FUTURE historians, distributing praise and blame for the Munich "settlement," will of course take into account the long chain of things done which ought not to have been done, and of things left undone which ought to have been done, that winds itself through all the last twenty years of European history. In the light of this inheritance some of them will conclude that the policy which Chamberlain began unfolding early in 1938 was inevitable, and that Daladier and Bonnet too were inevitably forced, first to recognize that they could not balk that policy, then to adopt it with all the fervor of the convert. Others will think that with foresight and determination British and French statesmen could even in 1938 have maintained a balance of power on the Continent.
We cannot discuss here the more remote links in the chain. We cannot discuss who was responsible for errors in the Treaty of Versailles; for the League's inability to meet the heavy tasks laid upon it; for the deterioration of the world's economy; for the French and British failure to make a better effort to achieve disarmament; for Britain's subsequent neglect to rearm effectively through a long period when cabinet members were frequently assuring Parliament that all necessary steps were being taken;[i] for delays in reforming the French social structure; for the failure of French aëroplane production from 1936 to 1938; and for all the other mistakes of commission and omission (on both sides of the Atlantic) during the past twenty years.
Our task is to make a chronological examination of the Czech-German crisis of 1938. We shall try to set down, before all the details are known, but on the other hand while what we do know is still vividly in our minds, just one single chapter of the story which future historians will have to write in full. We shall see how what started as a two-sided negotiation between the Czech Government and the German minority in Czechoslovakia became an international negotiation under
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