Munich and After
"Why do the heathens rage and the people imagine a vain thing?"
Since the signing of the Peace Pact between Chamberlain and Hitler in September events have moved rapidly in Europe. The reply in Great Britain to the Peace Pact was a violent campaign in the British Press against Germany, and an attack on Chamberlain's policy both by the Opposition in Parliament and by many members of his own party. The Peace Pact was ignored and war with Germany discussed as a matter of course. Chamberlain was only able to save his position by increasing enormously the expenditure on armaments.
The large number of people in this country who believe a good understanding with Germany essential had no opportunity of putting forward their point of view in the press. The members of Parliament were intimidated by the press campaign. The only institution left where a free expression of opinion was possible was the House of Lords. The warmongers controlled both the press and the B.B.C.
The final victory of Franco enormously strengthened the position of the Axis in Europe to the great astonishment of our press who, having pursued him with a vile campaign of calumny during the war, assisted by a political agitation in this country, imagined that he would join with us. Franco's reply to our advances was to join the anti-Comintern Pact and France, who had taken the side of the Communists, found herself with three potential enemies on her three frontiers.
Hungary also joined the anti-Comintern Pact, and Jugoslavia entered into the closest friendship with Germany and Italy, so that Great Britain and France found themselves faced with a formidable bloc in Europe, of nations they had treated with hostility or indifference.
President Roosevelt next joined the campaign against Germany and Italy. The Press and the wireless had been used for months to spread lies about Germany and when the ground had been prepared Roosevelt made a violent attack on Germany and Italy, and proposed a combination of the Democracies against them and a trade boycott. As Senator Pittman put it clearly, "Why kill them when we can starve them?"
These proposals by Roosevelt were acclaimed by our Press but it soon became evident that the people in the U.S.A. were not going to be drawn into another European war and that Roosevelt would find it very difficult to get the Neutrality Law altered so that he could if he chose supply munitions to one side and not to the other, thus putting into the hands of the President the decision of Peace or War.
It was obvious that Germany and Italy could not continue to ignore the feverish preparations for war in Great Britain, France and the U.S.A., and consequently two dramatic events took place, one quickly following on the other.
Slovakia separated herself from Czechoslovakia, claiming independence. The Czech Government, faced by internal revolution, asked Germany to intervene and Germany occupied Bohemia and Moravia, incorporating them as a Protectorate in the Reich. It was impossible any longer to tolerate this promontory penetrating deep into Germany and governed by people who were largely communistic and hostile to Germany, an area which French military authorities had openly stated would be used as a base for bombing planes, aiming at destroying the cities of Germany.
It was evident from the replies made by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax that they did not regard the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia as a matter affecting our interests, as, owing to the break-away of Slovakia, Czechoslovakia had ceased to exist and an occupation by German troops made at the request of the Czech Government could hardly be described as an act of military aggression.
Then the storm cloud, organised by those working for war, burst and has swept the Government like helpless logs in its torrent towards war. The public excitement was increased by the publication in the London Press of a message purporting to come from Rumania - but now believed to have been concocted in London - to the effect that Germany had threatened Rumania with war if she did not give her a complete monopoly of all her external trade.
The British Ambassador in Berlin was instructed to lodge a protest with the German Government, and to tear up the Peace Pact signed by Herr Hitler and Mr. Chamberlain.
This was followed later by the occupation of Albania by Italy thus securing the Adriatic from the hostile fleets of England and France bombarding Italian towns.
According to Mr. Chamberlain these two necessary acts of self defence filled the whole world with "horror". I have been young and now am old and in my lifetime I have seen Great Britain wage war after war to "extend" the Empire. It is not for us, satiated with conquest, and oppressing today by force the Arabs in Palestine - a country in which we are interlopers, and which incidentally occupies a strategic position on the Mediterranean, - to criticise the actions of other nations.
These two inevitable acts were received quite calmly in Europe but were made the excuse for a fresh campaign here and in the States in which it was stated that Germany and Italy meant to invade and annex all the small nations in Europe as a preliminary to world conquest, and our Press arranged for alarmist messages from every capital in Europe. An imaginary crisis was created and the enemies of Chamberlain gathered their forces to turn him out of office. Churchill, Eden and their friends worked night and day to organise a revolt in the Conservative Party, and Fleet Street said he would not remain in power for another week. If he fell, Eden, who cannot speak without showing his insolent attitude to the German people, Churchill, and their friends would form a government.
