Worm in the Apple
German Traitors and Other Influences
That Pushed the World Into War:

The little-known story of the men who destroyed Adolf Hitler's Germany

Friedrich Lenz

6. Munich, the Protectorate,
and the British guarantee to Poland

ChamberlainThe publication Der Standpunkt of August 11, 1950 correctly stated that the Conference at Munich "was not a spontaneous, isolated act by the peace-loving man with the umbrella, but rather the carefully considered policy of the Cabinet." The decision to go along with Munich was a 'carefully considered one' because at that time the British were not ready for war! As Prime Minister Chamberlain wrote on May 25, 1940 in a letter to a political sympathizer: "It is as clear as the light of day that if we had begun the war in 1938 the results would have been very much worse. I have been aware of our military weakness from the start, and hence I did my best to delay the war, if I couldn't prevent it outright."

BonnetAnd the French Secretary of State Bonnet, in his memoirs: "New evidence enables us to more fully appreciate the value of the one year which the Munich Agreement gained us."18 After Munich, the British and the French arms build-up continued even more intensively - and the British Opposition's anti-German incitement also shifted into high gear. England was still biding her time. She even permitted the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in the spring of 1939 - not only because Czechoslovakia had disintegrated, but chiefly because England was still not fully armed. The delay was made full use of, however, to excite the British people to a fever pitch against Germany.

Those Germans who criticize the establishment of the Protectorate as an act of force and thus as a deed of Hitler's to be condemned, I would ask to consider the following:

1. In Munich Hitler had no designs whatsoever on Czechoslovakia; all he wanted was to have the Sudeten-German regions back. In Hitler's directive of October 21, 1938, which is forever being cited as proof of his lust for conquest, he merely states: "It must be possible to crush the remaining part of Czechoslovakia at any time, if it should engage in anti-German policies."

2. After 'Munich', however, the remainder of Czechoslovakia evinced not only tendencies to dissolve further (since Slovakia and the Carpathian Ukraine wished to secede), but also exhibited pronounced anti-German tendencies, which threatened to pose a danger to Germany. Evidence for this is available.19

3. In 1930, the well-known politician Peter Rohrbach wrote in Deutschland - Tod oder Leben: "One day, when Austria is joined with the Reich, when the platitude of 'one people - two nations' has been thrown into the dustbin of history, the territory of the unified German national state will surround Czechoslovakia to the point where the latter will have to try to get along with Germany." That Czechoslovakia did exactly the opposite, despite the warnings which Hitler expressed in his conversation with the Czech Foreign Minister on September 28, 1938, is no-one's fault but Czechoslovakia's.

4. As early as February 1939 - weeks before the Protectorate was created - a leading British daily published a remarkable editorial about the rump state that was left to the Czechs after Munich. This state, it said, was not viable in the long term. Both geographically as well as economically, it was so tightly surrounded by the German Reich that it would perforce have to merge with Germany sooner or later; one might deem this development regrettable, but it was past stopping. England had started something in Munich, and would now have to finish it.

5. Bohemia and Moravia had already once been part of the German Empire, and for fully 1000 years.

6. Hitler will have recalled the famous statement made by his great predecessor, Bismarck: "The master of Bohemia is the master of Central Europe."

7. To quote the British envoy Henderson: "The opening was too good for Hitler's opportunism not to take advantage of it."

8. In light of the fact that the Czechs did not have the position of an oppressed minority in the Protectorate, but rather that of a largely independent people, I would second Ambassador Abetz in saying: "Anyone who deemed it right that until September 1938 three-and-one-half million Germans were forced against their will into national coexistence with six-and-one-half million Czechs had no right to object against these six-and-one-half million Czechs in turn being assimilated against their wish in April 1939 into a state with eighty million Germans."

9. Anyone who wishes to criticize the 'method' with which Hitler persuaded the Czech President Hacha to accept the terms of the Protectorate Hacha ought to know that "contrary to subsequent, tendentious reports of violent conflicts and brutal threats, these discussions in fact proceeded with calm and correct formality." President Hacha had driven to see Hitler in Berlin on March 15 and, according to Meissner, already confided to him while still at the train station "that in light of the intolerable conditions that had sprung up in his native country, he had decided to ask the Führer and Chancellor of the Reich for assistance and protection, and that he hoped that Hitler would be inclined to political co-operation."
To ensure that my readers understand why Hitler followed up on the terms of the Protectorate with the immediate deployment of troops, I think it would be useful at this point to quote from a book on this subject: "...recounted one time how precisely Hitler had assessed all the details of the situation that evening in Berlin when he caught Hacha unawares with the terms of the Protectorate treaty. He knew very well that on Hacha's return to Prague the German units that had been flown in would already be there to receive him. All this had somewhat the aspect of a game of Red Indians on an international scale, and had evidently also been misunderstood as such by some people around Hitler. Hitler Hitler noticed this, and explained: 'Hacha is an honest old man. There will be certain circles in his country that will not believe that he could not have acted otherwise. So now I have to make sure that Hacha will not be forced to take measures against a part of his own people to enforce the treaty. I also have to make sure that the possibility of a loyal development within the framework of this simply essential and inevitable solution is not going to be burdened by even one single shot fired unnecessarily. My function as statesman is that of a surgeon - if I must cut, I must do what is absolutely necessary, and make not so much as one single tiny incision more beyond the needful. Nothing is more important to ensure the future acknowledgment of an objectively inevitable necessity than the strict correctness with which one kept within the limits of the inevitable beforehand as well. That is why this time-table that regulates the sequence of the arrival of my units and that of Hacha's special train in Prague down to the minute is so important. The question of the Protectorate as such is no longer an issue for debate; not even the Czech military could stop it now. But one wouldn't open fire where it is not absolutely necessary and where all it would achieve would be a useless future encumbrance at best."

