VOL. 173 No. 5163

LONDON, APRIL 22nd, 1939



A Leading Article on the European Tension DANZIG: GERMAN OR POLISH?

By Our Central European Correspondent ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON England’s Saint in Fact and Fiction : by Michael Trappes-Lomax

Full List o f Contents on page 508.

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK President Roosevelt’s Questions

President Roosevelt’s week-end message to the German Chancellor and the Italian Duce was an American initiative which came as a surprise to the rest o f the world. The British and French Governments hastened to endorse it. The first reactions in Berlin were very hostile, and Rome, after a brief pause, followed suit. But it was then announced that the German Fiihrer had summoned the Reichstag for April 28th, to hear a full reply. President Roosevelt, naming by name almost every country in Europe, asked the Axis Powers for a formal promise not to attack any o f them for ten years. He went on to offer his co-operation in bringing about a conference to consider and meet reasonable claims for a better distribution of, and better access to, the world’s primary materials.

The language of the communication was not conciliatory. It spoke of three nations in Europe having recently lost their independence, without any recognition th a t the Austrians are Germans who had long been refused the right of self-determination, and who had wanted to make an Anschluss three times between the end o f the War and 1931 ; that Czecho-Slovakia was a composite c re a t io n ; or that Albania, the nearest of the three to a simple and unmixed small nation, had been an Italian protectorate from the first days of Albanian emancipation from the Turks.

The style of the document was not unnaturally disliked, and the President had described his correspondents as Huns and Vandals only the day before. Lord Halifax, in the House of Lords, said that the British Government had endeavoured to support and restore the principles by which international society was intended to be governed, and to avoid the debasing of international relations. “ The Government,’’ he said, “ have tried to do it by precept, which is annoying to those to whom it is addressed, and by example, in the matter of disarmament, which has encouraged the employment of force.” A Passing Interest

I f Herr Hitler bases his reply on a rehearsal of what followed the intervention of President Wilson with his Fourteen Points, he is on good debating ground in reviving that history, so much of which is repeating itself today. Britain and France welcomed President Wilson because they were profoundly thankful for American intervention in the War. But Europe, which did not pay its war debts in money, and was discouraged from paying them in kind, can claim to have paid a great price in another way, for the ill-effects for Europe o f a settlement, made in large measure to meet the ideas of the American President and the transatlantic idealism which he embodied, could only have succeeded by sustained American co-operation. When the Americans repudiated the settlement and withdrew from Europe, the French found themselves deprived of the kind of military security they would have taken if left to themselves, and without a British guarantee, because that had been made conditional on an American guarantee. France was left with the treaty and the League Covenant, and clung to the Versailles settlement while it gradually and inevitably deteriorated. America and Central Europe

What Mr. Chamberlain said at the time of the Munich settlement, about how little is really known or understood in England o f the peoples and problems of Central Europe, applies with much greater force across the Atlantic. Ex-President Benes, who has been lecturing in Chicago, has ju st become the head o f an organization which is to keep alive Czecho-Slovakia, even though it is a disembodied State. There is no statesman in Europe who would draw the frontiers of that part of the peace settlement in the same way again today. But in America, only too many people think of it as a small country, which ought to be put back on the map ju st as it was.

The history of the Peace Conference, where matters were greatly simplified at the time by the exclusion of the defeated Powers, is not a promising memory for the advocates o f a world congress, which would be much more than the meeting of victorious allies. The American influence would, on any future occasion, have to be measured by the readiness o f the United States to take a continuing interest in maintaining the agreements made.