Present at the Disruption
How Trump Unmade U.S. Foreign Policy
THE international significance of what the Czechs immediately designated as the Münchener Diktat of September 29, 1938, has been endlessly discussed, and its general consequences have, in the United States at least, been accurately appreciated. But the smaller scale results, as they must affect the lives of the Czechs and Germans themselves, have not been considered in very much detail.
It is difficult to convey to people unfamiliar with Bohemian traditions the emotional meaning of the ancient frontiers of Bohemia and Moravia. Much has been written of the emotional wound inflicted upon the Germans by the creation of the Polish "Corridor," which had been German only since Frederick the Great succeeded in manœuvring Maria Theresa and Catherine the Great into the first partition of Poland scarcely a century and a half before the Treaty of Versailles. The frontiers of Bohemia were something like a thousand years old; in all that time they remained intact -- unlike Hungary's, which were obliterated by a Turkish occupation -- until the German occupation of October 1938. Innumerable traditions bind the Czechs to the very districts of Bohemia which have become most preponderantly German, and, since the early mediæval kingdom of St. Wenceslas was established, the Czechs have regretted the successive waves of German immigration. The Germans showed prowess in peaceful penetration; they accepted a Bohemian domicile, but they persistently refused to speak the language of the Czechs.
But even laying all sentiment aside, in so far as the Munich frontiers are definitively drawn at the time of writing, [i] we must consider them unjustifiable from other points of view. It has become evident that they give Germany almost exactly the same total area as did the Godesberg Plan, which shocked not only liberal opinion all over the world, but also -- as he himself bore witness -- Mr. Chamberlain. Since the Germans rejected all postwar statistics, the new frontiers are mostly, though not entirely, based upon the last Hapsburg census figures, which are twenty-eight years old. In prewar Austria the nationality of the citizen was decided by his Umgangssprache, that is to say by his language of everyday use. The peculiar results to which this criterion led were recently impressed upon readers of the London Times by a letter from Mr. Wickham Steed who in 1910 was the Vienna correspondent of that famous journal. Mr. Steed had entered himself as British on the census paper; he was thereupon visited by an Austrian official, and since in Vienna his Umgangssprache was German he was forced to write himself down a German. Thus he was entered as a member of the German national group in Austria, where the relative strength of national groups already decided important issues. Enormous pressure was exerted upon the Slav inhabitants of Hapsburg Austria to register as Germans, more especially since to be German was to rank as socially superior. The census was not like a secret vote, and the Czech lignite miner in North Bohemia knew that it might be as much as his job was worth to register as Czech. The lignite mines were German-owned and imposed a German Umgangssprache; moreover, the Bohemian Germans regarded Northern Bohemia as their own sacred soil -- Czechs in that area were held to be under an obligation to get Germanized as fast as they could, an attitude kept up by the Germans throughout the postwar period, although they intensely resented the idea that Germans living in Czech majority areas should be subjected to any suggestion of Czechification. In Moravia before the war the pressure upon Czechs to register as Germans was, for various reasons, more effective still. The first Czechoslovak census in 1921 therefore revealed a transformation. It might be argued that the opposite pressure under the Czechoslovak authorities after the war was as great -- indeed German propagandists like to regard it as far greater. But this is historically untrue. There were some local irregularities in 1921, but the far more satisfactory test of the citizen's mother-tongue was applied, and since the Germans tended still to be in socially superior positions there was no opportunity for the Czechs to apply the subtler forms of pressure which had been exerted in favor of the German national group in prewar days.
The application of these census figures of 1910 to the circumstances of 1938 is in any case grotesque, quite apart from the strange manner in which they often were obtained. Aside from the increase of Czech officials in predominantly German districts after the war, there was a natural tendency for Czech labor to flow towards Northern Bohemia until about 1930, and a very strong case for the settling of Czech peasants on land which had formed part of gigantic German-owned estates. Today all this is entirely discounted. The Münchener Diktat has incorporated in Germany the whole lignite area in the north, including a town like Dux (Duchcov) which, in the municipal elections last June, was shown to be nearly half Czech and which has Czech villages scattered around it. Altogether, some 400,000 Germans -- 60,000 in Brno, 50,000 in Prague, and about 200,000 in Slovakia -- remain on Czechoslovak territory. [ii] Against this number, over 700,000 Czechs are being handed over to the Reich, while another 120,000 Czechs have been surrendered to Poland.
