Why Did Neville Chamberlain Agree To The Munich Agreement

The American historian William L. Shirer estimated in his “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” (1960) that Czechoslovakia, although Hitler was not bluffing about its intention to invade, could have resisted considerably. Shirer believed that Britain and France had sufficient air defence to avoid severe bombing of London and Paris, and could have waged a swift and fruitful war against Germany. [66] He quotes Churchill as saying that the agreement means that “Britain and France are in a much worse position than Hitler`s Germany.” [61] After personally inspecting the Czech fortifications, Hitler privately told Joseph Goebbels that “we shed a lot of blood” and that it was fortunate that there had been no fighting. [67] When Chamberlain returned from Munich, he said to an excited crowd at Heston airport: “It is peace for our time” and signalled the agreement he had signed with Hitler. This was the culmination of the policy of appeasement. Six months later, Hitler stopped his promises and ordered his armies to invade Prague. Within a year, Britain and France were at war with Germany. The Munich quotation in foreign policy debates is also common in the 21st century. [107] During negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal by Secretary of State John Kerry, a Republican representative from Texas called the negotiations “worse than Munich.” In a speech in France, Kerry himself referred to Munich for military action in Syria: “This is our munich moment.” [108] In the early morning hours of 24 September, Hitler published Godesberg`s memorandum calling for Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany by 28 September, with referendums in unspecified areas under the supervision of German and Czechoslovakian forces.

The memorandum also stipulates that Germany would take the Sudetenland by force if Czechoslovakia did not agree with the German requirements by 2pm on 28 September. On the same day Chamberlain returned to Britain and announced that Hitler had requested the immediate annexation of the Sudetenland. [37] The announcement angered those in Britain and France who wanted to confront Hitler once and for all, even if it meant war, and his supporters gained strength. [37] The Czechoslovakian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jan Masaryk, was delighted to hear the support of British and French opponents of Hitler`s plans for Czechoslovakia and to say, “The nation of Saint Venceslas will never be a nation of slaves.” [37] On 29 and 30 September 1938, an emergency meeting of the major European powers was held in Munich, without Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union, allied with France and Czechoslovakia. An agreement was quickly reached on Hitler`s terms. It was signed by the leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy. On the military front, the Sudetenland was of strategic importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defences were there to protect themselves from a German attack. The agreement between the four powers was signed with low intensity in the context of an undeclared German-Czechoslovak war, which had begun on 17 September 1938. Meanwhile, after 23 September 1938, Poland transferred its military units to the common border with Czechoslovakia. [2] Czechoslovakia bowed to diplomatic pressure from France and Great Britain and decided on 30 September to cede Germany to Munich conditions. Fearing a possible loss of Zaolzie to Germany, Poland issued an ultimatum to Zaolzie, with a majority of Polish ethnic groups, which Germany had accepted in advance and accepted Czechoslovakia on 1 October. [3] Although the British were relieved that the war had been averted, many were now wondering whether appeasement was the best decision.