoslovakia. Discussion over the text of the 
joint communique lasted for some time; several 
drafts were drawn up and again rejected. Finally 


Mr. Chamberlain alone handed to the waiting 
journalists a statement which constituted an appeal 
to both the interested parties — Germany and 
Czechoslovakia — to take no steps which might add 
to the difficulty of the negotiations. 

As he took leave of his EngHsh visitor Hitler said : 
" I expect a clear and unambiguous decision at our 
session to-morrow ". 

Mr. Chamberlain thereupon returned to his hotel 
on the Petersberg. He was tired and dispirited. 
The negotiations had reached a deadlock. No 
further concessions could be forced from Czecho- 
slovakia, and England's prestige was at stake. If 
Great Britain now gave way to Hitler, what would 
the prospects be for the future of Europe ? 

While Europe waited in feverish tension for the 
result of the Godesberg conversations, Mr. Chamber- 
lain made use of the telephone connection with 
London which Hitler had installed for him. 

Paris Interlude 

The Daladier Government in Paris was in a bad 
way on that momentous Thursday when Mr. 
Chamberlain was interviewing Hitler in Godesberg. 
Several members of the French Cabinet were in 
open revolt against the policy which led to Prague's 
acceptance of the ultimatum. It was common 
knowledge that Prime Minister Daladier was easily 
susceptible to influence from any quarter. His 
intentions were excellent, but what use was that 
when he could not take a simple, clear line and stick 
to it, when he would let himself be influenced by 
M. Bonnet, by his entourage and by all his political 
friends who wanted peace at any price provided 


only that France could, for the moment, be saved 
from war ? 

The dissatisfaction of certain members of the 
Cabinet was therefore primarily directed against 
M. Bonnet. The most radical of the dissidents was 
Paul Reynaud, Minister of Justice. 

The two other rebellious members of the Cabinet, 
MM. Mandel, Minister for Colonies, and Champetier 
de Ribes, Minister of Pensions, met on that Thursday 
morning at M. Reynaud's. They discussed the critical 
situation and condemned the arbitrary action of 
M. Bonnet, who, on his own sole initiative, had 
forced Prague to accept the ultimatum. They decided 
to resign that very day. 

An atmosphere of crisis prevailed in the lobbies of 
the French Chamber. Even in the forenoon little 
hope was felt that the Godesberg negotiations could 
be successful. Even if they were, the Socialists were 
dissatisfied and the Communists were raging. Both 
groups had decided to demand the immediate 
summoning of Parliament, to impeach the Govern- 
ment and to bring about M. Daladier's fall. 

For the first time in history, France had betrayed 
an Ally ; she had failed to honour the signature she 
had placed to a treaty eight years ago. She had done 
worse: she had compelled her Ally to accept the 
humiliating demands of the enemy. France's posi- 
tion as a Great Power was shattered. Who would 
in future want to conclude a treaty with a country 
which did not respect its treaties? France's allies 
and friends in the Balkans, Rumania and Yugoslavia, 
would turn their backs on France. Germany, 
France's immemorial enemy in Europe, would be 
the strongest Power on the Continent. 


Members of Parliament excitedly discussed the 
situation in the lobbies of the House. 

" France has handed in her resignation ", declared 
Henri de Kerrilis of the Right ; " the people of 
France have been smitten with blindness. They do 
not see that later on we shall have to fight the war 
which we could now risk with relative assurance. 
Later we shall fight under far less favourable con- 
ditions. I shall tell my constituents so, even if they 
repudiate me." 

M. Jacquinot, another member, cried in excite- 
ment : " To-day we refuse to fight for Czecho- 
slovakia. If this goes on we shall to-morrow refuse 
to defend Alsace Lorraine against Germany." 

With bitter irony he continued : "If Czecho- 
slovakia takes Germany on single-handed, I shall 
fight as a volunteer in the Czech army. I shall make 
one stipulation only. If I fall, they must write over 
my grave: ' Died for France '." 

Exciting news was received in ParHament at noon. 
General Francois Faucher, Chief of the French 
MiHtary Mission in Czechoslovakia, had returned 
all his French decorations, renounced his rank of 
general in the French Army and placed himself at 
the disposal of the Czech Army as military adviser. 

This news was little calculated to allay the crisis 
atmosphere that reigned in Paris. It was already 
common knowledge that the Ministers Reynaud, 
Mandel and de Ribes were intending to resign. 

The Delegation of the Parties of the Left, a 
parhamentary committee of the parties of the 
Popular Front, was clamouring for the Chamber to 
be summoned. The atmosphere was sultry, negotia- 
tions stormy. The Radical Socialists, the Party to 



which M. Daladier belonged, could not decide to join 
in this demand, for they knew that it was contrary 
to the wishes of their Party chief. 

M. Jeanneney, President of the Senate, and M. 
Edouard Herriot, President of the Chamber, called 
on M. Daladier. Both were seriously alarmed at 
the course things were taking, and sought to prevent 
whatever yet might be prevented. The President 
of the Senate, a former colleague of the great states- 
man Georges Clemenceau, spoke with heat, saying 
that they were perhaps sparing war to one generation 
and condemning untold future generations to misery. 
Clemenceau would never have consented. France 
had surrendered — out of fear. Who could imagine 
that the period upon which they were entering could 
be called peace ? 

Edouard Herriot rose to his feet, his massive form 
towering high above M. Daladier, seated at his desk. 

He would offer him no advice, but if he had been in 
M. Daladier's place he would have acted differently. 
If they did not make a stand against Germany now, 
they would never be able to do it with success. 
Think! France, Soviet Russia, Great Britain. 
The three mightiest Powers in Europe. If they 
made a firm stand against Germany that would be 
enough. There would be no war. It might already 
be too late ; that he did not know. In any case the 
consequences of this lost peace be on M. Daladier's 

The two took their leave. M. Daladier rang up 
his Foreign Minister. 

The news was not cheering. Pessimism in 
London. Tension in Prague. The Czechoslovak 


Government had had to yield to pressure and had 
resigned. The Czech nation wanted to fight, they 
did not want to give in without a struggle. How- 
ever that might be, hope need not be given up. 
It would somehow still be possible to save peace for 
France and for Europe. 

" Yes, yes," interposed M. Daladier, " but at what 

" We have the Maginot Linei" M. Bonnet 
answered, " no one can take us by surprise." 

This answer was not calculated to cheer M. Dala- 
dier, who had himself been Minister for War for years. 
He sent for General Gamelin, Chief of the General 
Staff, to discuss once again with him the strategic 
position of France. For if the Godesberg negotia- 
tions were to break down, would France give way 
to Hitler once again? No. This time France 
would stand fast and defy Hitler, even if such an 
attitude led to war. 

General Gamelin came in. He had already taken 
all possible steps to prepare France for the worst. 
He could not act alone. He had to get the per- 
mission of the Head of the Government. For more 
extensive preparations he required the permission 
of the Cabinet, and if war were declared, the per- 
mission of Parliament. 

Up to this moment 110,000 reservists had been 
called to the colours. This was obviously not 
enough, for Germany had already nearly two 
million men under arms. But, if necessary, France 
could also mobilise two million men at short notice ; 
for that, however, the consent of the Council of 
Ministers was essential. General GameUn knew 
only too well that M. Bonnet had said that as long 


as he was in the Cabinet there would be no war. 
And on that fateful Thursday, the 22nd of September, 
M. Bonnet still held a seat in the Cabinet. He 
will be there for a long time yet. 

As soon as his guest had sat down, the Prime 
Minister asked if there was anything new to report. 
The forceful face of the French Commander-in- 
Chief remained grave. 

He had further news from the second Bureau of 
the French Secret Intelligence in Germany. The 
general mood was one of despair. The whole 
population was dead against war, and it might be 
expected that the first military reverse would destroy 
the National Socialist regime. Disaffection reigned 
in mihtary circles. They were dissatisfied with 
Hitler's policy and said that it was heading for 
war. They knew that Germany could not sustain 
a lengthy war. The economic position was bad, 
the supplies inadequate. There were even serious 
deficiencies in the army itself. There was a grave 
shortage of officers; a large proportion of the 
rank and file were insufficiently trained. The 
for-tresses that were being built along the Rhine 
were inadequate. Hitler was bluffing when he had 
said at Nuremberg that they would be ready in three 
months. It would be at least five months before 
they were completed. Concrete, moreover, takes a 
considerable time to dry properly. The French 
were in a position to cope with the Siegfried Line. 

M. Daladier remained thoughtful, but felt that 
his country was not sufficiently prepared either. 
France's war output had suffered severely from the 
strikes of the last few months. They had got into 


General Gamelin waved this argument aside, saying 
that they were admirably prepared for a start. The 
moment war broke out, their factories would all be 
placed on a war footing. They would amply 
suffice the country's needs. There was no need to 
worry about that. France was mihtarily prepared. 
As soon as the mobilisation order was issued they 
would have sixty divisions promptly ready for action. 
Did not France possess a first-rate Colonial army of 
five million men ? 

M. Daladier urged that France's air force was weak 
and that Germany's was excellent. 

This fact was admitted by General Gamelin, but he 
thought it no cause for alarm. The French, British 
and Russian air forces together were more than a 
match for Germany. Moreover the United States 
would supply France and England with planes. 
Further, the war was not going to be decided in the 
air. It would be decided solely by the infantry and 
artillery. And the country could fully rely on them. 

M. Daladier dismissed his Chief of the General Staff, 
saying that he would inform him of his decision later. 

The three malcontent Ministers, Reynaud, Mandel 
and Champetier de Ribes, were already waiting in 
the Prime Minister's antechamber. They told him 
their intention of resigning immediately. 

M. Daladier had expected this, and was prepared 
for it. He succeeded in convincing his colleagues that 
nothing would be more dangerous for France at the 
moment than a Cabinet crisis. He reminded them 
that last spring, when France was in the middle of a 
Cabinet crisis of several days. Hitler had marched 
into Austria. 


Moreover there was a hitch in the Godesberg 
negotiations. Things looked black. If the negotia- 
tions broke down, they would need a united Cabinet 
more than ever. 

On being asked what would happen then, M. Dala- 
dier replied that they would have to take energetic 
action. This would be decided upon in the Council 
of Ministers. 

After a short discussion the three Ministers 
decided not to withdraw their threat of resignation, 
but for the moment not to press the point. They 
left the threat hanging over M. Daladier's head like 
the sword of Damocles. 

Letters Across the Rhine 

Mr. Chamberlain worked late on the night of 
Thursday, 22nd September, conferring with London 
and Paris, and what he had heard was not calculated 
to reassure him. 

On the Friday mortiing the situation was extremely 
complicated : Hitler had made new proposals which 
London and Paris could hardly accept, and which 
they assuredly could not force on Prague. If he 
insisted that the Sudeten German areas must 
immediately be occupied by the German military 
forces, the Czech army would unquestionably offer 
resistance. France would certainly not leave her 
Ally in the lurch this time, for the temper of Paris 
had changed on Thursday. If France were at war 
with Germany, England must hasten to her assist- 
ance, for a military victory of Germany over France 
would be a direct threat to Great Britain. The 
Soviets, too, were not to be forgotten. Prague and 
Paris had concluded pacts of mutual assistance with 


Moscow, and the Russians had declared that they 
would honour their word and hasten to the assist- 
ance of Czechoslovakia. Mr. Chamberlain knew 
perfectly well that these three Allies could smash 
Germany. But apart from the horrors of such a war, 
what was to follow it ? Once the Soviets had got a 
footing in Central Europe, would they voluntarily 
withdraw ? Would not the defeat of Germany mean 
the outbreak of Communism in Central Europe ? 

There is nothing the English Lords and Con- 
servatives dread more than the bogey of Com- 
munism. They prefer National Socialist Germany, 
even if in her new strength she were to threaten 
England and the British Empire. 

War must therefore at all costs be averted. 
Negotiations must somehow be continued. But 
how? Would it be possible to induce Hitler to 
show some degree of moderation ? Mr. Chamber- 
lain had his doubts. But he decided to " try again ", 
and this time to vary his tactics. 

A terrace of the Hotel Dreesen had been set aside 
for journalists; they were waiting there in acute 
suspense. They all knew that yesterday's con- 
ference between the two statesmen had been in some 
degree unsatisfactory. They had been despatching 
their cables and telephoning their messages till late 
into the night, and had begun again at dawn. Now 
they were waiting, gazing down into the Rhine, 
watching the spot where Mr. Chamberlain must 
come ashore after crossing the river from his head- 
quarters on the other bank. His steamer was 
sighted. He would be over in a few minutes. 

" But that's not Chamberlain ! " ejaculated one of 
the journalists who was watching through a field-glass. 


Everyone pricked up his ears. They all felt that 
they were witnessing a dramatic event. Mr. 
Chamberlain had not come. It was one of his 
secretaries who had stepped out of the car and 
disappeared into the Hotel Dreesen. 

Straightway there was a general rush for the 
telephone-boxes. Mr. Chamberlain had not come; 
he had sent instead a secretary with a letter. This 
letter is No. 3 in the English White Paper. It runs : 

'* I am ready to put to the Czech Government your 
proposal as to the areas, so that they may examine 
the suggested provisional boundary. So far as I can 
see, there is no need to hold a plebiscite for the bulk 
of the areas, i.e, for those areas which, according to 
statistics upon which both sides seem to agree, are 
predominantly Sudeten German areas. 

*' I have no doubt, however, that the Czech Govern- 
ment would be willing to accept your proposals for a 
plebiscite to determine how far, if at all, the proposed 
new frontier need be adjusted. 

*' The difficulty I see about the proposal you put to 
me yesterday afternoon arises from the suggestion that 
the areas should in the immediate future be occupied 
by German troops. I recognise the difficulty of con- 
ducting a lengthy investigation under existing con- 
ditions, and doubdess the plan you propose would, if 
it were acceptable, provide an immediate ceasing of 
the tension. 

*' But I do not think you have realised the impos- 
sibility of my agreeing to put forward any plan, unless 
I have reason to suppose that it will be considered by 
public opinion in my country, in France, and indeed 
in the world generally, as carrying out the principles 
already agreed upon in an orderly fashion and free 
from the threat of force. 

" I am sure that an attempt to occupy forthwith by 
German troops areas which will become part of the 
Reich at once in principle, and very shortly afterwards 
by formal delimitation, would be condemned as an 
unnecessary display of force. 


*' Even if I felt it right to put this proposal to the 
Czech Government, I am convinced that they would 
not regard it as being in the spirit of the arrangement 
which we and the French Government urged them to 
accept, and which they have accepted. 

" In the event of German troops moving into the 
areas, as you propose, there is no doubt that the 
Czech Government would have no option but to order 
the forces to resist, and this would mean the destruction 
of the basis upon which you and I a week ago agreed 
to work together — namely, an orderly settlement of this 
question rather than a settlement by the use of force. 

" It being agreed in principle that the Sudeten 
German areas are to join the Reich, the immediate 
question before us is how to maintain law and order 
pending the final settlement of the arrangements for 
the transfer." 

Early that morning Adolf Hitler had summoned 
Generals Keitel, Brauchitsch and Reichenau to dis- 
cuss the situation with them once again. He pointed 
out that negotiations might very probably break 
down. If so, the march across the Czechoslovak 
frontier must begin at midnight. 

Hitler was painfully taken aback v^hen Mr. 
Chamberlain did not come. He was in a worse 
temper than ever before, and let his entourage feel it. 
When the German translation of Mr. Chamberlain's 
letter was laid before him, however, the Chancellor 
breathed again. Beneath the firmness of the 
phrasing he detected an undercurrent of readiness 
to give in. Mr. Chamberlain had already given in 
over the plebiscite question when Hitler had insisted. 
He was still holding out against the immediate 
occupation of the Sudeten areas by German troops. 
This is a point on which Hitler would not give 
way. He had not mobilised his forces for nothing; 
he would not rob them of their triumph. More- 


over, he wanted to give such a display of force as 
would make an impression on the peoples of Eastern 
Europe. Above all, he was determined to get the 
Czech frontier fortresses into his hands ; otherwise the 
whole business was futile. He was not greatly con- 
cerned about freeing his German brothers from the 
yoke of a free and democratic Czechoslovakia ; his 
primary ambition was to remove from his path the 
great obstacle to his progress eastwards: Czecho- 
slovakia. This point he could not yield. 

He went cautiously to work, however. He sent 
a brief answer to Mr. Chamberlain acknowledging 
the receipt of the British Prime Minister's letter and 
stating that he hoped to reply more fully in the 
course of the day. The secretary brought this letter 
back to Mr. Chamberlain at Petersberg. 

Feeling a shade more hopeful, Mr. Chamberlain 
rang up London. He told Lord Halifax that it 
looked as if there were still some chance of an 
agreement. Hitler had not sent an immediate 
reply to Mr. Chamberlain's firm and decisive letter. 
Possibly this was a sign that he was willing to make 

The Prime Minister then had a chat with Mrs. 
Chamberlain and conversations with some political 
and personal friends. He looked out over the lovely 
landscape of the Rhine the while — and waited for 
Hitler's answer. 

Meanwhile, M. Bonnet learnt via London, that in 
spite of everything there was still a gleam of hope. 
He hastened to communicate this to the French 
Prime Minister and his other colleagues. M. Daladier 
received a deputation from his Party. The Socialists 
and the Communists had demanded the immediate 


summoning of the Chamber ; the Radical Sociahsts 
had opposed it. M. Daladier approved the refusal, 
but would not commit himself to stating definitely 
what France would do if the Godesberg negotiations 
broke down. " That depends on circumstances . . ." 
he said, and with that dismissed his Party friends. 

At half-past three in the afternoon a special 
messenger from Hitler was announced. He handed 
over a sealed letter. The translator set feverishly 
to work, as if the peace of the world hung on his 

Mr. Chamberlain could hardly control his im- 
patience. He snatched up the translation, then 
despondently let fall the hand that held the German 
Chancellor's reply. Hitler's answer scattered all 
his hopes to the winds. The German Dictator and 
Imperial Chancellor wrote as follows: (Document 
No. 4 of the English White Paper) : 

" For nearly two decades the Germans, as well as 
the various other nationalities in Czechoslovakia, have 
been maltreated in the most unworthy manner, 
tortured, economically destroyed, and above all 
prevented from realising for themselves the right of 
nations to self-determination. 

. " All attempts of the oppressed to change their lot 
failed in the face of the brutal will to destruction of 
the Czechs. The latter were in possession of the 
power of the State, and did not hesitate to employ it 
ruthlessly and barbarically. England and France 
have never made an endeavour to alter this situation. 

" If formerly the behaviour of the Czechoslovak 
Government was brutal, it can only be described during 
recent weeks and days as madness. The victims of 
this madness are innumerable Germans. 

" In a few weeks the number of refugees who have 
been driven out has risen to over 120,000. This 
situation as stated above is unbearable, and wiU now 
be terminated by me. 



" What interests me, Your Excellency, is not the 
recognition of the principle that this territory is to go 
to Germany, but solely the realisation which both 
puts an end in the shortest time to the sufferings of 
the unhappy victims of Czech tyranny, and at the 
same time corresponds to the dignity of a great power. 

** For England it is a question at most of poHtical 
imponderables, whereas for Germany it is a question 
of primitive right, of the security of more than three 
miUion human beings and the national honour of a 
great people." 

The telephone rang. In a roundabout manner, 
via London, Mr. Chamberlain learned approxi- 
mately what Hitler had said to his generals yesterday 
and that morning. He learned of fresh concen- 
trations of German troops on the frontiers of 

He talked at great length with London — and told 
of the day's happenings to date. Everyone who 
spoke to him agreed that they were in the highest 
degree discouraging. Mr. Chamberlain requested 
that these facts should be communicated to Paris 
and also the contents of the cypher telephone despatch 
which he sent to London shortly after. 

A few hours later the whole world was stirred to 
intense excitement by the consequences of this 

The Czechs Ready to Fight 

About seven o'clock that Friday evening M. 
Daladier again received the members of the parlia- 
mentary committee of his Party. He said to them : 
" France will aid Czechoslovakia if she is attacked by 
Germany ". 

The Paris correspondents of the Czechoslovak 
newspapers at once communicated this news to 


their editors. It was their last telephone conversa- 
tion with home for a long time. Two hours later 
all telephonic communication had been cut between 
Czechoslovakia and the outer world. Czecho- 
slovakia was on a war footing. 

The new Czechoslovak Government, which had 
been formed on Thursday, took office in a brief 
moment of relative calm. There had been huge 
demonstrations in Prague on the Wednesday and 
Thursday, but now there was a lull. The people, 
however, felt stunned by the treachery of their 
Western friends. Yet none believed that this state 
of affairs was final, especially as rumours had 
reached the public ear that there was a hitch in the 
Godesberg negotiations. 