Chamberlain saved himself by his speech in Birmingham attacking Hitler, and by proposing to resuscitate the old plan which he had only a year ago condemned as unworkable - a coalition of the small nations in Europe against Germany. Without waiting to be asked, we promised Poland to defend her if Germany attacked her independence, went round Europe trying to draw the small nations into a combination against Germany, and approached the Soviet for the same purpose. When Italy occupied Albania, we hastened to offer Greece and Albania our defence if their independence was attacked. The response to these efforts has been very remarkable. Ten nations, in addition to France and Italy, are in contact with the German frontier. Of these Belgium is guaranteed by England, France and Germany. Of the other nine, only Poland has accepted. The other eight have declined our offer of protection, saying they have no cause for alarm, and in addition, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Bulgaria stand aloof. A Norwegian Minister speaking the other day declared that for three hundred years, the Scandinavian countries have been fighting with England for the right to maintain their neutrality. Rumania and Greece have thanked us for our offer to defend them, but have explained that they have no intention of entering into a reciprocal treaty and only Portugal, Poland and Turkey have agreed to a mutually defensive treaty. Rumania has been rewarded with a loan of five million pounds, for graciously allowing us to defend her. The Soviet in spite of our beseeching attitude has so far not come to any agreement with us. The part they will play if war should come, is that of the jackal feasting on the corpses of the slain.
All we have done is to present Hitler with a splendid testimonial from the small nations in Europe.
Just as we were forced by the "City" to crush the small independent Boer Republic in order to gain control of the gold mines, so the real reason, why we are interfering in Poland, Rumania and Greece, is that our financiers have large interests in the Polish coal mines where the miners' wages are disgracefully low, Rumanian oil and Greek banking. A pipe line runs from the oil fields of poverty stricken Rumania to the city of London, pouring the wealth of that country into the pockets of our financiers. They are determined that Germany be warned off these countries, where they have established a monopoly of financial control. The British public are deceived by the cry "Defend the independence of small nations".
The attempt we are making to persuade the Soviet to invade Europe, pouring in hordes of barbaric troops from European and Asiatic Russia, whose advance would be accompanied by Communist risings and massacres, is probably the greatest crime against Christianity and civilization in the history of Europe.
By following this extraordinary foreign policy our Government has sinned against four principles which should govern the foreign policy of nations.
No Government has the right to pledge the lives of the people, except in self defence or defence of a vital interest. The inclusion of Bohemia in the Reich touches no interest of ours.
No Government has a right to hand the control of its foreign policy to another nation or nations. Let us suppose, for instance, that Greece quarrelled with Italy and they went to war; we are bound to fight for Greece whether she is right or wrong.
The following quotation from a speech made by Captain Euan Wallace, Minister of Transport, at Bognor, condemns the government foreign policy out of their own mouths.
"Let us make no mistake about it, the decision whether we will fight has been taken out of the hands of the people of this country, and out of the hands of our governors. We have made commitments which are automatic. If those commitments are broken, this country is committed for better or for worse to take up arms."
It is the duty of a Government to reduce outside commitments which may lead to war, and to secure the friendship of all nations. Our Government has increased our commitments which may lead to war, and by this action caused the Peace Pact and the Naval Treaty with Germany to be torn up. We had torn up the Peace Pact and Germany has now quite reasonably denounced the Naval Pact which was of great value to us. The final result of our action has been that Hitler is freed from his Peace Treaty with Poland and any restraint in strengthening his navy, so that he is left with a distinct diplomatic gain by our action.
No Government has the right to lure a nation into war with a third nation if they cannot fulfil their offers of help. If Poland, having accepted our advances, makes war on Germany, we could not by any possibility go to her assistance.
As the Führer pointed out in his speech on April 28, 1939, when he first signed a Peace Pact with Poland he made no objections to the existing "Mutual Security Treaty" with France; but for Poland, having signed the Peace Pact, to make a treaty with Great Britain undertaking to make war on Germany under certain conditions, is an obvious breach of the Peace Pact.
What does Poland imagine she gains by this move? The Polish Corridor is an injustice to Germany and many people are astonished that she has put up with it so long. Danzig is as much a German city as Liverpool is English. Suppose we had lost the War and Germany had given Liverpool to De Valera? How long would we have tolerated that state of affairs?
Hitler made the Peace Pact with Poland and has faithfully observed it. Now they have broken it he is free to take back the Polish Corridor and include Danzig in the Reich. If Poland imagines that she can drag England into a war with Germany about Danzig she is greatly mistaken. Our Government has been careful to guard themselves on that point. Supposing Poland declares war and does manage to bring us in it will not save her. We are as helpless to save her as if she was on the Planet Mars. For us to tempt her to make such a suicidal war is an act of mischief deliberately disturbing the Peace of Europe.
