'IT IS PEACE FOR OUR TIME' (Daily Mail, p. 11). Chamberlain has returned from Munich, completing his third round-trip to Germany by air in as many weeks. He has been greeted by ecstatic crowds at Heston aerodrome, at 10 Downing Street (as seen above) and at Buckingham Palace, where he appeared on the balcony -- the first Prime Minister in history to be accorded this honour. His colleagues also registered their pleasure:
Our Cabinet Ministers -- on the doorstep, too, became schoolboys again. They clambered about on the window sills [at No. 10], whooped wildly, and threw hats in the air.
The Sunday Dispatch is trying to cash in on all the Chamberlain-mania by telling 'the unique life story of the man the world applauds', in tomorrow's edition (Daily Mail, pp. 9, 13):
Politicians and newspapers from around the Empire are also lauding Chamberlain's statesmanship, though perhaps not as fulsomely as one might expect (the Sydney Sun, which I've never heard of, calls him the 'old man who has saved his country from war over matters of procedure', Manchester Guardian, p. 7). The leading article in The Times (p. 13) pays him high praise indeed:
Had the Government of the United Kingdom been in less resolute hands [than Chamberlain's] it is as certain as can be that war, incalculable in its range, would have broken out against the wishes of every people concerned.
The Munich agreement is certainly a massive relief. Crowds of people which might otherwise have been running in panic for shelter as the Luftwaffe rained bombs down on London have been out shopping instead (Daily Mail, p. 9). London's biggest department stores are looking forward to 'months of prosperity' -- although many customers are trying unsuccessfully to return the hoards of food and other perishable goods that they had bought up when they thought war was coming, only days ago. Many West End shows are standing room only, taking £20,000 last night alone; cinemas are also doing a roaring trade. The nation's churches and chapels will be holding special services tomorrow, and charitable organisations are hoping that they will benefit from people wanting to express their relief in their good fortune -- for example, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals:
The Daily Mail has called its leading article 'WITH HONOUR' (p. 10). On the same page is published 'A Mother's Thanks':
SIR -- Thank you (how inadequate those two words seem!) for your untiring efforts in the cause of Peace and for your sincere support of Mr. Chamberlain.
Throughout the dark days of crisis I -- in common with thousands of mothers -- could not concentrate on my children or my home duties.
I prayed with hope and fear in my heart. The news that brought a message of hope -- and the solace of those glorious prayers of peace published in the Daily Mail. If only you knew how they have helped. I took that page to my room and felt that hope must be justified when a great paper thus showed its readers the way.
Now the sun has come through. Our prayers have been answered and we look forward to peace with indescribable relief.
May God bless you and guide you in your work for the people.
Bristol. (Mrs) G. M.
The Lord Mayor of Cardiff, O. C. Purnell, has ordered the German flag (i.e. the swastika) to fly over the city hall, along with those of Britain, France and Italy, as 'a gesture of jubilation' (Manchester Guardian, p. 14).
It might seem churlish to express any doubts about the Munich agreement, given this tremendous outpouring of gratitude and relief. But doubts there are. Of course, having accepted, under enormous pressure, the terms of an agreement dismembering their country that they were not party to, the Czechs are none too happy about it: there have been massive protests in the streets of Prague. (The authorities had to blackout the streets in order to get them to disperse; Daily Mail, pp. 11-2.) In Britain, Sir Norman Angell calls the agreement a 'disgraceful sacrifice of innocent third parties' (Manchester Guardian, p. 14), and Robert Boothby, Conservative MP, calls it a victory for force. Sinclair, leader of the Liberals, says that 'if war has been averted, peace has not yet been established'. For Leo Amery, the respite from war might be only brief, and should be used to bring in national service at once. The leader-writer of the Manchester Guardian admits (p. 12) that even if a war had been fought, there was no way that Czechoslovakia's borders could remain as they were. But it remains to be seen whether Hitler is sincere in his desire for peaceful territorial revisions. And nobody who reads the terms carefully 'can feel other than unhappy', so harsh are they. The London correspondent (on the same page) says that 'At first it seemed like Armistice Day [...] The resemblance soon passed, but it is peace, however high the price and whoever has had to pay it'. The ARP and defence measures already taken are to remain in place, but nothing further will be done for now. Boxes for gas masks are to be procured and distributed, however! (Daily Mail, p. 7.) And Poland still wants Teschen, and it seems Czechoslovakia is unwilling to give it up. (Manchester Guardian, p. 13.)
Finally, I'll note this advertisement from The Times (p. 10), one of a series from the British-Israel World Federation, a curious group which believed that Britain was in fact the Israel of the Bible (or at least its heir) and so is destined to rule the world (or something). Their 'commentary' only obliquely refers to the crisis ('rumours of war' which were foretold etc'), but they are holding a series of lectures in London next week which will deal 'with the underlying forces of the present world upheaval', with titles like 'The Rome-Berlin Axis'. I've suggested before that it might be interesting to examine the influence of, shall we say, unconventional thinkers on public opinion about defence and foreign affairs; the British-Israel World Federation might be another place to look.