COMMUNISTS AND SOME CATHOLICS STILL WARLIKE —But Sacrificial Victim May Be Demanded
THE FRENCH ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CZECHOSLOVAKIAN PROBLEM HAS EVOLVED REMARKABLY DURING THE WEEK.
Whereas the Press last week was full of caricatures and bitter remarks about the Germans and the Fuhrer, the tone has calmed down remarkably, and sympathy is shown for Germany and the German claims.
The basis of this change is the widespread popular feeling against war. The ferocious and embittered tone adopted towards the Germans was all very well—until war stared Frenchmen in the face.
The centre groups have collapsed from their warlike attitude to Germany, so much so now that, unless there were the most unexpected provocation from the German side, it would seem that the French Government could hardly take the initiative in a declaration of war.
There is a practically unanimous feeling of gratitude to Mr. Chamberlain for his effort to extricate France from her intransigent attitude towards the Sudeten problem.
The French have less and less stomach for fighting for a position of the justice of which they now have serious misgivings.
From Our Own Correspondent I suppose it is now apparent to most newspaper readers that what happened at the time of Mr. Chamberlain's dramatic decision was a French retreat.
The Daladier Cabinet was unwilling to take the country into war on this issue and for reasons which are obvious enough to anyone who knows what has been happening in France.
There are, as a matter of fact, several cross sections of opinion on this subject. The serious debate began several months ago with an article in Le Temps by Professor Joseph Barthelemy, who is an eminent jurist though not a specialist in international law.
No Longer Operative
He argued that the only obligations of France to Czechoslovakia were those arising from the Locarno Protocols, which are no longer operative. French opinion was not prepared for this doctrine and Le Temps dissociated itself from its distinL guished contributor.
The controversy overflowed into the columns of Gringoire, where it illustrated the division of right wing opinion on this subject, for M. Tardieu came out with a strong defence of the binding character of the Franco-Czech treaty. This division of opinion has continued down to the present, and in last week's issue of Gringoire there was a noticeable difference of tone between the article of M. Tardieu and that of M, Beraud, Not Keen on War for Such an Object
It would be a mistake to place the emphasis on the juridical aspect of the ques'ion. French realism has prevented most people here whatever their sympathies from envisaging the prospect of a war on this 'ssue as light-heartedly as the doctrinaires of the Left are prepared to do.
There is also however a strong sense that 'he case of Czechoslovakia considered in .solation is a bad one. As long ago as last April Je Suis Partout published an article in " The End of the Czechoslovak Nation " which the synthetic character of Czecholovakia was clearly shown.
The argument against all this rests on the future ambitions of Germany and many people asked themselves whether it was a defensible proceeding to deny justice to Germany today because of what she may do in the future.
The hundred per cent. supporters of the 1919 " Settlement " have now drifted like ?ertinax to the left and it is one of the many paradoxes of the situation that L'Action Francaise and others who have in the past been regarded as warmongers are now the peace party.
Certain groups have stood out for a war:ike policy. The Communists have done so, but they have made themselves unpopular with the masses, and probably weakened their already none too strong position. Other groups must be singled out for their warlike or unaccommodating views—not last or least certain French Catholics of the Aube group and H. de Kerillis (of the Epoque) who just said baldly that this was a good time for war, as the Czechs could bomb most German cities, especially as they would be helped by the Russians, who had proved themselves not so bad in the Spanish war. Few Christians or Europeans, however, are likely to appreciate this view.
Saving Daladier's Face
It was impossible to represent the events of last week as a failure on the part of the British Government but it clearly would not do to present it as a French abdication. The Daladier Government was quick to " cash in " on Mr. Chamberlain's imaginative decision. The British Premier became at once the most popular man in France and there was an immediate rush of women to sign the testimonial from the mothers of France.
Embossed Umbrella for Chamberlain?
An evening paper proposed that Mr. Chamberlain should be given an ensbossed umbrella of French silk, a gift of the City of Paris, to commemorate the umbrella he took with him on his first flight.
A. caricaturist: in a music-hall, having
caricatured all the best • known public figures in Europe, including George VI, was going to do a lighting sketch of Mr. Chamberlain when the people rose in a mass and said it would " be lacking in respect." Those who know Paris will appreciate how rare it is for Frenchmen to object to anything because it is "lacking in respect for anyone.
To Avert the Reaction It was obvious that when the terms of settlement became known there would be a reaction, the precise force of which r.obody was able to estimate. It became imperative that M. Daladier should bring back something from London.
Accordingly it was announced on the Sunday morning that the principal difficulty in London was expected to consist in persuading Great Britain to abandon her present attitude and to guarantee a European frontier.
This was the version duly served up on the radio on Monday morning when we had the picture of the French ministers succeeding after an all-day effort in imposing their view of the matter on the British Cabinet. Cynics on the Boulevards said that Daladier was scared of going to war on Tuesday and scared of keeping out of it on Sunday.
The position at present is rather obscure but whatever turn events take I think a sacrificial victim will be demanded.
Not a Good " Life "
At the time of writing the Daladier Government is not a good "life." As it is more than usually difficult to see how it could be thrown out at present, or what would take its place, it would be rash to say more than this. M. Blum is a long way from being a very representative Frenchman, but lie did express the feeling of people of the most diverse opinions when he described himself as torn between relief and shame on receiving the news of the Franco-British plan.
Mr. Ward Price's Daily Mail interview with Hitler has caused a big impression here, with its suggestion that in the worst eventuality the Germans would do no more than defend their western frontier,