10. It would be better for the world if today's master of Bohemia were Germany rather than the Soviet Union, and the Czech people would doubtless be happy if the times of the 'Protectorate' could come again.

11. On March 15, Chamberlain declared in the House of Commons that the British guarantee for Czechoslovakia could not be invoked, since the state whose national borders England had meant to guarantee had disintegrated and the intended guarantee had thus lapsed. HM Government could thus no longer consider itself bound by these obligations.

When, subsequent to the establishment of the Protectorate, the Memelland also returned to Germany, but Hitler had declared that he would never begin an armed conflict for the sake of colonial possessions, England was suddenly in a great hurry to find the 'button' she could push at the right moment. The British had learned in the meantime that Germany had entered into promising negotiations with Poland regarding a sensible solution to the Corridor question. As early as November 24, 1932, Churchill had declared: "If the British government really wishes to promote peace, then it should take the initiative and re-open the issues of Danzig and the Corridor while the victorious powers are as yet superior. If these matters are not resolved, there can be no hope for a lasting peace!" But instead of taking this sage advice, the British government, on March 31, 1939, gave the Poles an extremely foolish promissory guarantee20 that one can understand only in light of their great haste. Chamberlain commented on this in the House of Commons on April 3, 1939, with these significant words which England will yet have occasion to recall with a shudder:

"To have deviated in this matter so far from our traditional ideals as I have done on Friday on the orders of HM Government in fact constitutes so significant a milestone in British politics that I feel I can safely say that this decision will be accorded a chapter by itself, once it is time to write history..."

Even Secretary of State v. Weizsäcker, hardly a fan of Hitler's, commented thus: "How could those in London think that such an act would serve the cause of peace? Do they think they can publicly intimidate Hitler, spoiled and dazzled as he is by external successes? And do they think that this is the way to exhort the Polish government to caution? I did not believe it, and the British Ambassador agreed with me. The British Minister and later Ambassador Duff Cooper put it thus: never before in history had Great Britain granted a nation of inferior rank the power to decide whether England was to join in a war or not. Now, precisely this decision was left up to a small group of people who, with the possible exception of Colonel Beck, were completely unknown in England. And even tomorrow these unknowns might order the start of a European war."

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18In 1946 Edouard Herriot stated: "There were two reasons for Munich: 1. England would not and could not mobilize at the time: she was not ready. Only after the German attack on Poland did she decide to take the initiative. 2. In those days the French people wanted peace at any price. They had been exposed to a certain anti-militaristic propaganda for years!" ...back...

19As early as 1918 in Versailles, Czech politicians had justified the need for the state of Czechoslovakia by pointing out that its geographic location would naturally make it Germany's arch-enemy. The French Minister of Aviation, Pierre Cot, confirmed that in the case of war, Czechoslovakia, by virtue of its proximity, was intended to serve as runway for bomber-planes bound for German towns and industrial sites. And finally, the Czech Member of Parliament, Slansky, stated: "We Communists are working unwaveringly towards our goal, the Soviet Republic, whose Head will be Klement Gottwald." (From Auch Du warst dabei by Peter Kleist.) ...back...

20In his book Germany Between Two Wars: A Study of Propaganda and War-Guilt, Mr. Lindley Fraser now attempts to trivialize the fateful significance of this guarantee by pointing out that it was given on March 31, whereas Poland had already turned down the German offers on March 26. However, he neglects to mention that as early as March 24 the British Ambassador had lodged a diplomatic protest with the Polish Foreign Minister Beck, in order to torpedo the German offers to Poland of March 21. The following day, Poland announced its mobilization. (From the account of the British historian Prof. Namier.) ...back...

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Worm in the Apple
German Traitors and Other Influences That Pushed the World Into War:
The little-known story of the men who destroyed Adolf Hitler's Germany