THE specialists still had not rendered their final judgment as to what had been the effects of the First World War on mankind's lives, habits and moral and material situation when a second one broke out. In the two intervening decades science had made great progress in all fields. In none, however, had the progress been greater than in the field of destructive invention. Today, as a result, the threats of the last war seem to have been almost negligible in comparison with those that menace us now.

What will be the condition of Europe -- still not recovered from the first ordeal, and now plunged into a second -- when the war is over? How much will remain of its wealth and its treasures of culture? How many millions of graves will have closed over its victims? What will be the health of the survivors? Will the millions of people who have been tortured in concentration camps and prisons be able to return to the normal life of a citizen ? How will the families divided by deportations and compulsory emigration be able to unite again? How shall we deal with the enormous debts which every country will have contracted?

I pose these questions in order to emphasize the assertion with which I propose to begin this survey. I want to say, quite simply, that the damage being done by the Second World War in almost every sphere of human activity will be so enormous that generations will be needed to remedy it even in part. The most terrible result of all cannot be remedied by anybody. In all the countries overrun so far by German barbarism it is the best, the finest, the most courageous people who have been executed. Europe under the German yoke is suffering decapitation. For the cold savagery of the proceeding history offers absolutely no precedent. Unless after this war conditions are established which will render Germany definitely unable to make war on a world scale for a third time, then there is no hope for Europe.


Today it is still premature, I think, to discuss future European conditions in detail. The course of events on world battlefields will change things to such a degree that anything said today in detail about postwar Europe would be more in the nature of propaganda than a scientific examination of the problems involved. In principle, however, one can go so far as to state that the world's political leaders must make arrangements to prevent a third World War from ever taking place, and that in this connection a fundamental question is, and will remain, how to safeguard Central Europe, always the first point of German attack. It was in this area that German Nazi imperialism first struck in 1939, just as in 1914 the Hohenzollern and Habsburg imperialisms had made it the field of their first operations. Nevertheless, although the German "Drang nach Osten" (or "nach Sudosten") has always been an element in the powerful German drive for supremacy, it has been only one element. The other chief element has been a "Drang nach Westen." The scope and timing of each has been determined by the progress of the other. All the people of Europe depend on each other for safety.

Nazi Germany never was concerned merely to extend her power in Central and Eastern Europe. What she wanted to attain was hegemony over the whole of Europe, and this, again, she designed only as the first step towards world domination. Not this or that particularly vulnerable part of Europe, then, but the whole Continent, will need a new organization. For just as today Germany is threatening Europe as a whole, so the whole of Europe must hereafter be made safe. That is a basic truth. It is why the parochial calculations of certain European Powers that the sacrifice to Germany of this or that state in Central Europe would secure peace for the others were founded on ignorance and why they have always proved fallacious.

The first thing to be secured in the new postwar organization of Europe, then, must be a permanent and general European equilibrium. This equilibrium must be based both politically and economically upon the balance of forces between a number of large political units. The familiar conception of our previous political history, "the balance of power," does not, as I understand it, signify the equilibrium of material -- or to put it concretely, military -- forces, but an intelligent division of Europe into large, individual and balanced political organisms, each of them sufficiently powerful territorially, politically and economically. The weakness of small states must not in the future tempt large states to fall upon them. Nor must certain large states countenance this procedure on the part of other large states as a proper price to be paid in order to secure (for a little time) peace for themselves. I naturally am thinking in particular of the German attack which was impending upon Czechoslovakia in 1938 and of the decision taken at Munich in the fall of that year. It will remain in history as a typical example of political shortsightedness, superficiality and selfishness on the part of a number of the European Powers in a desperately critical moment for all of Europe.

Any attempt to work out the proper European organization in detail must take into account the following factors and considerations:

1. Western Europe, especially France and Great Britain. Franco-British relations come up for regulation here, also an agreement regarding Belgium and Holland.

2. Postwar Germany. Germany should become a decentralized confederation. A return to the former confederation of the Reich, in a modernized form, is absolutely essential. Prussia's domination over the other elements in the German nation should be broken. Prussia herself should be divided into three or four separate state units. Further, Germany must return to her pre-1938 frontiers, though possibly with rectifications in favor of her neighbors if such are demanded by considerations of European security.

