Feeling that Adolf Hitler is behind them, that Greater Germany is irresistible, the 800,000 Nazis who attempt to lead the 3,200,000 Germans in the Republic of Czechoslovakia (pop. 15,000,000), became highly truculent last week. Their Führer, obedient Konrad Henlein, fresh from conferences in Berlin with Göring and other Nazi bigwigs, staged a mass meeting in Karlsbad, the famed spa, delivered a series of ultimatums to Czechoslovak President Eduard Benes so outrageous as to shock even the now violently pro-German London Times.
Deploring the truculence of Henlein, the Times sternly voiced the hopes of ruling-class Britons that he was asking maximums, hoping to get something substantial. Although claiming to lead only 800.000 Nazis,* Henlein blustered demands that the Czechoslovak Government raise its Germans from the status of a "minority" to "equality," scrap its treaties of alliance with France and Russia, reverse its whole foreign policy and line up with Greater Germany.
Orator Henlein professed to be uttering sentiments unanimously upheld by 75,000,000 Germans. He referred to the famed Reichstag speech in which Hitler pooled all Germans everywhere into one ocean of German blood. He ended by defying openly for the first time the Czechoslovak statute which forbids the existence of a Nazi Partyit has hitherto existed in Czechoslovakia sub rosa, has not dared to use the swastika Nazi symbol. Daring the Government to enforce the law, Führer Henlein climaxed: "Naziism is the guiding principle of our Party, the same as it is for all Germans throughout the world! It is unbearable for us if, in the future, we are persecuted because of our confession of this faith!"
Thus the basis was laid for Greater Germany to intervene later, save the Sudeten Germans from "persecution." If the Hungarians, Poles and other racial minorities in Czechoslovakia were to take similar stands and get away with them, the Republic would simply blow upwhich would suit Hitler even better than having to intervene. In Budapest this week 20,000 Hungarian Nazis demonstrated, clamored "Czechoslovakia must be dismembered!''
*Party membership has increased 40% in the past six weeks and in the 1935 presidential election, party candidates polled 1,250,000 votes.