I happen to trust Herr Hitler

‘Mr. Obama sat absolutely unmoved. When I had finished he said: “Mr. Thomas you happen to believe in Mr. Netanyahu, I happen to trust Mr Rouhani.” – made up quote based on one below if I were to ask Obama what he did last weekend.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana.

The following is taken from Trial and Error The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann, the leader of the Zionist movement after Herzl and Israel’s first president. It concerns the betrayal of Czechoslovakia by the west and their belief in the assurances of the peace loving Herr Hitler.

Take heed:

The disclosure to us of the Government document which was to become the White Paper coincided roughly with Hitler’s unopposed and unprotected invasion of Czechoslovakia and the occupation of Prague. I remember that day very well, because Jan Masaryk came to dinner with us. Between Masaryk and us there was until the end, a deep friendship, both on personal and general grounds. There has always been a great affinity between the Masaryks and Zionism – Jan’s father, the founder and first President of the Czechoslovak Republic, had been a strong supporter of the Balfour Declaration – and now, in the days of the White Paper, the representatives of the Czechoslovak Republic were beginning to be treated by the Great Powers as if they were Jews. 

Neither the Jews nor the Czechs will forget the words of Chamberlain on the occasion of Hitler’s occupation of the Czech capital. Why should England risk war for the sake of ‘a far-away country of which we know very little and whose language we don’t understand?’ Words which were swallowed down by a docile Parliament many members of which must have known very well that the Czech Republic was a great bastion of liberty and democracy, and that its spirit and its institutions had all the meaning in the world for the Western Powers. It was, apart from everything else, a colossal insult to a great people. And I remember reflecting that if this was the way the Czechs were spoken of, what could we Jews expect from a Government of that kind?

When Jan arrived at our house that evening he was almost unrecognizable. The gaiety and high spirits which we always associated with him were gone. His face was the colour of parchment, and he looked like an aged and broken man. My wife, my children and I felt deeply for him – perhaps more than anyone else in London – and without saying too much we tried to make him comfortable. For a while he was silent, then he turned to us and, pointing to the little dog he had brought with him, said: ‘That’s all I have left, and believe me, I am ashamed to look him in the eyes.’Once he had broken the silence he went on talking, and what he told us was terrible to listen to. He had had a conversation that morning with the Prime Minister, and had taxed him with the deliberate betrayal of Czechoslovakia. ‘Mr. Chamberlain sat absolutely unmoved. When I had finished he said: “Mr. Masaryk, you happen to believe in Dr. Benes, I happen to trust Herr Hitler.”’ There was nothing left for Masaryk but to get up and leave the room.

A great democratic country, a magnificent army and a superb munition plant had been delivered to the future conqueror of Europe, and a people which had fought valiantly for its freedom was betrayed by the democracies. It was cold comfort to us to reflect that the misfortunes which had befallen Czechoslovakia were in a way more poignant than those we faced – at least for the moment. We could not tell what the future held in store for us; we only knew that we had little to expect in the way of sympathy or action from the Western democracies.

However dark the outlook, however immovable the forces arrayed against us, one had to carry on.

Trial and Error The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann pp 493-591.

My emphasis in bold. Draw your own conclusions.

About the Author
Brian of London made aliyah from the UK to Israel in 2009. For many years he has blogged and broadcast about Israel, technology and other subjects. Most recently he's focused on the experience of driving an electric car every day. Brian has a scientific PhD but today owns a business in Israel.
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