The Munich Betrayal

The Munich Agreement is one of the most significant international treaties of the 20th century. It was signed on September 30, 1938, between the leaders of Germany, Italy, France, and Britain, which aimed to resolve the crisis over the Sudetenland, a region in Czechoslovakia, which was inhabited by a majority of ethnic Germans.

This agreement is often cited as a symbol of appeasement, as it allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland, which was a prelude to the eventual occupation of Czechoslovakia and the start of World War II. In this essay, we will discuss the background, reasons, politicians, key points, outcome, and international response to the Munich Agreement.


The roots of the Munich Agreement can be traced back to the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. The treaty imposed heavy reparations on Germany, limited its military capabilities, and forced it to give up territory to neighboring countries, including the Sudetenland, which was ceded to Czechoslovakia.

The Sudetenland was a region in western Czechoslovakia that was inhabited by a large number of ethnic Germans who felt they were being discriminated against by the Czechoslovakian government.

The Sudetenland became a focal point for Adolf Hitler's expansionist policies, as he aimed to create a "Greater Germany" that would include all ethnic Germans in Europe.

In 1938, Hitler began to agitate for the annexation of the Sudetenland, using the grievances of the Sudeten Germans as a pretext. Hitler's propaganda machine portrayed the Sudeten Germans as victims of Czech aggression and demanded that the region be handed over to Germany.


The reasons for the Munich Agreement were multifaceted.

The Sudetenland crisis (also known as the Munich Crisis) threatened to spark a major war in Europe, which many politicians wished to avoid.

Many people believed that the Treaty of Versailles had been too harsh on Germany, and that it had created the conditions for the rise of Nazi Germany.

The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, believed that he could avoid war by negotiating with Hitler, and he was determined to maintain peace in Europe at all costs.

The Sudetenland

The Sudetenland is a mountainous region in central Europe that has been the site of numerous historical conflicts and changes in ownership. It was originally settled by Slavic tribes, who were later subjugated by the Holy Roman Empire. In the 14th century, the region came under the control of the Kingdom of Bohemia, which was later incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire and created Czechoslovakia, which included the Sudetenland. The Sudeten Germans, who had lived in the region for centuries, were now a minority in the new country and resented their loss of autonomy. They formed political parties and began to demand greater rights and recognition for their culture.

The Sudetenland region (shaded brown) in 1938 which contained a high amount of Ethnic Germans.

Virtual Saskatchewan - Sudetens Settled in Saskatchewan (

In 1933, the Sudeten German Party was formed, which advocated for the region's annexation by Germany. The party was supported by the Nazi Party in Germany, and the two groups began to collaborate on efforts to undermine the Czechoslovak government.

By 1938, the Sudetenland was a region in western Czechoslovakia that was home to a large German-speaking population. The Sudeten Germans, who made up around a third of the population in the region, resented their minority status and began to demand greater autonomy and rights. Tensions between the Sudeten Germans and the Czechoslovak government were at an all-time high, and Adolf Hitler began to demand that the Sudetenland be incorporated into the German Reich.

Adolf Hitler saw the Sudetenland as a potential source of conflict between Germany and Czechoslovakia and began to agitate for the region to be incorporated into the German Reich. He argued that the Sudeten Germans were being mistreated by the Czech government and that they had a right to self-determination.

Czech districts with an ethnic German population in 1934 of 20% or more (pink), 50% or more (red) and 80% or more (dark red) in 1935.

User:fext - Wikimedia Commons

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was determined to annex the Sudetenland in 1938 for several reasons, including strategic, economic, and ideological motivations.

The Sudetenland was a region in Czechoslovakia that had a large German-speaking population, which Hitler saw as an opportunity to expand Germany's territory and to reunite all Germans under one state.

Strategically, Hitler viewed the Sudetenland as a crucial defensive buffer against potential enemies, such as France, which had a strong military presence along Germany's western border.

By annexing the Sudetenland, Hitler would have gained control over mountainous terrain that was difficult for enemy armies to cross, making Germany's borders more secure.

The German 'Fuhrer', Adolf Hitler, who had aggressive designs on the Sudetenland.

