Munich Agreement of 1938
What was the Munich Agreement?
The Munich Agreement was a bargain between Nazi Germany, and its allies, Italy, the Western Powers of France, and the United Kingdom. The bargain, or pact, allowed Germany to take over the borderlands of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland.
Why did Germany want the Sudetenland?
Most of the regions 3.5 million citizens were ethnic Germans and they were convinced to have a union with Nazi German power before the pact was signed. All of Czechoslovakia’s border barriers where in the Sudetenland and the country was completely defenseless without it. That meant that the Nazis could go to Czechoslovakia whenever they wanted to. The Agreement allowed Nazi Germany to have complete control over the entire country.
When and where did the Agreement take place?
The agreement was signed on September 19th, 1938 after a discussion called the “Munich Conference”. It took place the day before the signing of the pact in Hitler’s Munich headquarters, the Fuhverbau. The building is still used today as the Hochschule fur Musik.
Who was there?
The main people at the signing were the leaders of Germany-Adolf Hitler, United Kingdom-Neville Chamberlain, Italy-Benito Mussolini, and France-Edouard Daladier. No Czechoslovakians were invited to discuss the future of their own country.
What happened after the pact was signed?
The Nazis occupied the Sudetenland between October 1st and October 10th and put it under military administration. The region’s Jews started feeling the Nazi’s presence right away. Persecution began and synagogues were burned down during the Kristallnacht program of November 9th, 1938. The region became the most Nazi active area the Third Reich has ever had. At elections on December 4th, 97% of the people voted for the Nazi Party. The German Wehrmacht invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia on March 15th, 1938. President Emil Hache, who was the current president of Czechoslovakia at that time, surrendered to the Germans. As well as the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Munich Agreement left Germany free to invade Poland in September 1939 starting World War 2.
What were the reactions in….the United Kingdom?
Neville Chamberlain was cheered by the British royal family and public, who wanted to avoid another war with Germany. The public quickly turned against him, and his signing of the Munich Agreement has become known as the single biggest act of appeasent of the 20th century. Future Prime Winston Churchill damaged the Agreement so much to label it as a “total and unmitigated defeat”.
The Russians king Joseph Stalin crinkled his mighty eyebrow when he heard about the Agreement. He saw it as a betrayal and was afraid that the Western Powers of France might plot to divide parts of the Soviet Union. This led him to turn against France and the United Kingdom and attempt to come to terms with Germany, leading to the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggressive pact of 1938.
The ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland were extremely happy. Everyone else in the country was shattered. The Czechoslovakian people must have felt that complete Nazi occupation was only a few days away, and they would have been right. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Agreement is still sometimes known as the “Munich Betrayal”.