3. Italy. She may be weakened as a result of her Fascist participation in the Nazi imperialistic venture. Certainly she will be weakened in Africa and in the Mediterranean.

4. Reorganized Central Europe. Its core will be a Czechoslovak-Polish confederation. The creation of this new political unit can already be considered an accomplished fact. It might be joined by Austria and Hungary, and possibly by Rumania, but as to this it is still too early to pass definite judgment; everything will depend upon the internal conditions of these three countries after the war. Hungary cannot be allowed, of course, to keep the territories which Germany gave her as a reward for participating, contrary to her treaties, in this criminal war.

5. The Balkan bloc. This should consist of a confederation between Jugoslavia, Greece and Albania, and possibly Rumania. Turkey must decide for herself what she will do. As to Bulgaria, the other states must arrange their mutual disputes with her once and for all. I am of the opinion that, whatever happens in the Balkans during and after this war, Bulgaria should be compelled to join the future Balkan confederation. For the third time in the course of thirty years she has become, willy-nilly, the instrument of Great Powers against her neighbors. An end must be put to this possibility.

6. Soviet Russia. In spite of various plans leading in other directions -- for instance, the so-called Pan-Europe plan -- Soviet Russia must take part in the organization of Europe and in the future coöperation of the new European blocs. It was a great shortcoming in the political structure of Europe after the last war that the Soviet Union was not invited to coöperate in its direction, and that she became involved very late (only in 1934) in the collective defense of the postwar system. For that reason the Soviets, rightly or wrongly, always felt themselves isolated and threatened. If Soviet Russia were again to be excluded, the new collaboration of European political units would lose its equilibrium through the fact that the German influence in the east of Europe would again be strengthened unduly. This would lead almost inevitably, in turn, to attempts by the Soviet Union to isolate itself from European influence. The policy of non-coöperation has more than once been unfavorable to the Soviet Union during the past twenty years. But it has been still more unfavorable to the rest of Europe. The Russian European continent belongs geographically and politically to Europe, just as do the British Isles. The fact is inescapable. The continued disequilibrium caused by the isolation of Soviet Russia was one of the reasons for the Second World War. If the error were repeated it would probably lead to a third.

7. A larger Scandinavian political unit should be created in the north of Europe, in agreement with Great Britain and Russia. In the southwest of Europe, Spain and Portugal will decide their future status for themselves.


I must emphasize again that Germany must return to her pre-Munich frontiers. It would be a fateful error if she were permitted to retain one inch of the territories which she has secured by force. That would in part justify the Nazi policy by demonstrating that force and violence do get their reward. And even if Hitler disappeared irrevocably, the extension of German territory which his régime had secured would constitute a temptation to his successor to venture again along the path of violence. Germany must be convinced ad oculos, and once and for all, that might does not make right, that force is not profitable, that on the contrary the sacrifices which the use of force imposes are not only heavy but useless. Specifically, I must note that force was employed in the occupation of a section of Czechoslovak territory after the edict of Munich, and that this force was no less immoral because it did not involve much spilling of blood. As a result, it seems to me self-evident that Germany must be required to yield up her booty of October 1938 precisely as she must yield up all the booty that she has seized since. Similarly, she will be compelled to evacuate Austria, which she annexed by force and the threat of force.

This view is not dictated by any feeling of jealousy or hostility on my part, or by Germanophobia. For me the significant considerations are political and moral. I do not affirm that the Germans are a bad people, or that all Germans are bad. I affirm only that Germany as a people and state is completely responsible for the most terrible war in world history; that the theory of total war has been discussed and elaborated in Germany and in Nazi circles for more than twenty years; that the Germans as a nation and state are responsible for Hitler and Himmler, just as the Americans are responsible for Lincoln and Roosevelt, the British for Churchill, the Italians for Mussolini, the Czechoslovaks for Masaryk, and the Russians for Lenin and Stalin. If this is not an accepted truth then an orderly and organized international existence becomes impossible. In my view, moreover, it is just that it should be so. This justice must not be of the order of revenge, or represent an attempt to destroy one's opponent. But if, after even such a war as this, proof is not provided that no war can be entered upon without punishment, and that political systems like Nazism simply cannot be tolerated either morally or from the international point of view, then I have no hope that it will be possible to resuscitate Europe and save humanity.

