Letter: Still a dirty word

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GEOFFREY WHEATCROFT'S account of "The great appeasers" (20 September) is a blatant falsification. The betrayal of Czechoslovakia was the most infamous act of perfidy in British political history. The Czechs were not "a faraway people of whom we know nothing". They were a freedom-loving people who formed the best fortified democracy in Central Europe and there was sense in fighting for them in 1938. Instead Chamberlain shamefully delivered them into Hitler's hands. He then went to war a year later in defence of Poland, having given it a hot-headed guarantee there was no possibility of fulfilling without the Russian support he had already forfeited and which Poland would not accept anyway.

No one would have preferred war if peace could have been secured with honour, but that was never on offer at Munich and there were many who wept with rage and shame when Chamberlain returned to London brandishing his pathetic piece of paper and prating about "peace with honour" and "peace in our time". There were among Chamberlain's associates, men who would have made a deal with Hitler and given him a free hand in eastern Europe but there was little public support for such a policy which is why it was kept dark. Then as later, the willingness of the British people to resist the dictators cannot seriously be disputed.

RAYMOND THOMASSON

Edinburgh

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