" Hitler is our last hope ", said a highly-placed 
Czech official to a friend. " He has at last over- 
stepped the utmost limit of the attainable, he will 
ask impossibilities of Chamberlain." He was right 
in his estimate of the German Chancellor. A few 
days, however, sufficed to convince him that he had 
over-rated the firmness and determination of the 
Western Powers. 

President Benes felt a tiny stirring of hope again 
that Friday. He knew that the French party which 
was in favour of making a firm stand against Hitler 
was gaining the upper hand. On the Thursday 
afternoon — only the day before — the Polish Minister 
in Prague had handed in Poland's repudiation of 
the Minority Pact between Poland and Czecho- 
slovakia. PoHsh mihtary forces were mustering on 
the Polish-Czech border. Simultaneously, however, 
there came good news from Moscow. At four 


o'clock on the morning of Thursday, Potemkin, 
the acting Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
had sent for the Polish Charge d' Affaires, and in- 
formed him that if Poland attacked Czechoslovakia, 
Soviet Russia would immediately and without 
further warning break the Polish pact. At the 
same time, Prague received an official answer from 
the Soviet Government to her inquiries. 

Through their Minister in Moscow the Czecho- 
slovak Government had asked : " Does Soviet 
^■tussia consider that recent events have cancelled 
^Bie Russo-Czechoslovak pact of mutual assistance, 
^Kr is the Soviet Government still prepared to come 
Hb Czechoslovakia's assistance if she is attacked by 
Germany ? " 

The answer of the Soviet Government ran : "If 
Czechoslovakia is attacked, Soviet Russia will fulfil 
the obligations arising from the French-Czecho- 
slovak-Soviet pact of mutual assistance ". 

This meant that Soviet Russia was ready to help 
Czechoslovakia if France also fulfilled her obliga- 
tions. But would France fulfil them when she had 
already left Czechoslovakia once in the lurch ? 

President Benes rang up the Czechoslovak 
Legation in Paris. His Minister's report was 

President Benes stepped to the window of his 
study, from which he had a glorious view over the 
city of a hundred towers lying in the valley far 
below. A slight haze lay over the spires and roofs. 
The glorious view that met his eye had in it, as 
always, a touch of melancholy. 

Was this lovely town to be reduced in a few days 
to a heap of ruins ? The German bombers would 


not spare the glorious monuments of architecture, 
once they had their orders to begin. But the 
President was optimistic. He still hoped that even 
now, at the eleventh hour, the appalling catastrophe 
might be averted. He firmly believed that if the 
Powers stood firm, Hitler would abandon his bluff. 
Dr. Benes is a disciple of the French philosophers, he 
clung to thephilosophy of clear logic and its unbending 
laws. He was therefore convinced that Germany 
would not risk a war against overwhelming odds. 
He forgot that in the Europe of to-day the laws of 
logic appear to have lost their vaHdity. Feelings 
and emotions have routed logic. 

The President lingered long at his window. He 
thought on the past and on the future. The 
Czechs had been only a mere twenty years in control. 
Before that, for three hundred years, they had been 
ruled by the Germans of the Habsburg Empire. It 
was no cause for wonder that here and there old 
resentments had asserted themselves, and found 
vent in petty intrigues against which the President 
could do little, even if he came to know of them. 
The State was a democratic Republic, and the 
democratic-bureaucratic machine works slowly. 
Besides, what are twenty years in the life of a State ? 
If Czechoslovakia were given time, Germans and 
Czechs could contrive to live and work together in 
friendship, to the advantage of both nations. It 
was no accident that in this Bohemian land Czechs 
and Germans had lived together for ten centuries. 
The existence of Bohemia was economically and 
politically necessary to Europe. 

And now — it seemed too late. The Czechs had 
denied autonomy to the Germans because they 



feared that they would use it to create a totahtarian 
State within the democratic framework of the 
RepubHc. Would a wise compromise still be 
possible even now, if Germany should give way? 
President Benes optimistically believed that even yet 
a peaceful settlement might be found for the Sudeten 
Germans within the Czechoslovak Republic. 

At this point in his reflections — 6.45 p.m. — his 
secretary entered. The French and British Ministers 
requested an audience. 

The President granted it. 

This time the French Minister spoke first. He 
spoke solemnly and with profound emotion : " The 
French Government ", he said, " have commis- 
sioned me to inform Your Excellency that they no 
longer regard as binding on Czechoslovakia the 
promise she made not to take extraordinary measures 
in the present crisis. She is again free to take any 
steps she thinks imperative for her own safety." 

" His Majesty's Government associates itself 
unreservedly with this declaration ", added the 
British Minister. 

The President replied as calmly as he could : 

" Thank you, gentlemen. We shall promptly 
inform you of whatever measures we take." 

The President knew at once what the Franco- 
British message implied. The Western Powers 
considered that the Godesberg negotiations had 
broken down, and were preparing for the worst. 
They were now giving Czechoslovakia a free hand. 

A council of Cabinet Ministers was summoned 
at once, and attended also by the Members of the 
Ministry of Defence and the Generals of the General 


At twenty minutes past 10 that same Friday 
evening the Czech wireless broadcast the order for 

By eleven o'clock Prague lay in complete darkness. 
The first attack of the German air force was expected. 

But at Godesberg at that moment two men sat 
together in animated conversation. 

The " Supreme Effort " 

Storm-clouds had gathered on the European 
horizon while Chamberlain and Hitler on opposite 
banks of the Rhine had been exchanging letters. 

About four o'clock that afternoon the British 
Prime Minister had sent the following answer to 
Adolf Hitler's letter: 

" My Dear Reichskanzler, 

*' I have received your Excellency's communication 
in reply to my letter of this morning and have taken 
note of its contents. 

"In my capacity as intermediary, it is evidently 
now my duty — since your Excellency maintains 
entirely the position you took last night — to put your 
proposals before the Czechoslovak Government. 

" Accordingly, I request your Excellency to be good 
enough to let me have a memorandum which sets out 
these proposals, together with a map showing the area 
proposed to be transferred, subject to the result of the 
proposed plebiscite. 

" On receiving this memorandum, I will at once 
forward it to Prague and request the reply of the 
Czechoslovak Government at the earliest possible 

" In the meantime, until I can receive their reply, I 
should be glad to have your Excellency's assurance 
that you will continue to abide by the understanding, 
which we reached at our meeting on the 14th September 
and again last night, that no action should be taken, 
particularly in the Sudeten territory, by the forces of 



the Reich to prejudice any further mediation which 
may be found possible. 

" Since the acceptance or refusal of your Excellency's 
proposal is now a matter for the Czechoslovak Govern- 
ment to decide, I do not see that I can perform any 
further service here, whilst, on the other hand, it has 
become necessary that I should at once report the 
present situation to my colleagues and to the French 
Government. I propose, therefore, to return to 

" Yours faithfully, 

" Neville Chamberlain." 

Meanwhile Hitler had shut himself up in, his 
room in the Hotel Dreesen. He paced up and down 
muttering half-inaudibly to himself. 

The unprecedented tension that held the whole 
place under a spell communicated itself to everyone. 
Even the most hard-boiled journalists spoke in 

In a comer of the hotel hall two men carried on 
a discreet conversation; they were von Ribbentrop 
and Sir Nevile Henderson. 

Ribbentrop suggested that if war were to break 
out now, it would be over a mere question of pro- 
cedure, as the whole question had already been 
decided upon in principle. 

Sir Nevile agreed, but called attention to the 
serious differences on the main question, to which 
Ribbentrop replied that it made no real difference 
whether the German forces occupied the Sudeten 
areas then or later. 

The immediate occupation of the areas was vital 
to Germany's prestige, according to Ribbentrop, 
but Sir Nevile felt that it was no less vital to England's 
prestige that the whole problem should be settled 


Finally the two diplomats agreed that a further 
meeting between Mr. Chamberlain and Hitler was 
absolutely essential, and each undertook to ensure 
that it should be arranged. 

Before this last interview took place, Europe had 
anticipated its result. Prague, as we know, had 
ordered mobihsation as a direct consequence of the 
cypher telephone despatch which Mr. Chamberlain 
had sent to London a few hours before, and which 
had brought about the joint communication made 
by the French and British Ministers to President 
Benes. There had been a Cabinet meeting in Paris, 
which General Gamelin had attended, and which 
had authorised further mobilisation measures. 
Moscow was transporting more and more troops to 
her western frontiers. There was talk of an army 
of two million men. Finally, the English Minister 
for War, Mr. Hore-BeHsha, cut short his tour of 
inspection in the provinces and flew with all haste 
to London. 

Just before 10.30 p.m. Mr. Chamberlain alighted 
from his car to bid Hitler farewell. 

The journalists eagerly awaited his reappearance 
to be able to transmit the sensational news to the 
world. But Mr. Chamberlain did not reappear. 
The journalists had to wait three hours that chilly 
evening in the night air before he at last emerged. 

Midnight Talks 

If Mr. Chamberlain had expected to find a stem 
and angry man, he had miscalculated. Hitler was 
transformed as he resumed conversations in the 
hall of the hotel shortly after 10.30. 

Stifiiy Mr. Chamberlain announced that he had 



come to say good-bye, much regretting that he had 
to return to London with such a result. The 
consequences would be incalculable. 

But Hitler had prepared the Memorandum for 
which Mr. Chamberlain had asked and had it with 

Mr. Chamberlain took the Memorandum and 
began to study it. It was written in German, but 
there was an English translation alongside. Germany 
demanded the immediate cession of the areas marked 
on the accompanying map and their occupation by 
German troops before the 1 st of October. Plebiscites 
must be held in the other areas, marked green on 
the map, before the end of November, and the new 
boundaries of Czechoslovakia laid down in ac- 
ordance with the results of these plebiscites either 
y a German-Czech or by an International Com- 

ission. Germany demanded that all movable and 
immovable property should be left behind in the 
areas which were to be occupied by the German 
forces. No one, not even private persons, could be 
permitted to carry anything away if they wished to 
move into Czech territory. The Memorandum 
was couched in language not usually employed in 
diplomatic documents. 

Chamberlain read the Memorandum through, 
then turned his gaze on Hitler, who sat motionless. 

The German Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop, 
Sir Nevile Henderson, and Mr. Chamberlain's 
adviser, Sir Horace Wilson, sat in another corner 
of the room and followed the historic conversation 
with strained attention. 

Mr. Chamberlain said firmly that he thought 
that the document was not a memorandum, but an 



ultimatum ; but Hitler answered that such was the 
will of the German people. There had been no 
previous talk, objected Mr. Chamberlain, of fixing a 
given date for the occupation of the Sudeten areas. 
And now the 1st of October was given. The short- 
ness of the time left httle prospect open for use- 
ful discussion. 

France and England, Hitler then argued, had 
recognised Germany's just right to the Sudeten 
areas. Czechoslovakia had accepted Germany's 
demands. But he did not trust the good faith 
of the Czechs. They wanted to gain time to 
mobilise the war-mongers in France, England and 
Russia for their cause, and he had no great opinion 
of international negotiations and commissions, but 
intended to secure his right and his people with 

Would not England and France be a sufficient 
guarantee? asked Mr. Chamberlain, but Hitler's 
simple and unambiguous reply was that Germany's 
arms were the best guarantee of Germany's rights. 

Mr. Chamberlain now urged Hitler to consider 
what it would mean if he took the steps proposed. 
France would hasten to the assistance of Czecho- 
slovakia. He reminded him that the French Army 
was still considered the best in Europe. 

Hitler remained unmoved. 

He knew that the French Army was good. But 
Germany had completed a line of fortifications 
along their western frontier. These fortifications 
would hold up a French advance, and by that time 
they would have finished their job in the east. 
Besides, the French Air Force was poor. The Chief 
of the French Air Force, General Vuillemin, had 




been in Germany a month before. He had been 
able to convince himself of the quality of Germany's 
Air Force. If Germany's bombers laid a few 
French towns in ruins there would be a revolution 
in France. 

Chamberlain wondered what would happen if 
the French, Russian and Czech bombers attacked 
German towns, to which Hitler replied that there 
would be no German revolution. The Red bandits 
in Prague and Moscow would like to think it. 
And that was why he must have the business with 
Prague ended by the 1st of October. Czecho- 
slovakia was nothing but a Red arrow in Germany's 
side. Until Czechoslovakia was overthrown and 
Soviet Russia driven from Europe, there would be 
no peace in that Continent. 

Hitler repeated all the old arguments which have 
filled the German Press for years. This time, 
however, they made no impression, for Mr. Chamber- 
lain was putting all the bulldog tenacity of an 
obstinate Englishman into his task of saving the 
peace of Europe. 

England, he said, had repeatedly declared that 
she would not stand aside if France became involved 
in a war with Germany. The sympathy of the 
United States was with the European democracies, 
and they could count from the first on America's 
economic help and on her supplying them with 
munitions. Once war had started, who could tell 
how things would develop? He asked Hitler to 
remember the World War. 

This time Chamberlain seemed to have hit the 
mark. He was not himself aware of it, but Hitler, 
and with him many of the National Socialist leaders. 


have an almost superstitious terror of the power 
of the mighty democracy over the sea. All Hitler's 
attempts to win for himself the friendship of the 
United States had failed. Germany has few friends 
in America. This fact emerges unmistakably on 
every occasion of crisis. And Hitler is anything 
but happy about it. 

Making an effort to conceal his uneasiness, 
Hitler said that no one would really believe that the 
United States would go to war with Germany. 
They had had enough unpleasant experiences in the 
last war and would turn their backs on Europe. 

Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that he had good 
reason to be convinced of what he had said. Not 
only public opinion in England, but public opinion 
in many other democratic countries would be out- 
raged by the Memorandum which Hitler had just 
handed him. France and Czechoslovakia would 
reject it, and on the 1st of October we should have 
a war in Europe of which no man could foresee when 
or how it would end. 

There would be no war, unless France and England 
wished, replied Hitler. Czechoslovakia had been 
forced to accept the main thing, and the British and 
French Governments would be able to compel her 
to acquiesce also in the method of procedure. 

Mr. Chamberlain refused to discuss the matter 
further. If the question found no peaceful settle- 
ment, he said, the whole responsibihty would rest on 
Hitler's shoulders in the eyes of the entire world. 

Hitler swung round. In that soft, wooing voice 
with which when he was still only a speaker at 
mass meetings, he had enlisted hundreds of thousands 
for his cause (especially women), he expressed his 




heartfelt admiration for Mr. Chamberlain's efforts. 
Europe should be grateful to him, for once already 
had Hitler abstained from violent action for Mr. 
Chamberlain's sake, but he would not do it a second 
time. If the Czechs did not voluntarily withdraw 
by the 1st of October, he would give the order to' 
march. It was not only a question of prestige or of 
the security of the German people which compelled 
him. Once before, on the 21st of last May, the 
Czechs had been able to flatter themselves that they 
had frightened him. This behef of theirs had been 
false, but dangerous. If Hitler did not act this 
time, how many helpless Sudeten Germans would 
pay the penalty ? 

Mr. Chamberlain ventured to suggest, seeking an 
acceptable formula for agreement, a force of inter- 
national police to maintain order in the Sudeten 
country, but Hitler would not hear of such an 
arrangement. The Sudeten areas would be occupied 
by German troops. If the Czechs would not peace- 
fully permit the occupation, Germany would 
occupy the territories by force. Sufficient proof 
had been given of his good will, in cancelling, 
for Mr. Chamberlain's sake, the military measures 
which had already been taken. Had Mr. Chamber- 
lain not come to Berchtesgaden the week before, the 
whole business would have been already settled. 

Mr. Chamberlain retorted that Europe would 
then have been plunged in war, but Hitler emphatic- 
ally denied this. He did not believe that France 
would have stirred a finger. Germany would have 
entered Prague within a few days, and they would have 
dictated to the Czechs boundaries very different from 
those which he now conceded to Mr. Chamberlain. 


Mr. Chamberlain was profoundly shaken. Anything 
he might attempt to do seemed hopeless. He was 
about to get up to say good-bye; instead he asked 
if he might have a few words with Hitler alone 
before he went. 

Hitler agreed. For the third time within a week 
the two men were alone together. 

Once more Hitler turned his soft side to Mr. 
Chamberlain. There is no doubt that he set himself 
to win the Englishman over. 

Germany was asking nothing but her rights, he 
pleaded. It would have been a simple thing for 
her to have attacked Czechoslovakia by force. 
Their detailed plans were ready. The Siegfried 
Line protected their western frontier. The Russians 
would have had to march through Rumania to help 
the Czechs, for the Poles would not have let them 
cross Poland. That would have brought the 
Rumanians in on Germany's side. Long before 
western help could have begun to operate, Germany 
would have seized Czechoslovakia and allied them- 
selves with Rumania. They would then have had 
suppHes enough from Rumania, Hungary and 
Czechoslovakia to fight and win a long war. 
Meantime Italy would have held France in check. 
Britain's job would not have been nearly so easy as 
many of their Western newspaper scribblers imagined. 
They had no true conception of the strength and 
determination of the German people. In spite of 
everything, Germany nevertheless wanted peace. 
Hitler's policy had always been clear. He had 
always said that there were still ten million Germans 
in Europe who must be reunited to their Mother- 
country. He had also always spoken of his peaceful 




intentions, and he had so far kept his promise. The 
anschluss with Austria had been accompHshed with- 
out his firing a shot. The anschluss of the Sudeten 
country should be equally peaceful. Only if the 
Czechs and their Red alHes offered resistance, fear 
would not deter them from using their tanks and 
aircraft. They would only be performing a service 
to Europe. 

Mr. Chamberlain could find no suitable reply to 
this vehement outburst. He could only repeat what 
he had already said several times before, and said 
without success. He could only point out the 
dangers which would arise from this procedure : the 
anger that European civihsation would be laid in 

ins for a long time to come. Hitler paid no 
ttention to all this, nor to anything else which 
Mr. Chamberlain brought forward. When once he 
had incorporated in the Reich all the Germans who 
were living on the outskirts of Germany, he would 
have no further territorial ambitions in Europe, he 

Chamberlain remained silent. 

Germany, continued Hitler, had always been 
deeply anxious not only to come to terms with Eng- 
land, but to live in genuine friendship with her. After 
all, they were two peoples of the same Germanic race. 
Why should there be discord between them ? Hitler 
also reminded Mr. Chamberlain that he had already 
demonstrated his readiness to be friends by con- 
cluding the Naval Agreement with England. He 
was ready to sign an Air Agreement, a Non- Aggres- 
sion Pact and a Pact of Friendship. England and 
■Oermany were racially predestined to rule Europe 
^Knd the World. 


Mr. Chamberlain was not anxious to enter into a 
discussion of race. An Englishman practises race 
discrimination, but he never speaks of it. On the 
other hand, Hitler's declaration of friendship was 
something which the British Premier could seize 

Great Britain was equally anxious to live at peace 
with Germany, he said eagerly. Friendship was 
tested only when the moment came to prove it. 
Hitler had now the opportunity of proving it. If 
he would waive his demands in this matter — since 
the question had already been decided in principle 
in Germany's favour — he would prove that he 
really desired England's friendship. 

Hitler hesitated. But he did not hesitate long 
enough to let Mr. Chamberlain hope afresh. 

He said that he could not and would not give way, 
but could once more assure Mr. Chamberlain that 
he was ready to open every kind of negotiation with 
England when once the Sudeten problem had been 
solved. Nothing would then stand between them. 

After a moment's reflection Hitler added that 
there was of course still the question of Colonies 
which must be settled. A powerful Empire like 
Germany could not be forcibly prevented from 
continuing its colonising mission. But he added 
in a conciliatory tone that Germany would have no 
mobilisations on that subject. With a little goodwill 
on both sides that little problem could easily be 
settled in a friendly way. 

Mr. Chamberlain answered that he was assuming 
a good will in that matter, which he gave no sign 
of showing himself in the question of Czechoslovakia. 

The Czechoslovak question. Hitler pointed out, 


touched the German people very closely. He could 
not allow foreigners to interfere when they were 
about to settle matters their own way. 

Mr. Chamberlain saw that they were talking at 
cross purposes. This man would not be convinced 
by argument. It was late, and he thought resignedly 
that they had better end their conference. 

The two men returned to the hall. Ribbentrop 
and Sir Nevile Henderson saw at a glance that no 
agreement had been reached between the two states- 

The four continued the conversation for a litde 
while, but it now turned on irrelevant or unim- 
portant matters. Once more in the course of con- 
versation Mr. Chamberlain made an attempt to 
induce Hitler to alter his point of view, but he knew 
beforehand that the attempt was useless. Finally 
they drew up a brief communique, and Mr. Chamber- 
lain said that he would forward Hitler's Memoran- 
dum to the Government in Prague, but he scarcely 
thought that the French and British Governments 
would be able to recommend Prague to accept it. 

Had he been hoping that Hitler would turn right- 
about, now, at the last moment? If so, he was 

Courteous phrases and handshakes were exchanged, 
and Mr. Chamberlain stepped out into the night air. 

He was surrounded by journalists. Wearily he 
told them that negotiations had not completely 
broken down. 