The active participation of Soviet Russia in the establishment of a European equilibrium must, of course, find expression first of all in an agreement between the Soviets and the Czechoslovak-Polish confederation. Many unhappy memories have stood between Russia and Poland. Their past must not, however, prevent good relations in the future. In her diplomatic intrigues in preparation for her attack in the East, Germany relied upon and exploited the disharmony between Poland and Russia. In the future, similarly, if there were tension between Warsaw and Moscow, Berlin would be inspired to attempt a new "Drang nach Osten." The East, just like the West, must be firmly unified, so that Germany may see in advance the impossibility of any successful issue to attempts at conquest and domination. The Czechoslovaks, who are not separated from Russia by any historical reminiscences, and who have decided to solve their former difficulties with the Poles -- which in any case were not great -- in a friendly and neighborly manner, and to enter into a union with them, are very glad that relations between the Poles and the Russians have notably improved recently. They will always be willing to work to help promote a proper understanding between these two Slav countries, linked together by a common origin and a common tongue.


It will not be particularly difficult to organize the west of Europe. Old states compose it, and their frontiers call for little change. The political character of these states is fairly well determined, moreover, and so is their form of government.

France will certainly pass through serious inner changes. Her democracy was rotten and corrupt and it has destroyed itself. It was responsible for her Bonnets and Daladiers, for her eventual fall, and her present sufferings. She still has much to suffer, but over the years she will recover.

At the moment when Nazi Germany falls militarily and politically the régime which has committed such hideous mistakes and crimes will disappear like snow in the sun. There will be serious disturbances in Germany and they will have weighty consequences.

The situation will be most difficult in Central Europe, where the new régimes established in 1919 did not have quite enough time to acquire a definite and settled character. Though they used the last twenty years to advantage, many problems were left unsolved -- linguistic, political and social, among others -- and the present war and the unprecedentedly criminal behavior of the German conquerors have created many new ones as well. Hence it is impossible as yet to say definitely in what form a new Central European confederation will be realized.

In view of the absence of any unified and firm point around which such a bloc can be built up, some persons contemplate resuscitating a great monarchy or several small ones. The revolutionary disturbances which took place in Central and Eastern Europe as a result of the last war dispensed with many examples of this constitutional form. This war will conclude with even more profound revolutionary disturbances. They will be most radical precisely in Central Europe. The broad masses of the people, who have had such a direct experience of hunger, suffering and incredible barbarism at the hands of the Nazis and the German generals, and who have already developed a conception of a new democratic Europe, will, even more than after the last war, be the decisive factor in the equation.

I do not believe, therefore, that the present war, a crucial aim of which is to develop a new form of democracy, will end by again establishing dynasties on abandoned thrones. This could be brought about only through violent revolutions, and the result would be to produce new dictators. Indeed, the opposite tendency seems more likely to prevail. There are thrones in Europe whose future is most uncertain. I think, for example, of the Bulgarian throne. What will happen to that dynasty if Hitler wins? And what will happen to it if he loses? Norway, Belgium, Holland and Jugoslavia are not, of course, in that sort of position. But in my view the situation will not be favorable either politically or psychologically after this war for the reëstablishment, in any free and peaceful fashion, of a great and unified monarchy in Europe.

I am particularly doubtful of the possibility of renewing the Habsburg monarchy, even though in Europe and in America its fall in 1918 has often been depicted as a mistake which should be corrected in order to promote enduring peace and order in Central Europe. My attitude to this question is unsentimental and detached. It is not a personal matter with me. Neither do I think of it as a question which relates to Czechoslovakia. I am concerned, these days, only about Hitler. But I must recall that the break-up of the Habsburg monarchy and the fall of the Habsburg dynasty were not the work of the Peace Conference in 1919 but of the peoples who had been under Habsburg rule. The interior revolutionary activity of those peoples and their military action abroad -- for example, through the Czechoslovak and Polish legions and the Jugoslav and the Rumanian armies -- were of great help to the armies of the Allies in defeating the Central Powers in 1918. Further, for a long time before the war these peoples had become more and more separated from the monarchy as a result of the political and economic oppression practised, on national lines, by the Germans in Austria and the Hungarians in Hungary. The Peace Conference simply was called upon to take account of faits accomplis which had assumed positive shape months before the Conference met, and which had been maturing for years.

