The Charlotte News

Thursday, September 29, 1938


Site Ed. Note: The Munich Pact concluded this date, which laid the foundations not for peace but for war eleven months later, read:

GERMANY, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, taking into consideration the agreement, which has been already reached in principle for the cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory, have agreed on the following terms and conditions governing the said cession and the measures consequent thereon, and by this agreement they each hold themselves responsible for the steps necessary to secure its fulfillment:

(1) The evacuation will begin on 1st October.

(2) The United Kingdom, France and Italy agree that the evacuation of the territory shall be completed by the 10th October, without any existing installations having been destroyed, and that the Czechoslovak Government will be held responsible for carrying out the evacuation without damage to the said installations.

(3) The conditions governing the evacuation will be laid down in detail by an international commission composed of representatives of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia.

(4) The occupation by stages of the predominantly German territory by German troops will begin on 1st October. The four territories marked on the attached map will be occupied by German troops in the following order:

The territory marked No. I on the 1st and 2nd of October; the territory marked No. II on the 2nd and 3rd of October; the territory marked No. III on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of October; the territory marked No. IV on the 6th and 7th of October. The remaining territory of preponderantly German character will be ascertained by the aforesaid international commission forthwith and be occupied by German troops by the 10th of October.

(5) The international commission referred to in paragraph 3 will determine the territories in which a plebiscite is to be held. These territories will be occupied by international bodies until the plebiscite has been completed. The same commission will fix the conditions in which the plebiscite is to be held, taking as a basis the conditions of the Saar plebiscite. The commission will also fix a date, not later than the end of November, on which the plebiscite will be held.

(6) The final determination of the frontiers will be carried out by the international commission. The commission will also be entitled to recommend to the four Powers, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, in certain exceptional cases, minor modifications in the strictly ethnographical determination of the zones which are to be transferred without plebiscite.

(7) There will be a right of option into and out of the transferred territories, the option to be exercised within six months from the date of this agreement. A German-Czechoslovak commission shall determine the details of the option, consider ways of facilitating the transfer of population and settle questions of principle arising out of the said transfer.

(8) The Czechoslovak Government will within a period of four weeks from the date of this agreement release from their military and police forces any Sudeten Germans who may wish to be released, and the Czechoslovak Government will within the same period release Sudeten German prisoners who are serving terms of imprisonment for political offences.

Munich, September 29, 1938.

Twentieth Century Economics

In June 1937, 141 Class 1 railroads had 1,171,683 employees on their pay rolls, which came to $167, 928,718 for the month. In June 1938, the number of employees of these roads had decreased to 915,088, pay rolls to $140,391,948.

Presently, the roads have sought to impose a 15 per cent wage cut which the unions have opposed vigorously. Part of Labor's argument has been that it was against the public interest for wages to be lowered, that the country was committed to a high-wage standard and the greater distribution of earnings. This is a valid argument, all right, and probably will serve to prevent the adoption of any such thumping wage cut as the roads propose. But we can't figure out exactly what good its going to do [with] the quarter-million employees of 141 roads who were let off between June 1937 and 1938, for the combination of high wages and less traffic is not one to make railroad jobs.

The Name Still Fits

The Mr. Bumble of Downing Street who spoke at London Tuesday afternoon was a Bumble a good deal more worthy of respect and more human and likable than some of us have sometimes credited him with being. The standard caricature of him as simply a cold-bloodied horse-trader out of the icy bank vaults of the "City," already beginning to crumble before the emerging facts, crumbled finally before that speech and that manner. The man clearly has dignity and earnestness and integrity of purpose, whatever his personal prejudices. And he plainly, has, too, the humane instincts which properly belong to the better sort of English gentlemen. Whatever secondary purposes he may have had in mind in his "appeasement" policy, nobody can any longer well doubt that his primary purpose has been precisely to preserve the peace of the world, to save the lives of millions and Western civilization.

Nevertheless, when all that is said, the fact still remains that Bumble is probably the only fitting name for him. The qualities he possesses, admirable as they are in themselves, are not enough to make a great statesman. What is needed in addition is the capacity to face facts and the strength to act upon them with decision. And Bumble has not had them. If he is in a dreadful spot today, it is because he himself and Lord Baldwin before him have declined to believe that Hitler and Mussolini mean what they say, even when their actions already overwhelmingly proved they do--because they have insisted on believing that these dictators were civilized men like themselves and could be dealt with by civilized methods. The days in October 1935 when the British fleet rode at anchor at Alexandria and did not stir when Mussolini moved into Ethiopia, were among the most fateful in history, as were the days when the French, at British insistence, sat quietly by when Hitler moved into the Rhineland and afterward into Austria, which is the key to Czechoslovakia. At every step Bumble has vacillated and finally given back--until now when war stares him in the face. And even if war can be averted for the present, the price of all that vacillation promises to be that Adolf Hitler will become the master of the Continent, a development which cannot be reconciled with the notion of permanent peace in Europe.

The Odds For Peace

It is not too propitious for the parley at Munich today that Poland has presented Czechoslovakia with an ultimatum to the effect that the Teschen district of Silesia must be ceded by Saturday or her armies will invade it. No one believes that Poland cooked up this demand on their own initiative. Indeed, she made no demands whatever until after her politicians had been summoned into conference by Adolf Hitler. And the day before yesterday, it was announced from both Warsaw and Prague that she had agreed to settle the problem by negotiation. So, if she has now suddenly reversed herself and made this arrogant proposition, it is perfectly certain that it is because her master Hitler, has sicked her on.

It is a magnificent exposition of the extent of the good faith there is in the man. And it shows just how far any of his promises are to be trusted.