Five days had elapsed between the Saturday morning 
on which Mr. Chamberlain entered the aeroplane at 
Cologne to return to London and the following 
Thursday, the 29th September, when, at 8.30 in the 
morning, he once more entered the aeroplane which 
was to take him to Munich, where he was to attend 
the Conference of Four. 

One hundred and twenty hours had shaken Europe 
— the worst hours which it had to pass through in 
this crisis. 

War seemed inevitable. The negotiations had 
broken down, and further talks were useless. 
With whom and on what subject was it still possible 
to negotiate? People had to famiharise themselves 
with the idea that on the 1st of October the guns 
would begin to speak, since the speech of European 
statesmen was not loud enough to bring Germany to 
her senses. 

When night fell, the people of Europe had every 
reason to suppose that they would find their Con- 
tinent in a state of war on awaking next morning. 
Yet there was no panic : people seemed hypnotised 
by fear of the inevitable, and prepared to meet 
their destiny. 

Spain and China had taught every European the 
horrors of warfare. All had seen pictures of the 
smoking ruins which once had been cities, of dead 
children and women slaughtered by enemy aircraft. 


The fate of Guernica and the bombardment of 
Shanghai, Taerchewang and other Chinese cities had 
not been forgotten. And it was certain that if war 
broke out in Europe on the 1st of October, it would 
be a hundred times more hideous than the events 
taking place in China and Spain. 

Europe's resources v/ere at an end. It had added 
fuel to the flames until it was threatened itself. The 
heads of the European democracies had proved 
incapable of countering Germany's bluff by bluff, 
of thus preventing war, and of confining Germany 
within due limits. And now the peoples seemed 
doomed to pay with their blood for this ineptitude 
of European statesmanship. 

The two protagonists of the drama, Germany and 
Czechoslovakia, were ready. The latter had mobi- 
Hsed, and the former did not require mobilisation, 
since she had been armed to the teeth for weeks. 
France, the third chief Power concerned, was pre- 
paring at accelerated speed. Russia observed a 
threatening silence. In London gas-masks were 
distributed to the population. Italy had com- 
pleted a secret mobilisation and had taken certain 
economic measures. Belgium, which had suffered 
ruin during the Great War, was anxiously waiting 
to see whether the Germans would once again 
violate her neutraUty. Even the minor States, which 
normally stand aside from Europe's major politics, 
were taking steps. Switzerland had mined every 
road and railway leading across her frontiers, and 
issued pubUc notices that they would be blown up 
on the outbreak of war. In Denmark coastguards 
and sailors whose period of service was due to 
expire were retained. The Netherlands Govern- 


ment had determined to increase the effective number 
of the army. 

By order of the Pope masses of intercession for 
peace were celebrated in 423 churches. 

The peoples of Europe saw the end of their 
civilisation approaching, and prepared for death. 

President BeneS sees Hitler's Work 

Czechoslovakia, too, prepared for death. The 
train loads of men who were being carried to 
their threatened frontiers knew that in all proba- 
bility they would not return home again. And 
if they did return, what would they find? Prague 
was a bare hour's flight from the nearest German 
aerodrome. All possible measures of safety had 
been taken, and Prague was surrounded by anti- 
aircraft guns; but these would be of little avail 
against the vast superiority of German aircraft. 
All Czechoslovakia knew that at best it could resist 
Hitler's forces for six weeks, and that within these 
six weeks the entire country would be turned into a 
desolate heap of ruins. There was, further, the 
Polish threat. Poland, itself possessing a Ukrainian 
minority of six miUions, thought the moment oppor- 
tune to raise a claim upon the 100,000 Poles living 
in Czechoslovakia. 

But the Czechs are a sturdy nation : their thousand 
years of national Hfe has not been easy. There 
had been times before when the Czech nation had 
seemed no longer to exist, and yet on each occasion 
they had held their own. 

In Prague the man in the street knew well 
enough what was at stake. He knew what the 
Western statesmen did not quite realise, that now 


was the time to stop Germany's Drang nach Osten, 
and thus to prevent her from achieving the hege- 
mony of Europe. The Czechs knew this, and were 
ready to do their duty by their country and Europe. 

On the Saturday evening the British Minister in 
Prague had handed Hitler's memorandum and map 
to President Benes. 

The President had asked whether the British 
Government made any recommendations to Czecho- 
slovakia with regard to the memorandum, and had 
been answered in the negative. A similar reply had 
been received from Paris. 

And now the entire Czechoslovak Government 

^as assembled around the big table in the President's 

:onference-room, before them the map of the new 

Czechoslovakia — the Czechoslovakia Ci la Hitler. 

[Apart from members of the Government, there were 

lembers of the General Staff and of the body of 

)ohtical advisers whose function it is to assist the 


Before them was the map with the districts marked 
in red and the green Hues surrounding plebiscite 
areas. What they saw was grave enough. The 
new State would lose all its raw materials — lignite, 
timber, china-clay, iron and radium. It would be 
deprived of hops for Pilsen beer, and Prague would 
be without electric current, as the Prague electricity 
works were in the mixed-language district near Most. 

Pilsen, with the vast Skoda works, would become 
a frontier town, and almost the entire textile industry, 
together with the glass, china, paper, chemical and 
dye industries, would pass into German hands. 
Further, the two most important railway lines of 
the country — that from Prague to Brno, and that 


from Prague to Moravska Ostrava — would have to 
cross German territory in two places. 

While other Ministers were sceptical, President 
Benes remained optimistic. Neither Paris nor Lon- 
don insisted on the acceptance of the terms, and he 
still thought that Germany would be frightened if 
she saw that the Western Powers meant business. 
In that case reasonable negotiations might be 
possible. At the same time one consideration re- 
mained. Czechoslovakia had agreed in principle 
to cede purely German districts to Germany, and 
if there were to be further negotiations, Czecho- 
slovakia would have to honour this pledge. 

War or Peace? 

The breakdown of the Godesberg negotiations 
had roused the Western statesmen from their 
lethargy for a few days, and had inspired more 
energetic action. Now that war seemed inevitable, 
the necessary preparations were made with varying 
degrees of intensity. 

In Paris, as we know, there had been a meeting 
of Ministers on the night preceding Saturday the 
24th September. General Gamelin had been 
present at these consultations, at which it was 
decided to take all measures not requiring a 
resolution of the Council of Ministers, meeting 
under the chairmanship of the President of the 
Republic. In the process, certain laws and regula- 
tions admittedly received rather cavalier treatment : 
but there was no need to worry about such matters 
now. It was necessary to prepare France at any 
rate for the first assault: long before this was 


achieved, the necessary resolutions of the Cabinet 
and Chamber would be forthcoming. 

On this Saturday morning France had nearly a 
million and a quarter men under arms, and the Paris 
Gare de I'Est was still thronged with reservists. 
M. Daladier said to his friends, " I have done every- 
thing permitted by my powers. Further measures 
will require fresh resolutions." 

The attitude of the population towards these events 
was followed with anxious interest ; but the popula- 
tion remained remarkably passive, and no definite 
attitude was observable. This was natural : for the 
French were not only badly informed, but had been 
dehberately misled by the Press. Whether from 
conviction or design, the major papers had for weeks 
been stressing the need of preserving peace at all 
costs : the majority of the French Press was serving 
the cause of defeatism. The people had not been 
told that the present need was to show firmness 
in order to preserve peace and, should that be 
impossible, to anticipate the more disastrous war 
which an immediate future would certainly bring. 
The heads of the French Government now saw, 
to their dismay, the effects of such tendentious 

Behind the scenes Georges Bonnet, the inde- 
fatigable " Angel of Peace-at-all-costs ", was active, 
influencing the Press, sowing dissension within the 
Government, and striving against France's Eastern 

On the same Saturday, Signor Mussolini, whose 
chance was soon to come although he did not know 
it, appeared to have lost his nerve. He had deUvered 
a militant speech at Belluno : " Our enemies beyond 


the Alps ", he said, " are far too stupid to become 
dangerous to us ". In commenting on this speech 
the French Press did not hesitate to say that Musso- 
Hni had not meant France, but only the enemies of 
Fascism in general beyond the Alps. 

On the same Saturday big posters were shown in 
German cities like Frankfurt-on-Main, Lorrach and 
Baden, bearing the inscription : " Two and a half 
millions of Swiss Germans await their liberation ". 

On the same Saturday Herr Hitler returned to 
Berlin and Mr. Chamberlain to London. The 
latter conferred with his friend Lord Halifax. 
Later, before the meeting of the Cabinet, he spoke 
with Mr. Hore-Belisha, the War Minister. 

At five o'clock the Cabinet met at No. 10. The 
Prime Minister reported on the breakdown at 
Godesberg and read out the Memorandum. The 
map attached to it was also submitted. 

No resolutions were reached by the Cabinet on 
this day. The general impression prevailed that the 
Memorandum could hardly serve as a basis for 
further negotiation, and the matter was postponed 
until the following day. MM. Daladier and Bonnet 
had already been asked to come to London, and 
the problem would be discussed jointly with them. 
It is possible also that many circles in London and 
Paris still beheved that the Prague Government 
would, after all, accept the Memorandum, and that 
an easy way out of the difficulty would thus be found. 

But no recommendation in this sense was made to 
Prague by either capital. The necessary energy was 
lacking. Instead it was preferred to prepare for the 
inevitable, in the hope that Germany might still be 
deterred at the last moment. 


But already it was too late. Herr Hitler felt that 
he had succeeded in " neutraUsing " Britain in a 
sense, and, seeing how slight were the preparations 
made by Britain for a possible war, he was firmly 
convinced that France would not move without 

A witty British diplomat once said : " If France 
makes war without asking us, we naturally join in. 
If France asks us whether she should make war, of 
course we say no." 

A Rainy Sunday 

Sunday the 25th of September was an unpleasant 
day. Autumn had come early, with cold and wet 
weather. A chilly wind blew through the streets of 
Paris, which were almost entirely empty. Nature 
seemed to have adapted herself to events. 

But though the Paris streets were empty, it did not 
follow that poUtical activity had come to a standstill. 
Early in the forenoon M. Bonnet had received 
Sir Eric Phipps, the British Ambassador. The 
British Government was anxious to know what 
attitude France would take up at the present juncture. 
The Foreign Minister, however, was unable to give 
a satisfactory answer, because at the moment he 
did not know whether he would be Foreign Minister 
at the end of the day. 

The ministerial crisis had indeed again become 
acute, and those members of the Cabinet who were 
dissatisfied with the attitude hitherto taken up by 
the Government, were insisting on a firm line by 
France, coupled with a plain intimation to London 
that France would abide by her treaty obligations 
to Czechoslovakia. Their wish was to enforce their 


own policy, which was that Paris should advise 
Prague summarily to reject all concessions to Ger- 
many, and thus to create a definite fait accompli. 
Advice in this sense was actually reaching Prague 
from many sources: so far, however, the desired 
answer had not been given. 

M. Bonnet naturally opposed such a course, which, 
he thought, would involve France in war : his attitude 
being that war must be avoided at all costs. He 
knew that this attitude met with the approval of 
many members of the British Government. The 
latter, indeed, was completely in accord with his 
initiative in compelUng Prague to accept the first 

The mid-day papers had announced that the two 
Ministers would leave for London early in the 
afternoon, and the aeroplane to take them there 
was waiting at the Le Bourget aerodrome. First, 
however, a Cabinet had to be held. The outlook 
was uncertain. 

The Cabinet met at two o'clock: and the crisis 
failed to materialise. M. Daladier, reporting on the 
Godesberg negotiations in accordance with London 
advices, informed his colleagues regarding the con- 
tents of Hitler's memorandum, and submitted Hitler's 
map of the new Czechoslovakia. 

A heated debate ensued. The three .malcontents, 
MM. Reynaud, Mandel and Champetier de Ribes, 
laid down their point of view, and were joined 
by three further Ministers, MM. Jean Zay, 
Campinchi and Queille. Tension was growing, and 
an open breach within the Cabinet began to threaten. 
Yet a Government crisis was highly to be deprecated. 
The French Ministers were expected in London, and 


it had already been found necessary to telephone to 
London to say that they would be coming later 
because the morning negotiations and the protracted 
meeting of the Cabinet Council had detained them 
in Paris. 

And indeed a Cabinet crisis would be extremely 
awkward at the moment, for, though it would 
certainly be possible to fill vacancies left by resigna- 
tions, Sunday was not the day for such measures. 

The upshot of a lengthy debate eventually was that 
France would report in London that it would no 
longer recommend the Prague Government to 
accept the Memorandum, and that it would recom- 
mend the British Government to take up a firm 
attitude with regard to Germany. Further decisions 
were to be taken when the Ministers returned from 
London. After all, it was essential first to know the 
British Government's views. 

A car rushed through the empty streets of Paris, 
and tliirty-five minutes later an aeroplane rose into 
the air to fly to London in the wind and rain. 

At half-past six M. Jan Masaryk, the Czech 
Minister, in London, called on Lord Hahfax. 
The son of the founder of Czechoslovakia, Jan 
Masaryk had been serving as Minister in London 
for a number of years. In society he was known as 
a man of wit and imperturbable good temper. He 
had never lost his humour during the strenuous 
times through which he had lived. It was only 
during the last week, when he had been forced to 
report to Prague that the British and French Govern- 
ments were asking his country to cede large regions 
to Germany, that he had ceased to smile. He had 


lived through hours of despair: but this was no 
time to give way to his nerves: he had to act and 
to carry on important negotiations on behalf of 
his country. 

He had been instructed by his Government, 
he told Lord Halifax, to inform His Majesty's 
Government that the acceptance of the German 
Government's conditions in their present form was 
considered impossible. At the same time the Czech 
Government was ready to continue negotiations on 
the basis of the concessions already made. 

This ended the formal part of the interview. 
M. Masaryk handed the Note to the Foreign 
Minister, and a brief but grave conversation ensued. 

When the Czechoslovak Minister left, Lord 
Halifax began to study the Czech Government's 
Note. It was a lengthy document, and enumerated 
the reasons why Czechoslovakia could not accept 
the demands made by Hitler at Godesberg. It 
pointed out that Hitler's Memorandum was in fact 
an ultimatum, and consisted of terms such as are 
dictated to a conquered people. It was not a plan 
addressed to a sovereign State which had already 
declared its readiness to make great sacrifices in 
the cause of European peace. The Note declared 
that Herr Hitler's Government had not shown the 
shghtest readiness to make concessions, and de- 
monstrated the grievous consequences for the 
national existence of Czechoslovakia if it yielded to 
the Hitler demands. The national and economic 
independence of Czechoslovakia would disappear 
automatically if Hitler's plan had to be accepted. 

Lord Halifax now reached the end of this moment- 
ous document : 


" My Government wish me to declare in all 
solemnity that Herr Hitler's demands in their present 
form are absolutely and unconditionally unacceptable 
to my Government. Against these new and cruel 
demands my Government feel bound to make their 
utmost resistance, and we shall do so, God helping. 
The nation of St. Wenceslas, John Hus and Thomas 
Masaryk will not be a nation of slaves. 

" We rely upon the two great Western democracies, 
whose wishes we have followed much against our own 
judgment, to stand by us in our hour of trial." 

Since the previous day the British Cabinet had 
met three times. It was now late in the afternoon 
of Sunday, and Mr. Chamberlain was preparing 
to meet his French guests. 

At the moment when he drove through pouring 
rain to the aerodrome, the Prime Minister was 
completely informed about the British Cabinet's 
views. Since his return from Godesberg on the 
previous afternoon there had been no less than three 
meetings of Ministers. At this moment no doubt 
Mr. Chamberlain felt his sixty-nine years: but 
despite his weariness he knew that he must not give 
in to it. A decision had to be reached, and 
peace to be saved. Time was pressing ; only a few 
days remained before the 1st of October, the time- 
limit of Hitler's ultimatum. 

A four-fold cordon of police was necessary to 
keep back the crowd assembled in Downing Street 
and Whitehall to greet the French guests. Cheers 
were heard as the car turned into Downing Street 
and stopped at No. 10 — cheers for France, and also 
for Czechoslovakia. Many shouted " Stand by 
Czechoslovakia ". In many ways it was an altogether 
unusual Sunday for London: most of the British 


public had by now realised what was at stake; 
they knew that Britain's prestige was in the balance, 
and were convinced that there would be no surrender 
to Germany. 

A large number of measures had already been 
taken in preparation for an emergency. 

The Home Fleet was standing by. Measures to 
ensure the safety of the population in case of air- 
raids had been taken and hastily completed. Un- 
known to the pubhc, all preparations had been made 
for introducing conscription. Hundreds of volun- 
teers were enrolUng for services of every kind. If 
rumours current in London were to be beheved, 
numbers of British citizens ready to fight in the 
Czech Army had given in their names to the Czecho- 
slovak Legation. But now things had changed. 
Now, unless the unexpected happened, Enghshmen 
would have to fight for the greatness and preserva- 
tion of their country. The British people had seen 
through Germany's intentions, and felt that Hitler 
was not so much concerned with the Sudeten 
Germans as with much more ambitious aims 
ultimately affecting the interests of the British 
Empire. Further, people were infuriated by Hitler's 
lack of fairness in dealing with Czechoslovakia. 
All the best British qualities were revealed in 
these hours of crisis. The population knew no 
fear. They were ready to fight, and knew that 
they would win. 

The French Ministers were negotiating with the 
Inner Cabinet. They had left Paris with the 
knowledge that they were backed by a resolute 
Cabinet, and the negotiations showed that this 
firmness was shared by the British Ministers. So 


far, however, none believed in the inevitability of 
war. The feeling was that Hitler would give in at 
the last moment, and the possibilities of meeting him 
were discussed. 

But the negotiations were lengthy. Various plans 
were considered and rejected, and late that night 
the feehng which prevailed at No. 10 was not very 
hopeful. Differences of opinion among various 
members of the Cabinet emerged. M. Bonnet 
maintained his thesis that the questions at issue 
were only matters of procedure about which no 
war could break out. M. Daladier, who now 
displayed a firmer attitude, objected. Among the 
JBritish Ministers, too, there were divergences of 
>pinion. Some wished Germany to be shown the 
full powers of the two great democracies, because that 
was the only way to negotiate with her ; others were 
convinced that it was essential to reach agreement 
with Hitler even at the expense of Czechoslovakia. 

The French Ministers were hampered by the 
resolution of their own Cabinet, which was not to 
go beyond the Anglo-French proposals of the 
19th September. They were not at liberty to go 
further and to agree to Hitler's Godesberg demands. 

Some time before midnight Mr. Chamberlain 
and M. Daladier withdrew to an adjacent room 
for a prolonged conversation in private. At 
midnight the conference was interrupted to give 
^the British Cabinet an opportunity of arriving at 
further resolutions. These resolutions were of far- 
reaching significance. Mr. Chamberlain conveyed 
to his colleagues France's firm attitude, as well as 
^the readiness of MM. Daladier and Bonnet to 
agree to further negotiations with Germany and 


possibly to make certain minor concessions to 
Hitler. At the same time the main outUnes of the 
agreement of 19th September were to be maintained. 

When the British Ministers concluded their 
consultation, a brief summary of the day's delibera- 
tions was made. 

Hitler's Godesberg demands were unacceptable. 
At the same time everything humanly possible 
would be done to bring Hitler to his senses before 
the 1st October. Simultaneously preparations would 
be made for the worst. During the same night 
General Gamelin was requested to come to London 
immediately to discuss all necessary measures. 

'' Ca m pas mar\ M. Daladier later told the 
French journalists in reply to their questions. 

Uncertainty in Berlin 

The crisis had reached its climax. Hitler had 
made his demands, and refused to budge an inch. 
Prague had rejected the demands. In London the 
consultations with the French Ministers ended with 
an invitation to General Gamelin to come to London 
on Monday. Everything seemed to indicate that 
the Western democracies had grasped the position 
and were ready to meet Hitler's exaggerated demands 
with a firm refusal. Hitler had been carried away 
by the dynamics of his policy, and now could not 
have stopped, even if he had so desired. 

At midnight on Sunday the 25th of September 
the Berlin War Minister gave orders to the troops 
stationed along the Bohemian and Moravian borders 
to prepare to march into Czechoslovakia. Whether 
the operations were to begin on the morrow or within 
the next few days was not stated. 


At the Chancellor's office work went on until 
late at night. Herr von Ribbentrop had received 
Sir Nevile Henderson on Sunday afternoon, and had 
been told the result of the London discussions so 
far as they were known. The Prague rejection wao 
also conveyed. The Ambassador expressed grave 
apprehensions about the future, and told the German 
Foreign Minister that not only public opinion but 
also the British Cabinet favoured a firm stand and 
declined to give way to Germany. 

But the Foreign Minister remained calm and 
optimistic. He had frequently voiced the opinion 
that Britain would not fight on behalf of Czecho- 
slovakia — least of all on a question of procedure. 
This was the opinion he had expressed to Hitler, 
and he now repeated it to the British Ambassador. 
The latter stressed the gravity of the position, and 
suggested that British resolution was being under- 
estimated. Ribbentrop insisted that agreement would 
siill be reached. 