The most unjustifiable territorial changes -- and incidentally the most marked overstepping of the Godesberg line -- have been carried out in Northern and Southern Moravia. The Czechs feel bitterly over the acquisition by Germany of the Hohenstadt (Zabřeh) district, which contains 42,000 Czechs to 26,000 Germans. It was agreed that Czechoslovakia's retention of the 16,500 Germans in the Jihlava (Iglau) district could be set against the Hohenstadt Czechs, but the Czechs point out that their people around Dux and Brüx more than balance Jihlava. Hohenstadt is, however, something like a Czech enclave, and was, therefore, quite unlikely to be saved. Flagrantly indefensible in Northern Moravia is the new frontier northeast of Hranice (Mährisch Weisskirchen) and southwest of Polička. Hranice remains in Czech hands, but seven adjoining communes have now gone to Germany; even according to the 1910 figures, these communes had 4,027 Czechs and 115 Germans! The town and district of Polička (actually just in Bohemia) were also admitted to have a Czech majority in prewar days; according to the last census taken in 1930, Polička itself had 5,891 Czech and 149 German inhabitants. Together with two further communes containing 3,619 Czechs and 34 Germans, it has now become part of the German Reich. To the south, the districts of Lundenburg (Břeclav) with 18,120 Czechs and 1,808 Germans and Mährisch Krumau (Morávský Krumlov) with 3,047 Czechs and 349 Germans have now gone to Germany.[iii] These are only the most strikingly unjustifiable examples of the "racial justice" which the National Socialist Government offers to Central Europe. Theoretically, frontier adjustments may yet be made; but it is safe to presume that the Czechs have nothing to hope for. M. François-Poncet the French representative on the International Commission which nominally drew the new frontiers, occasionally protested against Germany's orders, but his efforts were entirely fruitless. As the Diplomatic Correspondent of the Manchester Guardian has very significantly written: "The bearing of the German representatives [on the military sub-commission] . . . has only one parallel -- namely the bearing of the German military chiefs at Brest-Litovsk in 1917."
And now, how does all this affect the lives of the Czechs? About three-quarters of a million of them, despite their immensely sturdy democratic traditions, are handed over to a totalitarian régime which, far from guaranteeing minority rights such as those provided by the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920, sets out to obliterate every point of view other than that of the party which dominates the state. The remaining 6½ millions are left with no strategic frontiers, with their railways cut and their economic life mutilated. The main railway lines from Plzen and Prague in Bohemia to the two big towns of Moravia, Brno and Moravská Ostrava, are cut by the new big German salient in Northern Moravia, where, incidentally, Hohenstadt is a junction of some importance; the line from Prague to Ostrava is cut twice, since Olomouc remains on Czechoslovak territory. With Lundenburg in German hands, railway communication between Moravia and the now autonomous Slovakia is cut, for all the main Moravian lines met at Lundenburg in order to proceed to Bratislava. It was interesting to see with what rapidity Polish troops occupied Bohumín, the junction northeast of Ostrava; and the line from Ostrava to Košice (Kassa) in Slovakia traverses territory now Polish in order to reach the junction of Žilina, while Košice itself has passed into the possession of Hungary.
