Germany and England
by: Nesta Webster
THE QUESTION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA.
Ever since Hitler came to power in 1933 the secret directors of world affairs have never relaxed their efforts to bring about a war between England and the Dictators, that is to say, between England and Italy or German. The dictatorship of Stalin is never mentioned in this connection, except as an aid to the cause of Democracy.
No adequate pretext was found, however, until the recent crisis over Czechoslovakia. Hitlers march into Austria early this year had merely provided an incident which could only be used as evidence of his hostile intentions.
Now, as I pointed out in The Surrender of an Empire, our own folly in breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire was bound to lead to the Anschluss and this was recognized by far-sighted Englishmen before the Treaty of St. Germaine was made.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph of March 26, 1938, Lady Wester Wemyss recalled the fact that,
when the destruction of the Hapsburg Monarchy was beginning to be mooted in Allied circles, Lord Wester Memyss, then First Sea Lord, drew up a memorandum (quoted in his Life and Letters) in which he pointed out the cogent reasons why the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy would necessarily entail eventual German hegemony over Central Europe. This memorandum he sought to circulate amongst His Majestys Ministers, where, however, it met with no attention.
The annexation of Austria by Germany last spring was thus the direct result of our own policy.
If in this matter -- in that of Hungary and of other territorial changes in the map of Europe -- we made mistakes, we have got to bear the consequences and redress the grievances we have created or allow those who suffer from them to take the law into their own hands.
Weakened Austria demanded the Auschluss, and even the Socialists of France in 1928 gave it their approval, but when at last Hitler tired of words, marched across the frontier and averted civil war, the storm aroused could hardly have been greater if he had bombed Bucharest.
Germany cannot, of course, demand the status quo of before the War. She cannot expect the Allies to renounce all the fruits of victory, nor has she done so. No attempt has been made to regain Alsace and Lorraine, and Hitler has declared that he is content to leave those provinces to France, he has in fact never shown any inclination to annex an inch of territory that was not predominantly German.
What he has demanded is that those territorial changes which have proved to be a source of continual unrest and of misery for the Germans affected by them should be revised, and if the matter could not be settled by arbitration he was prepared to take independent action. This was the case with regard to Czechoslovakia which was made the pretext for the Democracies threatening to bring about a world war.
That it was but a pretext is clearly evident, for only madmen could seriously contemplate sacrificing millions of lives and bringing unspeakable horrors on the world merely in order to keep three and a-half million Germans under subjection to the Government of Czechoslovakia; one cannot imagine so large a proportion of the human race to have become suddenly afflicted with homicidal mania.
There must then have been a motive for their apparent madness, and that motive was in fact plainly avowed in the current phrase: We must stop Hitler.
The pretext then, this time, was Czechoslovakia. Now probably not one in a hundred ordinary people who make of that country a second Belgium and talk of the gallant little nation bearing the martyrdom with exemplary patience, have any idea what, or possibly where, Czechoslovakia is; like the blessed word Mesopotamia, it has become to them a sacred cause for which no sacrifices of blood and suffering would be too great.
Existing before the War as Bohemia, Moravia and part of Silesia, the country now known as Czechoslovakia had for nearly a hundred years been the scene of constant strife between the Czechs and Germans inhabiting it. The conflict thus did not originate with the peace Treaties, but merely entered on a new phase when an artificial state was created by the Treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye in 1919, comprising a population of over thirteen millions belonging to six or seven nationalities, of which some seven million were Czechs, who then formed the Government, in which the remaining minorities were very inadequately represented.
The three and a-half million Sudenten Germans were thus placed under the rule of their former opponents, and their representatives in the first Czechoslovak Parliament immediately entered a strong protest on June 1 and 9, 1920, declaring that they, the Germans, had no part in any agreement or establishment of that State, and that: The whole Czechoslovak legislation represents a glaring infringement of the Minorities Protection Treaty.
As years went by the bitterness between the two races increased, and although the Sudenten Germans sent innumerable appeals to the League of Nations against a growing oppression from which they suffered, they met with no response.