Adolf Hitler (in colour) 5 by Julia-Koterias on DeviantArt

Economically, the Sudetenland was rich in resources, including coal, timber, and textiles, which would have bolstered Germany's industrial and economic power. Hitler also saw the annexation as a way to gain access to Czechoslovakia's military technology and industrial capabilities, which he believed would help Germany to prepare for future conflicts.

Ideologically, Hitler saw the annexation of the Sudetenland as a way to fulfill his vision of a Greater Germany, which would include all German-speaking people in a single state. He used the idea of the Sudeten Germans as a pretext for annexation, claiming that they were being mistreated by the Czechoslovakian government and that their rights were being violated. This propaganda helped to justify his aggressive actions to the German public and to garner support for his expansionist policies.

Neville Chamberlain

British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain hoped a policy of appeasement would prevent another European war breaking out.

Neville Chamberlain was the British Prime Minister during the Munich Crisis of 1938. Chamberlain was a conservative politician who believed in the policy of appeasement, which involved making concessions to aggressive regimes in order to avoid war.

Chamberlain's policy was based on the belief that Germany had legitimate grievances and that by addressing these grievances, it would be possible to avoid conflict.

During the Munich Crisis, Chamberlain pursued a policy of negotiation with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

He traveled to Germany to meet with Hitler and other German leaders in an attempt to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Chamberlain believed that he could persuade Hitler to back down and that by making concessions, he could avoid war.

Chamberlain's efforts ultimately led to the signing of the Munich Agreement, which allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland in return for a promise from Hitler not to make any further territorial demands in Europe. Chamberlain famously declared that the agreement had secured "peace for our time," and he was celebrated by many in Britain and around the world for his efforts to avoid war.

However, Chamberlain's policy of appeasement was criticized by many at the time and in subsequent years. Critics argued that by making concessions to Hitler, Chamberlain had emboldened him and encouraged further aggression. They also argued that the Munich Agreement had allowed Germany to gain a significant strategic advantage by taking control of the Sudetenland.

Édouard Daladier

Édouard Daladier was a prominent French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France on several occasions between 1933 and 1940.

One of the most significant moments of his political career was during the Munich Crisis of 1938 when he played a pivotal role in deciding the fate of Czechoslovakia.

Daladier was one of the few leaders who recognized the danger of and opposed appeasement.

Despite Daladier's warnings, the leaders of France and Great Britain, Neville Chamberlain, and Édouard Daladier, agreed to the Munich Agreement, which allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia, in exchange for a promise of peace.

French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier opposed Hitler's actions and recognised the dangers of appeasement.

Biography of Édouard Daladier | SchoolMouv

However, the agreement would prove futile, as Germany continued its expansionist policies and eventually invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939.

Daladier's opposition to appeasement earned him widespread respect, both in France and internationally. His courageous stance against Hitler and the Nazis was a testament to his unwavering commitment to France and the principles of democracy.

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was the fascist dictator of Italy during the Munich Crisis of 1938, a pivotal moment in European history. At the time, Italy was an ally of Germany, and Mussolini played a crucial role in shaping the outcome of the crisis.

Mussolini saw the Munich Crisis as an opportunity to increase Italy's influence in Europe and to assert his authority as a leader on the international stage. He was initially skeptical of Hitler's demands for the annexation of the Sudetenland, but he eventually supported the Munich Agreement, which allowed Germany to annex the region in exchange for a promise of peace.

Mussolini's support for the Munich Agreement was motivated by several factors. First, he saw it as a way to cement Italy's position as a major European power and to establish himself as a leading figure in international diplomacy. Second, he believed that the agreement would prevent a war that could potentially harm Italy's interests. Finally, he was eager to maintain Italy's alliance with Germany and to avoid any conflict with Hitler.

Despite his initial reservations, Mussolini's support for the Munich Agreement ultimately proved to be a mistake. It allowed Hitler to continue his aggressive expansionist policies, leading to the outbreak of the Second World War just a year later. Mussolini's alliance with Hitler also led to Italy's eventual defeat and the downfall of his regime. His actions during the Munich Crisis illustrate the dangers of appeasement and the consequences of putting short-term interests ahead of long-term stability and security.

Edvard Beneš

Edvard Beneš was the President of Czechoslovakia during the Munich Crisis of 1938, and he played a key role in resisting Nazi aggression and advocating for the independence of his country.