The forces and influences which in 1918 overthrew the old Danube monarchy -- even against the will of certain powerful circles in London, Paris and Rome -- will now resist with equal efficacy any and every attempt to bring it back into existence, either as it was or as it might suggest that it could be. This is a simple fact. No propaganda is necessary to establish it. These forces are so powerful -- far more powerful than in 1918 -- that after this war they cannot be overcome. If the nations now under Hitler have a chance to express their wishes freely they all will say to proposals to revert to the old system -- no, not on any account.

For the first requisite for building up a successful Central European bloc is mutual confidence. Another is that all the partners shall have an approximately similar political structure. Certain changes must take place, principally in Hungary and Rumania. The new federal institutions that will develop will spring from the democratization of Central Europe, not from its consolidation on old monarchical bases which had a long test and failed so decisively.

In spite of the foregoing, however, I stress the fact that the nations of Central Europe must decide their fate after the war themselves. This is a self-evident democratic postulate. If one or the other of them decides, freely and with the approval of the majority of the population, for a restoration of the Habsburg or another royal family -- a possibility, I repeat, in which I do not believe -- it can, I think, expect its decision to be respected. What will happen later, nobody can say. The point is that this decision must not be imposed upon the state in question from without, against its will, as a manifestation of some higher political wisdom. This would mean not preparation for the reconstruction of a new democratic Europe, or for the construction of larger political and economic units in Central Europe, but preparation for another collapse.


The method to be used in establishing a new and permanent order in Central Europe is exemplified in the confederation between Czechoslovakia and Poland for which we have laid the basis in London, and word of which has been received by the Czechoslovak and Polish peoples at home with so much enthusiasm and hope. By itself this signifies a sufficiently powerful territorial, political and economic bloc to win respect for its interests. If it secures the enduring friendship of Soviet Russia, which today seems highly probable in view of the good will on both sides, it can signify a real improvement of the situation in Central and Eastern Europe for a long time to come. The participation of other interested states in this bloc would be in their own interest, and hence would almost certainly take place sooner or later. Along this road we have the surest hope of securing Central Europe from a new German invasion.

It may perhaps seem that at a time when so much is being said and written about a European federation and about a world brotherhood even more extensive than that which was represented by the League of Nations, a program which begins with the confederation of two Central European Slavonic states is excessively modest, not to say unenterprising. But let me be understood aright. To me it is obvious that our final aim must be the confederation of Europe as an element in some sort of world commonwealth; for without the first the second seems to me really inconceivable. I go further and affirm that without this broad European framework no regional confederation can be envisaged. The security and the peace of Europe are indivisible; that is one of the axioms deriving from the present war.

We must begin with what can be realized first and most easily. In Central Europe those territories which have associated together most naturally must be fused into firm blocs. These will be the foundations for more extensive structures. It is a question of evolution. Our great thinker Komensky (Comenius), whose visit to England in 1641 has been celebrated this year throughout the Anglo-Saxon world, wrote three hundred years ago: "Omnia sponte fluant, absit violentia rebus"-- "Let everything be done by free action and without violence." This wise principle applies particularly to the international organization of peoples and countries. I prefer organic growth from the small to the great -- even if it necessarily be slow -- rather than to begin with large units the members of which have not had real opportunities for knowing each other and living together. I should expect that with the passage of time a natural bridge will be established between the northern and southern confederations in Central Europe -- that is, between the Polish-Czechoslovak group and the Balkan group -- and that in this way we shall take a further logical step towards the consolidation of the whole of Central Europe and of Europe in general.

The prerequisite to this is that all the nations concerned should be accorded a reasonably long period of peace. This must be achieved by an application of point 8 of the Atlantic Charter. Germany must not be given an opportunity after this war to arm herself again, and again to destroy her small neighbors according to the deadly Hitler method of "one by one."