Yet, for all Hitler's bad faith, there is a very good prospect that--for what it is worth--some sort of peace for some period of time will be arranged today. In the first place, there is the fact that he has everything to gain and little to lose. It is plainly manifest that if he insists on having all his way he will have to fight England, France, and Russia as well as Czechoslovakia--with the probability that he will lose, ruining his country, and get a rope around his own neck. [See, "The Cards They Hold"] On the other hand, by retreating he will still get the territory he demands, and shortly. And once inside it, he will have Czechoslovakia at his mercy. Whenever he pleases, he can overrun the rest of the country in a week, and not all the armaments of the rest of the world will suffice to protect it. And in addition, once inside the Bohemian Mountains, he will have that mastery of Central Europe he craves. Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, will have no choice but to pass within his orbit, and the way to the Ukraine will lie completely open. So will the way to Asia Minor. Moreover, he will have plenty of oil and wheat, and so be in a position really to have a chance to win the war that seems bound to come before long.

Further still, it is quite possible that he will not have to retreat very far. All hints as to the new English-French plan seem to suggest that they require no more of him than that he confine his occupation of the new territory to symbolic terms--a handful of soldiers--with the official demarcation of boundaries and the holding of plebiscites left to an international commission. These powers will probably do their best to persuade him not too harry and rob the million Czechs living in his new lands--not to turn them out homeless and pitiless. But there is no indication that they will hold out to the end on this point. The holding of the plebiscites under other offices than his own probably means, to be sure, that he will not get some other things he wants. But he can afford to wait a little while, as a cat with a mouse under its paw can afford to wait.

But any retreat at all will lose him face with his people, whom he has told that the Godesburg memorandum was his final word? It is highly unlikely that his people have any knowledge what that memorandum contained, or that he retreated under threat of force.

What makes his retreat even more likely is that the "mediator" is Lord Mussolini. It is ironic enough, certainly, to see the loudest-mouth warlord of them all cast for that role--the man who for 15 years has steadily taught his people that war and the glory won in war comprise the proper end of man. But there is a kind of sense in it nevertheless. For Lord Mussolini is in a highly unpleasant spot. He knows that if he continues to follow through his plans, he must soon or late come into collision with the British Empire. But he had not planned it for now, and he does not want it now.

Thus the chances for some kind of peace are undoubtedly pretty fair. For Czechoslovakia it promises to be a dreadful peace, bought at the price of economic ruin and in the surrender of its people to systematic barbarities. And the value of such a peace to England and France can very well be questioned. It is essentially a surrender, involving as it does a retreat on the part of France from her treaty obligations. And it raises up in Central Europe a power beside which France will increasingly become second-rate. But, such as it is, it can quite possibly be arranged--for the nonce, anyhow.

The Cards They Hold

What chance would Lord Hitler have to win a war if he made it?

Supposing that Mussolini, Hungary and Poland went along with him, he would have about 12,000,000 trained troops, armed with exceedingly powerful weapons, save in the case of Poland and Hungary, and for the time being plentifully provided with ammunition. Against him, given an alliance between England, France, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Yugoslavia, would be lined up 40,000,000 trained soldiers, almost if not quite as well armed as his own, save in the particular of tanks and airplanes, and able to supply themselves with plentiful quantities of ammunition for an unlimited time, provided their navies could keep the sea lanes open.

Together with Mussolini, he would have about 600,000 tons of fighting ships. Against him that would be arranged as something over 2,000,000 times the British, French, and Russian fighting ships. Over the English and French he would have some advantage in the number of submarines. About the Russians no one knows.

With Mussolini, he would have somewhere between 7,000 and 15,000 fighting planes, the estimates differing very widely. Against that the British and French would have approximately 5,000 to 6,000. How many the Russians have is anybody's guess. The estimates run all the way from 5,000 to 15,000.

Germany's present oil production, entirely synthetic, runs around 1,000,000 tons annually--one-third of her peace-time requirements. Military experts estimate that her highly mechanized army would require 11,000,000 tons annually in a war. To produce that synthetic oil would require 35,000,000 tons of coal, the labor of 400,000 men, a billion and a half dollars worth of equipment, and several years of preparation. Russia, on the other hand, has unlimited quantities of oil in her own territory. And England and France can get unlimited quantities from their colonies and America provided they can keep the sea ways open.

Germany produces only one-fifth of her iron ore (very low grade and expensive to refine). The rest comes from Lapland, and as long as she keeps the mastery of the Baltic Sea, the supply will be saved. Russia has all the ore she needs and England and France can get all they need so long as the sea is held open.

Germany now supplies one-fourth of her rubber needs by an artificial product called Buna, costing 65 cents a pound to manufacture as against 15-20 cents for rubber, and not altogether satisfactory: and one-fifth of her cotton needs by a wood-fibre substitute. Russia produces her own cotton, and England, France, and Russia can secure all they need of both rubber and cotton under the same condition already noted for iron and oil.

Germany's agricultural acreage has been steadily diminishing since 1932, and the acquisition of Austria, a country which does not support itself, is no help. Butter and fat have been rationed for two years. Such butter as is sold is part whale oil. Eggs are so rare as to be almost unobtainable. Only the poorest cuts of meat are to be had at the prices fixed by the government. And the Volkerwurst, the standard meat diet of the working man, has already been adulterated.

In case of war, Germany would probably seize the wheat fields of Hungary, and perhaps the dairy and cattle lands of her Scandinavian neighbors on the Baltic. Even so, it is doubtful that she would be able to feed both her army and the civilian population.

Russia, one of the great wheat reservoirs of the world, has all the food she needs. England, one of the least self-supporting of countries, hasn't. And neither has France. But England owns the vast wheat reservoir of Canada and both England and France have access to meat in the United States and the Argentine as well as in Australia. And the Scandinavian countries are nearby. So England and France can get all the food they need--provided always that the sea could be kept open to their ships.


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