Roosevelt who hopes for a third term of office in spite of having landed the U.S.A. with a huge internal debt and 20 millions people on the dole, was looking out for a good slogan and thought that a call to the Democracies to defend "Christianity, Democracy and International Good Faith" would do.
He has had to retreat, and has thrown out a smoke screen to hide his retreat by sending to the World Press and Hitler and Mussolini an absurd document, in which they are told to pledge themselves to Peace for 25 years with a long list of nations, and then hand their future over to a world congress controlled by the three Democracies who were responsible for the Treaty of Versailles. This has been hailed as a wonderful document by the Governments of Great Britain and France.
In the meantime Peace among the nations of the Danube Basin and of the Balkans is being assured by Hitler and Mussolini, who are having conference with the various Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries. There are three dangers to Peace, the territorial demands of Hungary and of Bulgaria, and the trouble with the Croatians, but with the friendly assistance of Germany and Italy both nations will doubtless be able to come to terms with their neighbours.
These nations are all centering round the Axis because it will give them the three things which the people of Europe most desire, - Peace, ordered stable Government, and trade.
The Totalitarian States stand for certain fundamental principles:
It is obvious that the European nations are grouping themselves in friendly alliance round the Axis and it is time we recognised that fact and accepted the friendship which has been offered us by Germany and Italy.
It is also time that France, for long under the influence of our foreign office with its pernicious traditions, reversed her policy and made friends with her neighbours who have no quarrel with her, settled the quite reasonable demands of Italy, and developed trade with the three countries on her frontiers.
Why should France sacrifice so much because we choose to quarrel with Germany?
There will probably be no war in Europe because Hitler and Mussolini stand for Peace.
The Europeans are settling down to a long Peace, which clears the deck for the larger question of World Trade and the huge monopoly of Gold, Raw materials and tropical and sub-tropical products held by the three Democracies and the Soviet.
In every speech Hitler and Mussolini have given warning on this matter and they not only represent the needs of themselves and Japan but many other nations.
This of course is what Roosevelt is really thinking about. He is prepared to plunge into a World War to defend Monopoly in the name of "Christianity, Democracy and Good Faith."
The power of the Monopolists is colossal. They possess the world's wealth, rule a great part of the world's population, and have at their command our overwhelming sea power, which enables them to control trade on the high seas, and as we have seen, Roosevelt has already proposed that a trade boycott force the Have Nots into submission.
It is really for this reason that Germany is seeking to develop trade on the old trade route from Asia to Europe and it is for this reason that we are trying to prevent it.
While in Parliament the Government talk about small nationalities, the Conservative Party organisation through its political instructors is telling us that we do not care what happens to small nationalities, but we must stop the development of Germany's trade in the Danube Basin and the Balkans so as to be able to starve her out by a blockade. It is obviously not only in the interest of the Have Nots, but of the whole world and even of the Monopolists themselves that the trade of the world be set free. Strangely enough the Monopolists are suffering most from their own policy having huge armies of unemployed.
The British Empire when it was a Free Trade Empire had the goodwill of all the world. To-day when it has surrounded itself with tariffs, Ottawa agreements, quotas and international restrictions on output, it no longer has that goodwill which was its real strength, and piling armaments on armaments is not the solution of the question.
Not so important but of great interest is the Gold monopoly, a monopoly not only of the Gold available but the world's Gold mines which the Monopolists share with the Soviet.
The U.S.A. is still hoarding larger and larger quantities of Gold. It does not seem to occur to her economists that to exchange goods for Gold, which is buried in their Bank Vaults and is "sterilized" to use the Stock Exchange jargon, is to give away their goods for nothing. Trade is the exchange of goods which have a utility value for other goods which have a utility value, and sterilized gold has no utility value at all.
As long as Gold is still regarded as wealth by the mass of mankind, it is thought necessary for a trading nation to have a Gold reserve, but Germany - deprived by her creditors of all her Gold - has challenged that idea and is building up an export trade without it and is to-day our largest customer.
Germany has not only challenged the political system of the Democracies but the economic system of international finance and international monopolies, and it is to that challenge that all the attacks in the Press and the attempts to force the people of this country into war are due.
