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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 8. May 31, 1939

[Comment on the German occupation of Czechoslovakia]

Britain breathed freely once more! The war scare had passed—Mr. Chamberlain had saved Europe! But at what a price! Czechoslovakia, the greatest strategic stronghold of democracy in Europe, surrendered to the tender mercies of the Nazis. On Mr. Chamberlain's return he was cheered by an hysterical mob, which, safe in the reflection that its own skin was saved, did not spare a thought for the tens of thousands or unfortunate Jews, Social Democrats. Communists and Liberals, who had been surrendered without a blow, to Herr Hitler. One of the really great peoples of Europe, who had fought through the centuries for the freedom they held so dear, to be bartered in a sort of diplomatic market to the highest bidder, after a short, fruitful and peaceful republic which had not quite gained its majority. Mr. Chamberlain stated that the new Czechoslovakia would enjoy a freedom it had never known before. Perhaps he meant the freedom apparently enjoyed by Thaelmann, Niemoller and Schuschnigg, The execution of Peter Forster was an excellent definition of Mr. Chamberlain's "freedom." Forster, a young Social Democrat, escaped with a companion from the worst of Germany's concentration camps, the Buchenwald, a task equal to that of escaping from the much-publicized Alcatraz Prison. His companion was captured, and as a penalty, for the knocking-out of a guard during the escape, he was immediately beheaded. However, Forster, after great hardships, carrying his life in his hands, as immediate beheading would be his reward if caught, managed to cross the closely-guarded frontier into Czechoslovakia. Germany demanded his immediate extradition, but Czechoslovakia was still a free country, and the German demand was refused—for a time. Forster paced the aerodrome at Prague. The plane which was to carry him to Switzerland and freedom was late. Terror stricken, Forster gazed at the empty horizon. But it was too late. A squad of soldiers rushed on to the field, Forster was arrested and entrained under heavy guard for Germany. The top-hatted executioner in the prison courtyard swung his axe, and one of the first of the victims of the Nazi terror met a ghastly fate. For Mr. Chamberlain had betrayed Czechoslovakia, had betrayed the democratic peoples of the world, at the "triumph of peace" at Munich,—P.A.M.