The economic losses of the Czechs are incalculably great. The cession of Northern Bohemia deprives them of practically their whole supply of lignite -- the fuel basis of their industries, of their railways and of the heating of their houses; since 1918 the househeating system of Prague has been entirely built up upon the use of lignite. Meanwhile, the Polish occupation of the Teschen district -- of which the able correspondent of Le Temps in Prague has written that it is "beaucoup plus riche d'industries que de Polonais" -- has robbed the Czechs of the Karwina bituminous coal mines, together with the big Berg-und Hüttenwerk steelworks at Třinec in which Schneider-Creusot capital is invested. The Czechs are left with the coal of Kladno near Prague, and -- at present -- with that of Moravská Ostrava, a city now wedged more uncomfortably than ever between Germany and Poland. The wireless station at Schönbrunn (Svinov) and the territory all around have now been included in Germany though this Czech area was not claimed at Godesberg. The Czechs still retain the gigantic Vitkovice steelworks in all but their entirety, and they still own the machine factories of Brno and the huge Skoda armaments concern at Plzeň and elsewhere. Now that Czechoslovakia has lost the only frontiers which she could have defended, it is ironic that she should own the biggest armaments works in Europe after those of Krupps; and in any case Plzeň is now virtually a frontier town, and Germany will certainly prevent Škoda from sending armaments where she does not wish them to go. Meanwhile the iron ore of Slovakia has been ceded to Hungary, so that all iron ore has now to be imported.
All the chief electric power stations of Bohemia, while supplying the Czech-speaking interior, were situated in the mountainous, mainly German-speaking districts of the pre-Munich Republic. They have now been taken by the Germans, including, for example, that of Ervěnice (near Brüx), which supplied the city of Prague and was the joint property of the Prague municipality and of the Czechoslovak State. The big chemical works of Aussig are now cut away from their headquarters in Prague and their factories in Slovakia; it is hoped to shift the center of the Czech chemical industry to Kolín just east of Prague.[iv] Many other industries have been broken up in similar fashion.
One of the virtues of pre-Munich Czechoslovakia was a nice balance between industry and agriculture, which was partly the result of the natural evolution of the economic life of Bohemia and Moravia within their ancient frontiers. Not only has a boundary now been drawn between the Czech-speaking food-producing peasants of the interior and the hungry Sudeten German factory-workers, but there is also, for example, a frontier between the hops of Saaz and the breweries of Plzeň and Budějovice (Budweis), and between many beet-growing Czech farmers and the sugar mills of Brüx and Böhmisch Leipa. Further, the china clay of the Karlsbad district is completely cut away from Czechoslovakia. The majority of the potters and porcelain-makers are, however, cut away too, and the industry is in any case in considerable distress. The chief glass-producing centers have gone to Germany, but there are probably enough glass-workers left in the rump of Czechoslovakia to build up a satisfactory inland glass industry. It used to be a Sudeten German grievance that the Government spent money on training centres, e.g. at Hradec Králové (Königgrätz) and Eisenbrod, for Czech glass-workers instead of putting all available resources at the disposal of Sudeten Germans; but today the Czechs may benefit from this.
The loss of the Karlsbad potteries or of the textile concerns of Northeastern Bohemia cannot, however, be regarded as necessarily disadvantageous. Apart from the fabric-glove industry of Asch, Sudeten German textile factories were mostly poor and on too small a scale to compete in the world market. The Czechs, moreover, have textile concerns at Hradec Králové and elsewhere. Nor can it be denied that from the economic point of view, they are well rid of the poverty-stricken Erzgebirge villages with their luxury home industries of lace-making and musical instruments. Again, the loss of the bankrupt spa towns of Karlsbad, Marienbad and Franzensbad is no economic disaster in itself; the Republic is still left with Pieštany and the other spas of Slovakia.