If Germany succeeds in her economic system of basing her currency on labour values and exchanging goods for goods, the whole of the Gold stored in the Bank vaults of the U.S.A. can be written off as a dead loss, and Gold mining which depends on selling Gold at a higher and higher price to the Governments who buy the Gold bars and do nothing with them, will collapse. The old story of King Midas who starved because everything he touched turned to Gold will come true.
The German Government has shown that Gold is not necessary and that is one of the reasons for the policy pursued against them by Great Britain, France and the U.S.A. Millions are being spent on this propaganda, but when once the peoples of Great Britain, France and the U.S.A. realise that the cry that Germany aims at universal dominion is a lie to-day just as it was a lie in 1914; that the only danger facing Democracy is its own misrule, weakness in the face of vested interests and sacrifice of public interest to the greedy scramble of politicians for power; that they are being driven like sheep to the slaughter by big finance just as they were driven into the Boer war, they will turn in revolt. The revolt has already begun in England though not reported by our Press.
Germany has symbolized international finance by calling it "the Jew". It is true Jews are to a great extent interested. International finance is the public enemy and the promoter of war among the peoples, but those controlling it belong to all nations, and it is centred in London, Paris and New York. The "City" rules this country. They threw the Labour Party out of power when it suited them, and they control our Government today. When Roosevelt and our Government say they are willing to consider how to set free the supply of raw materials they are promising what they cannot perform as they are helpless in the grip of the huge combines. Only the Totalitarian States are free states. King Midas is the Public Enemy number one.
While the Monopolists combine to accumulate Gold it is no longer the basis of their paper currency. We have ourselves abolished the ratio between Gold and paper, and France devalues the Franc at intervals. The confusion between the world currencies continues and will end in a collapse. The only sound currency to-day is the German currency.
It is also necessary for the world to return in some form or other to Free Trade, but it must be a Free Trade that does not cause a competition between different standards of living. Germany has solved these problems by exchanging goods for goods based on barter.
Before these international questions are discussed the Monopolists have to ask themselves why, with the world wealth in their possession, they suffer from serious unemployment, which has reached in the U.S.A. the appalling figure of 20 million people on the dole, while Germany has to hire surplus labour abroad. They must reform their own economic system before they reform the world.
They have also to ask themselves two very fundamental questions, namely, is it possible to combine the Democratic idea with the principle that the first duty of the citizen is the welfare of the community, and with honest government not controlled behind the scenes by the Financiers.
Democracies are in many cases financially corrupt Governments. In our case that is not true but our Government and Parliament are intellectually dishonest. Truth is sacrificed every day to a party advantage. If lies were only consciously told it would not be so serious but political life produces a mental degeneration in which it is no longer possible for the politicians to distinguish between truth and falsehood.
An excellent example occurred in the House of Commons the other day when the leaders of the Opposition accused Franco of dropping from his planes chocolate boxes containing infernal machines so that when children picked them up they were blown to pieces. Men who can say such things are really mentally insane and these champions of Democracy are our rulers to whom we submit the safety of our State.
The Parliamentary system is becoming unworkable. The Peoples of the Democracies, owing to the iron control of publicity, are dumb and can be driven to war without a protest. Even a pig is allowed to squeal before he is killed.
We shall owe to Germany not only the abolition of the Politician, but a new ethical conception of a community, Peace in Europe and a reformed economic and trading system which will reconstruct world economics and abolish the evil influences of international finance and huge trading monopolies.
The great speech made by the Führer has deflated the war balloon blown out with poison gas by the Press. Germany makes no threat of war against any nation. The war anxiety among the small nations of Europe is not due to German action but to the uncertainty as to whether we do not intend to provoke war and the fear of our hysterical and unbalanced Democracy, for they know that Great Britain is dangerous when she is filled with moral indignation at the sins of her neighbours. When the giants are fighting the small nations will suffer.
It is true Holland is busy arming her frontier facing Germany but she is just as busy arming her harbours facing England. France is evidently hesitating between Peace, Trade and friendship with Germany and being further involved in our reckless foreign policy. It is said that our beginning of conscription is the price we are paying to keep her with us.
Before finally considering the two policies put before the peoples of Europe and the peoples of this country by the Führer and the British Government respectively, let us briefly look at the present condition of Europe as revealed by our attempts to consolidate it in a new policy against Germany.
Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania deny that they fear any act [of] aggression on the part of Germany, refuse to be drawn into any alliance that may commit them to war, and state that if war comes they will remain neutral.
Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Hungary and Jugoslavia are united in the closest bonds of friendship and mutual confidence. Rumania and Greece, while not refusing our offer of assistance if attacked, will not sign a Treaty which will in any way commit them to war.
