THE STATE OF ACUTE TENSION ON THE GERMAN-CZECH FRONTIER HAS SCARED THE WHOLE WORLD THIS WEEK.
In all capitals everything has been done to minimise public alarm, but the description of a Central European observer, " on the razor-edge of war " was no exaggeration.
No solution has been found and the crisis is not over. Peace hopes centre wholly in the universal will against war and the complete uncertainty on the part of Germany and Czechoslovakia as to what to do next.
Osservatore Romano, semi-official Vatican newspaper, comments more favourably on Czechoslovakia than on Germany.
Diplomatic Correspondent describes below the essential features of the crisis.
grievances of the contending parties are given in Catholic Herald interviews with a Czech, a Sudeten German and a member of the Polish minority French Correspondent describes the reactions of Frenchmen, the most interested people after the principals.
meaning of the quarrel in terms of history is explained in an editorial article on page 8. Our The
From Our Diplomatic Correspondent For once, perhaps, actual war has been avoided and the tension temporarily eased because of the number and complexity of the issues. No one involved quite knows what to do, where to strike and what to strike for.
These perplexities together with the strong will everywhere, including the majority of responsible German leaders, against starting an explosion whose consequences no one can foresee, have enabled London and Paris to bear their fullest diplomatic weight in hokling up action.
The source of the trouble is obvious, but sources do not account for all the water in a turbulent stream. The growing intransigeane.e of Henlein and the Sudeten German minorities in Czechoslovakia, due to pressure of a Greater Germany recently triumphant in Austria, has found itself faced with a growing obstinacy of the Czech population living in the Germanspeaking districts.
In the majority of cases it is beyond dispute _that Renlein's followers, copying the methods previously used in Austria, have organised skilled aerthilsih.
Any incident on either side under these i circumstances, tself probably exaggerated in the telling and leading to further exaggerations about troop movements on either side of the frontiers, could lead to a major clash if either Germany or Czechoslovakia knew exactly what they wanted. But neither does.
In Germany there is the usual struggle between moderate elements who fear the risk of war and the Nazi extremists who are pressing Hitler to take the risk.
One of the chief moderate arguments is that Hungary not Czechoslovakia, should come next. Hungary separates Austria from the coveted Rumanian oil-fields, and is far more suitable for many reasons—defence, treaties, race, politics—and because the move would complete the practical encirclement of Czechoslovakia which could be peacefully strangled.
Germany has learnt now that an attack on Czechoslovakia will mean Czech resistance to the end and that almost certainly France, Poland and Russia would be her enemies with Britain ultimately drawn in. Italian help for Germany is doubtful.
What to do Next?
Germany does not know what to do, and Czechoslovakia is equally puzzled because she is facing possible internal disruption not only in regard to the Garman minorities, but the Polish and Hungarian and even the would-be autonomous Slovaks who lie between Poland and Hungary. Her behaviour shows sign of strain and uncertainty.
" Excess of Zeal" Summing up the situation the Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican organ, defends the measures taken by the Prague Government as " fully within the rights of a central power animated with the will of maintaining order effectively in the country " and blames others for showing " an excess of zeal" in this matter, contrasting " with their comparative lack of equal scruple when it is a question of maintaining the actions of their proteges within the limits of order."
Nothing so far has been done in any quarter to solve any of the problems that have led to the present impasse.
From the Catholic point of view the danger of increasing Communism and Socialism in Czechoslovakia cannot be neglected.
Though the country is nominally Catholic in the main, its political isolation in Central Europe has strengthened greatly the ideological connection with Russian and French Socialism, and the elections show an increasing number of adherents to Left extremist doctrines.