The minority question will be one of the most momentous to be dealt with in connection with the new organization of Europe. National minorities are always -- and in Central Europe especially -- a real thorn in the side of individual nations. This is particularly true if they are German minorities. While other great nations -- the English, French, Russians and Spaniards -- have sent their population surpluses to other continents, have opened up new regions, and at the same time have played a civilizing rôle, the Germans have often been content to send their colonists into neighboring countries, countries usually on the same cultural level as is their own, and sometimes even culturally ahead of them. There they have become the agents for extending German interests and have prepared the ground for what we today describe as Fifth Columns. In other cases the German population has settled down permanently as a result of century-long German military and cultural pressure, so that today these German populations have an almost autochthonous character. In these territories, therefore, it was not possible in 1918 to create states which were linguistically and nationally homogeneous, unless by extensive transfers of population. This course actually was proposed -- for instance, by the French sociologist, Bernard Lavergne -- but it was rejected as being apparently in contradiction to the idealistic tendencies governing the 1919 plans for a new Europe.

Instead, the course was chosen of defending minorities internationally. I would be the last to condemn the principles upon which this policy was based. But the mistake made from the beginning was in imposing protection of minorities only upon a few states and not on all those which had minorities. Thus it really was scandalous that despite Germany's record for wholesale and forcible Germanization of other nations in the course of previous centuries, she was not compelled to undertake to defend her minorities. It soon appeared, similarly, that a great mistake had been made in not making any provision for protecting the national minorities in Italy. It was also unfortunate that the protection of minorities finally became a burden upon the states which supported them, while on the other hand those states which interfered with them actually received no punishment. Hungary violated her obligations towards her minorities from the very beginning. She did not give them schools or freedom of speech or of the press, and as a result was able over twenty years to denationalize thousands of Slovaks, Rumanians and Germans, all with entire impunity. Colonel Beck was able to declare that he no longer recognized the competence of the controlling organs of the League in minority questions -- and the League was obliged to limit itself to a few platonic protests.

On the other hand, Czechoslovakia did not expect to be thanked for fulfilling her minority obligations, and did not wait to be thanked before doing so. I do not say that with us everything was perfect. I only say that in Europe, apart from Switzerland, we were the best,[i] and that our policy was always governed by the principles of loyalty to engagements, tolerance and good will. In spite of this, some of the German and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia abused the justice which the Republic accorded them, trying under cover of our régime of law to disorganize the Republic and discredit it. For this work they received money from Germany and Hungary. In the name of minority rights, the Czechoslovak Republic was obliged to endure anti-state activities by a number of German political parties, by the Henlein press, and by subversive elements in the German higher schools. The propaganda of the minorities, stimulated by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and reactionary Hungary, and spread by them abroad, finally created in Europe the impression that our minorities were suffering injustices. As a result, those who were trying to preserve peace at all costs found an excuse for sacrificing Czechoslovakia in the thesis that nothing immoral would be involved in her dismemberment as it only would mean the freeing of oppressed minorities from the Czechoslovak yoke.

In the end, things came to such an extraordinary pass that the totalitarian and dictator states -- Germany, Hungary and Italy -- persecuted the minorities in their own territories and at the same time posed as the protectors of minorities in states which were really democratic. While denying their own minorities any sort of freedom of expression, they cynically abused the freedom of the press and of assembly in the democratic states and shouted at the top of their voices to the whole world about the smallest possible difficulties that arose. The League of Nations, which was perfectly well informed regarding the actual state of affairs, did not move even a finger to set the record right when in 1938 the state which had respected the rights of minorities better than any other was held up before the world as an oppressor. I observe, therefore, though with regret, that the prewar system for the protection of minorities broke down.

The absurd state of affairs that I have just described cannot be renewed. Before we begin to define the rights of minorities we must define the rights of majorities and the obligations of minorities. Every nation has a right to live peaceably and freely within its state frontiers. If these frontiers are also national frontiers, all the better. But this is not the case in Central Europe; every Central European state has its minorities. In the present war, German minorities -- which everywhere have served, partly passively, partly actively, as instruments for German imperialism -- have actually become an international menace. No Central European State will again wish to risk what we, Jugoslavia, Rumania or Poland have had to risk in the last few years.

I know of no formula for deciding minority questions in an ideal fashion. I do not recommend any method which involves brutality or violence. Perhaps in certain cases it will be possible by local alterations in the frontiers to diminish somewhat the minority population in individual states. Perhaps it will be necessary to undertake this time the transference of minority populations; Hitler himself has transferred German minorities from the Baltic and from Bessarabia. Germany, therefore, cannot a priori regard it as an injury to her if other states adopt the same methods with regard to German minorities. Possibly certain states, for reasons of national security, will find themselves obliged to institute some system of resettling their minorities within their own frontiers. This would be a painful operation and would involve many small injustices.