Above all, it is the financial losses of Czechoslovakia which are overwhelming. The Prague Government is faced with a heavy mobilization bill dating from May 21, 1938, and with a stream of refugees, including some fifty to sixty thousand jobless officials from the lost territories. On October 18, i.e. before the cession of territory to Hungary, the Czech Finance Minister, Dr. Kalfus, estimated the tax-paying capacity of the country to have been reduced by 40 percent. Both the State and the Czechoslovak banks have lost vast amounts of capital invested in one way or another in the territories which have been given up; the State, for example, had built innumerable schools (not all of them Czech ones), a good many roads, and of course the now abandoned fortifications. The State and the biggest Czech bank, the Živnostenská Banka, owned the North Bohemian lignite mines between them,[v] and the "Živno" will have lost money invested in the Aussig chemical industry and in Sudeten German industry elsewhere. The Czechoslovak National Bank has directly and indirectly helped Sudeten German banks of all kinds; the capital it has advanced must now be regarded as, at the best, frozen in Germany. Thus at the moment when credit is desperately needed in Czechoslovakia, her chief internal credit-supplying institutions are themselves all but paralyzed, and it seems inevitable that some of her banks will collapse. It had been the pride of Czechoslovakia to be relatively independent of foreign capital. To what extent the credits which have been advanced by the British Government can be devoted to the reorganization of the rump of the Republic is not, however, clear. According to the Treaty of Versailles, the Successor States had to take over portions of the National Debt of the countries from whom they inherited territory and to pay something towards the cost of the State buildings taken over; but there is no reason to presume that Berlin will now make any such offer to Prague. On the contrary it appears that Germany may claim payment from the Czechs for the Czech crowns now being converted into marks in the ceded territory. Further, there is the Wiedergutmachung or reparations claim first mooted by Henlein in a speech at Aussig on February 28, 1937. Instead of the Czechs receiving some compensation for their immense losses, it is suggested from Germany that they are to compensate the Sudeten Germans for losses sustained by them as the result of their incorporation in Czechoslovakia in 1919.
The Germans in prewar Austria held a privileged position. After the war the Czechoslovak Government abolished this privilege; it split up huge estates, which were nearly always the property of Germans or Hungarians, and distributed them among land-hungry Czech and Slovak peasants; in the process of doing so, as invariably happens in such circumstances, some abuses occurred, though the measure as a whole was a social necessity. But the more extreme Sudeten Germans branded the Czechoslovak Land Reform as theft (though a low rate of compensation was always in fact paid), and they claimed that the Czechs should be forced to restore the property in question. It looks very much as if the British credits will be used up in satisfying Germany's financial demands. Even if the Wiedergutmachung claim is not insisted upon, the postwar settlers in the territory now ruled by Germany are either lost Czechoslovak citizens or among the hordes of refugees whom the Prague Government has on its hands.
Before 1919 the Czechs as a whole lived in a condition of great poverty. Even after Czechoslovakia had been established for some time, in spite of the equalization of wealth and many new openings, the relative poverty of middle-class officials or of working people was striking, as compared with conditions in Germany or France; indeed the willingness of Czech workmen to work for lower wages than Germans continued to aggravate Czech-German relations as it had to a greater degree before the war. It is clear that the Czech standard of living is now to fall heavily back again.
Linked with this comes political subjection to Germany. It would be absurd to deny that the Czechs have undergone a bitter disillusionment with regard to some of the principles which they had hitherto taken for granted; it is, nevertheless, evident that Czechoslovakia has had to reverse her foreign policy and suppress her Communist Party primarily at the dictation of Berlin. A new constitution is under discussion to be applied to the new federal Czech-Slovak-Ruthene state. Proportional representation is to be abolished and the number of political parties thereby reduced; it does not yet appear that it is to be reduced so far that only one Czech party shall remain, though Slovakia is completely gleichgeschaltet by now and this inevitably brings Czech repercussions. The Syrovy Cabinet consists of men who belong neither to the Chamber of Deputies nor to the Senate. At the same time, the slogans of the moment are "renewal" and "planning," and the Prager Presse points out that one must learn from one's enemy.[vi] It is difficult not to wonder whether the new Supreme Economic Bureau (the N. U. H.) and the new labor camps will not also lead away from the spirit in which Masaryk founded the Republic.
