Courtesy Reuters

French Critics and Apologists Debate Munich

AFTER nine years, Munich is still much debated in France. The intense emotions aroused at the time have not yet been calmed, as the number of French apologias and criticisms now being published indicates. With the documents which have recently been made available elsewhere, in particular the intensely interesting German documents, they enable us to form a more precise idea of the motives of those who called the fateful conference in September 1938.

Georges Bonnet, Minister of Foreign Affairs from April 1936 to October 1939, has published his testimony in Switzerland.[i] Living in retirement in that country, he appeals to history to alter the judgment of so many of his contemporaries about his diplomacy. Léon Noël, former Minister at Prague and Ambassador at Warsaw from 1935 to 1939, in a well-documented study,[ii] characterizes Bonnet's policy as "the uncertain policy of a timid man." General Gamelin, himself greatly criticized, goes much further in his memoirs [iii] and denounces Bonnet's "ill-omened action." He writes: "M. Georges Bonnet saw in everything only his personal interest of the moment. . . . One could never have confidence in his words." Although Bonnet did not actually accompany his chief, Premier Daladier, to Munich, he appears in France as the incarnation of the Munich policy. His book, though it claims complete objectivity, is in fact clever special pleading. The author excels in talking beside the point, and his selection of documents is very careful.

A number of Bonnet's colleagues in the government have also provided evidence about Munich. Edouard Daladier himself, in a speech before the Constituent Assembly on July 18, 1946, replied to some of those who had vehemently accused him. Another impassioned Munich apologist, Anatole de Monzie, former Minister of Public Works, who died at the beginning of 1947, made the mistake, during the German occupation, of publishing a kind of journal of the prewar period.[iv] For a long time de Monzie had seemed called to a great political destiny. A man of fascinating intelligence, he was likened by Poincaré to Talleyrand, "with the same

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