Ultimatum ... martial law ... 12 dead. These are not good words to be reading in the headlines (Manchester Guardian, p. 9). Yesterday, Hitler's Nuremberg speech was interpreted as being somewhat worrying, but basically OK: after all, it could have been worse. But in the Sudetenland itself, it led to rioting, and the deaths of at least 12 people. Therefore the Czech government imposed martial law. In response, Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten German Party, demanded that martial law be withdrawn by midnight. Of course the Czechs refused to bow to such a peremptory demand from one of its own citizens, and so Henlein broke off negotiations once more. The Runciman mission is on the move again, trying to get people to talk to each other again, but it's not looking good. As the leading article says (p. 8):
Events have moved with a terrible rapidity in Czecho-Slovakia since Herr Hitler's speech and have now reached a grave crisis.
It ends by saying that the situation can still be saved, if Hitler and the Sudetens want to:
But is compromise desired? Is there a will to peace? The British Government, for its part, must remember that it will have to convince its own people, and other peoples, that up to the last minute of the last hour it did the utmost that it could, by appeal and by warning to Berlin, to avert catastrophe.
The 'incidents' are very serious. They include (p. 9):
Falkenau. -- Three gendarmes killed by shots fired by Sudetens.
Aussig. -- Two Sudetens and one Czech killed. Three other people killed; nationality not stated.
Eger. -- One Czech killed.
Eringseilen. -- Czech postmaster died of injuries caused by Sudetens.
So, despite the howling of the German press and government that the Sudeten people are not safe, more Czechs than Germans have been killed. For their part, the Sudetens claim that Czech officials fired upon them without provocation.
All this news came after trading on City markets had finished, but Wall Street was not so lucky (p. 12). The ultimatum led to falls of up to 3% across the board:
More than a million shares were sold in the last hour, the tape-machine falling five minutes behind transactions.
In London, the 'inner Cabinet' met: Chamberlain, Halifax, Hoare and Simon (Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer). Perhaps more worrying is who they were meeting: Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Kingsley Wood, Air Minister, Hore-Belisha, War Minister. And Lord Gort, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Air Marshal Sir Cyril Newall, Chief of Air Staff, and Admiral Sir Roger Backhouse, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff. This kind of suggests that war might not be far off ...
This photo of a Luftwaffe flypast (Do 17s?) at Nuremberg on Monday (p. 7) isn't linked in any way to the Sudeten crisis.
Nor was this one of telephone operators in Sheffield wearing gas masks during an ARP drill, which was printed directly below the above. But at least some readers would have made a mental connection between these images and the worsening crisis in central Europe.
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