Despite the overwhelming pressure to appease Hitler and avoid war, Beneš refused to compromise on the sovereignty and integrity of Czechoslovakia.

Beneš was initially optimistic about the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the crisis. He believed that the other European powers, particularly France and Great Britain, would support Czechoslovakia and uphold the principles of the international order.

However, when it became clear that the other countries were willing to sacrifice Czechoslovakia's interests to avoid a war, Beneš refused to go along with their plans.

The Czechoslovakian President, Edvard Beneš, who was helpless to stop the Sudetenland falling into German hands.

Public Domain

Beneš was deeply committed to the idea of Czechoslovakian independence and was unwilling to accept any deal that would compromise his country's sovereignty. He rejected the Munich Agreement, which allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland, and instead sought to mobilize his country's military in defense of its territory. Despite the overwhelming military superiority of Germany, Beneš believed that Czechoslovakia had a moral duty to resist Nazi aggression and fight for its freedom.

Beneš's principled stand earned him widespread respect and admiration, both in Czechoslovakia and internationally. He was seen as a symbol of the struggle against fascism and a defender of democracy and human rights. Although his efforts ultimately proved futile, as Czechoslovakia was invaded by Germany in 1939, his courage and determination inspired many others to resist Nazi tyranny.

Key points

The Munich Agreement consisted of several key points. The first was that Germany would be allowed to annex the Sudetenland, which would be handed over to Germany on October 10, 1938.

The Czechoslovakian government was not consulted about the decision and was forced to accept the annexation.

The second key point was that the four signatory powers would guarantee the new borders of Czechoslovakia.

The third key point was that Hitler would promise not to make any further territorial demands in Europe.

Hitler's demands

  • The annexation of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, which was home to a large German-speaking population.
  • The rights of German speakers in other parts of Czechoslovakia to be respected and protected.
  • Czechoslovakia to grant autonomy to the Sudeten Germans and give them control over their own affairs.
  • The removal of Czechoslovakia's military defenses along its border with Germany.
  • The recognition of Germany's right to pursue a policy of Lebensraum, or territorial expansion, which involved taking land from other countries.
  • The avoidance of war between Germany and Czechoslovakia, but only on Germany's terms, which would allow it to achieve its territorial and political goals.

Tensions rise

France and Britain were determined to avoid war, as evidenced by their prior appeasement of Hitler. The French administration did not want to face Germany alone, so it followed the lead of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's British Conservative government. He saw the Sudeten German grievances as legitimate and Hitler's ambitions as restricted. As a result, both Britain and France recommended Czechoslovakia to comply with Germany's demands. Bene resisted and, on May 19, launched a partial mobilisation in response to a potential German invasion.

Hitler provided his generals with a draught plan of attack on Czechoslovakia, codenamed Operation Green, on May 20. He reiterated that he would not "smash Czechoslovakia" militarily unless there was "provocation," "a particularly favourable opportunity," or "adequate political justification." 

On the 28th May, Hitler ordered that U-boat production be hastened, that the construction of his two battleships, Bismarck and Tirpitz, be pushed back to spring 1940, and that the firepower of the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau be increased. 

Hitler felt this would be enough of a deterrent to the United Kingdom and France. Ten days later, Hitler signed a secret directive ordering the start of war against Czechoslovakia on 1st October.

The Polish stance

Meanwhile, the Polish government declared that if France moved against Germany to save Czechoslovakia, Poland would not move and would oppose any Soviet action to defend Czechoslovakia from Germany. Daladier thus felt he could not trust the Poles, despite the Polish government's repeated declarations that it was ready to confront Germany if the French elected to assist Czechoslovakia.

Unfortunately, these statements from the Poles received no response from the British and French administrations, which were determined to avoid another European war by appeasing Germany.

Pressure on Beneš

Meanwhile, the British government ordered that Czech President Beneš seek the services of a mediator. Beneš grudgingly consented, not wanting to sever his government's connections with Western Europe. Lord Runciman, a former Liberal cabinet minister, was recruited by the British and arrived in Prague on 3 August with instructions to persuade Bene to agree to a plan acceptable to the Sudeten Germans.  