So much for the Czechs. But what does Munich mean for the Sudeten Germans themselves? The young people are, as a whole, fanatical Nazis; to be annexed by Germany was their dearest wish; they will merely have to adjust themselves to post-millennium disappointments. For those over 30 it is quite another matter. When Henlein repeated to his English friends in London as late as May 1938 that he still wished for autonomy within the Czechoslovak State, whether he was speaking sincerely or not, he was expressing the wishes of a very considerable proportion of his followers. The simple unpolitically-minded Sudeten German could only tell one that he wanted to be governed by his own people, not by Czech officials; he did not contemplate administrative annexation to the Reich. Many of Herr Henlein's closest collaborators had remained under the more Catholic, less Socialistic, influences of the Viennese Professor, Othmar Spann, who was imprisoned by the Nazi authorities when Germany annexed Austria. Sudeten German employers were mostly keen Henleinists because they welcomed Henlein as an ally against the Social Democrat Trade Unions -- indeed, they forced their workmen into the Henleinist party without scruple -- but they did not necessarily wish to be subjected to restrictions or large-scale competition from the Reich. The survivors of the old aristocracy were undoubtedly sincere in their profession of loyalty to Dr. Beneš in the middle of September. There was, of course, a strong Pan German tradition, especially among the German professional classes in Bohemia and Czechoslovak Silesia, who had always advocated a consistent and vigorous Germanization in Central Europe; to them the Munich Agreement represents a long step in the right direction.
In spite of vociferous Nazi propaganda by radio, in spite of the flow of intimidating rumors, in spite of pressure from employers and years of terrible slump conditions in the distressed areas of the Sudeten German country -- conditions for which all its enemies unjustly held the Czechoslovak Government responsible -- a democratic tradition had nevertheless survived among the Sudeten Germans. Those over 35 grew up in old Austria where democratic ideas had shown a certain vitality and Social Democracy had played a great and courageous part. It is probably accurate to consider that about half a million Germans living in the areas which have now become German had remained opposed to totalitarianism up to the last. So soon as the Czech authorities withdrew, Henleinist Freikorps men became free to assault these people as brutally as they wished, and with the arrival of the German authorities, they have been disappearing into Gestapo prisons and concentration camps. Many of those who at first escaped into Czech territory were sent back to their homes. The Munich negotiators ignored the fate of these unfortunate democrats. It would not have been difficult to arrange that some of them change places with the Germans left in predominantly Czech towns, but as yet one hears of no measures to bring this about.
While the Germans who remain in Czechoslovakia will share the fall in the Czech and Slovak standard of life, the economic outlook for the newest subjects of the German Reich is no rosy one. At present no tariff barrier has been set up between Czechoslovakia and the Sudeten German firms. But while Asch gloves and North Bohemian stockings (which did well in Czechoslovakia) cannot possibly compete with the bigger German factories, there is certainly no more room in the world today, slump or no slump, for the more antiquated small-scale Sudeten German textile concerns than for the distressed sections of the Lancashire textile industry or South Wales mining. The same thing applies to the glass ornaments industry around Gablonz, and to lace and toy-making in the Erzgebirge. The working people concerned will have to be taken elsewhere and taught other work, and a transitional period of great difficulty is inevitable. These Bohemians are the most conservative home-lovers, and it is safe to prophesy that they will resent, not only the higher cost of living in the Reich, but also being moved into labor camps or to work on the fortifications in the west. On the other hand, some North Bohemians had already been drawn into the armaments factories which have been expanding over Saxony, and this tendency will now be sharply stimulated. The prospect for the Sudeten German porcelain-makers and lignite miners is also a fairly gloomy one. The Reich already produces a good deal of lignite and more china objects than it needs, while Czechoslovakia intends to make efforts to reduce its consumption of lignite through electrification.
From an economic point of view Germany does not at first sight appear to have gained very much. She already has something of a food problem, and has now acquired three and a half million inhabitants living within a mainly mountainous territory which cannot supply their food. She requires raw materials and skilled workers, and she has acquired antiquated textile industries dependent upon imported cotton and a number of cottagers who are accustomed to making toys and fiddles and glass beads in their homes. Her mineral acquisitions consist of the lignite coal fields, and beyond that a little copper near Karlsbad, and the radium mine at Joachimsthal which is run at a dead loss; in Komotau, Teplitz-Schönau, Bodenbach and Eger she gains a number of metal-workers. So far the bargain appears not to be a good one. But with regard to timber on the one hand and gold reserves on the other Germany's expansion in October supplements her seizure of Austria in March. What she now gains in Bohemia and Czechoslovak Silesia in forest land amplifies the timber at her disposal in Austria, and at Krumau in Southern Bohemia she acquires the biggest paper mills in the old Hapsburg Monarchy. It would be natural to suppose that she would offer some compensation to the Czechoslovak State, which owned most of the forests; instead, she will rather demand payment for herself because they were once the property of some Austrian aristocrat -- whose Hapsburg sympathies may meanwhile have sent him to Dachau! To add to the gold acquired by the Nazi régime in Vienna, Germany will now apparently demand gold payments from Prague against the substitution of the mark for the Czech crown in the Sudeten German districts, and to meet other claims. This will ease her gold situation and increase her ability to buy raw materials abroad.
