Dec 2013 Journal
‘The beginning of the end’
The following is an extract from a letter from Katerina Lowova (Katia Gould) written on 22 September 1938 in the north-eastern Moravian town of Frýdek-Mistek to her boyfriend (later, husband) in London. Katia Gould died this year – see her obituary in the September 2013 issue of the Journal. The letter was translated from the German by Irene Gould (Ed.).
I received your last letter today and am compelled to answer you at length as I am astonished how naïve you are in London. You say that by cutting off the Sudeten German areas a trouble spot in Europe would be removed. However, I and any sensible person aware of conditions here knows this would be the beginning of the end. Chamberlain has simply let Hitler dictate the destruction of Czechoslovakia and thus the end of a democratic Central Europe. He was simply bamboozled by Hitler. I have told you repeatedly that a sharp separation between the German and Czech areas is impossible. There are wide areas with 50 per cent Germans, not all of whom are Nazis - what will happen to them?
The issue of the Sudeten Germans will remain a problem in Czechoslovakia even if the areas are separated. Further, we have spent millions on building fortresses and these will now be used by the Nazis against us. The newly created borders lack all natural basis since for hundreds of years the Riesengebirge, Erzgebirge and Adlergebirge Mountains and the Bohemian Forest have formed the natural borders. It is impossible to defend the new borders. The most important point, however, is that Hitler will never be satisfied with the granting of his demands – he will always want more. He doesn’t give a damn about the slum areas. What he wants is the coal mining area and the steelworks - hence precisely the area in which I am living. He has dictated to Chamberlain once already - he will obviously do the same again. He has sold and betrayed a ‘friendly’ state in a way unknown in history. I should spit at every Englishman for the way they have behaved. They know they have signed our death sentence. And it is ridiculous and paradoxical to offer guarantees to Czechoslovakia after all the existing guarantees have so shamefully been broken.
From a personal perspective, this is our situation. Our house is some 200 meters from the River Ostrawitza. The Poles are demanding the Teschen and Frýdek districts up to the Ostrawitza (I should say that there’s not a single Pole in the whole of Frýdek). Ostrawa is 20 km away from us and German territory only 20 kms further. You can see our dilemma!
You are probably hearing the news in London from the German news office. These ridiculous and unscrupulous lies and distortions have probably added a lot to the Western powers’ change of attitude. However, I fear Chamberlain will soon understand what he has done: he has handed over Europe to the Nazis; he has destroyed the only democracy in Central Europe; he will sweep us into a terrible war. It’s clear that Hitler will demand not only the German areas – any reasonably intelligent person can see that. I don’t know whether you know that both England and France are now hated by every good person but that the whole world is laughing at Chamberlain, who let Hitler dictate war in order to keep the peace.
I could give you 100 examples and proofs of English insanity but am not in a position to do so by letter. I can only tell you that we are at the mercy of what pleases Hitler. Chamberlain carries the guilt and responsibility. It’s also clear that, whatever happens, the Jews will be the whipping boys. It would be interesting to know what the English statesmen intend to do with the giant stream of refugees - maybe push them into the Danube if that’s what Hitler wishes. And Chamberlain calls it peace-making!
Hitler wanted more rights for the Sudeten Germans. When he got them, he wanted the Carlsbad ‘Points’. When the Czechs wanted to give him the Carlsbad ‘Points’, he wanted autonomy. When he had the offer of autonomy, he wanted separation. When he had the separation, he ….