Until late at night the windows of the Ministry 
of Propaganda were brightly lit. Reports on public 
opinion had been received from all parts of the 
country, and were now being studied. 

The news was not particularly satisfactory. The 
furious attacks on Czechoslovakia made by the 
German Press had gone too far; readers were 
tired of big headlines and strong language. The 
mass of the German people felt completely in- 
different about the fate of the Sudeten Germans: 
they admitted that they ought to be helped, but 
they failed to see why there should be war on their 
behalf. So far, the German Press had been careful 
not to explain that opinion in the West was beginning 


to change : only optimistic reports had been placed 
before readers. 

But the vast miUtary preparations in progress for 
weeks had begun to alarm ' the populace. War 
was not wanted, not even with a small country Hke 
Czechoslovakia, still less with the Western Powers 
and Russia. And now the opposition did not come 
from the communists, but from the classes who 
formerly had helped Hitler to power — the petty 
bourgeoisie. This opposition could everywhere be 
felt — in Wiirttemberg and Baden, in Bavaria and 
in Austria. The reports of Nazi secret agents left 
no doubt as to this feehng. Dr. Goebbels, the 
Minister of Propaganda, gave the necessary instruc- 
tions for the next few days. Unless the situation 
changed, the German population would have to 
be prepared for war with France and Britain, to say 
nothing of Russia. 

The U.S.A. Steps In 

For some tune the United States had followed 
developments in Europe with grave misgivings. 
People had more and more begun to ask what the 
U.S.A. intended to do in the case of a European 
conflict. Nobody supposed that the United States 
would again send troops to Europe to take part 
in a European war; this was a blunder which 
would not be repeated. At the same time, it was 
felt that there would be ample opportunity for help- 
ing the democratic Powers in other ways than by 
sending troops in case of war. The Neutrality 
Pact might be altered, and the European democracies 
might be supplied with arms and aircraft, while 


Germany could be threatened with economic 

Yet though there was not the slightest intention 
to send troops or to take a direct part in a war, the 
American population did not feel indifferent 
with regard to European events; on the contrary, 
its reactions to them were far more open and 
vigorous than those of the European peoples. 
Through the President and all other responsible 
statesmen, and through the predominant part of the 
Press, it expressed its wholehearted sympathy with 
the countries which were regarded as the champions 
of democracy. 

When Paris and London resolved to compel 
Czechoslovakia to cede some of her territory, 
mblic opinion turned against these two Powers. 

^hen a firm attitude became apparent after the 
fGodesberg conversation, feelings of sympathy 
became stronger again. 

At the same time, the inevitability of a European 
war was not regarded as absolute in the United States. 
It was felt that all problems could be settled in a 
friendly manner, as was fitting between civilised 

For some days Europe had been full of rumours 
that President Roosevelt would take the initiative 
in calUng a world conference for the settlement of 
all economic and political problems. Democratic 
Europe eagerly awaited the American President's 
step; but it waited in vain. For reasons best 
known to himself. President Roosevelt had omitted 
to take this initiative: but he did adopt another 
measure. With the authority of a man behind 
whom stood the greatest democratic community 


in the world, he sent an eloquent appeal to all 
the statesmen concerned. This was on the 
Monday — before the German Chancellor had spoken 
in the Sportpalast. Pleading for a peaceful solu- 
tion, and drawing attention to the obligations arising 
from the Briand-Kellogg Pact, he said : " On behalf 
of the 1 30 milHon people of the United States, and 
for the sake of humanity everywhere, I most earnestly 
appeal to you not to break off negotiations looking 
to a peaceful, fair and constructive settlement of the 
questions at issue. Opposing standpoints can be 
harmonised by negotiations. Once they are broken 
off reason is banished and force produces no solution 
for the future good of humanity." The voice from 
overseas, warning Europe of the impending conflict 
at the eleventh hour, was heard in Paris and London, 
Berlin and Prague, Budapest and Warsaw. Within 
an hour the news agencies had spread it to the four 
quarters of the globe, and soon the whole world 
knew of the President's appeal. 

The first reply reaching Washington did not, 
however, come from Europe, but from South 
America. The President of Argentina, Roberto 
Ortiz, sent a telegram to thank Mr. Roosevelt for 
his initiative, and to declare that Argentina was at 
one with the peaceful endeavours of the United 
States. At the same time President Ortiz informed 
Mr. Roosevelt that Hitler and Dr. Benes had been 
advised of the position taken up by Argentina. 

Later the replies from Europe came in. They 
were, of course, in a positive sense, and the heads 
of the British and French Governments expressed 
their gratitude to the American President. In 168 
words Mr. Chamberlain told Mr. Roosevelt that 


France and Britain would do everything to save the 
peace and to settle the whole matter by negotiation. 

M. Daladier's reply, which was sent from 
London, where he was staying on Monday morning, 
was twenty words shorter. " We are," the telegram 
concluded, " confident of serving to the very end the 
ideal of justice and peace which has always united 
our two peoples. " 

The reply sent on Monday evening by President 
Benes contained 277 words. The President declared 
that Czechoslovakia had ever been faithful to the 
principle of solving questions under dispute by way 
of negotiation. He recalled that Czechoslovakia 
had signed a treaty of arbitration with Germany, and 
expressed his readiness to settle the present conflict 
by this method. He expressed the Czechoslovak 
people's gratitude to President Roosevelt, and 
declared that Czechoslovakia would defend herself 
if attacked. Finally, he shared President Roose- 
velt's view that war was not the method by which 
problems were solved. 

Hitler's reply was the longest of all. True, it was 
not despatched from Berlin until twenty-four hours 
later, on Tuesday. It contained no less than 1075 
words, and was not so much a reply as a note. 

Hitler, too, did justice to President Roosevelt's 
eff'orts. Further, he gave a lengthy exposition of 
the entire problem as seen from the German angle. 
He spoke of the dictated peace of Versailles, of the 
sufferings of the Sudeten Germans, and of the calm 
attitude of the German Government. He expressed 
the conviction that President Roosevelt would 
recognise that the German Government had not 
been lacking in moderation from beginning to end, 


and had not been deficient in the desire to reach a 
peaceful understanding. The responsibiUty did not 
rest with Germany, but with the Czech Government, 
and the decision between war and peace was with the 
latter alone. 

Hitler's telegram was simply a repetition in more 
moderate terms of the speech delivereil on Monday 
evening in the Berhn Sportpalast, a speech which 
caused disgust and anger throughout Europe. 

The German people was aware of Hitler's angry 
speech, but it had heard nothing of President 
Roosevelt's appeal nor of the Fuhrer's reply. The 
organs of Dr. Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, 
had kept them in ignorance. 

The Soldiers' Hour 

On the morning of Monday, the 26th of September, 
it was the soldiers' hour in London rather than that 
of the diplomats and politicians. 

The politicians had reached agreement in principle 
on the previous evening, and were due to finish their 
consultations in the course of the morning. Mean- 
while the soldiers had the floor. Or rather, in the 
first instance, the soldier, the Commander-in-Chief 
of the French Army, General Gamehn, who had 
come from Paris in the morning. General Gamelin 
had a lengthy consultation with Sir Thomas Inskip, 
the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. 
The details of the impending warlike operations 
which actually had been settled long ago were dis- 
cussed; the armies were to be under French, and 
the navies under British command. The air forces, 
whose weakness was reaHsed, were also to operate 


Later, conversations took place between Mr. 
Chamberlain, M. Daladier and General Gamelin. 
The latter announced that the French Army was ready. 

The French General's conversations in London 
were a complete success. With a full sense of re- 
sponsibiHty, the Generals were now preparing the 
great war destined to free Europe from the 
German menace. At last it was seen that the 
question at issue did not concern Czechoslovakia, 
but Europe itself. 

And while the soldiers were preparing for war, 
the politicians were still trying to save the peace. 
Not perhaps at all costs, but still . . . 

During the night preceding Monday, London had 
telephoned to Moscow, and the British Ambassador 
had paid an urgent call at the Kremlin. M. LitvinofiF, 
the Russian Foreign Minister, who at the time was 
away from Moscow, had certainly declared on 
numerous occasions that Russia's attitude in the 
present conflict was firm, and it was also known that 
similar information had been conveyed to Prague. 
But now that the decisive moment was approaching, 
it was found desirable to be quite certain. 

In the course of the morning a reassuring reply 
was received from Moscow, stating that Russia was 

The British and French statesmen took note of 
this information. The affirmative answer given by 
Russia was destined to play an important part in the 
evening's official statement. 

On Sunday night and Monday morning the ques- 
tion had been how far it was possible to meet Ger- 
many. It was accordingly resolved to accept Hitler's 
time-limit for the settlement of the point at issue — 


the 1st of October — and to offer him a token occupa- 
tion of a small district beyond the Czech fortifica- 
tions. Again, it might be possible to meet him in 
subsidiary matters, provided he did not insist on 
his main claim — viz., the immediate occupation of 
all the Sudeten German regions. In any case, the 
point was maintained that an international com- 
mission must settle the new frontiers of Czecho- 
slovakia, and not the German militarists. 

On the other hand, if the German Army were to 
attack Czechoslovakia before a peaceful settlement 
of the question was reached, then, it was resolved in 
London, France would help Czechoslovakia, and 
Great Britain would be on the side of France. The 
question of guaranteeing the frontiers which, on 
Hitler's refusal to undertake a guarantee, remained 
with Britain and France alone, caused a long and 
extremely difficult debate. Mr. Chamberlain was 
faced by the difficulty that the guarantee of Belgian 
neutrality and of the Rhine frontier, imposed as 
they were by military considerations, were quite 
enough without having to guarantee the frontiers of 
a small State in Central Europe which in the near 
future would be exposed to heavy economic and 
political pressure from Germany. 

But the French Prime Minister remained firm, 
and succeeded eventually in inducing the British 
Cabinet to state its readiness to guarantee the new 
Czechoslovak frontier. The British statesmen did 
not like to give this promise; but they gave it. 

Meanwhile Hitler's speech in the Sportpalast on 
Monday evening was anxiously awaited. Con- 
fidential reports had been received from Berlin 
stating that it would be extremely violent. 


The French and British statesmen little understood 
the German Dictator's psychology. Before the 
French Ministers left London it was decided to send 
Sir Horace Wilson to Berlin with a fresh personal 
message from Mr. Chamberlain. They little sus- 
pected that they were only adding fuel to the 
Chancellor's flame. 

Herr Hitler Listens and . . . Speaks 

Although he was drafting the speech to be 
delivered that evening in the Sportpalast Herr Hitler 
had found time to receive numerous personal and 
military advisers and to hear their views. 

Early in the morning the news of the day had been 
submitted to the Fiihrer. First came President 
Roosevelt's moving appeal, which he read attentively 
but without comment. 

Other news came later : the dissatisfaction among 
the populace, the previous day's consultations in 
London, General Gamehn's journey, and the ap- 
parently growing resolve in the West not to give in 
to Germany. 

Herr von Ribbentrop had expressed his conviction 
that Britain would not intervene, a view which Hitler 
seemed to share. Complete certainty did not exist 
about France's attitude, but it was felt that Ger- 
many could settle France alone: the essential point 
was to enforce a halt on France at the German 
frontiers until the occupation of Czechoslovakia was 
difait accompli, when it would be possible to conclude 
peace with France, provided that the old methods 
were followed of assuring the French people that no 
harm was intended to them. Once Germany had 
struck a blow at Czechoslovakia with all the power 


at her command, no doubt was felt that France 
would cease hostUities and leave Czechoslovakia to 
her fate. 

This view was shared by Dr. Goebbels, the Minister 
of Propaganda, and Herr Rudolf Hess, the Fiihrer's 
deputy, who visited the Chancellor's office in the 
course of the morning. Field Marshal Goering, who 
had recovered from his illness, was more cautious. 
Despite his bellicose speech at Nuremberg, he 
disliked a warlike adventure, the result of which was 

Towards noon General Keitel called on the Fiilirer. 
The Commander-in-Chief reported that all pre- 
parations had been made. The decisive attack 
would be launched from the former Austrian frontier 
in the direction of Moravia, so as to cut off Bohemia 
and to prevent the Czech armies from retreating. 
From Moravia it would be easier to enter Bohemia 
than by forcing the strongly fortified mountain 
frontiers. Certain difficulties were inherent in the 
operation, but their final success was assured by 
the German numerical superiority. The General 
was aware that the position would become more 
difficult if France were to intervene, since that 
country possessed far more trained reservists than 
Germany. Further, French intervention would also 
automatically involve Russia. 

Early in the course of the afternoon three Major- 
Generals — Loeb, Bodenschatz and Hanneken — 
called at the Chancellor's office and asked for an 
audience, which was not granted. They left a letter 
which Hitler read and put aside; the warnings not 
to enter a war which might involve the entire world 
did not count at this moment. What mattered was 


that the Chancellor had already learnt, to his intense 
satisfaction, that Mr. Chamberlain had sent Sir 
Horace Wilson to Berlin with a personal letter. 
Later in the afternoon, when the hall of the Sport- 
palast where he was to make his speech had already 
begun to fill, the Chancellor received Mr. Chamber- 
lain's emissary and the British Ambassador, Sir 
Nevile Henderson. 

Herr Hitler, as he listened to Sir Horace's intro- 
ductory words, seemed somewhat absent-minded. 
This is what Mr. Chamberlain wrote : 

" The Czechoslovak Government now inform me 
that, while they adhere to their acceptance of the 
proposals to the transfer of the Sudeten German areas 
on the lines discussed by my Government and the 
French Government, and explained by me to you on 
Thursday last, they regard as wholly unacceptable the 
proposal in your Memorandum for the immediate 
evacuation of the areas and their immediate occupation 
by German troops, these processes to take place 
before the terms of cession have been negotiated or 
even discussed. 

" Your Excellency will remember that in my letter 
to you of Friday last I said that an attempt to occupy 
forthwith by German troops areas which will become 
part of the Reich at once in principle, and very shortly 
afterwards by formal delimitation, would be con- 
demned as an unnecessary display of force, and that, 
in my opinion, if German troops moved into the areas 
that you had proposed, I felt sure that the Czecho- 
slovak Government would resist, and that this would 
mean the destruction of the basis upon which you and 
I agreed a week ago to work together — namely, an 
orderly settlement of this question rather than a 
settlement by the use of force. 

" I referred also to the effect likely to be produced 
upon public opinion in my country, in France, and 
indeed in the world generally. The development of 
opinion since my return confirms me in the views I 


expressed to you in my letter and in our subsequent 
conversation . . . 

" I learn that the German Ambassador in Paris has 
issued a communique which begins with stating that, 
as a result of our conversations at Godesberg, Your 
Excellency and I are in complete agreement as to 
the imperative necessity to maintain the peace of 
Europe. In this spirit I address my present com- 
munication to you. 

*' A settlement by negotiation remains possible and, 
with a clear recollection of the conversations which 
you and I have had, and with an equally clear 
appreciation of the consequences which must follow 
the abandonment of negotiations and the substitution 
of force, I ask Your Excellency to agree that repre- 
sentatives of Germany shall meet representatives of 
the Czechoslovakian Government to discuss immedi- 
ately the situation by which we are confronted with a 
view to settling by agreement the way in which the 
territory is to be handed over. 

*' I am convinced that these discussions can be 
completed in a very short time, and, if you and the 
Czechoslovakian Government desire it, I am willing 
to arrange for the representation of the British 
Government at the discussions. 

" In our conversation, as in the official communique 
issued in Germany, you said that the only differences 
between us lay in the method of carrying out an 
agreed principle. If this is so, then surely the tragic 
consequences of a conflict ought not to be incurred 
over a difference in method." 

The tone of the letter was fairly unequivocal. 
Had it been accompanied by a general mobilisation 
in Britain, it is possible that Hitler would still have 
altered his speech, and would not have told the 
German people about the ultimatum, of which it 
knew nothing so far. We say that it is possible, for 
we are not entirely convinced. We still consider 
that the only thing to cause Germany to stop would 
have been the timely adoption of a firm attitude by 


the Powers. In the letter he had just read, Hitler 
had perceived the hidden threat, but also the eager- 
ness to continue negotiations. The letter may have 
confirmed him in his conviction that Great Britain 
v^ould not make war, despite the fact that it now 
seemed to be preparing for it. 

" I desire," Hitler repUed, " to express to the 
Prime Minister my profound gratitude for his 
endeavours in the cause of peace : but I must abide 
by what I have already said. I do not trust the 
Prague Government, and I do not trust Dr. Benes. 
He must give way, or else we will compel him to. 
I do not like the idea of further conferences : they 
would only delay a settlement of this question." 

Sir Horace withdrew to convey Hider's statement 
to London; but he did not leave Berlin. He was 
to call for the FUhrer's written reply on the following 

A few minutes after 8 p.m. the Fiihrer entered the 
crowded hall of the Sportpalast. As usual, he was 
welcomed with the enthusiastic cheers of the frenzied 
multitude. " German men and women . . ." he 

Millions listened to him: milhons all over the 
world, full of hopes and fears. 

One sentence which many expected to hear was 
not pronounced in the course of the speech: the 
proclamation of general mobilisation, the sole reply 
to the Prague refusal which it might have been 
thought that Germany could give. The cause of 
such moderation lay in Mr. Chamberlain's letter 
and in an official communique issued in London 
shortly before the speech. 




The firmer and more confident attitude that the 
Western Powers took up towards Germany during 
the next few days rapidly bore fruit. This appHed 
above all to Rumania, which had been following 
events with grave anxiety. For a short period at 
the beginning of the year Rumania seemed to have 
thrown herself into Germany's arms, but the diplo- 
matic representations of the Western Powers, per- 
haps accompanied by economic pressure or promises, 
brought about a rapid change of front. Rumanian 
foreign policy was once more definitely directed 
towards the West. Rumania has big German and 
Hungarian minorities, and it was inevitable that she 
should feel that she might well be Germany's next 
victim. An enormous burden of anxiety seemed to 
have been lifted from her shoulders, and she looked 
to the West with renewed confidence. In case of 
war she was ready to allow Soviet aircraft to fly 
over her territory, and was perhaps willing to inter- 
vene herself, naturally on the side of the Western 

Dr. Stoyadinovich, the Prime Minister of Jugo- 
slavia, whose policy had been very friendly towards 
Germany for many years, hesitated. If Italy joined 
in the contest, Jugoslavia's position would be critical. 
Dr. Stoyadinovich had hitherto refused to beheve 
that the Western Powers would fight, and had 
acted accordingly. Ifi spite of widespread pro- 
Czech demonstrations throughout the country, the 
Government did nothing that could be interpreted 


as an unfriendly act towards Germany. But the 
firm attitude of the Great Powers alarmed him 
somewhat, and there was talk of a radical alteration 
of Jugoslav foreign policy. Jugoslavia looked to 
the West with greater respect than had been the 
case before. 

Moreover, Germany's allies, Poland and Hungary, 
hesitated too. Hungary hastily declared that she 
would remain neutral, and the gravest alarm was 
felt in Poland, which had heard many unpleasant 
things from the West during the last few days. 
They now became more unpleasant than ever. 

Even General Franco, the would-be Dictator 
of Spain, made a declaration of neutrality during 
these few days, and this action on his part was 
taken very much amiss in Germany. 

There could have been no clearer demonstration 
that, in spite of everything, the force of attraction 
that the Western Powers exercised over the countries 
of South-Eastern Europe had remained unbroken. 
These countries naturally look to the West for the pro- 
tection of their economic and poHtical indepen- 
dence. Moreover, they are better acquainted with 
Germany than the West is. They know both the 
advantages and the disadvantages of Germany as a 
poHtical and economic associate. They know Ger- 
many can consume all their raw materials and agri- 
cultural products, but they also know that Germany 
has no foreign exchange and insists on making 
payment in machinery and other industrial products. 
And the Balkan States, which do not need so very 
much machinery, will take a long time to absorb 
them. They would far rather have the United 
States and the capitaHst countries of the West as 


their customers. But in this respect the countries 
of the West, particularly France, have been very 
remiss. Though the French language is popular 
in Eastern Europe, and French civilisation is greatly 
admired, it is not Frenchmen but Germans who are 
to be found there, offering good prices and making 
widespread business connections. 

Moreover, the Balkan countries know the Germans 
not only in the economic, but also in the political 
field, and in the political field Germany is feared. 
German political agents are scattered throughout 
the whole of South-Eastern Europe, buying up 
newspapers and influencing important people. Ger- 
man colonies, established throughout the Balkans, 
actively promote Nazi policy in the countries whose 
hospitality they enjoy. 

