CHAPTER XX
EXIT BARTHOU; ENTER LAVAL

In his report of 1935, Rosenberg wrote:

"In the spring of 1934 Group Leader W. came to Germany, where he was received by the Fuehrer. The utterances of the Fuehrer had the result of further strengthening policy already favourable to us, and since that time contacts have never been broken. When anti-German propaganda was made in London, the Air General Staff always inquired of us what they could answer in favour of the German attitude. The German arguments were then made use of. In contrast to certain English individuals who would once speak enthusiastically about Germany, only to say the contrary some months later, this staunch group, led by junior officers of the Air General Staff, has proved itself a solid and purposeful body in all wavering situations. The great speech of Baldwin of last year, in which he promised Germany the right to air protection, is to be attributed to these influences. The English periodical "The Aeroplane", published under the authority of the General Air Staff, has expressed itself with increasing sharpness against Bolshevism, and has always declared, when there was agitation against so-called German militarism, that one should today feel glad that Germany has a strong air force to ward off Asiatic barbarism. The English Ministers who refused to adopt this point of view were sharply attacked."

Baldwin's address, of which Rosenberg made mention in his report, was delivered before the House of Commons on July 30, 1934. Baldwin acknowledged that "certain events in various parts of Europe" had created "a greater sense of uneasiness and of malaise than we have hitherto experienced". France, Italy, Belgium, the United States, Russia had increased and were increasing their air forces. The position in Germany was difficult to appraise:

"But we have little doubt that it is her intention—and we have always recognised that—that the moment she feels free to rearm, the air will be one of her principal considerations. Indeed, it stands to reason that if Germany has that right, and seizes that right, to rearm, she has every argument in her favour, from her defenceless position in air, to try to make herself secure."

From this fact and many other considerations, Baldwin drew a first conclusion: "When you think of the defence of England you no longer think of the chalk cliffs of Dover; you think of the Rhine. That is where our frontier lies." The second conclusion was that the British air force was in need of expansion.

It was most likely because of this premise, announced by Baldwin

-165-

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