The Munich Agreement

What happened?

 

The Munich Agreement was the agreement signed on 29 Sept 1938 between Chamberlain, Daladier ( France ), Hitler and Mussolini ( Italy ).

There is a whole section on the website on the Sudeten crisis, which led up to the agreement, on http://www.johndclare.net/RoadtoWWII5.htm

 

When talks with Hitler over the Sudetenland broke down – at Godesberg (22 Sept) – Hitler gave Britain and France an ultimatum of 2pm on 28 September, after which he said he would invade Czechoslovakia .   It looked like war.  Then Mussolini stepped in and proposed a 4-power conference.

            The four leaders met at 12.45 pm on 29 Sept.   The Russians (who had guaranteed Czechoslovakia ) and the Czechs were not invited.  

 

At the meeting, Hitler repeated his Godesberg demands.   Mussolini said that he had written down a ‘practical solution to the problem’.   In fact, the ‘practical solution’ was Hitler’s Godesberg demands, and ‘Mussolini’s’ ‘compromise’ had been drafted for him the night before by the German Foreign Office in Berlin.

            Chamberlain and Daladier accepted the Mussolini ‘compromise’.   They gave Hitler everything he wanted.   Daladier even promised that he would make sure the Czechs did not delay in evacuating.

           

Although it was not actually signed until 1 am on 30 Sept, the Munich Agreement was dated 29 Sept.   It promised that the Czech army would pull back from the ‘German’ areas of Czechoslovakia by 10 October.   On the surface, it was NOT a total climbdown.   An ‘International Commission’ was to oversee the occupation, and plebiscites (votes) were to be held in areas of mixed race.   The Agreement guaranteed the boundaries of the new Czecho-Slovakia, and Britain and France promised to support Czecho-Slovakia against future attack.  

            In the end, the Germans took much more land than had ever been given at Munich.   The plebiscites were not held and the guarantees were never kept.

 

Two Czech representatives were allowed to sit in the room next door – this was the most Chamberlain could get Hitler to agree to.   The two men sat alone until 10 pm , when Chamberlain’s adviser Horace Wilson gave them the bad news.   One of the Czechs asked whether Czechoslovakia could be heard – he was told: ‘if you do not accept, you will have to settle affairs with the Germans absolutely alone’.

 

 

The next day, Chamberlain visited Hitler again.   He asked him to promise not to bomb Prague.   He suggested that they might go on to solve the Spanish Civil War and the Russian problem.   Then he got Hitler to sign a statement which read:

‘We regard the agreement signed last night as symbolic of the desire of our two people never to go to war with each other again’   It is interesting to read now what Hitler had signed – he had not signed a promise not to go to war.   He had signed only that he did not WANT (desire) to go to war again.   In fact, privately, the day before, he and Mussolini had agreed that they would have to fight ‘side by side’ against France and Britain – who Hitler called, after Munich , ‘the little worms’.

 

Chamberlain returned to London with what he described as ‘a piece of paper.   Churchill called the agreement ‘a total, unmitigated defeat’.   No one listened.   Wild crowds cheered Chamberlain – ‘the man who gave me back my son’ one woman called him (meaning her son did not now have to go off to fight a war).   Chamberlain said he had got ‘peace with honour…. Peace in out time’.  

 

In is interesting that the German generals believed that, if there had been a war in 1938, the German army would have been easily defeated.   It is sometimes said that Chamberlain gave Britain the chance to prepare for war – but he gave time to Germany also.

 

The next day, the Czech Foreign Minister Dr Krofta met the British, French and Italian Foreign Ministers.   He said: ‘Today it is our turn, tomorrow it will be the turn of others’ and told them to get out.