“My good friends, this is the second time in our history there has come back from Germany to Downing Street (the offices of the British Prime Minister) peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time.”
– British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (pictured above, center, holding up the piece of paper).
On this date, September 30 in 1938 England concluded the Munich Agreement with Hitler’s Germany. In the spring of 1938, Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler announced his support for demands by german-speaking citizens of Czechoslovakia’s Sudeten region for closer ties to Germany.
Chamberlain’s Policy of Weakness and Appeasement In the Face of Nazi Aggression
The crisis over the Sudetenland was a cover for Hitler’s larger design of creating a “greater Germany”. An agreement was forged between Hitler, and England’s Prime Minister Chamberlain, and French Premier Deladier during meetings in the city of Munich. Hitler had threatened to take military action if his demands weren’t met, and Chamberlain, who was fully determined to preserve the peace at any price, gave in to virtually all of the Nazi leader’s demands, pushing the reluctant Deladier to do the same. The Czech diplomats, who were never admitted to the meetings were presented with an agreement which left their country militarily indefensible. In his book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, author William Shirer described the Czech reaction to the Munich agreement:
“For (Czech) President Benes….there was no alternative but to submit. Britain and France had not only deserted his country, but would now back Hitler in the use of armed force should he turn down the terms of the Munich agreement.”
Speaking to the British Parliament on October 5, Winston Churchill put his view of the Munich agreement very bluntly indeed:
“We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat…the most
that my right honorable friend the Prime Minister has been able to secure by all of his immense exertions…has been that… the German dictator, instead of snatching his victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course.”
In March of 1939, Germany marched into the rest of the now helpless Czechoslovakia, and annexed the entire country to Germany. On Sept.1, 1939, German forces invaded Poland, and war was declared by Britain and France on Sept.3. Chamberlain’s appeasement of the belligerent Hitler had failed completely. His “peace in our time” had proven to be a fallacy which lasted less than one year.
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by William L. Shirer, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1960.
“Blood, Sweat and Tears” by Winston Churchill, 1941.