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The answers given to M. Francon's pertinent questions concerning the Rhineland dispute show that the German people are not alone in their gullibility and willingness to accept Hitler's speeches as utterances of sincerity. From the beginning it has been the purpose of the Nazi government to play loudest on the note that the Reich means peace, and will break every treaty in Europe if necessary to insure that peace.
The Locarno Treaty meant peace as far as western Europe was concerned, and Hitler cannot easily disguise the fact that it was national honor and no other reason that prompted its rupture two weeks ago. Even those who watched with sympathy while he tore the Versailles pact limb from limb at the beginning of his reign realize that the breaking of Locarno, a covenant freely made by the Second Reich under no compulsion whatsoever, presents quite a different problem. The question still holds: against whom is Germany defending herself? As long as the demilitarized Rhineland existed it was impossible to conceive of France as guilty of designs upon her eastern neighbor. During the last two weeks the situation has admittedly changes; the world-defying stroke of Nazi Germany accomplished that if nothing else.
Hitler's ill-disguised hostility towards Russia is emphasized by his offer of a twenty-five year non-aggression pact to his western neighbors. Taking the quixotic hypothesis that he desires no revenge on France, one wonders why he does not give back the other leg to the dove of peace and sign a similar agreement with the Soviet. Poland may be a buffer state, but in an agreement Germany could extend her border to include Poland, as Britain has to the Rhine. If Germany's attitude were really one of peace, it would be easy to conceive of Poland as the Slavic Belgium.
Unfortunately France will have "to give Hitler's pacifistic proposals the benefit of the doubt," because the desertion of her cause by Britain has rendered any other course of action suicidal. A world which can still put faith in the pious words of Europe's champion treaty-breaker will give Germany the twenty-five year breathing-spell she needs so urgently, while M. Francon's question-how does the presence of 90,000 troops in the Rhineland serve the cause of peace-goes unanswered.
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