(Previously on Red Room: A Tragic Life: The Autobiography of Frau Adolf Hitler by Countess Christina Bernadotte, Chapter One)
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940)
Tuesday, October 1
[Editor’s note: On this date, Countess Bernadotte met with Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who favored appeasement rather than confrontation with the Third Reich.
To that end, Chamberlain signed the infamous Munich Pact of 1938 the day before the countess’ journal entry below.
The pact gave Hitler the Sudetenland, the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia. The Nazi dictator then lied that the concession had satisfied all of his territorial demands in Europe.
Edvard Beneš, the Czech president, was kept cooling his heels outside a conference room at a Munich hotel.
There, Hitler, Mussolini, French President Édouard Daladier, and Chamberlain signed away the mountainous region between Germany and Czechoslovakia.
The Sudetenland was the smaller nation’s only defense and a buffer against an ever-expanding German Reich that had already devoured Austria and the Rhineland.
At the time of the Munich giveaway, Czechoslovakia’s armed forces were the equal of Germany’s. Historians believe that if Czechoslovakia had retained its defensive mountainous border region, the Wehrmacht would have been repelled and Hitler overthrown by mutinous generals.
The Czechs, unlike Chamberlain’s Britain, were ready to go to war to save their nation.
The British prime minister returned from the Munich conference proclaiming that Hitler’s land grab had given Europe “peace in our time.”
Six months later, German troops, with almost no opposition from the disheartened Czechs, occupied the rest of the rump state, which no longer had the defensive buffer of its well-fortified Sudetenland..
Chamberlain’s misguided policy of appeasement came back to haunt him.
The prime minister resigned in 1940 following the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Low Countries the following year.
“War in our time” put the nail in Chamberlain’s policy of appeasing Hitler.
Winston Churchill’s, Hitler’s implacable and long-time foe, succeeded Chamberlain as prime minister and implemented a policy of challenging Germany on land and sea and in the air.]
I had tea and far too much Schnapps with Mr. Chamberlain today after he signed off on Czechoslovakia’s dismemberment the day before.
The prime minister’s robotic movements as he delicately sipped his tea a few drops at a time – no fortified wine for that upright Presbyterian – reminded me of a quip my father’s favorite correspondent, Sam Clemens [Ed. note: Mark Twain], wrote him about James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.
“A cigar story Indian has more life in it.”
Chamberlain, a prosperous businessman and failed statesman – but amazingly life-like – might have retired to Madame Tussaud’s after his resignation as PM.
The twit seemed oblivious to the disaster he had just presided over with the help of Daladier and Benito. Poor President Beneš wasn’t even allowed to sit in on the discussions that dismembered his nation and left it defenseless.
As the Schnapps took over, I finally blurted out in the middle of Chamberlain’s bland monologue about the unseasonal weather Munich was having,
“How can you talk about the temperature when you’ve just raped Czechoslovakia?”
We were both surprised by my drunken outburst. Chamberlain stirred his tea with shaking hands and mumbled something about my being too young to remember the horrors of the First World.
I was really angry and really drunk now. I had had enough of niceties and chats about Bavaria’s climate.
“You’ve just started a second world war II, you fool!”
Chamberlain gulped his tea now and returned to the weather. I returned to my Schnapps.
I was just about to excuse myself when he beat me to the punch. I would have liked to punch that foo!
The Munich surrender is just the prelude to a coming tragedy played out on the world stage, I fear.
How many lives will be lost before the play ends?
The fools have given away the Sudetenland without a fight and without concessions!
I am exhausted! Just spent the past week translating at the conference in Munich with the Minotaur and the leaders of the Western democracies, France and England.
Chamberlain and Daladier!
I swear I heard Neville leave the Munich hotel, humming “Rule Britannia” to the words, “Peace in our times, hurrah! Peace in our times!”
Chamberlain has been completely flim flamed by Hitler, the ultimate confidence man and monster.
The British PM fell for the Fuehrer’s transparent lies, telling me after signing the pact, “A gentleman doesn’t lie!”
“A gentleman! Adolf Hitler?”
He was a homeless tramp before the war while Chamberlain headed a thriving factory in Birmingham! The prime minister just couldn’t believe that a fellow statesman wasn’t a gentleman too.
I believe we all participate in our deception. Myself included. I need a drink.
And what can I say for that moron, Daladier, other than that the French are truly rude…and stupid? Also blind to the menace they cozied up to like flies swarming over rancid honey. Grotesque!
At least Benito [Mussolini] was there to comfort Beneš with his patented Italian charm, which made Hitler fume. But the Minotaur needed Benito as an ally in his pursuit of world conquest.
A pact made in hell between Satan and Beelzebub! Although I always found Il Duce a charming scoundrel if a devilish one. He really wasn’t an anti-Semite until the power-balance between him and der Fuehrer changed and Hitler forced his reluctant ally to begin persecuting Italy’s Jews.
[Ed. note: Under pressure from Hitler, Mussolini promulgated “The Manifesto of Race” in November 1938. which excluded Italy’s Jews from the government, the professions and society. It was the calm before the storm that killed 7,000 of Italy’s 50,000 Jews.
Mussolini was a reluctant anti-Semite. Jews were members of his Grand Council of Fascists until Hitler pressured his ally to proclaim the manifesto.
Indeed, some of Il Duce’s “best” mistresses were Jews, most notably the journalist and intellectual Margherita Sarfatti, dubbed the “Jewish mother of Fascism,” for providing scholarly support for Mussolini’s political policies.
Even after the manifesto, Italy was the only nation in Europe that accepted Jewish refugees from Germany without transit visas. The U.S. State Department had a tiny quota for Jewish immigrants, yet even the quota was ignored and refugees were effectively denied sanctuary in America. Thousands perished in internment camps while waiting for visas to the U.S. that never came.]
When I took a break from my duties as translator at the conference, I bumped into a weeping President Beneš outside the conference room. He was kept waiting in an antechamber like an errand boy while his country was dismembered by the not-so-Great Powers.
[Ed. note: In 1939, Beneš’ successor, 67-year-old Emil Hacha, suffered a heart attack after Hitler had bullied him into signing away the rest of what was left of the Czech state.]
I invited Mr. Beneš to tea during the negotiations and tried to console him. I lied and predicted that the rest of the world would soon come to Czechoslovakia’s rescue, but the poor man was inconsolable. To his credit, he refused to participate in any self-deception.
Beneš’ country was being dismembered and its leader was powerless to do anything about it. I believe it’s only a matter of time before Hitler gobbles up the rest of Czechoslovakia and Europe!
[Ed. note: As usual, Countess Bernadotte was prophetic. In March 1939, German troops marched unopposed into the rump of the nation that remained after the loss of the strategic Sudetenland six months earlier.]
Susan! Will those fools ever wake up to the coming deluge? I fear not!
And now, I think I’ll sleep for a week. Translating five languages spoken by knaves and fools is exhausting.
I am exhausted. And a bit tipsier…than usual.
Pray for me, Susan. Pray for all of us!
Good night, dearest Susan. Z-z-z-z…
(Excerpted from the author's upcoming novel, A Tragic Life: The Autobiography of Frau Adolf Hitler by Countess Christina Bernadotte. Genesee Avenue Books, 2011)
Causes Frank Sanello Supports
ACLU, ASPCA, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders