A Trojan horse, by any other name, is still a Trojan horse.

A HARD LESSON FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA

"I was born in 1918 on the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and was, to a certain degree, an inheritor of that great empire. As indicated by my name, Czechoslovakia, I was forged of two Slavic communities, Czechs and Slovaks, which together numbered 8.8 million out of the total population of 13.6 million inhabitants of my republic. These included various small minorities of Jews, Hungarians and Poles, all loyal citizens, but the main minority group, twenty percent of the population, were Germans, who subsequently showed their face as the fifth column that led to my downfall.

Throughout the forty years of my existence I was a model democracy, the only democracy in central Europe. I was one of the richest countries on the continent, at the forefront of technological and industrial progress, my security was assured in a number of international agreements, and my large army, well-equipped and trained, was the strongest in the region.

Today it is common knowledge that the large German minority living in our midst finally proved to be a fifth column which rose up against me, the mother-land, disintegrating it from within, until its final liquidation. The heads of my government were indeed alert to the German danger from within, but there was little they could do. After all, I was a democracy, and democratic principles, so we then believed, obliged us to allow the German minority to participate in the political system and give them the franchise.

I do not wish to burden you with a long, detailed account of my history, particularly since so much about it has already been written. But I would like, dear Israel, to bring to your attention just a bare outline, on one foot as it were, of the final years of my existence, up to its tragic end.

Well, Hitler knew that he had no chance of crushing us in battle in a direct manner, since we were the strongest army in the region. That was when he conceived his fiendish scheme: first an intifada, and then a peace agreement. The German minority living in our midst began violent disturbances and intifada, and although there was never a problem of overpowering them and quelling these outbursts, statesmen of vision and peace began to intervene, visionaries who fell straight into the devilish trap that Hitler had laid for them.

[Incidentally, much later, after the downfall, when all the relevant documents had become public, it transpired that on the very day, June 1, 1935, when the peace talks began, leading eventually to autonomy and the establishment of the Sudeten Authority, Hitler gave the army its orders to plan my final annihilation, specifying the precise date: October 1, 1938. He labeled this secret plan, a sequence of stages, the "Green Plan". Today, looking back, when I reflect on the reason for the selection of this particular label, I conjecture that it was not a random choice, but a description fitting the evil design of dismemberment by stages, first by forcing us to agree just to autonomy up to the green line, and then, when the German minority had achieved their independent Sudeten country -- which they then referred to as "their right to self-determination" – enabling them to join up with the Germans from without and conquer all of the land, including what was still within the green line, that is, all of Czechoslovakia. This accounts, perhaps, for the code "the Green Plan".]

As I noted, there began the intifada of the fifth column on the one hand, and the intercession of the European dreamers of peace on the other, headed by the great visionary Chamberlain, of exalted memory. These visionaries, to our great misfortune, were in complete control of the European media, which began to arouse public opinion against our alleged policy of subjugation and repression of the German minority, and our President was depicted as an obstacle to peace and a warmonger. We underwent a thorough brainwashing, in speeches in parliament and in the press, to the effect that our relinquishing the Sudeten areas to Germany would only bring us blessings, for by doing so we would effect a complete separation and be rid of a large and militant minority which endangered the Slavic character of our state. And when our President tried to argue that handing over the Sudetenland to Germany would lay bare our defenses vis-a-vis Hitler's armies, we were told by all the seekers of peace that in an era of goodwill there is no value attached to territorial assets, and in any case, so they promised us, the two great powers, France and Great Britain, would guarantee the integrity of Czechoslovakia in its redrawn borders.

In short, Chamberlain flew to a meeting with Hitler, and there, on the lawns of the Brown House, in Munich, the ceremony of shaking of hands and signing the pledges took place. The delighted Chamberlain returned home and proclaimed with great fervor that a hundred years of hatred in Europe had come to a close and a new page of peace had been opened that day. The British parliament was seized by an ecstasy of joy unparalleled in the Mother of Parliaments from its inception, and the man of vision, Chamberlain, was showered with praise from all. "He will be remembered in history, " declared the press, "as the greatest statesman of our times and of all time."

In the vote for approval of the pact (no, it was not called "the Oslo Agreement", but "the Munich Agreement"), the Prime Minister of Great Britain won an overwhelming majority: 366 voted for, with only144 against.

And when we had completed the stages of withdrawal (which we did very rapidly, within one week), it was already too late. We suddenly discovered that the 800,000 Czech settlers who lived in the areas on the other side of the green line had actually become hostages to Germany. We had lost a considerable portion of our strategic resources. Within one week we had changed from one of the richest and strongest states in Europe into an economically impoverished entity, lacking the ability to defend itself, betrayed by its allies, easy prey to the whims of a certified villain. This was the "peace with honor", as defined by Chamberlain.

After all the phases of our withdrawal had been carried out and they had taken over all the territory of the Sudeten entity, we managed to survive for 105 days, until March 14, 1939. On that date the German army invaded and occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia, all of the land within the green line. Everyone was amazed how a country with the strongest army in the region had allowed itself to fall into the trap of weakening by stages. But it was the irreversible end; it could not be undone. In the afternoon hours of March 15, 1939, Hitler arrived at the gates of Hradschin Castle, palace of the old Bohemian kings, ascended to the office of Edward Benes, sat himself down, and wrote on the desk of the former President of the republic: "Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist."

Yes, my dear Israel. I cannot be of much help to you today, but precisely because of that it is important to me that, at least, you should learn from my bitter experience.

All I wanted to do is simply to wish you many years of happiness and health -- in the hope that you will be able to stand firm. In sincere friendship and with best wishes,

The First Czechoslovakian Republic



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