The Balkans admire Germany, but they also fear 
her; and they look longingly to the West, hoping 
for a word of guidance. But that word has not 

Shadows over Europe 

Europe is like a stage, revolving at such dizzy 
speed that it is difficult to keep pace with the light- 
ning changes of scene. Now it is London, now 
Paris, now Berlin. Then it shifts to Berchtesgaden 
or Godesberg, to Prague, Warsaw or Moscow. For 
a full and exhaustive picture of the whole a view 
of the chief scenes is not sufficient. We must also 
have a look at the sideshows. 

On Monday, 26th September, the chief scenes of 
action were London and Berlin* and Paris, Prague 
and Warsaw were the sideshows. Let us now pay 
some attention to the latter. 



In the course of the afternoon the two Ministers, 
MM. Daladier and Bonnet, returned to Paris. 
M. Bonnet was upset. He had not been invited to 
take part in the most important conversations. 
Now that soldiers were preparing to take a hand, 
he had seemed to be mistrusted, aUhough his sole 
aim was at all costs to spare France a war. M. 
Bonnet was profoundly convinced of the correctness 
of this policy, and he was not alone. He had 
widespread support, not only in his own Party and 
in the Cabinet, but among the Opposition as well; 
and, what was more, every important newspaper 
was on his side. The French people were never 
really informed of what was at stake. They 
never knew that this was not just a matter of the 
defence of Czechoslovakia, but of France's age- 
long enemy securing the hegemony of Europe. 
The French Press spoke of matters of procedure, 
put blinkers over the eyes of the average French 
citizen and made it impossible for him to sum up 
the situation with his usual clarity. Only two Paris 
newspapers told the truth. But their circulation 
was relatively small, and they received little atten- 
tion. If the people of France had known the truth, 
things would have been very different. This offered 
the Government very little scope if it were to make 
a firm stand against Germany, for such a course 
meant accepting the risk of war. The French 
people had no objection to making a firm stand, 
but they objected strongly to a war on account of a 
little-known and distant country, even though that 
country lay only four-and-a-half flying hours from 

E 2 


Le Bourget. However, that was the feehng of the 
country, and the Government had to take it into 

After M. Daladier had reported to M. Lebrun, 
the President of the Republic, he received Mr. 
BulHtt, the American Ambassador. After the inter- 
view Mr. BuUitt said to the journaHsts : " I am 
always an optimist, because I am always on the 
side of truth ". 

Mr. Bullitt did not, however, seem so absolutely 
positive that truth would easily prevail on this 
occasion, for his Embassy advised American tourists 
in France to return to the United States by the first 
available liner, unless they were detained in France 
by urgent business. 

General Gamehn returned to Paris in the even- 
ing. He found the city preparing for war. The 
street-lamps were dimmed, and all the hundred and 
fifty sirens that were to warn the population of air 
raids were ready. A force of five thousand men 
had been specially appointed to warn the people of 
Paris of the peril that hung over them. Experts 
were busily engaged transforming forty-three thou- 
sand Paris basements into bomb-proof shelters. 
Even the traffic in the streets bore witness to the 
preparations that were taking place for war. There 
were noticeably fewer buses, because many had been 
requisitioned to take reservists to the front. Hun- 
dreds of Paris taxis had been commandeered for 
service with the army transport, just as in 1914. 
The opening of the school term was postponed, and 
innumerable mothers and children were leaving the 
capital for the greater security of the provinces. 

Meanwhile train after train steamed out of the 


Gare de I'Est, taking reservists to the Eastern 
frontier of France. 


President Benes, speaking to the people of Czecho- 
slovakia over the wireless a few days earlier, had 
said: " I have a plan ". What could this plan be? 
Was he hastily making agreements with his neigh- 
bours to improve his prospects of resisting Germany? 

Poland, Czechoslovakia's Eastern neighbour, had 
no intention of letting such a splendid opportunity 
slip by without claiming her share of the spoils. 

As we know, Poland had already claimed the 
Teschen area, which contains important heavy 
industries and coal-mines in addition to a population 
of several thousand Poles. We also know that 
Poland had given notice to terminate the minorities 
treaty with Czechoslovakia and was concentrating 
military forces on the frontier. Would Poland invade 
Czechoslovakia in spite of the warning she had 
received from Russia? 

Czechoslovakia was prepared. A state of national 
emergency had been proclaimed, and the services of 
all civilians between the ages of seventeen and sixty 
were declared to be at the disposal of the State. 
But Prague itself remained calm. There was no 
panic, in spite of the threatening danger. 

President Benes had a plan. He wished to come 
to an understanding with Poland. PAT, the official 
Polish news agency, had already announced that 
Czechoslovakia was ready to come to a territorial 
understanding with Poland. This piece of informa- 
tion was denied by the Czechoslovak Press Bureau, 
but it was nevertheless true. For during the after- 


noon an aeroplane set off from Prague in the direc- 
tion of Warsaw, bearing a personal letter from the 
President of the Czechoslovakian Republic addressed 
to M. Ignacy Moscicki, President of the Polish 


Colonel Beck had been responsible for Polish 
foreign policy for many years, and now it looked 
as though he was coming into his own. The new 
orientation he had given to Polish policy, directed to 
coming to an understanding with Germany, had 
succeeded in its aim, but at the cost of a long 
struggle, at home and abroad. Colonel Beck's 
policy had resulted in an estrangement from France, 
Poland's traditional friend since the time of her 
greatest national humiliation. 

Since the end of May 1938, French diplomacy 
had sought with all the means in its power to con- 
vince Poland that this policy was incompatible with 
the promise that Marshal Rydz-Smigly, the Dictator 
of Poland, had given a few years earlier when the 
Polish Government had sought and been granted 
an armament loan of two thousand millions in 
Paris. Marshal Rydz-Smigly had promised not only 
that Poland would not attack Czechoslovakia in the 
case of war, but that she would remain neutral and 
permit Soviet aeroplanes to fly over Polish territory. 
But now it did not look as if Poland would remain 
neutral. That Poland would allow Russian aero- 
planes to fly to the rescue of Czechoslovakia if she 
were attacked was out of the question. Colonel 
Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, had actually 
attempted to persuade the Rumanian Government 


to refuse permission for five Russian aeroplanes 
which Prague had bought in Russia to fly over 

All the efforts of M. Noel, the French Ambassador 
in Warsaw, to persuade Poland to change her atti- 
tude had been unavailing. If a conflict broke out, 
Poland would certainly remain neutral, but Colonel 
Beck was just as convinced as his friends in Berlin 
that a conflict would not break out, and that the 
Western Powers would give in to Germany. In 
that case Poland could not remain disinterested. 
She would claim her reward for her pact with 
Germany, and Czechoslovakia would have to cede 
Teschen to her. 

President Moscicki read President Benes's letter, 
and sent for his Foreign Minister. A conference 
took place, in which Marshal Rydz-Smigly also took 
part. Colonel Beck held firm to his position. Did 
Czechoslovakia voluntarily offer the Teschen district 
to Poland? Well and good. But as for coming to 
a friendly understanding with her and signing a 
non-aggression pact, that was out of the question. 
In the first place, it would amount to a vote of no 
confidence towards Germany, and in the second 
place Colonel Beck was nursing far more ambitious 
plans for his country. Why should not Slovakia 
be incorporated into Poland, and why should not 
Poland have a common frontier with Hungary ? 

Of course there was nothing of all this in the 
reply which President Moscicki sent to President 
Benes next day. This reply was in very general 
terms, acknowledging the promises made by Presi- 
dent Benes on behalf of Czechoslovakia, but promis- 
ing nothing whatever in return. 


Two Communiques and a Cabinet Meeting 

While Hitler was speaking in the Sportpalast on 
Monday evening, the British Foreign Office issued a 
communique couched in unusually firm language. 
It was as follows : 

** During the last week Mr. Chamberlain has tried 
with the German Chancellor to find the way of settling 
peacefully the Czechoslovak question. It is still 
possible to do so by negotiations. 

'* The German claim to the transfer of the Sudeten 
areas has already been conceded by the French, 
British and Czechoslovak Governments, but if, in 
spite of all efforts made by the British Prime Minister, 
a German attack is made upon Czechoslovakia, the 
immediate result must be that France will come to her 
assistance, and Great Britain and Russia will certainly 
stand by France. 

" It is still not too late to stop this great tragedy, 
and for the people of all nations to insist on settlement 
by free negotiation." 

This communique aroused universal interest, partly 
because of its firm tone, but mostly because it 
actually mentioned Russia. It was very rare for 
Russia to be mentioned in an official statement 
issued by the British Foreign Office. 

A strange thing happened to this official state- 
ment. The news agencies were at first authorised 
to announce that it had been issued by the Foreign 
Office, but the authorisation was later withdrawn, 
and next day the London and Paris morning papers 
described it as merely a statement " from an authori- 
tative source ". This soft-pedalling was doubtless 
due to the fact that it was still desired to treat 
Germany with kid gloves. One had the impression 
that those in authority were terrified by their own 
boldness in mentioning Russia in the same breath 


as France and England, and that they felt that 
above all Germany must not be ofifended. 

Late that night, after Hitler had finished his 
speech, the British Cabinet met to study its contents. 

At first sight the speech was terrible. In the 
first place. Hitler now publicly proclaimed his ulti- 
matum date — 1st of October — and thus committed 
himself before his own people. In the second place. 
Hitler repeatedly insulted the President of Czecho- 
slovakia, an independent State, in a fashion un- 
precedented in international relations. 

But on second thoughts the speech was not so bad 
as it looked. After all, it was felt in London that it 
contained no reference to the mobilisation of the Ger- 
man army. A general mobilisation in Germany 
would have meant that Hitler had decided to resort 
to force. But he had not done so, and that meant 
that he had kept the next few days open for possible 
negotiations. Nor had he repeated his Godesberg 
demands in their entirety. It could therefore be 
concluded that the door was still open, though the 
answer he had sent to Mr. Chamberlain's letter that 
night was not very encouraging. In any case, hope 
must not be abandoned. The firmness which the 
Western Powers had been showing since Saturday 
had already borne some fruit. If things went on 
in the same way, there was still hope. 

At two o'clock in the morning, when the Cabinet 
dispersed, Mr. Chamberlain issued the following 
statement to the Press : 

" I have read the speech of the German Chancellor, 
and I appreciate his references to the efforts I have 
made to save the peace. 


" I cannot abandon those efforts, since it seems to 
me incredible that the peoples of Europe who do not 
want war with one another should be plunged into a 
bloody struggle over a question on which agreement 
has already been largely obtained. 

" It is evident that the Chancellor has no faith that 
the promises made will be carried out. These promises 
were made, not to the German Government direct, 
but to the British and French Governments in the 
first instance. 

" Speaking for the British Government, we regard 
ourselves as morally responsible for seeing that the 
promises are carried out fairly and fully, and we are 
prepared to undertake that they shall be so carried 
out with all reasonable promptitude, provided that 
the German Government will agree to the settlement 
of terms and conditions of transfer by discussion and 
not by force. 

" I trust that the German Chancellor will not reject 
this proposal, which is made in the same spirit of 
friendhness as that in which I was received in Germany, 
and which, if it is accepted, will satisfy the German 
desire for the union of Sudeten Germans with the 
Reich without the shedding of blood in any part of 

On that agitated Monday Mr. Chamberlain, and 
with him Great Britain, had the last word. Never- 
theless Hitler, as we shall soon see, remained 

Sir Horace Wilson Goes Home 

Hitler appeared to have taken no notice of the 
diplomatic appeals and letters that had been addressed 
to him in the last twenty-four hours. 

True, his speech of Monday night did not slam 
and bolt the door. Nevertheless he had not budged 
one inch from his position. The Sudeten territory 
must be voluntarily evacuated before the 1st of 


October and occupied by the Reichswehr. Other- 
wise . . . 

The alternative filled Europe with foreboding. 
On Tuesday the situation turned out to be even 
more critical than it had seemed in the early hours. 

At ten minutes past twelve Sir Horace Wilson 
was received by the Fiihrer in an audience which 
lasted for half-an-hour, and grave words passed 
between them. 

Following Hitler's speech, fresh instructions had 
come from London, and Sir Horace accordingly 
transmitted another British warning to the Chan- 

The British Government, he explained, had been 
informed by the French Government that if Ger- 
many attacked Czechoslovakia, France would go 
to the latter's assistance, and the British Govern- 
ment would then be obliged to intervene. His 
Majesty's Government therefore requested the Chan- 
cellor to weigh carefully all the consequences that 
would ensue, and to shape his future actions 

At this Hitler flared up. The British Fleet had 
already been mobilised, he indignantly declared, and 
France and Britain were preparing for war. That 
was proof that they were not acting honourably 
towards Germany. The Czechs had been mobilised 
for the past five days. He had already informed 
Prague that unless the Sudeten territory were evacu- 
ated by Czech troops by two o'clock on the following 
day, Wednesday, the German army would intervene. 

Hitler saw that the die was cast, and his bluff 
now reached its utmost limit. The more rapidly he 
acted now, the more frantic he made the pace, the 


greater was the chance that the Western Powers 
would give in and grant everything he asked. Hitler 
may not yet have foreseen exactly in what way this 
would come about. 

That was the situation when Sir Horace Wilson 
left Berhn at 1.45 p.m., to hand the British Prime 
Minister a personal letter from Herr Hitler a few 
hours later. 

Mr. Chamberlain had already been informed by 
telephone of the general purport of Hitler's letter 
and of the extremely alarming news of the German 
ultimatum to Prague. But he had a plan. He in- 
structed M. Jan Masaryk, the Czechoslovak Minister 
in London, to inquire in Prague whether Czecho- 
slovakia was prepared to take part in an inter- 
national conference. The answer was yes. Natur- 
ally Czechoslovakia would require certain assur- 
ances, in particular a guarantee that, in the interests 
of her national security, she would be allowed to 
maintain her mobilisation during the course of the 
negotiations. Mr. Chamberlain acknowledged the 
Czechoslovak reply and considered his plan further. 
Perhaps Mussolini occurred to him in the course of 
his meditations. MussoHni had meanwhile been 
discreetly reminding Paris and London of his exist- 
ence. Mussolini's hour was approaching, and in 
less than twenth-four hours it would be at hand. 

But things had not got as far as that yet. 

In the parks and open spaces of London twenty 
thousand men were engaged in digging trenches for 
the protection of the population in case of air raids. 
There were large numbers of volunteers for the civil 
air guard. The Air Force and the Navy were 
ready for action. Parhament had been called for 


Wednesday, and there was feverish anxiety about 
what the next few days might have in store. Was 
it to be war or peace? 

The King cancelled his journey to Glasgow for 
the launching of the Queen Elizabeth, the world's 
largest passenger ship. 

The whole British Empire declared its solidarity 
with the British Government. Mr. Lyons, the 
Australian Prime Minister, had had a telephone 
conversation on Monday with Mr. Bruce, the 
Australian High Commissioner in London. The 
Australian Federal Cabinet was in permanent 
session. If war were to break out in Europe, 
Australia was ready. 

Declarations of loyalty poured in from India, and 
South Africa had already announced her deter- 
mination to stand by England's side, because she 
knew that if Germany came out on top she would 
be threatened by German colonial ambitions. 

Mr. Chamberlain awaited Hitler's letter with 
anxiety, although, as mentioned above, he already 
had more than an inkling of its contents. 

** The Government in Prague " [Hitler stated], " feel 
justified in maintaining that the proposals in my 
Memorandum of 23rd September went far beyond the 
concessions which it made to the British and French 
Governments, and that the acceptance of the Memor- 
andum would rob Czechoslovakia of every guarantee 
of its national existence. 

" This statement is based on the argument that 
Czechoslovakia is to give up a great part of her 
prepared defensive system before she can take steps 
elsewhere for her miUtary protection. Thereby the 
political and economic independence of the country 
is automatically abolished. 

" Moreover, the exchange of population proposed 


by me would turn out in practice to be. a panic- 
stricken flight. 

" I must openly declare that I cannot bring myself 
to understand these arguments, or even admit that 
they can be regarded as seriously put forward. 

" The Government in Prague simply passes over 
the fact that the actual arrangements for the final 
settlement of the Sudeten German problem in accord- 
ance with my proposals will be made dependent, not 
on a unilateral German petition or on German 
measures of force, but rather, on the one hand, on a 
free vote under no outside influence and, on the other, 
to a very wide degree on German-Czech agreement 
on matters of detail to be reached subsequently. 
Not only the exact definition of the territories in 
which the plebiscite is to take place, but the execution 
of the plebiscite and the delimitation of the frontier 
to be made on the basis of its result are, in accordance 
with my proposals, to be made independently of any 
unilateral decision by Germany. Moreover, all other 
details are to be reserved for agreement on the part of 
a German-Czech Commission. . . . 

" It is clear from my Memorandum that the German 
occupation would only extend to the given line, and that 
the final delimitation of the frontier would take place in 
accordance with the procedure which I have already des- 
cribed. The Prague Government has no right to doubt 
that the German military measures would stop within 
these limits. If, nevertheless, it desires such a doubt 
to be taken into account the British and, if necessary, 
also the French Government can guarantee the quick 
fulfilment of my proposal. I can, moreover, only refer 
to my speech yesterday, in which I clearly declared 
that I regret the idea of any attack on Czechoslovak 
territory, and that under the condition which I laid 
down I am even ready to give a formal guarantee 
for the remainder of Czechoslovakia. . . . 

" I must assume that the Government in Prague is 
only using a proposal for the occupation by German 
troops in order, by distorting the meaning and object 
of my proposal, to mobilise those forces in other 
countries, in particular in England and France, from 
which they hope to receive unreserved support for 


their aim and thus to achieve the possibility of a 
general warlike conflagration. I must leave it to your 
judgment whether, in view of these facts, you consider 
that you should continue your effort, for which I 
should like to take this opportunity of once more 
thanking you, to spoil such manoeuvres and bring 
the Government in Prague to reason at the very last 

Mr. Chamberlain considered this letter with his 
friends and several members of the Cabinet. It 
was clear that it still held the door open for further 
negotiations. True, the German ultimatum to 
Prague was very alarming, but perhaps a way out 
might yet be found. Moreover, in the course of 
the discussions, the name of Mussolini cropped up. 

Europe Awaits Her Destiny 

On Tuesday, 27th September, European public 
opinion regarded war as inevitable. All efforts to 
find a solution to the crisis had failed. On the one 
hand the German Chancellor was determined to 
have his way with Czechoslovakia, on the other 
Britain and France seemed equally determined to 
make no more concessions that would hand over 
Czechoslovakia bound hand and foot to the tender 
mercies of Germany. 

That was how the situation appeared in the eyes 
of European public opinion. But were Britain and 
France really so determined to make no more 
concessions to Germany at Czechoslovakia's ex- 
pense? The day drew to a close and darkness fell, 
and as the hours passed by, the leading statesmen 
of Europe detected a path that might lead them to 
the resumption of harmonious relations. That path 
led through Rome. 


But before things reached that stage and hope 
had definitely revived, a number of things happened 
in other places to which we must now devote a 
Httle attention. 


The political and diplomatic activity in the French 
capital resembled a revolution in a beehive. There 
was a continual coming and going of diplomats at 
the Quai d'Orsay, violent discussions took place in 
the lobbies of the Chamber, and innumerable party 
groups held long and excited conferences. 

The Cabinet met and dispersed after deciding not 
to recall Parliament for the time being. It would 
have been dangerous to have displayed the differences 
of national opinion to all the world. 

For the differences of opinion in Paris were very 
serious. Everybody had divergent views about what 
ought to be done in this emergency. There was no 
certainty about the attitude of the various parties 
as a whole. Members of the Right were in favour 
of resolute and determined action, come what may, 
and members of the Left wanted peace at any price. 

The Government majority, consisting of the 
Popular Front, was more disunited than ever, and 
in fact the end of the Popular Front was already 
casting its shadow before. Only the Communists 
were unanimously in favour of making a determined 
stand, even at the cost of war : and many members 
of the Right — i.e., of the Opposition — including the 
extreme Right wing, were in agreement with them. 
The Socialists were in an acute dilemma, and most 
of them were opposed to war. The Radical 
Socialists — i.e., M. Daladier's own Party — were 


Utterly bewildered, and, not knowing what else 
to do, decided to ratify whatever M. Daladier 
might do. 

The most determined advocate of peace at any 
price on the Right was M. Flandin. He called a 
conference of the Parhamentary minority in order 
to convince them of the necessity of common action 
towards this end, but he was not very successful, 
because, as we have already seen, many members of 
the Right were in favour of making a determined 
stand. After a long debate it was determined that 
the exact differences between Hitler's Godesberg 
demands and the Anglo-French proposals should be 
estabHshed. A deputation was sent to interview 
M. Bonnet, the Foreign Minister, who expressed 
his conviction that the differences were not very 
great, and that it would be an appalling act of 
irresponsibility if war were allowed to break out 
because of what he called " questions of procedure ". 
He, M. Bonnet, was absolutely opposed to it, but 
the decision now lay in the hands of M. Daladier, 
who had conducted all the decisive negotiations in 
London. M. Bonnet, who could scarcely conceal his 
nervousness and irritation, sent the deputation to see 
M. Daladier. But M. Daladier decUned to receive 
it, explaining that he was prevented by pressure of 
business and had no time. 

