So, we're into the second week of the crisis (or rather, the second week for which I have newspaper sources), and as these headlines from The Times indicate (p. 12), the public still doesn't have much idea as to what's going on. Just that there have been lots of meetings over the weekend. The leading article gives a good summary (p. 13):
Discussion of the Czech-German problem in Bohemia has been actively continued during the week-end. LORD RUNCIMAN had a meeting with PRESIDENT BENESH on Saturday, and yesterday MR. ASHTON-GWATKIN conferred with HERR HENLEIN at his home near the German frontier. DR. KUNDT and HERR SEBEKOWSKY, the two other Sudeten leaders, had a four-hour talk with PRESIDENT BENESH on Friday and DR. KUNDT saw DR. HODZA, the Prime Minister, on Saturday.
But, after all that, no news, just more speculation. The leading article in the Manchester Guardian cautions (p. 8) against an optimistic reading of Friday's meeting between Hitler and Henlein, upon the (still unknown) outcome of which so much depends:
There was complete "unanimity." It is natural, so much do we all loathe the idea of war, to interpret a conventional, ambiguous phrase in three soothing propositions: that Henlein is a "moderate" attached to peace, that Hitler agreed with him, and that therefore "moderation" is to be the word. It would be equally just (and more probable) to say that Hitler is an extremist believing in force, that Henlein agreed with him (he had better), and that therefore the outlook is bad.
I suggested in the previous post that we shouldn't be too hard on those observers who still gave Hitler (and Henlein) the benefit of the doubt, but we see here that there were certainly those who had a lot of doubt. The Manchester Guardian was a liberal paper, not as radical as it had been thirty years earlier, perhaps, but still generally opposed to the use of force (or threats of force) in international affairs.
The other interesting thing today is the opening of the Trades Union Congress at Blackpool. The Manchester Guardian suggests (p. 12) that later in the week, Czechoslovakia will become a major issue, and that the TUC is likely to call for a recall of Parliament, so that Chamberlain can explain what diplomatic steps Britain is taking to resolve the crisis. A taste of unionist anger comes from John Marchbank, General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen, addressing a TUC demonstration:
The step that should be taken is that Britain, France, Russia and America should make it clear to Hitler that any attempt to coerce the Czecho-Slovakian Government or to weaken in any way its democratic position will be resisted, and that the four countries should stand by her in her rights for democratic government. We have never acknowledged and never will admit the right of any single man, be he crowned the head of a State or a leader or a dictator ruling by force or by terror, to make war the instrument of his policy. Against such dictatorships we preach the divine right of revolution. Neither do we afford to any Government the authority to pursue policies which must culminate in war.
However, Marchbank did accept the need to rearm for self-defence and to restrain aggression. The attitude of trade unions was important, for in theory they had the ability to cripple the economy just as surely as a knock-out blow ... even if that didn't work so well in practice.
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