So long as the old independent Czechoslovakia existed, she was the leading partner not only in a diplomatic, but also in an economic, Little Entente. She could supply Rumania and Jugoslavia with many of the manufactured goods they required; if she could not consume their foodstuffs and other raw materials, she often successfully resold them. She thus prevented these other small countries from becoming entirely dependent upon their trade with Germany. Today Czechoslovakia is too small, too weak, too dependent to fill that rôle. The Reich can dictate terms of barter to the small states of Central and Eastern Europe and, with the other Great Powers distant and half-hearted, these have no choice but to acquiesce. If Germany can draw them into a Customs Union -- that Mittel-Europa dreamed of by the prewar and wartime Pan Germans -- her own big textile industries may kill the postwar textile manufactures of Rumania and Hungary. As these have been largely produced by Jewish industrialists, the anti-Semites of Bucharest and Budapest may be willing enough. In such an event it is not inconceivable that some of the textile factories of the Sudeten German areas may in time be supplied with both raw materials and markets in sufficiency, and the Pact of Munich will then have received its economic justification.
But for the moment the importance of the Münchener Diktat is primarily strategic. It has been proved once again that, as Bismarck said, the master of Bohemia is veritably the master of Europe. In 1866 the Prussians invaded Bohemia and beat the Austrian army at Sadowa. Bismarck left Bohemia's frontiers intact, and on German sufferance Austria preserved the integrity of her northern provinces until the World War. In 1918 France and her friends set up a new state in Bohemia, and French engineers helped to fortify the great mountain frontiers. This bulwark lay across Adolf Hitler's path to the southeast. Now he has been able to draw the teeth of the lion of Bohemia -- the poor beast having been chloroformed by its soi-disant friends. The great Czech fortifications have been surrendered to Germany.
After the Sudeten German revolt of September 13 it would have been exceedingly difficult to reëstablish the administrative status quo in its entirety. But even if some territorial readjustment was inevitable, and even if one remembers that territorial change is certain to bring economic dislocation, anyone who knows the areas concerned at first hand finds great difficulty in taking the new frontiers altogether seriously. After the first partition of Poland in 1772, for which some ethnical justification also existed, the spoliators assured the world that Poland would "sit much prettier" within her new frontiers and had nothing more to fear. After the World War the enemies of Czechoslovakia never tired of pointing derisively at her "ludicrous" shape; on the post-Munich map it is far more ridiculous. They complained that post-St. Germain Austria could not survive -- can post-Munich Czechoslovakia be expected to live? Perhaps the most extraordinary piece of new frontier is that which (since the Italo-German decision at Vienna) divides Hungary from Slovakia and from wretchedly poor Ruthenia. Apart from a violation of racial considerations -- considerations which can never be logically applied in Central Europe -- Slovakia and Ruthenia have been cut away from the plain which made life in their hills and mountains at all possible. The Trianon frontier was bad enough economically, but this is ten times worse, especially for Ruthenia which is left with no plain and no important railway. Since the Czechs have lost so much forest land they could make good use of Ruthenian timber were there now any way of conveying it to Moravia and Bohemia, but the rivers run in the wrong direction and Hitler and Mussolini have given the railway from Košice to Sevluš to Hungary.