The rumour had already started going round 
Paris that M. Daladier was planning a Government 
of national union, a coalition to include all the 
Parhamentary Parties, in case of war. 

French pubhc opinion was opposed to war. As 
we have already stated, it was misinformed, and still 
believed the crisis was only about Czechoslovakia, 


or, as M. Bonnet called it, " matters of procedure ". 
French public opinion was quite unaware that the 
sacrifice of Czechoslovakia would inevitably have 
terrible consequences for France, and remained 
definitely opposed to war. Hence the divergence 
of opinion within the political Parties in Parliament. 
The deputies knew the state of public opinion very 
well. Whether the latter was due to the defective 
information supplied by the French Press or to 
something else made no difference now. 

The writers of France issued a public proclamation. 
M. Jules Romains, the president of the P.E.N. Club, 
issued a manifesto addressed to the writers of Italy 
and Germany, caUing on them to work for peace. 
Failure to do so, the manifesto declared, would 
mean working against the spirit of civilisation, 
betraying the cause of humanity, and undertaking a 
terrible responsibihty. There was no more talk now 
of France fulfiUing her treaty obligations towards 
Czechoslovakia. Was the treaty to be fulfilled, or 
was it to be declared a scrap of paper? That was 
not the question in men's minds. The war threat 
overshadowed everything else. The future of France 
as a Great Power hung in the balance. Should she 
make war on Germany to prevent her from securing 
the hegemony of Europe, or should she give in to 
Germany now, spare the present generation the 
ordeal of another war, and let future generations 
foot the bill? 

Public opinion was opposed to war, and public 
opinion had to be reckoned with. This fact was 
naturally as familiar to the Prime Minister as it was 
to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. M. Daladier 
therefore listened very carefully to M. Bonnet that 


evening when the latter made him a proposal. In 
this the name of Mussolini again cropped up. 

Later that evening — ^meanwhile, of course, contact 
had been made with London — M. Daladier made a 
statement to the Press. 

" Complete calm and order prevails in France," 
he said. " Security measures are being carried out 
in orderly fashion and according to plan. The 
international struggle for peace is not yet ended. 
As an old soldier, I have a right to say that my 
Government will leave nothing undone to secure an 
honourable peace." 


The capital of Czechoslovakia was the scene of 
many conferences during the course of the day. 
Negotiations took place between the leaders of the 
political parties, the President of the Republic had 
long deliberations with various political person- 
ahties, as well as with the military leaders. Their 
task was relatively easy, for they had calculable 
factors to deal with, such as military units, transport 
arrangements, defence plans, and the organisation 
of public safety. The task of the politicians was far 
more difficult. Moreover, Czechoslovakia, though 
the cause of the whole crisis, no longer occupied 
the centre of the stage. 

Prague had already spoken. She had agreed to | 
surrender the Sudeten areas to Germany, decHned I 
Hitler's more far-reaching Godesberg demands, and { 
declared her willingness to take part in an inter- J 
national conference, subject to certain guarantees. - 
She had noted the German ultimatum calling upon 


her to evacuate the Sudeten territories before two 
o'clock on Wednesday, but she had no intention 
whatever of doing so. Prague's position was clear, 
and if war should break out now, the whole world 
would know with whom the responsibility lay. 

As, for the time being, there was nothing to do in 
Prague but to take note of the diplomatic reports 
from Paris and London, the contents of which were 
increasingly bewildering, attention was devoted at 
the last hour to the task of rallying all Germans 
who did not wish to Hve in Hitler's Germany. A 
pro-Czech proclamation by the Sudeten German 
Democratic Youth Movement was published, and 
negotiations were undertaken with those Sudeten 
German politicians who were still prepared to work 
for a solution by which the Sudeten Germans should 
live peaceably within the framework of the Czecho- 
slovak Republic. A proclamation was published 
in the name of a million democratic Germans, 
declaring that the majority of the Sudeten people 
had no desire to be absorbed by Germany. 

" The votes that we gave for Henlein [this pro- 
clamation declared] gave him no authority whatever 
to declare an anschluss, and still less to secure it by 
means of a world war. We protest before the whole 
world against the violence done to democracy by 
Hitler's new demands. The cession of the Sudeten 
German territory to Hitler would not prevent a war, 
but would plunge Europe into catastrophe, since the 
democratic Powers would henceforward be unable to 
resist Fascist aggression." 

However, all these negotiations and proclamations 
took place in an atmosphere of bewilderment and 
uneasiness. Everyone felt that the fate of Czecho- 


Slovakia no longer depended upon herself, but upon 
the decisions being made in the Western capitals. 

Czech pubUc opinion, which in the past few days 
had been so grievously disappointed in its trust in 
the Western democracies, once more became hopeful. 
But the statesmen in charge of affairs were sceptical 
and uncertain. The language of the confusing 
diplomatic reports that poured in from the Western 
capitals was not reassuring. 

At 5.40 p.m. President Moscicki's answer to 
President Benes's letter arrived from Warsaw. As 
we already know, it was written in conciliatory 
terms, acknowledging the Czechoslovak promises, 
but promising nothing in return. 

At the same time an official PoHsh statement was 
published, announcing that Poland accepted the 
Czech declaration agreeing to the principle of terri- 
torial revision as a means of solving the Polish- 
Czechoslovak problem. 

The diplomatic reports that Prague received from 
Warsaw, direct and through Paris, were by no means 
reassuring. Poland was of the opinion that the 
moment had come to press her claims to Teschen, 
but she had no intention of coming to an under- 
standing with Czechoslovakia, let alone make a 
treaty with her. 


Six miUtary classes had been mobihsed in Belgium, 
which had been in a state of emergency for many 
days. Belgium had never forgotten the terrible 
years of the German occupation during the Great 
War. She had declared her neutrality some time 
ago, but, if a war broke out, who would pay heed to 


the neutrality of a small country like Belgium? 
Besides, Belgium too has a small German minority, 
in the frontier districts of Eupen and Malmedy. 

On Tuesday evening M. Spaak, the Prime Minister, 
went to the microphone and spoke to the Belgian 

" Belgium is determined to defend her territory 
against any attack," he said, " and will not permit 
any army to march through Belgian territory." 


The United States Government did not remain 
inactive. Three American cruisers, Philadelphia, 
Savannah and Texas, were sent to Europe to evacuate 
American citizens in case of need. 

During the afternoon the Czechoslovak Minister 
in Washington called upon Mr. Cordell Hull, the 
United States Secretary of State, and had a long 
conversation with him. " It is never too late for 
negotiations," the Minister said as he left the 
State Department. 

At seven o'clock a Cabinet meeting was held in 
the White House, and soon afterwards a long cable 
was sent to Europe, consisting of another appeal 
by the President of the United States, this time 
directed to Hitler alone. Mr. Roosevelt knew as 
well as any European statesman where the real 
centre of the unrest lay. 

He therefore appealed to the German Chancellor 
to continue negotiations for the sake of avoiding a 
European war. He expressed the opinion that all 
the differences between Germany and Czechoslovakia 
should be settled peacefully. He pointed out that 
the threat of force might easily lead to a general 


war, and proposed the immediate summoning, in a 
neutral European country, of a conference of all the 
countries concerned in order to settle existing 
differences. President Roosevelt's moving appeal 
ended as follows: 

" Allow me to state my unqualified conviction that 
history and the souls of every man, woman and child 
whose Hves will be lost in the threatened war will hold 
us, and all of us, accountable should we omit any 
appeal for its prevention. 

" The Government of the United States has no 
political involvements in Europe and will assume no 
obhgations in the conduct of the present negotiations. 

*' Yet in our own right we recognise our responsi- 
bihties as part of a world of neighbours. Conscience 
and the impelling desire of the people of my country 
demand that the voice of their Government be raised 
again and yet again to avert and avoid war." 

President Roosevelt's wishes were to be fulfilled, 
perhaps sooner than he expected. He certainly did 
not anticipate that the conference he suggested 
would take the form that it did take, nor that the 
ensuing peace would be the peace that was arranged. 
There were two important respects in which the 
wishes of the American President were not fulfilled. 
The conference did not take ^place in a neutral 
country, but in Munich, and the country most 
concerned — Czechoslovakia — was not even admitted 
to it. 


Late that night a long coded cable reached Berlin 
from the German Embassy in Washington. Its 
contents were far from encouraging. Anti-German 
feeling in America was very great, it stated. In 
Roosevelt circles the opinion had been expressed 


that a sharp Note ought to be addressed to Germany, 
though American jurists had expressed themselves 
against the proposal that Roosevelt should summon 
a court of arbitration to settle the dispute. Should 
war break out, the whole of America would be on 
the side of the European democracies, and there 
was even a possibiUty of American intervention. 

With regard to the question of American inter- 
vention we do not know whether the German 
Ambassador exaggerated, because the people of the 
United States had no desire at this moment for 
armed intervention in European affairs, and they 
had no ambition to pay with their own blood for 
the incapacity of Europe's statesmen to maintain a 
reasonable peace. 

When this cable reached Berlin it did not, how- 
ever, make as great an impression as it would have 
done if it had arrived half a day earlier. 

Germany wished to do nothing to make the path 
of the Western Powers more difficult. As a proof 
of this we may mention the following : 

As we have stated above, Germany addressed an 
ultimatum to Czechoslovakia on Tuesday calling 
upon her to evacuate the Sudeten territory by two 
o'clock on Wednesday. Mr, Chamberlain himself 
mentioned this in the course of his speech in Parlia- 
ment on Wednesday. Foreign correspondents in 
Berlin learned of this ultimatum in the course of the 
late afternoon and evening of Tuesday. The 
correctness of this information was at first orally 
confirmed, but was denied in a communique issued 
by the German Press Bureau later that night. 

The purpose of this dementi was obviously not to 
force matters too far. For by the small hours on 


Wednesday morning Berlin felt fairly sure that the 
Western Powers would give in, that there would be 
no European war, and that Germany would get what 
she wanted. Certain information that reached 
Berlin from London seemed to confirm this. Let 
us see what this information was. 

A Gentleman's Speech and Two Letters \/^ 

Mr. Chamberlain, sitting in his room at No. 10 w 
Downing Street, broadcast a message to Hitler, 
the German people, Europe and the whole world. 
No one who listened to that speech will ever 
forget it. Mr. Chamberlain's quiet, tired and 
resigned voice made a far greater impression than 
the temperamental outbursts of the German Chan- 
cellor on the previous day. 

" How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is," said 
Mr. Chamberlain, " that we should be digging 
trenches and trying on gas masks because of a 
quarrel in a far-away country between people of 
whom we know nothing. 

" It seems still more impossible that a quarrel 
which is already settled in principle should be the 
subject of war. 

" I well understand the reason why the Czech 
Government felt unable to accept the terms put 
before them in the German Memorandum. Yet I 
beheved that, after my talks with Herr Hitler, if only 
time would allow, it ought to be possible for arrange- 
ment to transfer the territory that the Czech Govern- 
ment had agreed to give Germany to be settled by 
agreement under conditions which would ensure fair 
treatment for the population concerned." 

Mr. Chamberlain then gave a short account of his 


efforts to save peace, described his talks with Hitler 
and explained that he found Hitler's altered attitude 
at Godesberg " unreasonable ". He declared that 
he would not abandon his efforts to preserve peace, 
and called upon the people of Great Britain to offer 
their services for purposes of national defence. 

" Don't be alanned," he continued, " if you hear 
of men being called up to man the anti-aircraft 
defences and ships. These are only precautionary 
measures which the Government must take in times 
like these. It does not mean that we have deter- 
mined on war or that war is imminent. 

" However much we sympathise with a small 
country involved in a struggle with a larger neighbour, 
one could not necessarily involve the whole British 
Empire on that account. If this country fights, it 
must be on larger issues than that. 

" I am a man of peace. To the depth of my soul, 
armed warfare is a nightmare to me. 

" If I made up my mind that a country had decided 
to dominate by fear of its force, I would feel that it 
must be resisted. 

" Under such a domination, life for people who 
believe in hberty would not be worth living. But 
war is a fearful thing, and England must be very 
clear before it embarks on it that it is real and great 
issues that are at stake, and then the call to risk 
everything in their defence is irresistible. ... I am 
going to work for peace till the last moment." 

Was Germany to regard this as a last warning? 
Yes and no. Mr. Chamberlain said that England 
had no desire to be involved in war for the sake of 
a distant country. He said that if England fought. 


it must be for greater issues than that. But he also 
said that if he were convinced that a country was 
determined to dominate by fear of its force, he would 
feel that it would be necessary to oppose it. 

A big query remained. Was Mr. Chamberlain 
convinced that a struggle between England and 
Germany would be a struggle over " great issues " ? 
Was he convinced that Germany " had decided to 
dominate by fear of its force " ? 

We beheve that he must have been convinced of 
it. Otherwise Hitler would have been satisfied with 
what the democratic Powers had granted him at 
Berchtesgaden — namely, the cession of the Sudeten 
German areas. That was a great deal. If Hitler 
subsequently acted as he did, it could only be because 
he was pursuing wider aims. In Eastern Europe 
these aims are common knowledge. Hitler wished 
to destroy Czechoslovakia to leave the way clear for 
his drive to the East. He required an open road for 
the economic expansion of the Reich. Czecho- 
slovakia was the key to Eastern Europe, and that 
key must be in his hands. He therefore made 
every effort to secure it by diplomatic means. For 
four whole months he had manoeuvred very cleverly, 
and his diplomatic demarches showed him the many 
weaknesses of the Western European democracies, 
which had retreated step by step. At Berchtesgaden 
Hitler scored his first striking success, and this 
success had to be exploited. If the Western Powers 
sacrificed Czechoslovakia, it was obvious that they 
would sacrifice much more, and if they did so, these 
additional sacrifices would involve consequences to 
the structure of Europe far more extensive than the 


mere occupation of Czechoslovakia. For the sake 
of these great aims, it was worth taking the risk of 
war. During these months, weeks and days Hitler 
tested not only his and Germany's strength, but the 
weaknesses of others. The history of these few 
days, with which we have now nearly finished, shows 
that for a short space the Western democracies 
spasmodically pulled themselves together and stood 
their ground. But after that they gave in. In the 
European game of poker they held many trump cards, 
but many of them they threw away. 

As for Mr. Chamberlain's speech, it caused part 
of Europe to feel fairly certain that Great Britain 
was about to throw her great weight into the scales, 
while it led the other part, including particularly 
Berhn, to conclude that Britain would not fight. 

At half-past nine, after Mr. Chamberlain's wireless 
talk, the British Cabinet met. It immediately 
decided on a Class B naval mobihsation. This 
mobilisation had to a great extent been carried out 
already, and the Cabinet decision was intended partly 
to ratify it, partly to make it known to the whole 
world, in order to lend emphasis to the words that 
came from London. We know that Hitler was 
already aware of this mobilisation, having spoken of 
it to Sir Horace Wilson during the afternoon 

The wishes of London and Paris met half-way. 
There had been talk of MussoHni in both capitals 
throughout the day. Nevertheless it seems that this 
was not entirely a coincidence, and that it was 
Mussolini himself who had skilfully attracted the 
attention of both London and Paris and caused 


himself to be looked upon as the last hope of both. 
M. Bonnet, the French Foreign Minister, subse- 
quently stated that the idea that the British should 
approach Mussolini came from him. That is quite 
possible. Nevertheless the fact remains that the 
idea was not new in London, and that when a tele- 
phone call came through from Paris on Tuesday 
night it was already in the air. 

First of all, the British and French Ambassadors 
in Berlin were both instructed to approach Hitler 
and make one more endeavour to persuade him to 
recall his ultimatum, and then Mr. Chamberlain 
took another step. He wrote to Hitler as follows : 

" After reading your letter, I feel certain that you 
can get all essentials without war and without delay. 
I am ready to come to BerUn myself at once to discuss 
arrangements for transfers with you and representa- 
tives of the Czech Government, together with repre- 
sentatives of France and Italy, if you desire. I feel 
convinced that we can reach agreement in a week. 

" However much you distrust the Prague Govern- 
ment's intentions, you cannot doubt the power of the 
British and French Governments to see that the 
promises are carried out fully and carefully and 

'* As you know, I have stated publicly that we are 
prepared to undertake that they shall be so carried out. 

" I cannot believe that you will take the responsi- 
bihty of starting a world war which may end civilisation 
for the sake of a few days' delay in settling this long- 
standing problem." 

If this letter convinced Hitler of anything at all, it 
can only have been that England and France wanted 
peace at any price. 

Mr. Chamberlain addressed the following appeal 
to Mussolini: 


" I have to-day addressed a last appeal to Herr 
Hitler to abstain from force to settle the Sudeten 
problem, which I feel sure can be settled by a short 
discussion, and will give him the essential territory, 
population and protection for both Sudetens and 
Czechs during the transfer. 

" I have offered myself to go at once to Berlin to 
discuss arrangements with German and Czech repre- 
sentatives and, if the Chancellor desires, representa- 
tives also of Italy and France. 

*' I trust your Excellency will inform the German 
Chancellor that you are willing to be represented and 
urge him to agree to my proposal which will keep all 
our peoples out of war. 

" I have already guaranteed that Czech promises 
should be carried out and feel confident full agreement 
could be reached in a week." 

As soon as these letters were sent to the Ambassa- 
dors concerned, the fate of Czechoslovakia was sealed. 
They constituted a complete capitulation, and while 
offering no guarantees to Czechoslovakia against 
aggression, much as she needed them, they made 
lavish promises to Germany, armed to the teeth as 
she was. 



At 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 28th September, the 
British Ambassador in Rome, Lord Perth, called at 
the Italian Foreign Ministry. This talk was the first 
item in the series of sensations with which the day 
was packed. 

They were sensations to the general public only, 
of course, for expert politicians had heard on Tues- 


day night — or, if the news had not reached them till 
very late — in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 
that the great European crisis was on the point of 
ending — ^indeed, that it was practically over. 

The head of the Italian Government, Benito 
MussoHni, had some difficult weeks behind him 
when he found himself placed suddenly in the 
forefront of European affairs. The exploits of his 
partner at the other end of the Berlin-Rome axis 
pleased him less and less. 

Germany had snapped up Austria from under 
Italy's nose, and was now preparing to go much 
further. Mussolini saw clearly that if Germany 
won this game, there were certain advantages which 
would accrue to Italy. Italy would have, however, 
to make sure of these advantages for herself. The 
great disadvantage would be the further weakening 
of Italy's position on the Axis. This position was 
not now, by any means, a brilliant one, and Musso- 
lini did not like having to play second fiddle. But, 
if Germany lost the game, if war should come, what 

The German Reich was not enjoying any great 
popularity in Italy, where people were afraid of 
their neighbour beyond the Alps, and if Italy had 
to join with Germany against France, she would 
find herself committed to a very dubious adventure. 
Hitler could, no doubt, risk his own career, and 
that of his regime, for he stood to make enormous 
gains, but Italians did not Hke the idea of staking 
the future of Fascism in an affair in which Italy 
stood to gain but little. It was no wonder, there- 


fore, that the Duce was very nervous, and not 
particularly amiable to his suite. 

So Italy's position in the first three weeks of this 
European drama was left vague. She held back, 
so that the impression might arise in the West that, 
under certain conditions, she would remain neutral. 
That did not suit Germany in the least, for Italy 
was an important card in the game of poker that 
was being played for Mid-Eastern Europe. So 
" strong pressure " soon set in from Germany. 
Germany had several reasons to be dissatisfied with 
her southern neighbour. There were differences of 
opinion on the Spanish question and on the internal 
weakness of the Fascist regime, to remedy which 
Germany had, so far, worked in vain. To offset 
this, the Duce presented the Fuhrer with his surprising 
solution of the Jewish question. To please Hitler, the 
fanatical and convinced anti-Semite, Italy launched 
a cold-blooded campaign against the 44,000 or so 
Jews within her frontiers. But the uncertain attitude 
of Italy to the Czechoslovak question was a very 
serious matter, and Germany, therefore, proceeded 
to take the necessary measures. 

The immediate results of this German pressure 
were Mussolini's speeches in the Northern provinces 
of Italy, which were, however, by no means a great 
success for the Duce. Their effect was much 
weakened by Mussolini's excursion to Jugoslav terri- 
tory during his stay in northern Italy. This annoyed 
Berlin considerably, and Mussolini was subjected to 
still greater pressure to compel him to take up an 
unambiguous position. 

Now the Duce had to act. He announced to 


Hitler, through Bernardo Attolico, his Ambassador in 
Berhn, that Italy was ready to carry out certain 
mihtary measures and would, of course, be on 
Germany's side in case of a conflict. At the same 
time, however, he advised moderation. 