On the 20th of July , Bonnet informed the Czechoslovak envoy in Paris that, while France would publicly express its support for the Czechoslovak negotiations, it was not willing to go to war over Sudetenland. Slowly but surely, the wheels were being set in motion, ultimately leading to the sacrifice of the Sudetenland.

German propaganda

The German propaganda machine was ramped up in August, with the media filled with reports alleging Czechoslovak crimes against Sudeten Germans - all designed to compel the West to put pressure on the Czechoslovaks to make concessions.

Hitler anticipated that if the Czechoslovaks refused, the West would feel morally justified in abandoning them to their fate. Germany also stationed 750,000 soldiers near Czechoslovakia's border in August, ostensibly as part of army manoeuvres but in reality, a blatant show of force, designed to intimidate both the Czechs and the Western Powers. Hitler, ever the gambler, was upping the stakes.

Hitler ups the pressure

On 12th September, Hitler delivered a speech on the Sudeten crisis at a Nazi Party gathering in Nuremberg, in which he attacked the Czechoslovakian government's activities, accusing it of being a false state that ignored international law.

Hitler singled out Beneš and accused him of: 

  • Attempting to gradually eliminate the Sudeten Germans. 
  • Forcibly removing 600,000 ethnic Germans from their homes and threatening them with starvation if they did not leave.
  • Persecuting Germans, as well as Hungarians, Poles, and Slovaks.
  • Threatening them with being labelled traitors if they were not faithful to the country.
  • Being belligerent and threatening behaviour towards Germany.
  • Allowing the unjustified execution of several German protestors.
  • Being prepared to force Sudeten Germans to fight against their will against the German army should war break out.
  • Running the country as a client state of Germany’s old enemy, France.

Chamberlain steps up

On 13th September, after internal violence and disruption in Czechoslovakia ensued, Chamberlain arranged a meeting with Hitler, which was announced by 10 Downing Street, and led to a swell of optimism in British public opinion. Chamberlain, in one of the first times a head of state travelled to a diplomatic meeting by plane (demonstrating its urgency), arrived at Hitler's residence in Berchtesgaden, Germany on 15th September.

That day, Hitler and Chamberlain met, and Hitler insisted that the Sudeten Germans be permitted to exercise their right to national self-determination and unite Sudetenland to Germany.

Hitler falsely claimed that the Czechoslovak government had murdered 300 Sudeten Germans and conveyed alarm to Chamberlain about British "threats."

Chamberlain stated that he had made no "threats," and in irritation asked Hitler, "Why did I come over here to waste my time?"

Hitler responded that if Chamberlain was willing to recognise the Sudeten Germans' right to self-determination, he would be willing to debate the issue. He also persuaded Chamberlain that he did not actually want to destroy Czechoslovakia, but that if Germany annexed the Sudetenland, the country's minority would secede, causing the country to collapse. 

After three hours of debate, Chamberlain and Hitler called the meeting to a close. Chamberlain returned to the United Kingdom and met with his cabinet to discuss the situation. Following the discussion, Daladier travelled to London on 16th September to meet with British officials to discuss next steps. The French ideas ranged from declaring war on Germany to backing the German annexation of the Sudetenland. The discussions resulted in a definite British-French plan. Britain and France required that Czechoslovakia hand over to Germany those territories where the German population exceeded 50% of the overall Sudetenland population.

In exchange for the compromise, Britain and France would guarantee Czechoslovakia's independence. Both Czechoslovakia and opponents in Britain and France rejected the proposed solution.

The situation in Czechoslovakia deteriorated further that day, with the Czechoslovak government issuing an arrest order for Konrad Henlein, (leader of the Sudeten German Party (SdP), a branch of the Nazi Party of Germany in Czechoslovakia) who had arrived in Germany a day earlier to participate in the negotiations.

The Freikorps

Further pouring petrol on the flames, on 17th September 1938, Hitler ordered the formation of Sudetendeutsches Freikorps, a paramilitary organisation that took over the structure of Ordnersgruppe, an ethnic German organisation in Czechoslovakia that had been dissolved the day before by Czechoslovak authorities due to its involvement in a large number of terrorist activities.

German authorities provided sanctuary, training, and equipment to the organisation, which carried out cross-border terrorist activities into Czechoslovakia. Almost 100 Czechoslovak soldiers were killed in action, hundreds were injured, and over 2,000 were kidnapped and taken to Germany in the days that followed. Europe was spiralling towards war.