Like the new frontiers of Slovakia and Ruthenia, the new Moravian frontiers are grotesque. From the Glatz salient across to Austria was never very far; but the distance between the new frontier posts at Polička and Mährisch Krumau is half as great -- a matter of only 35 miles. It is here that the racial argument has been most blatantly discarded, it is here that the Godesberg line has been most frankly overstepped. Germany's jaws are closing across the old "Moravian gateway." This is one of the old Pan German catchwords. Long before the World War, and with unmitigated persistence after it, Pan German groups, especially in Bohemia and Silesia, planned for Moravia to be the bridge between Breslau and Vienna, Prussia's route to the Danube Valley. Vigorous Germanization in alliance with the Germans of Brno and Jihlava was their program. With the "Moravian gateway" secured, they hoped to see Moravia and Bohemia become the heart of the Mittel-Europa of the future, a new German Empire spreading far to the east and south. It is interesting to note that they have already been forced to agree to a German roadway and canal across Moravia, forming the corridor mooted at Godesberg. The Pan Germans always regarded the German University at Prague as endowed with a mission to "recapture" Bohemia for German kultur and they will not altogether welcome the removal of the German University and Polytechnic from Prague to Reichenberg, nor the transference of the German Polytechnic from Brno to Linz, as is now planned at any rate by the Czechs. They will console themselves with the fact that a German minority of a quarter of a million is still distributed among the leading Czech cities and that Herr Kundt has organized a German Nazi Party in Prague.
The old Prussian invasion route which led to Sadowa in 1866 has become less practical and less popular in German military circles in recent years; invasion up the valley of the Oder was still discussed, but among soldiers the favorite plan was to cut Czechoslovakia in half across Moravia. Now that Austria is in its hands, the German General Staff has completed its geographical preparations. Indeed the map of Central Europe today looks exactly as if the Germans had fought and had won their contemplated war. If they have agreed that the Slovaks of Košice and the Ruthenes of Užhorod be given to Hungary, they took care to occupy Engerau, the valuable Bratislava bridgehead on the Danube, as quickly as the Poles occupied Bohumín, though Engerau was Hungarian before 1918.
The Pan German program, and the military plans for its realization, are an old story. Adolf Hitler's contribution lies mainly in bringing this program about through propaganda and the threat of war rather than by war itself. There is a French version of the Bismarck saying which runs "Après Sadoue, Sédan." Were not both battles simultaneously lost a second time at Munich on September 29, 1938?
It may be hoped that Mittel-Europa will bring all the advantages of admirable organization and free trade to Central and Eastern Europe. But the Hitler program, like that of the pre-1914 Pan Germans, does not aim at a rise in the general standard of living; on the contrary it is based upon the assumption that the status of the Germans should always be superior to that of the Slavs. It consequently aims at the coercion of the Slavs through tariff pressure and the raising of only the German standard of life. In a century there must be 250 million Germans instead of 80 million in Europe, Herr Hitler declares in "Mein Kampf" (page 767, 1933 edition), and they must live, not like poor "colonials," but in a way which befits the German Herrenvolk. It would seem that this can only be brought about by the "colonial" subjection of some Slavs and the elimination of others. As Mr. Wheeler-Bennett has emphasized,[vii] it is Brest-Litovsk over again. The extraordinary frontier now established between Ruthenia and Hungary can preserve Ruthenia only as a hotbed of intrigue and as a German corridor to the Ukraine. The Völkischer Beobachter and those who share its views denounced Czechoslovakia, following the Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty of 1935, as a Bolshevik "spearhead" or corridor to the west; yet when one looks at the map today there seems to be no other intelligible explanation of the post-Munich Czech-Slovak-Ruthene federal state than as a German corridor to the east, penetrating across the mountains right into the territory where 40 million Ukrainian Slavs live on the fertile land which spreads north from the Black Sea.
[i] Early November 1938.
[ii] The figure includes a good many German-speaking Jews in Prague and Brno.
[iii] 1930 figures are used where not otherwise stated.
[iv] See Prager Presse, October 21, 1938.
[v] It is interesting that the Živno Bank bought up these mines as recently as June 1938 from Sudeten German Jews.
[vi] October 2, 1938.
[vii] FOREIGN AFFAIRS, October 1938.