So for several days Italy had been preparing. 
Certain partial mobilisations had been carried out, and 
Mussolini discussed the military situation with his Staff. 

But, at the same time, very delicate and discreet 
contacts were made with the West. " How would it 
be if one could persuade the Duce to intervene with 
the Fiihrer ? " Such was the purport of the suggestions 
which mysterious emissaries from Rome whispered 
to the ministers and diplomats in the two Western 
capitals. They acted with such extreme discretion 
that they even refrained from dropping inspired 
hints in the Press. 

For the Press was much too coarse an instrument 
for these approaches. Was it an accident that, at 
the beginning of this decisive week, rumours were 
spread in Rome and elsewhere that the King of 
Italy would abdicate in favour of his son if Italy 
was involved in a war with France ? The King had 
given formal instructions to Mussolini, so it was 
said, to intervene energetically with the German 
Chancellor. Truth or fiction? Had the King of 
Italy really made this statement, or was the author 
of this story not unconnected with the Italian 
Ministry for Press and Propaganda? That is one 
of the many mysteries of September 1938 which 
only the future can unveil. 

Mussolini's mood, which, as we know, was very 
bad, showed signs of improvement on the following 


Tuesday. He felt that things were shaping well for 
him, and this soon proved to be true. First came 
the private message from President Roosevelt to 
the Duce, requesting his intervention in favour of 
peace. MussoHni replied poHtely, but not too 
clearly, that the suggestion was very nice, but 
should come from elsewhere — from London. 

And it did come, as had been foreseen. Italian 
diplomacy was exactly informed, late on Tuesday 
afternoon, of the feehng in Paris ; Italy knew how 
strong were the forces working in Paris for an 
accommodation and for an intervention by Musso- 
lini. And so they knew in Rome in the late hours 
of Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday 
what the coming day would bring — a request from 
England for Mussolini's intervention with Hitler, 
to which, of course, Mussolini would agree. More- 
over, precise information had arrived from Berlin 
which left no doubt that this intervention would be 

Such was the position when, on Wednesday 
morning, at 10.30 a.m., the British Ambassador, 
Lord Perth, was announced to Count Galeazzo 
Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, and MussoHni's 

Speeding Ahead for Peace 

The six hours which elapsed on Wednesday 
between the first interview of Lord Perth with Count 
Ciano and Mr. Chamberlain's announcement in the 
British House of Commons that Hitler had accepted 
the proposal of a Conference of Four, produced 
merely the endorsement of already definite facts. 


When M. Bonnet proposed Mussolini's interven- 
tion, he knew that Mussolini would accept. London 
knew it too. And Mussolini, on his part, was 
definitely informed that this intervention would not 
be without success. For Hitler knew that the 
Western Powers had already decided to give way, 
and that the only remaining question was that of 
the method to be adopted. He was ready to offer 
minor concessions for which he could make up 

10.30 a.m. Rome. 

The British Ambassador, Lord Perth, informed 
Count Ciano that he had an appeal from the British 
Government to communicate to Signor MussoHni 

The text of Mr. Chamberlain's message had not 
yet arrived, but he would hand it over later. As 
time pressed, however. ... A telephone conversa- 
tion between Ciano and Mussolini. The arrange- 
ment of which they had heard the previous night 
had now been put into effect. An official British 
demarche. But they took no steps yet ; they waited 
for the letter that was promised for later on. 

11 a.m. London. 

King George signed the order for the mobilisation 
of the British Fleet. This, however, now seemed 
almost superfluous. 

11.15 a.m. Berlin. 

The demarche of the British and French Am- 
bassadors which had been arranged on Tuesday 
night was made to Hitler. He was officially in- 
formed of the demarche requested by Mussolini. 



Shortly afterwards, the Itahan Ambassador visited 
the Fiihrer, on MussoHni's instructions. He informed 
him that Mussolini would like to speak to the Fiihrer 
by telephone, and meanwhile requested the post- 
ponement of the mobilisation arranged for 2 p.m. 
Hitler agreed, and stated that he was awaiting 
MussoHni's telephone call. 

Meanwhile, the telephone wires were buzzing 
between Paris and London, London and Rome, 
Rome and Paris, Paris and BerHn, Berhn and Lon- 
don, Berlin and Rome. No common mortal could 
carry on a conversation with a foreign country on 
that Wednesday morning, for every line was blocked 
with diplomatic talks. 

11.30 a.m. Rome. 

The British Ambassador handed to the Italian 
Foreign Minister the text of Mr. Chamberlain's 
letter. Count Ciano hastened from the Palazzo 
Chigi to the Palazzo Venezia. He was immediately 
admitted to the Duce. The Duce read " I have, 
to-day, addressed a last appeal ..." 

'Then Count Ciano spoke with the German Foreign 
Minister in Berlin. It was a long conversation. It 
lasted a full forty minutes. Germany was prepared 
to hold a Conference of Four in Munich, but on one 
condition . . . This condition was at once communi- 
cated to London and Paris. In his last letter to 
Hitler, Mr. Chamberlain had proposed that a repre- 
sentative of the Czechoslovak Government should 
take part in this conference. Germany rejected this 
suggestion. Italy supported Germany, and the Duce 
was prepared to accept the role of mediator, only on 
this condition. Both London and Paris agreed. 


12 mid-day Rome, 

The Duce spoke to the Fiihrer for fifteen minutes. 
The Duce spoke German, and the Fiihrer had some 
difficulty in understanding. Consequently, the talk 
took a quarter of an hour. When it was over, the 
Fiihrer had given his consent to the Conference of 
Four, and promised to postpone the mobilisation 
ordered for 2 p.m. " out of friendship " for Musso- 

2.30 p.m. Pan's. 

M. Daladier learned from Berlin that the French 
Ambassador, M. Fran9ois-Poncet, had received an in- 
vitation for the French Premier to attend the Con- 
ference of Four at Munich on the following day. 
The public announcement of this invitation was 
made officially two hours later. 

4.20 p.m. London. The House of Commons. 

Mr. Chamberlain was speaking. For more than 
an hour he had been giving a report of his efforts, 
negotiations and journeys. Sir John Simon passed 
the Premier a note. This note ran as follows : 

" Herr Hitler accepts your proposals. He will be 
glad to meet you at Munich to-morrow, together with 
M. Daladier and Signor MussoUni." 

Mr. Chamberlain paused for a moment, then he con- 
tinued his speech with a voice full of emotion: 
*' This is not all, I have something further to say to 
the House . . ." 

At 7 p.m. M. Daladier was to have broadcast to 
the French people. Now he could not make the 
speech he had prepared. He spoke but briefly: 
" I shall not give up my fight for peace . . ." 


In Prague they had been celebrating the Feast of 
St. Vaclav, the patron saint of Bohemia. Hundreds 
of thousands had made pilgrimage to the Cathedral 
of Saint Vitus to do honour to the skull of the 
saint, which bears the crown of Bohemia. In the 
afternoon, news came of the Munich meeting. The 
effect was staggering. 

That evening Czechoslovakia attempted to pro- 
test against her fate being decided in the absence of 
her representatives. But the Fiihrer objected to 
them, and London and Paris had yielded. The 
feeble voice of Czechoslovakia was now scarcely 
audible in the mighty concert of the Great Powers. 

The Pax Germanica 

Hour after hour the ' Big Four ' deliberated in 
the Fuhrerhaus in Munich. They had come from 
London and Paris, from BerUn and Rome, by air 
and by special train, to save peace. Nor was there 
any doubt that peace would be saved. 

The four statesmen understood each other per- 
fectly. MussoHni, who was suffering that day from 
acute pain in the kidneys, spoke all four languages ; 
Hitler spoke German, M. Daladier French, and Mr. 
Chamberlain English — and yet they understood each 
other perfectly. 

These four men had one wish in common : peace. 
But of the four, one had staked all, and would stick 
at nothing, to shape the peace to his design. He 
held all the cards; now he was the one to grant 
concessions, to whom the others had in fact come 
to beg him to do so. Hitler had now come into his 
own ; he was dictating his peace to Europe, a peace 


that he had gained without war because the others 
had first left him a clear path and then run away 
from the consequences. 

Hour after hour the negotiations dragged on; 
and when at last the four reached agreement, none 
knew exactly what it was that they had agreed 
upon. The broad outlines had been settled, but 
not the details. These were left to be determined 
by an international commission consisting of the 
British, French, and Italian Ambassadors, a German 
Secretary of State, and a representative of Czecho- 
slovakia. And these were details that concerned 
the fate of hundreds of thousands of human beings, 
property to the value of milUons, and the life of a 
whole people. 

But peace was saved — the peace at any price. 
And at 1.35 o'clock on the morning of 30th Sep- 
tember, 1938, a pact was signed in Munich that 
put the finishing touch to the disastrous events of 
the month. People said that it was a peace without 
victor or vanquished. But in fact there was a vic- 
tor : Adolf Hitler. Had his concessions really been 
enough to justify the Munich agreement being called 
a peace without victor or vanquished ? We will see : 

The plan accepted by the Czechoslovak Govern- 
ment on 21st September under pressure by London 
and Paris — i.e., after the Hitler-Chamberlain Berch- 
tesgaden talks — differed essentially from that agreed 
upon in Munich on 30th September. This latter, as 
we shall see, is almost identical with Hitler's Godes- 
berg demands, which the British and French Govern- 
ments regarded as unacceptable. To facilitate ex- 
amination of the three plans we will set them out 


in tabular form, item by item. The first we will 
call ' Berchtesgaden ', the second ' Godesberg ', and 
the third ' Munich '. 

The Three Phases of the International Dispute 
OVER Czechoslovakia 

1. Areas contain- 
ing more than 50 per 
cent, of Germans to 
be ceded to the Reich 
without plebiscite. 
Where special cir- 
cumstances required, 
an international com- 
mission, on which 
would be represented 
would define the 
frontiers, bearing in 
mind, however, the 
economic and strate- 
gic requirements of 
the country. 

2. Optional ex- 
change of popula- 


1. Hitler himself 
marked on the map 
the areas demanded 
by Germany. Among 
these were areas in 
which the Czechs 
were in a majority. 
Hitler himself de- 
cided the areas in 
which plebiscites 
were to be held, in- 
cluding important 
industrial districts 
with Czech majori- 
ties. New frontier 
lines arising out of 
the plebiscites were 
to be determined by 
a German-Czech or 
an international 
commission. The 
areas on the map 
drawn by Hitler were 
to be occupied by 
German troops, irre- 
spective of whether 
they would be finally 
allotted to Germany 
or Czechoslovakia. 

2. No mention of 
exchange of popula- 
tions, but demand 
for a plebiscite, not 
later than 25th No- 
vember, under inter- 
national control, in 
the areas defined by 

1. Hitler's map, 
containing certain 
areas with Czech 
majorities, was not 
accepted as a basis, 
the decision being 
left to an inter- 
national commission 
of the British, 
French, and Italian 
Ambassadors in Ber- 
lin, a German Secre- 
tary of State, and a 
representative of 
Czechoslovakia. The 
activities of this 
commission will be 
discussed later; its 
decision, however, 
is anticipated in cer- 
tain important 

2. Right of option 
agreed to, to be ex- 
ercised within six 
months. All matters 
concerning this and 
the exchange of pop- 
ulation to be settled 
by a German-Czech 
commission. Areas 
where plebiscites will 
be held to be decided 
by an international 





3. The new fron- 
tiers of Czechoslova- 
kia to be internation- 
ally guaranteed. 
Britain to take part 
in this guarantee. 

4. Czechoslovakia 
demanded that 

pending the deter- 
mination of the new 
frontiers the areas in 
question should re- 
main under her au- 
thority and that the 
settlement of practi- 
cal details should be 
carried out in agree- 
ment with her Gov- 

3. No guarantee 
of the new Czecho- 
slovak frontiers be- 
fore Czechoslovakia 
had ceded certain 
areas to Poland and 
Hungary. After this 
the possibility of a 
guarantee would be 

4. Czechoslovakia 
to evacuate and 
hand over to Ger- 
many by 1st October 
the areas marked on 
Hitler's map. 

5. The territory to 
be ceded to Ger- 
many to be handed 
over in its existing 
condition. In par- 
ticular the following 
articles to be neither 
destroyed nor ren- 
dered useless : mili- 
tary, industrial, and 
traffic installations. 
This includes aero- 
dromes and wireless 

All industrial and 
traffic installations, 
in particular rolling- 
stock, in these areas, 

commission and oc- 
cupied by inter- 
national troops. 
Plebiscites to be car- 
ried out according 
to the Saar statute, 
not later than the 
end of November. 

3. Britain and 
France guarantee the 
new frontiers of 
against unprovoked 
attack. When the 
questions of Polish 
and Hungarian min- 
orities are settled, 
Germany and Italy 
will participate in 
the guarantee. 

4. The areas to 
be ceded to Ger- 
many to be succes- 
sively occupied by 
the Reichswehr dur- 
ing period from 1st 
to 10th October, in- 
clusive. The occu- 
pation to take place 
in five zones, to be 
determined by the 
aforesaid interna- 
tional commission. 

5. No existing in- 
stallations (includ- 
ing, therefore, the 
fortifications) to be 
destroyed. The 
Czechoslovak Gov- 
ernment to be held 
responsible for car- 
rying out the evacu- 
ation without dam- 
age to any of these 



to be handed over 
undamaged. This 
applied also to all 
other public installa- 
tions. Finally, no 
foodstuffs, goods, 
cattle, raw materi- 
als, etc., to be re- 
moved from these 

6. The Czechoslo- 
vak Government to 
release forthwith all 
Sudeten Germans in 
the Czechoslovak 
Army or Police. 

7. The Czechoslo- 
vak Government to 
release all German 
political prisoners. 

8. The German 
Government agreed 
to the setting up of 
a German-Czech 
commission to settle 
all other questions 
of detail. 


6. Czechoslovakia 
to release from the 
Army and Police 
within four weeks 
all Sudeten Germans 
who wish to be 

7. Czechoslovakia 
to release all political 
prisoners of German 

8. An interna- 
tional commission, 
consisting of the 
three Ambassadors 
in Berlin, a German 
Secretary of State, 
and a representative 
of Czechoslovakia, 
to settle all ques- 
tions arising out of 
the cession of the 

9. The Heads of 
the Governments of 
the four Powers de- 
clared that the ques- 
tion of the Polish 
and Hungarian min- 
orities should, if not 
settled within three 
months by means of 
direct agreement be- 
tween the Govern- 
ments concerned, be 
the subject of an- 
other four-Power 

The international commission referred to in the 
Munich document has since agreed to all the de- 


mands of the Germans, so that, apart from a few 
small details, the frontier as finally determined 
corresponds almost exactly to that drawn by Hitler. 
Such, then, is the aspect of the peace in which 
there is neither " victor nor vanquished ". 



At two o'clock on the afternoon of 1st October, 
the first German soldier entered Czech territory. 
Not a shot was fired. 

On the same day, in Paris, M. Daladier, the 
French Prime Minister, amid resounding cheers, 
lighted the lamp over the grave of the Unknown 
Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe. 

The people of France, and with them the peoples 
of all Europe, acclaimed the peace. They had not 
wanted war, and rejoiced that it had been prevented. 

Readers of this book may perhaps have received 
the impression that it is an argument in favour of 
war. That is not so. The author, like every other 
European, detests the cruelty and devastation of war. 

But this peace that has been saved is not a good 
peace for Europe. The point is not that a State 
which, during the last twenty years, has been held 
up as a model for all the States that were founded 
after the War, has been deprived of its power of 
independent existence, and has been delivered up 
to Germany. The essence of the matter is that the 
balance of power in Europe has been upset. The 


way to the east of Europe has been opened to 
Germany. Who to-day can predict the Umits of 
that country's expansion ? 

If from the outset the Western European demo- 
cracies had shown greater firmness, it 'would have 
been possible to come to a reasonable agreement 
with Germany — an agreement whereby all the just 
claims of the German minority in Czechoslovakia 
would have been satisfied without delivering up that 
country to Germany or giving Germany proof of 
the weakness of the two great Western European 
Powers. Germany has taken cognizance of this, 
and will make further capital out of this weakness. 
Peace has been concluded — at an exorbitant price; 
but war in the future, or a further capitulation of 
the Western Powers, has not been prevented. The 
events of October 1938 have alarmingly shown that 
democracy in Europe has chosen the quickest road 
to abdication. 


While this book was passing through the press, 
Herr von Ribbentrop and Count Ciano were busy 
in Vienna arranging the general scheme for the 
mutilation of Czechoslovakia in the east and south- 
east. The results of their proceedings have now been 
announced, and they are, if anything, more out- 
rageous than the Munich decisions. Slovakia loses 
one-fifth of its area, and more than one-sixth of 
its population to Hungary. Of the 895,000 persons 



who are affected by this territorial operation, only 
506,000 are Magyars. Hungary receives also nearly 
one-eighth of Carpathian Ruthenia, with one-quarter 
of its population. Here the proportion of Magyars 
in the ceded territory amounts to scarcely one-half. 
In both regions Czechoslovakia has to surrender 
important towns, in particular Kosice, hitherto the 
capital of Eastern Slovakia, as well as Uzhorod and 
Mukacevo, the only towns of any size in Carpathian 
Ruthenia, and both of them improved beyond 
recognition by twenty years of Czech labour and 
financial sacrifice. 

The Vienna arrangements, like those of Munich, 
include, of course, wanton destruction of railway 
routes. Once again, in fact, bare-faced robbery 
masquerading as self-determination has done its 
worst. And the betrayal of Czechoslovakia is now 


Minorities in Central Europe 

What would happen if all the problems relating to minorities 
in Central Europe were solved as radically as that of the 
Czechoslovak minorities ? 

Before the War there were nearly 60,000,000 discontented 
minorities; now, after the settlement of the Czechoslovak 
question, there still remain some 16,500,000. 

In Poland, 30 per cent, of a population of 32,000,000, 
consist of minorities, including 4,200,000 Ukrainians 
(7,000,000 according to Ukrainian calculations), 1,059,194 
Germans, besides Lithuanians, Russians, and Czechs. 

Rumania has a population of 18,000,000, of which 25 
per cent., or 4,500,000, consist of minorities, 1,386,717 being 
Hungarians, 774,645 Germans, besides Ruthenes and Bul- 


In Jugoslavia the minorities account for 15 per cent., of 
which 499,326 are Germans, 468,185 Hungarians, besides 
176,482 Czechoslovaks, Italians, Russians, Ruthenes, Poles, 
and Bulgarians. 

In Hungary also there are large minorities : some 500,000 
Germans, more than 100,000 Slovaks, besides Serbs, Croats, 
Rumanians, and Ruthenes. 

Italy has 257,000 Germans in South Tyrol, and more than 
500,000 Slovenes and Croats. The South Tyrolese have been 
abandoned to Italianisation in accordance with the policy of 
the ' Berlin-Rome Axis.' 

And Germany herself has also national minorities. 
German statistics show approximately 2 per cent, of national 
minorities within her borders, or about 1,500,000. Of these 
there are about 800,000 Poles (1,200,000 according to Polish 
calculations), 62,000 Czechs, nearly 80,000 Lusatian Wends 
(a Slav stock), besides Danes, Frisians, and Lithuanians. 

PRiNaPAL Events of the European Crisis 

August-October 1938 

3rd Aug. Lord Runciman, the British intermediary, arrived 
in Prague. 

10th Aug. Abortive negotiations between Czechoslovak 
Government and Henlein Party. 

14th Aug. Opening of the grand manoeuvres of the German 
Army, which made Germany the strongest military Power 
in Europe during the crisis. 

19th Aug. Concessions by the Prague Government, de- 
scribed by the Sudeten Germans as insufficient. 

25th Aug. New proposals of the Prague Government, which, 
however, were again refused. Opening of the German 
Press campaign against Prague. 

28th Aug. Sir John Simon, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
declared at Lanark that the British attitude in regard to 
France and Czechoslovakia remained unchanged. 

1st Sept. Talks between Hitler and Henlein at Berchtesgaden. 
New plan of action evolved. Lord Runciman's mission 
in Prague received gas-masks from England. 

3rd Sept. M. Litvinoff, Russian Foreign Minister, had an 
interview with the German Ambassador in Moscow, and 
left him in no doubt that Russia would fulfil her obliga- 
tions towards Czechoslovakia if the latter were attacked 
by Germany. 


4th Sept. M. Bonnet, the French Foreign Minister, stated 
in a speech at Bordeaux that France would fulfil her 
treaty obligations towards Czechoslovakia. 
Demonstrations in Sudeten German districts. 

5th Sept. France called up reservists and technical personnel. 

Opening of the Nazi Party Congress at Nuremberg. 

The Czechoslovak Government submitted new con- 
cessions, stated to be final. 
7th Sept. The Times published an article suggesting the 
cession of the whole Sudeten German district to Germany 
as the best solution of the problem. The article was 
repudiated by the British Government, but gave Hitler 
further reason to hope. 

