Thursday, 1 September 1938

This post is part of a series post-blogging the Sudeten crisis of August-October 1938. See here for an introduction to the series, and here for a conclusion. The entire series can be downloaded as an ebook.

SUDETEN GERMANS CONSIDERING REPLY TO CZECHS / Party Executive to Meet To-day / LEADERS IMPRESSED BY NEW PLAN'S POSSIBILITIES / Restrained Optimism in Prague / Manchester Guardian, 1 September 1938, p. 9

Things seem to be looking up, judging from today's headlines in the Manchester Guardian (p. 9). The plan proposed by the Czechs yesterday is said to have 'impressed' the Sudetens. The plan itself is still a mystery to the public, but The Times has a few details (p. 12):

In many ways -- in particular in its proposal for self-administrative cantons -- it closely resembles the old Minorities Law of 1920, never brought fully into effect. However, a greater number of cantons (départements is probably an apter word) is now proposed. In 1920 there were to have been 52, of which only two would have been more than four-fifths German. Now the départements are to be smaller, in order that the line between Czech and German districts may be drawn more accurately and the German control may be wider.

No one dares hope too much yet of the German reply, but here is a sound basis of discussion could they accept it. Clearly the cantons would need much new administration, and German prefects and officials would naturally be chosen for the German districts. The Army and gendarmerie would remain under the Central Government, but education, social services, and a substantial measure of finance would be under the cantonal administration.

Will that be enough? On the same page, there's a summary of Henlein's demands, as outlined in his Carlsbad speech of 24 April:

The restoration of complete equality between Czechs and Germans in the State.

The recognition of the Sudeten Germans as a legal personality.

The determination and recognition of the German region within the State.

Full self-government for the German region.

Legal protection for Sudeten Germans who live beyond this region.

The removal of injustices inflicted on the Sudeten Germans since 1918, and the reparation for the injury caused thereby.

Recognition and carrying through the principle that German districts should have German officials.

Full liberty to profess German nationality and the German political philosophy.

Speaking of the 'German political philosophy', as the central Europe correspondent for the Manchester Guardian emphasises (p. 9) 'the final decision does not rest with the Sudetens themselves but with Herr Hitler'. And he is reported (p. 9) to be planning a major speech on foreign policy during the upcoming Nuremberg rally, on 12 September. That's a whole 11 days away, which seems a long time to wait for a (possible) resolution to a world crisis. But this was before internet time.

The Daily Mail has a leading article (p. 10) calling for maximum freedom for minorities in Czechoslovakia in order to satisfy German desires, along with an international guarantee of the country's borders. On the other hard, Czechoslovakia 'is an artificial State -- the jig-saw construction of the Peace Treaties' and will always be an irritant to Europe.

That Europe should be brought to the brink of war on account of the present untenable situation of Czecho-Slovakia is madness. A conflict in such a cause is only conceivable if the nations hold the despairing belief that war is inevitable, and that it might just as well be fought on this issue as on any other.

So the Daily Mail is taking a brave stand against war, at least as far as Czechoslovakia is concerned.

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