Praise for Sudetenland
So this was how it was to be. Abandoned like a faithful spouse to the vagaries of a cheating scoundrel. Despite all of the warning signs and the advice of good friends, the fleeting hope that the one who you had invested so much history with would not betray that which had taken so long to build, was dashed. What Masaryk had said on the phone was right: screw them!
Štefan Osušky could not remember when he had felt so embittered. The Franco-Czechoslovak Pact was dead. It had been dying for months through the long summer. For the last hour Bonnet had hammered the death certificate onto a public wall. Osušky had been summoned to the Quai d'Orsay to meet with the French foreign minister. Daladier and his cabinet ministers had been meeting since ten-thirty in the morning at the Élysée Palace to approve or reject the Anglo-French plan that Daladier had crawled back to Paris with from London. When they had finished, Osušky was to be waiting at Bonnet's office to hear the results. No audience with the premier was available.
Osušky held no illusions as to what Chamberlain had proposed to Daladier. The newspapers had been shockingly detailed in their presentation of the expected major points. So many leaks to such a plethora of reporters usually suggested a raison d'être behind the disclosures. Osušky calculated there was a chance those ministers in Daladier's cabinet that opposed ceding Czech territory to Hitler might be setting the stage for an uprising against Chamberlain's cravenly acquiescence to the dictator… but a very small chance.
When Bonnet arrived back from Élysée Palace he got right to the point. Daladier's cabinet had unanimously approved the Anglo-French plan. As Bonnet read off the terms it was just as the press reports had purported. The only difference was that Bonnet had the full list while most of the newspapers lacked one component or another. The next hour was a blistering back and forth between the two diplomats. Osušky reminded Bonnet of the last two years of French assurances, to which the Frenchman countered the break-up of Czechoslovakia was, the least unpleasant solution. Osušky went on to reiterate the fullness of France's treaty obligations only to be instructed they were mere words on paper. The British had said in no uncertain terms that if Prague refused the Anglo-French plan then Britain would disassociate itself from the dispute. Without British solidarity the assistance that France could offer Czechoslovakia was of no effectiveness. The Czechs would not be allowed to drag France into a war over three-and-a-half million Sudeten Germans. Osušky's further protests only fed Bonnet's burgeoning hostility. France demanded that Czechoslovakia accept the plan. That was the message Osušky was to take to President Beneš without further argument.
There was nothing more to say to such intransigence so Osušky made his leave. Heading down the hall to the main entrance, Osušky felt his own emotions exploding as he replayed Bonnet's words in his head. The ostiary opened the tall, narrow door Osušky had been through so many times in better days and the Czechoslovak envoy stepped out to overlook a courtyard full of anxious correspondents. He couldn't restrain himself.
"Do you want to see a man condemned without a hearing?" Osušky played to the crowd while descending the stairs. "Here I stand!"