On 18th September, Italy's opportunist Duce, Benito Mussolini, stuck his oar in by delivering a speech in Trieste, Italy, declaring, "If there are two camps, for and against Prague, let it be known that Italy has picked its side," further stirring the pot by implying that Mussolini supported Germany throughout the crisis.

Despite the impression being given of Hitler's overall dominance and widespread support, not everyone in Nazi Germany was happy with the Fuhrer steering the country towards war. On 20th September, German military opponents met to discuss the last details of a conspiracy to destabilise

The Nazi authority. General Hans Oster, the deputy head of Germany's counter-espionage organisation, presided over the meeting. Captain Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz and other military commanders leading the proposed coup d'etat also attended the meeting.

Given the inherent risks in attempting to overthrow a dictator and the likely fatal consequences of it failing (perceived ‘traitors’ to the Nazi regime tended not live long, healthy lives), it is an indicator of just how seriously they (correctly) considered Hitler to be.

Chamberlain returns

Chamberlain returned to Germany on 22nd September to continue talks with Hitler Bad Godesberg. Having told the British press before he departed that "my purpose is peace in Europe, and I believe this journey is the way to that peace.”, he was gambling on Hitler accepting full German annexation of the Sudetenland with no concessions.

Certainly, he received an encouraging welcome, receiving gifts and being serenaded by a German band playing ‘God Save the King’.

However, as ever, Hitler proved tricky to predict. When presented with Chamberlains proposal, he asked, "Does this indicate that the Allies have agreed with Prague's approval to the transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany?"

"Precisely," responded Chamberlain.

Hitler shook his head. The Allied offer fell short of what he wanted – Czechoslovakia was destroyed and its territory, divided between Germany, Poland and Hungary. Hitler went on to inform Chamberlain that Czechoslovakia's activities, which he said included deaths of Germans, had made the situation unbearable for Germany since their last meeting on the 15th.

Hitler the gambler was essentially saying “these are my new terms - take it or leave it”, and counting on Chamberlain – who was caught off guard by this latest twist in proceedings - offering more concessions.

As a further ploy, Hitler arranged for an aide to interrupt the meeting with news that more Germans had been killed in Czechoslovakia, thus allowing Hitler to ‘explode’ with anger. He certainly played the part, flying into convincing rage exclaiming "I will avenge each and every one of them. The Czechs must be exterminated.”, before then refusing to consider any concessions on his part.

However, Hitler appeared to later express a rare sense of regret that he had over-egged the situation and backtracked, phoning Chamberlain at his hotel to indicate he would tolerate annexing only the Sudetenland and had no plans for further regions and would even enter into a collective agreement to guarantee the borders of Germany and Czechoslovakia, provided Czechoslovakia began the evacuation of ethnic Czechs from German-majority territories by September 26 at 8:00 a.m (although Chamberlain managed to get this pushed back to the 1st October.)

Was Hitler really reining in his demands after regretting his earlier outbursts or due to respecting Chamberlains’ willingness to compromise? Or was this all part of his plan from the start, with him only ever aiming to grab the Sudetenland (at least for now)? 

Czech Mobilisation

With the writing ever more clearly on the wall, on 23rd September, the new Czech cabinet – led by under General Jan Syrový, issued a decree of general mobilisation, which was enthusiastically accepted by the population. Within 24 hours, one million soldiers joined the army to defend the country.

The Czechoslovak Army, which was modern, experienced, and had a great system of border defences, was ready to fight. The Soviet Union declared its willingness to assist Czechoslovakia on the condition that the Red Army be able to traverse Polish and Romanian territory. However, both countries refused to allow the Soviet army to operate on their soil.

The Romanians were far too closely aligned with Germany and the historical animosity between Poland and the Soviet Union meant it unlikely the Poles would be happy with Russian troops traipsing through their territory. Besides, they had designs on Czechoslovakia themselves…

Czech soldiers during the Sudetenland crisis.

Getty Images

The Godesberg Memorandum

The 24th September saw yet more shenanigans from Hitler, as he released the Godesberg Memorandum in the early hours, demanding that Czechoslovakia submit the Sudetenland to Germany by 28th September, with plebiscites to be held in undetermined locations under the supervision of German and Czechoslovak forces.