For this oppression the Czech Government was to blame, whilst Lord Winterton in his speech in the House of Commons on May 11, 1934, stated that,
the whole of the land in Czechoslovakia belongs to Jewish moneylenders, and not to the peasants who are occupying it".
When this state of things had lasted for nearly twenty years and Hitler finally announced that, since the grievances of the Sudentens had not been redressed by arbitration, Germany would rescue them by forcibly taking over the Sudenten districts, the Democracies announced their intention of assembling their combined armies, navies and air forces in defence of Czechoslovakia.
This is what they call Hitler threatening to bring about a world war, and describe him as a breaker of treaties. What treaty had he broken?
If anyone had broken a treaty it was France or rather the French Government. From the time that the Geneva Protocol (or the Arbitration and Sanctions Protocol) was put forward in 1924 under the aegis of Benes and Politis, the representatives of Czechoslovakia and Greece at the League of Nations, British Conservative Governments had firmly refused to follow the lead of France and other countries in guaranteeing the security of the frontiers in the East of Europe, including that of Czechoslovakia, and it was in September, 1927, two years after the Locarno Pact, guaranteeing the frontier between France and Germany had been signed, that the Geneva Protocol was revived and met with the strongest opposition from Sir Austen Chamberlain who, in the finest speech of his life declared:
You invite us to take for every country and for every frontier the guarantee which we have taken for one by treaty. If you ask us that, you ask us the impossible You do not know what you ask us. You are asking nothing less than the disruption of the British Empire. I yield to no one in my devotion to this Great League of Nations, but not even for this League of Nations will I destroy that smaller but older league of which my own country was the birthplace and of which it remains the center.
France, however proceeded on her own account, in December 1934, to sign a Three Power entente with Czechoslovakia and Soviet Russia and in May, 1935, a separate military pact with Russia, a complete violation of the principles of the League, according to which military alliances were to be replaced by peaceful arbitration.
We were thus in no way bound to stand by France in the recent crisis by going to the rescue of Czechoslovakia since we had repeatedly refused to join her in the undertakings she had entered into with this protégé of the Soviets for which only the French of the Left felt any particular sympathy. Indeed, according to the Locarno Pact we were more bound to stand by Germany, since by that treaty we had undertaken to defend her if attacked.
The Franco-Soviet Pact, deplored by all right thinking Frenchmen, was really the beginning of all the trouble in Europe from 1934 onwards, for Germany, finding herself flanked on both sides by hostile Powers, one wholly and the other in part inflamed with hatred of Hitler as the opponent of Bolshevism, now started to re-arm openly.
It was not that the re-armament of Germany began at this juncture for, as was pointed out in the chapter of this book, secret arming had gone on in Germany ever since the War but had to a great extent been winked at by Great Britain.
Now that Hitler was in power, however, matters took on a different aspect and his open announcement of Germanys intention to re-arm against an equally open and hostile alliance was regarded as a casus belli and Czechoslovakia provided the pretext for starting a world war on Nazi-ism and Fascism.
That we were saved from this appalling catastrophe was mainly owing to the vision and magnificent courage of our great statesman.
Hitler never wanted war with England and that he was willing to co-operate with her in a scheme for averting a general conflagration was shown by his appreciation of Mr. Chamberlain who on his part very wisely avoided the governess attitude, still less the mailed fist advocated by that former supporter of the League of Nations Union for promoting peace Mr. Duff Cooper. Instead he talked to the Führer as man to man, giving him credit for good will and for a sincere desire to find a peaceful solution to the Sudenten question.
For this solution the Czechs themselves have every reason to be grateful, for had the threat of rescuing them by force materialised no plan seems to have been evolved for carrying it out. Owing to the geographical position of Czechoslovakia the Germans, driven into war, could have overrun the whole country before their opponents could have appeared on the scene and the chief sufferers would have been the Czechs themselves.
How little the situation was apprehended by the general public in this country is illustrated by an amusing story told me by a doctor. He had gone to visit one of his patients and found him lying on a sofa with a large cigar in his mouth repeating that he felt so humiliated. On the doctor enquiring the reason he replied that England had failed to rescue the Czechs. The doctor then asked how he proposed we should rescue them. The man had not the vaguest idea!
