Munich Agreement Background

As the threats to Germany and the European war have become increasingly evident, opinions have changed. Chamberlain was awarded for his role as one of the “Men of Munich” in books such as the Guilty Men of 1940. A rare defence of the wartime accord came in 1944 from Viscount Maugham, who had been the Lord`s chancellor. Maugham regarded the decision to establish a Czechoslovakian state with large German and Hungarian minorities as a “dangerous experiment” in the face of previous disputes and described the agreement, which stemmed mainly from the need for France to free itself from its contractual obligations in the face of its vagueness to war. [63] After the war, Churchill`s memoirs of that time, The Gathering Storm (1948), claimed that Chamberlain`s appeasement of Hitler had been wrong in Munich, and noted Churchill`s pre-war warnings about Hitler`s plan of attack and Britain`s folly of disarmament after Germany reached air parity with Britain. While acknowledging that Chamberlain was acting for noble reasons, Churchill argued that Hitler should have resisted in Czechoslovakia and that efforts had to be made to involve the Soviet Union. 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] Later in the meeting, a pre-arranged deception was made to influence and put pressure on Chamberlain: one of Hitler`s accomplices entered the room to inform Hitler of other Germans killed in Czechoslovakia, and Hitler shouted in reply: “I will avenge each of them. The Czechs must be destroyed. [32] The meeting ended with Hitler`s refusal to make concessions to the demands of the Allies. [32] Later that evening, Hitler was concerned that he had gone too far to put pressure on Chamberlain, and he called Chamberlain`s hotel suite to say that he would only accept the annexation of Sudetenland without plans in other areas, provided that Czechoslovakia began evacuating ethnic Chechens from the majority regions of Germany by 8 p.m. on September 26. After being pushed by Chamberlain, Hitler agreed to issue the ultimatum for October 1 (the same date on which Operation Green was to begin). [37] Hitler then told Chamberlain that it was a concession he wanted to make to the Prime Minister as a “gift”, out of respect for the fact that Chamberlain was prepared to back down a little from his previous position. [37] Hitler added that after the annexation of the Sudetenland, Germany would no longer have territorial rights over Czechoslovakia and would enter into a collective agreement to guarantee the borders of Germany and Czechoslovakia. [37] The Czechoslovakians were appalled by the colony of Munich.