Text Version

Excerpt from a letter to Mr. Merriman from Professor George 
      M. Trevelyan, dated January 28, 1939.
You ask for my 'views' on the world situation. I would not 
      have bothered you with them otherwise. They are of course very 
I think Chamberlain was quite right not to have fought a war 
      to 'save' Czecho Slovakia in October last, because the war must 
      have been unsuccessful. Russia is down and out and can be written 
      off -- she won't or rather can't even save China from Japan. 
      In the Czech question the Germans had Poland and Hungary on their 
      side and the Czechs would have been overrun at once by all three. 
      The only way to 'save' them would have been for France to break 
      the German lines in the West and with England's help conquer 
      Germany and Italy, aided by the Japanese fleet attacking our 
      trade. It would in short have been an offensive war on our part 
      strategically -- to smash through Germany to Czecho Slovakia, 
      and our military and well-informed people all said and say it 
      was hopeless. The French found that out, - too late as usual. 
      The Czechs were their Tallies' not ours, and they (and we) ought 
      to have told them in the spring that we could do nothing for 
      them and they must make the best terms they could with Germany 
      about their three million German subjects.
If, as I understand, your fellow citizens think we ought to 
      have fought this war, I think they misunderstood the possibilities, 
      as you were to remain neutral yourselves. Munich saved the Czechs 
      so far as it was possible to save them. But it does not follow 
      that if (as seems likely soon) Germany and Italy attack France 
      and England, we shall be conquered in a defensive war. We may 
      or may not be, but we are preparing to die in the last ditch 
      at worst. However, we may defend ourselves successfully. In any 
      case nothing will be left of civilization except machinery -- 
      which I don't care about -- after the war is over, whoever 'wins' 
      it. The only thing that will stop a war coming pre %tty soon -- 
      since Hitler and Mussolini are both 'rabid' men -- would be the 
      United States letting them know that you will take part if they 
      make aggression. But as I gather there is little chance of that, 
      I think the prospects are very black indeed.
In the last war England plus France plus Italy plus Russia 
      plus Japan plus (half way through) the United States only just 
      beat Germany and Austria. How do you expect England plus France 
      alone to "crush the dictators" with Germany, Austria, 
      Italy and Japan against us? If you don't want Europe and Africa 
      to be prostrate at the feet of Germany and her allies, with Japan 
      in possession of Asia, you had better be reconsidering your isolation 
      policy before you are indeed 'isolated'. Nazism, as contagious 
      as Jacobinism of old, has already landed in South America I understand. 
      But whatever you choose 
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