Now let us imagine what we should have done if the British subjects had been placed in the position of the Sudenten Germans. Supposing that instead of winning the War we had lost it, and that while it lasted the Sinn Feiners instead of merely stabbing us in the back as Lloyd George expressed it had openly joined up with Germany, and as a reward after the victory Ireland had been reft from the British Empire and given independence by the Central Powers, subjecting Ulster against its will to the Dublin Government.
Does anyone suppose that England, though forced with the sword at her throat to sign such a treaty, would have sat down under it for ever, after it had proved disastrous? Would she have calmly endured seeing loyal Ulstermen oppressed and made to feel themselves a subject and inferior race?
Possibly under certain governments she might; but if at the end of twenty years a strong British patriot had been raised to power and determined to rescue the victims of Sinn Fein tyranny by insisting force if reason could not prevail, would Germany have been justified in stigmatising him as a madman, out to trample over the whole of Northern Europe?
Let us further consider what we did do when we believed our nationals were oppressed in the Transvaal. After recognising the independence of the Boer Republic in 1884, the alleged oppression of the Uitlanders led to the second South African War of 1899, in the course of which we annexed the whole Transvaal.
The case for the Sudenten Germans is surely stronger, since they were not immigrants into a foreign country, but the old inhabitants of a land which had been theirs from time immemorial, and which against their will had been placed under a Government hostile to them.
Fortunately for the peace of the world no League of Nations existed at the time of the last Boer War, so the conflict remained localised in South Africa, and the Kaisers telegram President Kruger was regarded in this country as a most unwarrantable act of interference.
What could have been said if he had called on all the Powers of Europe to resist us?
But, though the war was generally disapproved abroad, no one thought of flying into a panic and asking what England might be expected to do next, the Germans fearing for Tanganyika, the Belgians for the Congo, the Portuguese for Mozambique; they left it to the Boers and British to fight it out, with, in the end, a peaceful understanding.
Let us hope that the recent crisis may lead to equally happy results, and that the Czechs may find themselves delivered from an alien domination. For in reality Czechoslovakia enlisted the sympathies of the secret promoters of world revolution merely as a dependency of Soviet Russia, with whom she had made a Pact of Mutual Assistance on May 16, 1935, and had entered into very cordial relations.
Guileless English Christians who speak tearfully of the small and martyred nation with its heroic leaders, Presidents Masaryk and Benes, are no doubt aware that Czechoslovakia was not merely a breeding ground of Bolshevism but of militant atheism.
The International of Proletarian Freethinkers was founded in that country in 1925, and at Easter, 1936, a world Congress of so-called Freethinkers was held in Prague at which the Vice-President of the Soviet League of Militant Godless and other Russians were present, also delegates from twelve other countries, including several Frenchmen noted for their literary achievements in blasphemy.
These were received by the Vice-Mayor of Prague, Dr. Kellner, who expressed his joy that the Congress should be held in that city. The President of the Congress, a Belgian named Terwagne, thanked the Vice-Mayor, observing that the delegates appreciated the free-thought of the Czechoslovakian Republic . . . a deputation of delegates to the Congress was also received by President Benes. *
*The Universe for 22 May, 1936.
Such were the leaders of a country on whose behalf the world in September last was to be plunged into the most frightful war in history. Who knows whether the Czechs themselves may not come to rejoice at being purged of these elements? Already we have read that the youth of Czechoslovakia carried out demonstrations at which the cry of Out with the Jews! Czechoslovakia for the Czechoslovaks! was raised.
It will be curious to notice the attitude of our War Party in this country if Czechoslovakia goes Nazi and anti-Semite and we are called upon to implement what is regarded in some quarters as the rather imprudent undertaking to defend her frontiers, especially if these are invaded by the good friends of that Party Comrades Stalin, Litvinoff and Co.
Perhaps then they will discover that the Czechs are an unworthy race, to which we owe no obligations. And then too demonstrators, carrying in procession what Mr. Churchill in an earlier phrase of his chameleonic career called the filthy red flag of International Communism, may change their slogan to Down with Czechoslovakia!
Next - Chapter 4: "BOLSHEVISM AND FASCISM"