On This Day In History: Munich Agreement Was Signed – On Sep 30, 1938

On September 30, 1938, the Munich Agreement – an important pact was ready between Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, France, Italy and Adolph Hitler of Germany, which guaranteed ‘Peace in Our Time’.

After Germany invaded the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, the British and French prime ministers tried to get Hitler to agree not to use his military in the future in return for the land he had taken. Hitler agreed. At first, people thought the agreement was a success.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Germany was suffering the same depression and blamed their economic decline on the peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, which they had been obliged to sign after defeat in the First World War. The treaty had taken away vast tracts of German territory, including areas vital to the German economy, including the Rhineland coalfields. German policy, under the dictatorship of Adoph Hitler, was to regain these territories and obtain others, by whatever means necessary. Germany occupied the Rhineland and marched into Austria, without any opposition from other European states.

In 1938, Hitler demanded the territory of the Sudetenland, a strip of land in the west of Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, a zone inhabited by ethnic Germans but governed by the Czechs. Hitler threatened that if this region were not handed over to Germany, war would follow.

Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia in 1939.

Before leaving Munich, Chamberlain and Hitler signed a paper declaring their mutual desire to resolve differences through consultation to assure peace. Chamberlain returned home and was welcomed by people, who believed that the threat of war had been averted.

Unfortunately, the agreement was not respected and war followed within a year.

Winston Churchill denounced the agreement loudly in the House of Commons. He predicted that Czechoslovakia would ‘soon be engulfed in the Nazi regime’. He was right. Chamberlain’s policies were discredited in 1939, when Germany invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia, and then invaded Poland, precipitating the Second World War.

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