The Corner

Meanings of ‘Munich’

In a bracing column yesterday, about Obama and the world, basically, Ed Koch wrote of the “foul whiff of Munich.” I comment on this in Impromptus today. One of the things I say is, “[Koch] was born in 1924. Plus, he has a historical consciousness. But average people, younger than he: Do they know what those words mean?”

A reader wrote me to say, “First thing I thought of was the murder of Israel’s Olympic athletes. I’m 48.”

Quite interesting. I will give you a fun fact — well, maybe not so fun, but a fact: Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize have to be submitted by February 1. The award is given on December 10 (date of Alfred Nobel’s death). In 1939, Neville Chamberlain received many, many nominations for the Munich Agreement. No award was given, however, because Hitler went into Poland on September 1, and the Nobel Committee sort of lay low.

You know who else got a nomination? The German signatory of the Munich Agreement — Hitler. A Swedish parliamentarian nominated him (and then withdrew the nomination).

Winston Churchill, sitting in the British parliament, did something very, very typical of him — he nominated Benes, the Czechoslovakian president who had had to flee into exile. A Nobel Peace Prize to Benes would have given a black eye to the Nazis, and also to those vainly trying to appease them.

Anyway, I could prattle on — I’d better get to work. See you later.

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