From Our Own Correspondent
Paris passed a nervous week-end owing to the Czechoslovakian municipal elections In addition to this a sudden blast of icy weather, unusual at this time of the year, added to the discomfort.
All sections .of the press and of propaganda, including the radio and the newsreels at the cinemas, have been devoting large amounts of space to news from Prague, even the latest sporting news from Prague is widely published, so that French opinion as a whole has come to view Prague as an outpost of Paris. Frenchmen are aware that the attitude of their country under Daladier towards German intervention in Czechoslovakia is of quite another kind to the shilly-shallying of the Blum cabinet over Austria.
Paris in a Furore
The news of the frontier incident at Cheb, and the calling up of 200,000 men in Czechoslovakia, put Paris into a furore. People pointed out that Hitler always struck on a Saturday. Would Hitler wait or would he strike?
Hence the representations of the British Government in Berlin, and the firm stand with France, were especially welcome here. It is widely believed here that the Germans had hoped for a better reception of Herr Henlein in London than he actually received and that they were discomfited by the British expressions of interest in Czechoslovakian affairs. Hitler's policy, as every Frenchman believes, is to gain the neutrality of Britain in the event of another war, and defeat France, " the mortal enemy of the German people." The French are equally determined to stick on to Great Britain whatever happens.
Hence, in reading the French Press at present, one gets the impression that the destiny of France is being played in London, and paradoxically enough the wealthiest and perhaps most powerful continental power is reduced, owing to internal disagreements and a vacillating foreign policy, to the position of a camp follower.
French Intransigeance French opinion in its present mood would scarcely tolerate any compromise between the Germans and the Czechs or any sort of plebiscite organised under neutral auspices. The French do not believe that the Sudeten movement championed by Germany is.an effort to group all Germans together in one state: they consider that Germany is only using the Sudeten minority as a bridge in a plan of aggression which stretches across Eastern Europe, through Hungary to Rumania, and possibly even the Ukraine.
The English reader who is inclined to be too critical of French intransigeancc concerning Germany should remember that the French are placed in a more awkward position than the British. Frenchmen connect the pre-war epoch with the humiliation of France by the German Empire. From that situation they were saved by the peace, and they will make a huge effort to conserve the fruits of the victory.