Certainly every nation in Central Europe will feel it right and proper to punish severely those members of its minorities who in these terrible years have been guilty of treachery, espionage, tyranny over the majority, terror, murder, and mass looting under the auspices of the German armies. All these crimes, and many more, have been committed, and today are being committed, on Poles in Poland, on Czechoslovaks in Czechoslovakia, on Norwegians in Norway, on Belgians in Belgium, on Jugoslavs in Jugoslavia, on Hollanders in Holland, on Greeks in Greece. By the same principle every state will punish its own Quislings. Until all this has been carried out, until every state feels sure that its minorities no longer can aim a revolver against its national existence, we shall have to design measures for the protection of loyal minorities, for guaranteeing them their political and cultural rights, on the basis of absolute mutuality. But we cannot again institute the abnormal situation of privileged minorities in some states and of constantly oppressed minorities in others. Neither can we create a state of affairs in which certain larger states perpetually terrorize certain smaller states on the basis of the fact that the latter have a small section of population which speaks the same language.

Although it is impossible today to make definite proposals for solving minority problems in detail, three general principles may be laid down:

1. Even after this war it still will be impossible in Europe to create states which are nationally homogeneous, since there are cases in which certain countries cannot exist at all as states without a certain region of mixed populations (for instance, Czechoslovakia without the German and mixed districts in Bohemia and Moravia). However, such districts must be united only where really necessary and then on the smallest scale possible.

2. It will be necessary after this war to carry out a transfer of populations on a very much larger scale than after the last war. This must be done in as humane a manner as possible, internationally organized and internationally financed.

3. The protection of minorities in the future should consist primarily in the defense of human democratic rights and not of national rights. Minorities in individual states must never again be given the character of internationally recognized political and legal units, with the possibility of again becoming sources of disturbance. On the other hand, it is necessary to facilitate emigration from one state to another, so that if national minorities do not want to live in a foreign state they may gradually unite with their own people in neighboring states.


The creation of larger federal blocs in Europe will also facilitate the solution of postwar economic problems. I am not convinced that the Versailles system was economically unworkable, as is often asserted. All the Central European states were viable, given a wise policy and a condition of permanent peace. But it is true that their individual and absolute sovereignties burdened the economic life of the territory as a whole and also made it easier for Germany and Italy to interfere in the economic life of certain states. Postwar planned economy will develop best in wider frameworks than are represented by the territories of small states. The economic sovereignty of states must be limited after the war, just as their political sovereignty must be -- in Europe generally and in Central Europe particularly. Czechoslovakia is ready in advance to accept all limitations which are accepted by other states.

If northern and southern economic units are created in Central Europe they will not only meet better the economic interests and needs of their component states but they will also strengthen the political stability of those states to resist one-sided aspirations of this or that Great Power. We know to what extent German economic penetration was a prelude to political penetration, and that, in turn, to military penetration. The same economic policy was carried out on a smaller scale in Central Europe and the Balkans by Fascist Italy. Central Europe obviously will not be economically self-sufficient even as a bloc; none of the European blocs will be self-sufficing, and an economic exchange between them will be necessary. But only fundamental rationalization and a sensible division of work is required for them to effect exchanges with one another with a minimum strain upon transport.

A new and audacious social policy will be called for all over the European Continent as a result of the war. This also will be facilitated by the growth of larger political units in Central Europe. Social progress in Czechoslovakia was handicapped by the social reaction prevailing in several neighboring states. The present war will result in notable equalizations and reconciliations throughout the whole Central European region. Political democracy will demand the development of a more thorough-going economic and social democracy. Problems of employment and agrarian reform can be best coped with in larger units than those represented by small states. In particular, the problem of seasonal employment, like that of the effective industrialization of certain districts, can be dealt with more easily in a federal system than in individual smaller states.

Larger structural changes in the economic order will be inevitable on the Continent after the war. Let it be remembered, in case this statement is disputed, that Fascism and Nazism were social revolutions as well as nationalistic excesses, and that much of the responsibility for the fall of France lies on the shoulders of French social reaction. Czechoslovakia does not wish to avoid these changes, which, to put it shortly, must have for their object the creation of larger economic units and the development of a common European, if not a world, plan. Only if they accept this goal, and only if progress is made towards attaining it, can the smaller states of Central Europe avoid violent social revolution and attempts to establish Communism.


