Posted on April 15, 2021
What Is The Munich Agreement And Appeasement
In the spring of 1938, Hitler openly began to support calls from German spokesmen living in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia for closer relations with Germany. Hitler had recently annexed Austria to Germany and the conquest of Czechoslovakia was the next step in his plan to create a „Greater Germany“. The Czechoslovakian government hoped that Britain and France would help in the event of a German invasion, but British Prime Minister Chamberlain tried to avoid war. He made two trips to Germany in September and offered favorable agreements to Hitler, but Fuhrer responded to his demands. Today, the Munich Agreement is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement and the term has become „a watchword for the futility of soothing expansionist expansionist totalitarian states.“  In Munich, Hitler got what he wanted – the reign of Central Europe – and German troops invaded the Sudetenland on the night of 1 October. The day before, the Czech government had accepted the Munich Pact. General Sirovy, the Czech Prime Minister, said on the radio that he had experienced the most tragic moment of his life: „I am carrying out the most painful task that may have fallen on me, a duty worse than death… the forces that are opposed to us compel us to recognize their superiority and act accordingly. In Germany, Josef Goebbels said: „We have all walked on a thin wire on a dizzying abyss… The world is filled with a frenzy of joy. Germany`s reputation has grown considerably. Now we are really back to being a world power. 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.  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. The Munich Agreement is rooted in popular memory as a diplomatic disaster and a source of lasting lessons for the future. The political crisis in Britain, caused by Hitler`s ambitions towards the Sudetenland, is much less well known. Yet it was one of the most serious of the century. He points out that even in times of great danger, politicians will naturally take care of themselves. But it also reminds us to follow closely the interaction between foreign and domestic policy.
More often than we can imagine, these two are intertwined. As Hitler`s previous appeasement had shown, France and Britain were anxious to avoid war. The French government did not want to go to Germany and took over the british Conservative government of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.