March 9-March is.
Sir Donald Banks, Secretary of the Air Ministry, has been appointed Permanent Under Secretary of State for Air. The Government also announces the appointment of a Deputy Director of Civil Aviation and a Director of Civil Research and Production. These changes are consequent on the Government decisions following the Cadman report. Lord Winterton is to be a member of the Cabinet, and as an additional member of the Air Council will act as deputy on that body for the Secretary of State for Air, and will deal in the House of Commons with all major Air questions on the Service side. The Prime Minister in the House of Commons has refused the Opposition demand for an independent inquiry into the administration of the Air Ministry. The Government must bear the responsibility, he said, of the Air Force playing their part in the provision of the country's security. They could not share that responsibility with any committee.
Herr von Ribbentropp has been in London to present his letters of recall from the German Embassy after his appointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He had many talks with the Prime Minister and at the Foreign Office in pursuance of Chamberlain's policy of coming to a friendly agreement with Germany. Unfortunately, as Ribbentropp lunched in Downing Street with one hand, as it were, he was marching into Austria with the other. This performance embarrassed everyone save Ribbentropp himself.
Demonstrations against Ribbentropp and Germany, which were sparsely attended at the beginning of the week, grew more formidable when Germany's coup in Austria became known.
Sir William Elderton, speaking to the Insurance institute of London, said that insurance against war risks was impossible. However, the Government could keep a list of losses, and then replace or compensate when the war was over.
Air Raid Precaution Volunteers
The Home Secretary has appealed for a large number of volunteers for ambulance, air raid wardens, anti-gas corps, and additional fire brigade units, to operate in a sudden air raid. The appeal has already met with a rapid response.
The Independent Labour Party in its coming conference will discuss the obstacles to working class unity arising out of the policy of the Labour Party, the Co-operative Party and the Communists, which consists in alliances with certain Capitalist sections. The two former parties repudiate the class struggle and collaborate with Capitalists to rebuild the Capitalist system: they also are loyal to the monarchical principle which is " the very citadel of class privilege."
Parliament and Austria
Mr. Chamberlain told the House of Commons of the protest he bad sent to Germany over the Austrian coup, and of its
rejection by Baron von Neurath. Mr. Chamberlain condemned the action of Germany, and refused to believe the German plea that the German army had only been sent into Austria after the new Chancellor, Seyss-Inquart, had requested it to do He also foreshadowed " an extension of the national effort "-a phrase which apparently dots not yet mean conscription.
There was a further rise in imports last month though imports of textiles continued their decline. Exports decreased.
The King has approved the appointment of Lord Hailsham to the Presidency of the Council, in succession to Lord Halifax; and the appointment of Lord Maugharn as Lord Chancellor.
The Home Office Estimates, and the Civil Estimates for Education and Broadcasting show an increase of £4 million and £2 million respectively.
Austria and Germany
Austria has become a State of the German Reich. The main events which led up to this change were as follows: On Wednesday, March 9, Herr von Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor, announced that a plebiscite would be held on Sunday on the question of Austrian independence.
On Thursday, the Austrian Nazis were ordered by their leaders to boycott the plebiscite as the conditions under which it was to be held were unfair. Dr. von Seyss-Inquart conferred with an emissary of Hitler who had come to Vienna,
On Friday night, Herr von Schuschnigg postponed the plebiscite, giving way to an ultimatum from Seyss-lnquart, and also, according to British accounts, from Hitler. Under threat of a German invasion, Schuschnigg later resigned.
German troops crossed the frontier and Seyss-Inquart was announced as the new Chancellor.
AtTival of Hitler
All Saturday and Sunday German troops poured into Austria and were apparently
given a good reception. Herr Hitler, who arrived in Vienna on Monday, was given a frenzied reception at every place since he crossed the frontier.
The Austrian President, Herr Miklas, has resigned. Herr von Schuschnigg is under attest. Many prominent anti-Nazis have been arrested, including the Archbishop of Salzburg. Many tried, but failed, to get over the frontier into Hungary or Czechoslovakia.
All who are over 20 in Austria are to vote in a " free and secret plebiscite " on April 10, to ratify the decree law which declares that Austria is a State of the German Reich. Dr. von Seyss-Inquart is no longer Chancellor, but Reichstatthalter (Governor of the State). Abroad, Austrian ambassadors have been recalled and the Austrian Embassies incorporated in the German.
Crisis In France
M. Chauterrips's Government resigned on Thursday, March 10, owing to the refusal of the Socialists and Communists to grant the special powers demanded • by M. Chautemps in order to ensure the success of the coming National Defence Loan. M. Blum was asked by President Lebrun to form a Government. He consented, and tried to form a National Government which would include M. Raynaud on the Right, and others on the extreme Left. The Austrian news, when it came through, made it seem likely that he would succeed, as French politicians generally agreed that for the time they must drop their " Byzantine squabbles."
But M. Blum failed, and was forced to form a Cabinet composed mainly of Socialists and Radicals. It is similar to the Government which first represented the Popular Front, but is notable for the inclusion of M. Paul-Boneour, the former Socialist Prime Minister, as Foreign Minister, and the exclusion of MM. Chautemps and Delbos.
The Moscow Trial
Eighteen of the twenty-one prisoners in the Moscow treason trial have been condemned to death. Of the remaining three, Professor Pletnyoff, the heart specialist, was sentenced to twenty-five years' imprisonment, Rakovsky, formerly ambassador in London and Paris to twenty years' and Bessonoff, formerly counsellor of the Embassy in Berlin, •to fifteen years.
The German Government informed Prague that it has no aggressive designs on
Czechoslovakia. This formal assurance,
together with the recent French promise of support in the event of any attack, has allayed apprehension slightly, for the immediate future.
The Czechoslovak and German military authorities in Austria have come to an amicable understanding concerning troop movements in the frontier zone. German troops in Austria tee to keep nine miles from the frontier, while the Czechoslovak garrisons on the frontier are not to be strengthened. The Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia held several mass meetings at which Herr Henlein spoke. The tone of all the speeches was unusually conciliatory to the Czechoslovak government. The statement that the party was absolutely loyal to Czechoslovakia, which they considered their home, took the place of former demands for autonomy. But later reports state that the Sudeten Germans are becoming more obstreperous.
Mussolini replied cordially to Herr Hitler's appeal for his understanding of the step he had taken in Austria, apparently without consulting the Duce.
One or two short preliminary meetings have taken place between Count Ciano and Lord Perth, British ambassador in Rome. The Fascist Grand Council have decided that the new chamber of Fascias and Corporations should he inaugurated on March 23. This body, the " legislative and representative organ of the nation," is to be created by uniting the existing National Council of the Fascist Party, and the National Council of Corporations. It appears that the members of the new body will not be elected by the people. General elections of a Parliamentary character are to disappear from Italian life.
Sr. Lantini, the Minister of Corporations, spoke of the principal goals, in the sphere of economic self-sufficiency, which Italy is to reach by 1940. These included increased production of foodstuffs, coal, electrical power, pig-iron and steel, cellulose for paper, textiles, and mercantile shipping.
A hint of a possible increase in naval building was made. Italy's economic position was shown to be sound.
In their spectacular advance of the last six days the Nationalists have captured 2,000 square miles and are on the borders of Catalonia.