Document D

Letter to Quintin Hogg from Arthur Pillans Laurie, October 1938

Reference: Hailsham Papers, HLSM 2/43/1/3

“Dear Sir,

I enclose a very interesting statement sent to me by a friend of mine Mr Symonds of 12 Grove Rd North Southsea, who was in Prague and in Eger during the crisis. His statement shows clearly that the new government set up by the Czechs while telling the allies that they accepted the separation of the Sudeten German area, were doing their best to provoke war with Germany and so bring in France and Great Britain. The Czech press was openly agitating for this policy, and the intolerable situation had arisen that Czech soldiers were shooting down Germans as rebels in territory which it had already been agreed should be ceded to Germany.

All these facts were of course known to Hitler, and are sufficient to justify his issuing an ultimatum.

The suggestion that a British Prime Minister yielded to threats of force is absurd. After the Runciman report we were bound as a democratic people to admit the right of the Sudeten Germans to self determination which is the foundation on which democracy is built. It is not the first time in our history that a Prime Minister has yielded, even to our detriment, when he was satisfied as to the justice of the cause.

Hitler and not Chamberlain was taking enormous risks as the combined forces of Great Britain France Czechoslovakia and Russia would have been sufficient to overwhelm Germany. Chamberlain had overwhelming forces behind him.

I wish you all good luck in your fight. The issue is one between peace and war in Europe.

Yours sincerely,
A.P. Laurie”