The memorandum further warned that if Czechoslovakia did not accede to German demands by 2 p.m. on 28th September, Germany would invade the Sudetenland. On the same day, Chamberlain returned to London and declared that Hitler sought immediate annexation of the Sudetenland.

The declaration infuriated many in Britain and France who wanted to confront Hitler once and for all, even if it meant going to war, and its supporters grew in number. Nonetheless, the Czechoslovak Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jan Masaryk, was overjoyed to learn of the British and French backing for Czechoslovakia.

Fresh demands

On 25th September, Czechoslovakia consented to the terms previously agreed upon by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. However, the following day, Hitler added fresh demands, insisting that the claims of ethnic Germans in Poland and Hungary be met as well. He was pushing his luck, but he was convinced that the Allies would not risk war.

The next day, Chamberlain dispatched Sir Horace Wilson, head of the Home Civil Service, to deliver to Hitler a personal letter emphasising that the Allies desired a peaceful resolution to the Sudeten problem. Chamberlain still hoped to salvage peace even in the face of an increasingly intransient Hitler.

Hitler responded later that evening in a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast, claiming that the Sudetenland was "the final territorial demand I have to make in Europe" and giving Czechoslovakia until 28th September at 2:00 p.m. to submit the Sudetenland to Germany or risk war. The British government began making war preparations at this moment, and the House of Commons was reconvened after a parliamentary recess.

The Italian intervention

On 28th September, at 10:00 a.m., four hours before the deadline, and with Czechoslovakia refusing to comply to Hitler's demand, the British ambassador to Italy, Lord Perth, summoned Italy's Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano to request an urgent meeting. Perth informed Ciano that Chamberlain had directed him to solicit Mussolini's participation in the negotiations and to urge Hitler to postpone the ultimatum.

Mussolini agreed and persuaded Hitler to delay his plans for 24 hours, although given that the invasion date was actually set for 1st October, this was no real concession.

Chamberlain requested a four-power conference of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy in Munich on 29 September to settle the Sudeten problem prior to the deadline of 2:00 pm. Both Mussolini and Hitler agreed to attend, and it looked as if war might yet still be averted.

Even the US president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, watching proceedings from afar, was pleased with the outcome, referring to Chamberlain as a 'good man'.


Talks began shortly after Chamberlain and Daladier arrived in the Führerbau, leaving them with little time to consult. The meeting was held in three languages: English, French, and German. On September 29, a settlement was struck, and on 30th September, 1938, about 1:30 a.m., Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini, and Édouard Daladier signed the Munich Agreement.

Mussolini publicly launched the agreement, despite the fact that the Italian plan was essentially identical to the Godesberg proposal: the German army was to finish its possession of the Sudetenland by 10 October, and an international commission would decide the fate of other disputed regions.

Chamberlain arriving at Oberwiesenfeld airport to sign the agreement in Munich, 1938.

The Munich Agreement and the Falsification of History (

Britain and France advised Czechoslovakia that it could either resist Nazi Germany alone or acquiesce to the dictated annexations. Seeing the futility of battling the Nazis alone, the Czechoslovak government grudgingly capitulated (30 September) and agreed to abide by the agreement. The agreement gave Germany authority of the Sudetenland beginning on October 10, and de facto rule of the remainder of Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler committed not to push any farther.

After some rest, Chamberlain went to Hitler's apartment in the Prinzregentenstraße on September 30 and requested him to sign a statement declaring the Anglo-German Navy Pact "symbolic of our two countries' desire never to go to war with one another again." Hitler eagerly agreed after his interpreter translated it for him.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (1869 - 1940) (front row, second right) walks with past an honor guard at his reception upon arriving at Oberwiesenfeld airport on the way to a meeting with Adolf Hitler over the latter's threats to invade Czechoslovakia, September 28, 1938.

Pictured are, from left, German politician Gauleiter Adolf Wagner (1890 - 1944), German SA-Obergruppenführer Franz Ritter von Epp (1868 - 1947), German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (1893 - 1946), Chamberlain, and British Ambassador to Germany Sir Neville Henderson (1882 - 1942).