Incidents in Sudeten districts. 
8th Sept. Mr. Chamberlain interrupted his holiday and 
returned to London. 

Lord Halifax, M. Bonnet, and M. Spaak postponed 
their departure for Geneva. 

Failure of Sir Nevile Henderson, British Ambassador 
in Berlin, to obtain interview with Hitler at Nuremberg. 
He succeeded only in seeing von Ribbentrop, the German 
Foreign Minister, whom he warned against hasty steps 
in the Czechoslovak problem. 

The British Home Fleet assembled for manoeuvres in 
the North Sea. 
9th Sept. The Sudeten Germans proclaim a state of emer- 
10th Sept. Goering in a speech at Nuremberg referred to 
the Czechs as " a miserable race of pygmies . . . nobody 
knows from where they came ..." 

Important ministerial consultations in London. 
11th Sept. In Geneva M. Bonnet had discussions with M. 
Litvinoff and with M. Comnen, Rumanian Foreign 

Communique issued from Downing Street to the foreign 
Press stated : "In the event of Czechoslovakia being 
attacked, Britain could not remain neutral in a war in 
which France was involved ". 

Military preparations in Belgium, Holland, and 

12th Sept. Hitler's speech in Nuremberg: a tirade directed 
against Prague, which, however, failed to make clear his 
real aims. 

Cabinet meeting in Paris attended by General Gamelin, 
head of the French General Staff. 

Cabinet meeting in London. 


Czechoslovakia protested against the proposals for a 
plebiscite and demanded the right to participate in any 
international negotiations held for the purpose of 
deciding her fate. 

Sanguinary conflictsin Sudeten districts in consequence 
of Hitler's speech. Czechoslovak Government declared 
martial law in these districts. 
13th Sept. General Staff consultations in Paris and London. 

Many sanguinary incidents in Sudetenland. Martial 
law extended to more districts. 

At 5.30 p.m. the Sudeten German Party issued an 
ultimatum to the Czechoslovak Government demanding 
revocation of martial law within six hours. 

Prague Government invited leaders of Sudeten Germans 
to Prague to discuss their ultimatum. They did not, 
however, accept. 
14th Sept. Mr. Chamberlain's letter to Hitler. Hitler 
invited Mr. Chamberlain to come to Berchtesgaden. 

Shooting in Sudetenland, with many killed and 
wounded. Arms from Germany confiscated. Martial 
law further extended. Abortive discussions between 
members of the Runciman mission and Henlein. 

Hitler consulted his Army leaders at Berchtesgaden. 
15th Sept. Interview between Hitler and Mr. Chamberlain 
at Berchtesgaden. Hitler demanded cession of Sudeten- 

Henlein and other deputies of his Party fled to Ger- 
many. Order restored in Sudetenland by Czechoslovak 
authorities. Result of disturbances : twenty-nine killed, 
of which majority were Czechs ; seventy-five wounded, 
of which sixty-one were Czechs. 
16th Sept. Mr. Chamberlain returned to London with 
Hitler's proposals. 

Sudeten German Party suspended. Criminal proceed- 
ings started against Henlein and other members of the 
Party. Many groups of Sudeten Germans who disagreed 
with Henlein's method of procedure expressed wish to 
continue negotiations with Government. 

Czechs in Germany arrested and held as hostages. 

Lord Runciman left Prague and returned to London. 

Private conference of Hungarian Cabinet with the 
Regent, Admiral Horthy. 
17th Sept. Further extension of special measures in Sudeten- 
land. Henlein issued proclamation creating Sudeten 
German legion. 

Ministerial discussions in Paris and London. 

Cabinet meeting in Washington. 


18th Sept. Dr. Hodza, Czechoslovak Prime Minister, spoke 
on wireless : " No plebiscite. If we are forced to fight 
we will fight." 

In a speech at Trieste Mussolini declared in favour of 
a plebiscite. 

Consultations in London with MM. Daladier and 
Bonnet on Hitler's Berchtesgaden demands, at which 
it was decided to accept them. 

19th Sept. MM. Daladier and Bonnet returned to Paris. 
Cabinet consultation. London decision accepted. 

Czechoslovak Government informed in the afternoon 
that they should cede Sudeten districts to Germany in 
accordance with Hitler's demands and the decision 
arrived at in London. 

Poland and Hungary, at first unofficially, put forward 
demands for certain parts of Czechoslovakia. 

Feverish political and diplomatic activities in Paris, 
London, and Prague. 

20th Sept. Hungarian Foreign Minister and Polish Ambas- 
sador visited Hitler at Berchtesgaden. Plan of action 
drawn up for further demands for cession of territory by 

Admiral Horthy visited Marshal Goering at Sternberg, 
East Prussia. 

Czechoslovak Government having delayed acceptance, 
Paris and London urged them to accept. Representa- 
tions of British and French Ambassadors to President 
Benes. Czechoslovak Government proposed submission 
of dispute to arbitration of German-Czech tribunal. 

Differences in French Government. 

Polish Ambassadors in London, Paris, Rome, and 
Berlin announced officially Poland's claims to certain 
parts of Czechoslovakia. 

Attacks on Czech frontier guards, organised by 

Inner Cabinet Committee in London discussed reply 
from Czechoslovak Government. Cabinet meeting until 
10.45 p.m. Telephone conversations between Downing 
Street and Paris. 

21st Sept. Further representations during night by British 
and French Ministers to Dr. Benes. Britain and France 
urged acceptance by Czechoslovakia of the demands. 
Prague accepted. 

Hungary announced through diplomatic channels her 
claims to certain parts of Czechoslovakia. 

Demonstrations in Prague due to popular indignation 
at the acceptance of Franco-British decision. 


Ministerial consultations in London. Mr. Chamber- 
lain had audience with the King. 

In Geneva M. Litvinoff stated that if France fulfilled 
her treaty obligations towards the Czechs, Russia would 
come to their assistance. 

22nd Sept. Mr. Chamberlain flew to Godesberg. Discus- 
sions from 4 to 7.15 p.m. 

Three French Ministers expressed intention to resign, 
but subsequently withdrew. 

In speech on wireless Dr. Bene§ called for maintenance 
of order and stated that he had a plan. Resignation of 
the Hodza Government and formation of a new one 
with General Syrovy at its head. 

Hungary informed Prague of her claims. 

Poland denounced the minority agreement with 

23rd Sept. Breakdown of Godesberg discussions. 

Correspondence between Mr. Chamberlain and Hitler. 

Further discussions from 10.30 p.m. until 1.30 a.m. 
Hitler put forward new demands. 

Paris and London released Czechoslovak Government 
from undertaking to do nothing that might prejudice 

Mobilisation of Czechoslovak army proclaimed by 
wireless at 10.20 p.m. 

Concentration of Polish troops on Czechoslovak 
frontier. Russia warned Poland that she would immedi- 
ately denounce the Non- Aggression Pact between her and 
Poland the moment the first Polish soldier entered 
Czechoslovak territory. 

M. Daladier stated that if Czechoslovakia were attacked 
by Germany, France would fulfil her obligations. 

M. Litvinoff stated at Geneva that if France fulfilled 
her obligations towards Czechoslovakia, Russia would do 
the same. 

24th Sept. Mr. Chamberlain flew back from Godesberg. 
British Cabinet consultations. French Ministers invited 
to London. 

Measures for mobilisation of French army continued. 

Czechoslovakia cut off" from the rest of the world. 
No communication possible by telephone, telegraph, or 

M. Daladier stated on wireless that France had given 
proof of her desire for peace, and that she must now 
prove that she was strong. 

Hitler's memorandum and the map marked by him 


handed to Prague. France and Britain did not recom- 
mend its acceptance. 

25th Sept. Cabinet crisis in France narrowly avoided. 
French Cabinet decided that firm stand should now be 
made. Long consultations of French and British 
Ministers in London. 

Note from Czechoslovak Government refusing Hitler's 
26th Sept. Consultations of French and British Ministers 
in London continued. General Gamelin in London. 
Military consultations. 

Further war measures in Paris. Women and children 
sent away. 

Roosevelt's appeal to all concerned. Replies from Dr. 
BeneS, M. Daladier, and Mr. Chamberlain. 

Sir Horace Wilson sent to Berlin with a letter from 
Mr. Chamberlain. 

Further military measures in Belgium. 

Hitler's speech in the Sportpalast in Berlin. Attack 
on Dr. Bene§. Sudeten districts must be evacuated by 
1st October. 

Private letter from Dr. Benes to M. Moscicki, Polish 

Important announcements by Foreign Office and Mr. 
Chamberlain after Hitler's speech. 

British Parliament called together for Wednesday. 
War preparations in England. 

American tourists in Europe advised to return home. 
27th Sept. Cancellation of King's visit to Glasgow. 

Further interview of Sir Horace Wilson with Hitler. 
Hitler's reply to Mr. Chamberlain despatched. 

New ultimatum to Prague: Sudeten districts to be 
evacuated by 2 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Hitler's reply to President Roosevelt. 

Daladier attempted to form a united national Govern- 
ment. Great political activity in Paris. 

Visit of three American cruisers to Europe. President 
Roosevelt appealed personally to Hitler. 

Gas masks distributed and trenches dug in London. 

President Moscicki's reply to Dr. Bene§. Poland took 
note of Czechoslovakia's agreement to the cession of 
certain territory. 

Mr. Chamberlain's wireless speech. Night meeting of 

the British Cabinet. A last letter sent to Hitler. Appeal 

to Mussolini to intervene with Hitler. 

28th Sept. Two interviews between the British Ambassador 

in Rome and the Italian Foreign Minister, Count Ciano. 


Interview between Hitler and the Italian Ambassador. 

Interview between Hitler and the British and French 

Telephone conversation between Mussolini and Hitler 
and between Count Ciano and Ribbentrop. 

Denial of German ultimatum to Prague. 

Decree mobilising the British Fleet signed by the King. 

Mr. Chamberlain's speech in the House of Commons. 
Hitler's invitation to Mr. Chamberlain and M. Daladier 
to a conference at Munich the next day with Mussolini 
and himself. 

Czechoslovak Minister in London requested that 
Czechoslovakia should be permitted to attend the Munich 

29th Sept. Munich conference. 

30th Sept. Agreement signed at 1.35 a.m. 

1st Oct. First German soldier crossed the Czechoslovak 

5th Oct. Resignation of Dr. Benes, President of Czecho- 


January 1939 


.181 AN INNKEEPER'S DIARY John Fothergill 

182 NIGHT FLIGHT Antoine de Saint-Exup€ry 




186 PENANG APPOINTMENT Norman Collins 

187 THE EGYPT'S GOLD David Scott 

188 THE MURDER IN THE MAZE J. J. Connington 

189 BUT SOFT : WE ARE OBSERVED Hilaire Belloc 

190 DEATH OF MY AUNT C H. B. Kitchin 

February 1939 


A 41 WE EUROPEANS Julian Huxley, A. C. Haddon, 

and A. M. Carr-Saunders 






A 47 BELIEF IN GOD Bishop Gore 

A 48 LORD SHAFTESBURY J. L & Barbara Hammond 

A49 MUTUAL AID J. KropotkIn 


(Epilogue : 1895-1906 : Part l)ElieHal6vy 



Penguin and Pelican Specials are books which 
do not fit into the usual classified categories, 
being mostly new bool<s specially written for 
the series on urgent topical problems of the 
day. These books are rushed through as soon 
as possible after delivery of the manuscript to 
us. A later page In this list gives a complete list 
of Specials published up to the end of 1938, but 
many new ones are scheduled for 1939. Ask 
your bookseller for a list of the latest additions. 

Just Published 

BRITAIN Mass-Observation 



G. J. George 




FICTION orange covers 

" Bartimeus " A Tall Ship 

Arnold Bennett Grand Babylon Hotel 

Algernon Blackwood The Centaur 

Phyllis Bottome Private Worlds 

Marjorie Bowen The Glen O'Weeping 

Ernest Bramah Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat 
The Wallet of Kai Lung 
Kai Lung's Golden Hours 
Ann Bridge Peking Picnic 

Louis Bromfleld 

The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg 

D. K. Broster Sir Isumbras at the Ford 
J. L. Campbell The Miracle of Peille 
G. K. Chesterton 

The Man Who Was Thursday 

Susan Ertz Madame Claire 

Now East, Now West 

William Faulkner Soldiers' Pay 

E. M. Forster A Passage to India 
Leonhard Frank Carl and Anna 
CrosbieGarstin The Owls' House 
Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm 
John Hampson 

Saturday Night at the Greyhound 
Ian Hay A Safety Match 

Robert Hichens (2 vols.) Paradine Case 
James Hilton Dawn of Reckoning 

Constance Holme The Lonely Plough 

Claude Houghton Choos is Come Again 
I Am Jonathan Scrivener 
W. W. Jacobs Deep Waters 

M. R. James Ghost Stories of an Antiquary 
Sinclair Lewis Mantrap 

Rose Macau lay Crewe Train 

Denis Mackail Greenery Street 

Ethel Mannin Children of the Earth 

Ragged Banners 
R. H. Mottram The Spanish Farm 

Beverley Nichols Self 

Liam O'Flaherty The Informer 

D. Kilham Roberts (editor) 

Penguin Parade ( I ) 
Penguin Parade (2) 
Penguin Parade (3) 
Penguin Parade (4) 

E. Arnot Robertson Four Frightened People 
V. Sackville-West The Edwardians 
Ramon Sender Seven Red Sundays 
Graham Seton The W Plan 
Beatrice Kean Seymour Youth Rides Out 
Edward Shanks (2 vols.) Queer Street 
Ignazio Silone Fontamara 
Osbert Sitwell Before the Bombardment 
Somerville and Ross 

Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. 
Alan Steele (editor) 

Selected Modern Short Stories ( I ) 

Selected Modern Short Stories (2) 

Ralph Straus The Unseemly Adventure 

Tchehov Tales from Tchehov 

Angela Thirkell Wild Strawberries 

Edward Thompson An Indian Day 

Ben Travers A Cuckoo in the Nest 

Hugh Walpole Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill 

Sylvia Townsend Warner Lolly Willowes 

Evelyn Waugh 6/ock Mischief 

Decline and Fall 

Vile Bodies 

Edith Wharton Ethan Frame 

P. G. Wodehouse My Man Jeeves 

E. H. Young William 

Francis Brett Young The Black Diamond 

The Crescent Moon 


FICTION green covers 

Anthony Armstrong Ten Minute Alibi 

H. C. Bailey Mr. Fortune, Please 

E. C. Bentley Trent's Last Case 

Anthony Berkeley The Piccadilly Murder 



Alice Campbell Spider Web 

John Dickson Carr It Walks by Night 
The Waxworks Murder 
Agatha Christie The Murder on the Links 
The Mysterious Affair at Styles 
G. D. H. and Margaret Cole 

Murder at Crome House 
J. J. Connington The Dangerfield Talisman 
Death at Swaythling Court 
A. Conan Doyle 

The Hound of the Baskervilles 

John Ferguson The Man in the Dark 

Richard Keverne The Havering Plot 

The Man in the Red Hat 

The Sanfield Scandal 

C. Daly King Obelists at Sea 

Philip Macdonald The Rasp 

Ngaio Marsh Enter a Murderer 

A. A. Milne The Red House Mystery 

John Rhode The House on Tollard Ridge 

The Murders in Praed Street 

Sax Rohmer The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu 

Dorothy L. Sayers 

The Documents in the Case 
W. Stanley Sykes The Missing Moneylender 
Edgar Wallace The Four Just Men 

H. G. Wells The Invisible Man 


cense covers 

J. Johnston Abraham The Surgeon's Log 
Edmund Blunden Undertones of War 

F. S. Chapman Watkin's Last Expedition 
Apsley Cherry-Garrard 

(2 vols.) The Worst Journey in the World 
Alexandra David-Neel 

With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet 
Anthony Fokker Flying Dutchman 

Alfred Aloysius Horn Trader Horn 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh 

North to the Orient 
C. A. W. Monckton 

(2 vols.) Some Experiences of a New 

Guinea Resident Magistrate 

J. M. Scott The Land that God Gave Cain 

Captain von Rintelen The Dork Invader 

Nora Wain House of Exile 

MEMOIRS dark blue covers 

H. C. Armstrong 

Grey Wolf {Mustafa Kemal) 
Lord of Arabia (Ibn Saud) 
Margot Asquith (2 vols.) Autobiography 
E. F. Benson As We Were 

L. E. O. Charlton " Charlton " 

Pamela Frankau / Find Four People 

B. H. Liddell Hart (2 vols.) Foch 

Ethel Mannin Confessions and Impressions 
Andre Maurois Ariel 

Beverley Nichols Twenty-Five 

Maurice O'Sullivan 

Twenty Years A-Growing 


yellow covers 

Earl Baldvyin On England 

Francis and Vera Meynell (editors) 

(2 vols.) The Week-end Book 
Alexander Woollcott Whi7e Rome Burns 

DRAMA red covers 

Dr. G. B. Harrison ; these plays, each in 
a separate volume v^ith special Notes and 
Introductions, are available so far : 
Twelfth Night Henry the Fifth 

Hamlet As You Like It 

King Lear A Midsummer Night's Dream 
The Tempest The Merchant of Venice 

Richard II Romeo and Juliet 

Julius Caesar Henry IV (part I) 

Macbeth Henry IV {part 2) 

Othello Much Ado About Nothing 

The Sonnets Antony and Cleopatra 

Alfred Sutro, A. P. Herbert, Clifford Bax, 
Stanley Houghton, W. W. Jacobs, J. A. 
Ferguson and Oliphant Down. 




Art Director: Robert Gibbings; 
Introductions by G. B. Harrison 

Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice 

(illustrated by Helen Binyon) 
Robert Browning 

Selected Poems (lain Macnab) 
Daniel Defoe 

(2 vols.) Robinson Crusoe (J. R. Biggs) 

Richard Jefferies The Story of My Heart 

(Gertrude Hermes) 

Herman Melville Typee (Robert Gibbings) 

Edgar Allan Poe 

Some Tales of Mystery and Imagination 
(Douglas Percy Bliss) 
Laurence Sterne 

A Sentimental Journey (Gwen Raverat) 
Jonathan Swift 

Gulliver's Travels (Theodore Naish) 
David Thoreau Walden (Ethel bert White) 


Norman Angell The Great Illusion — Now 
The Duchess of Atholl Searchlight on Spain 
Phyllis Bottome The Mortal Storm 

Charlton, Garratt and Fletcher 

The Air Defence of Britain 
S. Grant Duff Europe and the Czechs 

Louis Golding The ]ev/ish Problem 

G. T. Garratt Mussolini's Roman Empire 
Lord Londonderry 

Ourselves and Germany 
W. M. Macmillan 

Warning from the West Indies 
Edgar Mowrer 

Gzrmany Puts the Clock Back 

Mowrer in China 

Wickham Steed The Press 

Genevieve Tabouis Blackmail or War 


Arnold Bennett Literary Taste 

Anthony Bertram ^Design 

Arnold Haskell "^Ballet 

Robert Gibbings *6/ue Angels & Whales 


light blue covers 

F. L. Allen *(2 vols.) Only Yesterday 
Clive Bell Civilisation 

G. D. H. Cole Practical Economics 

Socialism in Evolution 
J. G. Crowther 

*(2 vols.) An Outline of the Universe 
Dobree and Manwaring 

The Floating Republic 
J. H. Fabre ^Social Life in the Insect World 
Sigmund Freud Totem and Taboo 

Psychopathology of Everyday Life 
Roger Fry Vision and Design 

J. B. S. Haldane The Inequality of Man 

Elie Halivy (3 vols.) 

A History of the English People in 1815 
G. B. Harrison (editor) 

A Book of English Poetry 
Julian Huxley Essays in Popular Science 
Sir James Jeans *T/7e Mysterious Universe 
R. S. Lambert (editor) *Art in England 
H. J. Laski Liberty in the Modern State 

H. J. and Hugh Massingham (editors) 

(2 vols.) The Great Victorians 
W. J. Perry The Growth of Civilisation 

Eileen Power '^Medieval People 

D. K. Roberts (editor) 

(2 vols.) The Century's Poetry 
Bernard Shaw 

(2 vols.) The Intelligent Woman's Guide 
Olaf Stapledon Last and First Men 

J. W. N. Sullivan Limitations of Science 
R. H. Tawney 

Religion and the Rise of Capitalism 
Beatrice Webb 

(2 vols.) My Apprenticeship 
H. G. Wells 

A Short History of the World 
A. N. Whitehead 

Science and the Modern World 

Leonard Woolf After the Deluge 

Virginia Woolf The Common Reader 

Sir Leonard Wooiley *Ur of the Chaldees 

"Digging Up the Past 


Enquiries about advertising space in Penguin Boolts 

should be addressed to: 
E. W. PLAYER LTD., 61, Chandos Place, W.C.2. 









■ ^ 

O ,Q 

0) CD 





University of ToroDto 








Acme Library Card Pocket