But however perfect the future European political and social structure may be theoretically and technically, it will not guarantee either its own existence or the preservation of peace if the desire for those two things is not real and alive. Institutions maintain themselves only in so far as people are willing to make sacrifices for them. The Peace of Versailles signified a great improvement in European conditions over those prevailing before 1914. But even the states that had the greatest interest in maintaining it did not wish to be the "gendarmes of Europe," as the expression used to be in France. But, alas, no régime is possible without a gendarme. All states ought to have the courage, after the experiences of the last few years, to be loyal to the police system which they will create. The common will must find expression in a united organization. May we not hope that almost everyone has at last realized that the only basis for peace in Europe is collective security? When we introduced this conception into the Geneva Protocol in 1924 it was considered unduly adventurous. Great Britain rejected it. Today its significance ought to be self-evident.

One of the errors of the old League of Nations was that it did not concern itself with the interior organization of the states which composed it. True, the Covenant laid down the precept that only nations which were governing freely could become members of the League. But this was interpreted in the sense of state sovereignty, not as a stipulation that there be freedom inside the state. It should now be evident, I think, that there is a direct connection between the interior régimes of states and their external policies. Imperialism and militarism develop most easily in dictator states. Today, surely, nobody thinks of Fascism and Nazism as peculiarly domestic régimes of Italy and Germany having no significance abroad. In a properly organized community, public authority sometimes intervenes to prevent the accumulation of inflammable material in a given house. So the united Europe of the future must find a way to stop the development of absolutism in individual countries in time, before it becomes a public danger. I believe that after the present war a chapter of Human Rights must be constitutionally established throughout the world.

On the other hand, it is necessary that an end should be put to the international hypocrisy which, when it is so disposed, finds reasons everywhere for intervening in the interior affairs of other states. It is as bad as the hypocrisy which, when it does not want to intervene, takes its stand suddenly on the principle that non-intervention in the interior affairs of another state is a sacred and inviolable right of peoples.

When I consider how Europe could have developed after 1918 in comparison with how it actually did develop, I am painfully impressed, as a politician and sociologist, by the degree to which the blind selfishness of individual states, reinforced of course by their lazy ignorance of affairs, was responsible for causing Europe to slide down the inclined plane which led to the present catastrophe. Security was supposed to be divisible; it was imagined that states can safely ignore cries for help from neighbors over whom the crocodile's jaws have already opened. Selfishness and illusion gave success to Hitler's method of "one by one."

The method has, in the end, failed. Europe, though in extremis, will be saved. But even when Hitler falls the criminal Hitler type will not disappear from the stage of history. If when the day of victory comes there is again a lack of understanding of the necessity for solidarity and collective security then a new Hitler will sometime be emboldened to attempt another war. That a tortured Europe could not endure.

I was certain that the policies and plans of Hitler and Mussolini would end in war. I had been expecting it since 1933. I do not in any respect repudiate the policy which I followed in the course of the last twenty years. It was in accordance with the principles of that policy that in 1938 I wanted to defend not only Czechoslovakia but the rest of Europe by military means. The whole course of the present war has shown that Czechoslovakia's attitude then and earlier was justified. That policy and that attitude are expressed again, in a new form, in the present article. Although I would not assert that everything in it is correct, that every detailed statement is beyond reproach, I am convinced that if its main principles are not applied after the present war we shall in ten or fifteen years be involved in a third World War, that one, too, launched by Germany.

In such a third war, however, the small European states and nations, whether they wanted or not, would from the start be with Germany. France would definitely and finally be destroyed. The British Empire would be smashed. Isolated in her little isle, England would become a small and impoverished European state. The consequences of this for the states involved, for America, and for the rest of the world, should be soberly pondered.

[i] Cf. the testimonial paid Czechoslovakia by Lord Cecil in his book, "A Great Experiment" (New York: Oxford, 1941).

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now
  • EDUARD BENEŠ, President of the Czechoslovak Republic, 1935-1938, and now President of the Provisional Czechoslovak Government; Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1918 to 1935; author of "My War Memoirs," "Democracy, Today and Tomorrow," and other works
  • More By Eduard Beneš