A chain of Peace Pacts beginning in Italy joins Italy to Jugoslavia, Jugoslavia to Bulgaria, Bulgaria to Turkey.
Poland alone has formed a mutual security pact with us, and by so doing broken her Peace Pact with Germany.
France is isolated in Europe to-day and has chosen to quarrel with her three neighbours on her frontiers - Spain, Italy and Germany. This attitude of hostility can be ended when she chooses, and grants the quite reasonable requests of Italy.
Before Hitler rose to power all countries in Europe had armed and a criss cross of mutual security pacts made war possible and no one could say where it would stop. Since Germany rose to power the consolidation of Europe into friendly nations promoting trade has proceeded apace. A central area of Europe from the frontiers of Holland to the frontiers of Rumania, and united to Italy and Spain is settled as a permanent area of Peace, - an area equal to the old Austrian Empire and united to Germany by friendship, not by dominance of a central Government. If Germany and Italy acting jointly are able to settle the differences about land frontiers between Hungary and Rumania, this will extend to the Black Sea.
Formerly Poland could be included. Unfortunately for her she has broken away owing to our interference. This Pax Germanica which is gradually extending over Europe is the work of two men - Hitler and Mussolini.
Let us now consider the two policies offered by Hitler on the one hand and our Government on the other.
To Hitler we owe the idea of Peace Pacts. Two nations agree not to go to war for a term of years. This does not involve any alliance against a third Power. This policy has spread over Europe and into Asia. Turkey, Iraq, Persia and Afghanistan are united by Peace Pacts.
The first Peace Pact between Germany and Poland resulted in the friendly settlement of very delicate and difficult points and it is disastrous for her that Poland has broken it.
The other policy of mutual security pacts is simply the Policy of Treaties between two nations directed against a third nation under a new name which existed before the war and had such disastrous consequences. Germany was bound to Austria, England was bound to France, and France to Russia, and so an insignificant Balkan war involved all Europe in a catastrophe. This policy was tried during the reign of the League and produced unrest and fear of war all over Europe. It means the assumption by a nation of obligations to fight for a foreign policy over which it has no control, and it ensures automatically a local war between two powers involving all those linked by mutual security pacts. A break at any point in the complicated chain involves the whole in disaster. It means dividing Europe into two hostile camps, which must end in war sooner or later.
Hitler has always denounced mutual security and Germany beyond her guarantee of the integrity of Belgium and of Slovakia is free from all such commitments. Our alliance with France has been disastrous to both countries as neither country is free to follow the foreign policy suited to its own interests. It is, for instance, essential for France today to develop friendly relations with Spain and Italy, and above all with Germany. Many intelligent Frenchmen curse the alliance with us dragging France into our disastrous and reckless Foreign Policy.
The peoples of Europe, of Great Britain and the British Empire have the chance of adopting the policy of Hitler and Peace, or of Chamberlain who is being driven by forces hostile to Germany to war. I thank God that the Peace of Europe is in the guardianship of the Führer and therefore, in spite of the frantic efforts of all those here and in Europe and America who want war, secure.
Epilogue by The Scriptorium, November 11, 2003
These closing words were written in June 1939. As we all know, things turned out rather differently than Dr. Laurie expected, and at the time of his writing the remaining days of peace were already numbered at less than 100. It seems appropriate, therefore, to close this book with just a few words from the most virulent of those men who wanted the developments the world actually got, and who with their frantic efforts succeeded in thwarting what could have been a long and prosperous European and global peace:
Lord Vansittart, at the time of this quote Permanent Under-Secretary at the British Foreign Office: "If Hitler fails, his successor will be Bolshevism; if he is successful, we will present him with a European war within five years." In his book Even now, London 1933, p. 69. [Note how close the predicted timing was to actual fact!]
Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister: "Germany is becoming too strong. We must crush her." Said to American General Robert E. Wood in November 1936. And: "This war is a British war and its goal is the destruction of Germany." Said in November 1939 in a radio address to the British people. And just a short time later: "You must understand that this war is not against Hitler or National Socialism, but against the strength of the German people, which is to be smashed for good regardless of whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest." Latter quoted in E. Hughes, Winston Churchill - His Career in War and Peace, p. 145.
Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty and British Minister for Information: "The coming peace treaty must be much harsher and more merciless than Versailles. We can make no distinction between Hitler and the German people!" Said on April 25, 1940, as quoted in: Father E. J. Reichenberger, Wider Willkür und Machtrausch, 1955, p. 114.
And the list goes on...