World War II in Pictures: Invasion of Czechoslovakia (

Peace for our time

Returning to Britain after seemingly securing peace against all odds, a buoyant Chamberlain's aeroplane landed at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938 and he spoke to the crowds gathered there:

However, Chamberlain's homecoming was not warmly welcomed, as 15,000 people protested the Munich Agreement in Trafalgar Square the same day, three times the number that welcomed him at 10 Downing Street. Because of Chamberlain's continuous manipulation of the BBC, such news was mostly ignored.

However, Hugh Dalton, a Labour spokesman, publicly alleged that the piece of paper Chamberlain was waving was "ripped from the pages of Mein Kampf."


The Munich Agreement had a significant impact on Europe and the world. One of the key outcomes was the loss of Czechoslovakia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Sudetenland was an important industrial and strategic region, and its loss weakened Czechoslovakia's ability to defend itself against Nazi aggression.

The Czechoslovakian government was humiliated by the annexation, and the country was weakened, making it easier for Hitler to eventually occupy it. The Munich Agreement also caused a rift between the Western powers and the Soviet Union, as the Soviet Union was not invited to the negotiations and felt that it had been excluded from the decision-making process.

From left to right: Neville ChamberlainÉdouard DaladierAdolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini pictured before signing the Munich Agreement (1938).

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R69173 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Within months of the Munich Agreement, Hitler broke his promise not to make any further territorial demands, and Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.

The Munich Crisis also demonstrated the failure of appeasement as a policy for dealing with aggressive regimes. By allowing Hitler to annex the Sudetenland without significant repercussions, the international community signalled that it was willing to make concessions to avoid war. The annexation of the Sudetenland was the first step in Hitler's expansionist policies, which eventually led to the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the invasion of Poland, and the start of the Second World War.

Sudeten Germans cheering the arrival of the German Army into the Sudetenland in October 1938.

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1976-033-20 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

International response

The international response to the Munich Agreement was mixed. Many people welcomed the agreement as a way to avoid war and maintain peace in Europe. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, famously declared that the agreement had secured "peace for our time." However, others were skeptical of the agreement and believed that it had simply given Hitler a free hand to continue his aggressive policies. The Soviet Union condemned the agreement and accused the Western powers of betraying Czechoslovakia.

The Munich Agreement was also criticized by many in the United States, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who saw it as a sign of weakness and appeasement. Roosevelt believed that the United States should take a more active role in world affairs and that it should stand up to aggressors like Hitler.

After the agreement

Sequence of events following the Munich Agreement.

  1. The Sudetenland became part of Germany in accordance with the Munich Agreement (October 1938).
  2. Poland annexes Zaolzie, an area with a Polish plurality, over which the two countries had fought a war in 1919 (October 1938).
  3. Border areas (southern third of Slovakia and southern Carpathian Ruthenia) with Hungarian minorities became part of Hungary in accordance with the First Vienna Award (November 1938).
  4. On 15 March 1939, during the German invasion of the remaining Czech territories, Hungary annexes the remainder of Carpathian Ruthenia (which had been autonomous since October 1938).
  5. Germany establishes the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia with a puppet government, on 16 March 1939.
  6. On 14 March 1939, a pro-Hitler Catholic-fascist government declares the Slovak Republic, as an Axis client state.

File:Münchner abkommen5+.svg - Wikimedia Commons


The Munich Agreement was a significant moment in European history, as it allowed Hitler to gain control of the Sudetenland and paved the way for the eventual occupation of Czechoslovakia and the start of World War II.  The agreement is often cited as an example of the policy of appeasement, which failed to prevent war and allowed Hitler to gain power and territory.

In the aftermath of the Munich Crisis, Neville Chamberlain's reputation suffered, and he was eventually forced to resign as Prime Minister in 1940. However, some historians have argued that Chamberlain's policy of appeasement was a pragmatic response to the situation at the time and that it was based on a genuine desire to avoid war. Others have argued that Chamberlain was naive and overly optimistic about Hitler's intentions and that his policy of appeasement was ultimately doomed to fail.

Despite its flaws, the Munich Agreement also demonstrated the importance of diplomacy and negotiations in resolving international disputes. It remains a controversial and debated moment in history, and its lessons continue to be studied and discussed by historians and policymakers today.

Further reading