From left to right (front): Chamberlain, Dalad...

From left to right (front): Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini, and Ciano pictured before signing the Munich Agreement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the Czech government found itself compelled to accept the dictates of the Munich Agreement.  The policy of ‘Appeasement’ – giving Hitler what he wanted in the hope that it would avoid another war – had reached its most notorious extreme.  The ‘treaty’ signed between Nazi Germany, Britain, France and Italy provided for the immediate annexation of the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland to Germany under the pretext that this was the will of the ethic German Sudeten population.  The Czech government was presented with this as a fait accompli and warned that it must either accept or face war – Czech representatatives were barred from the negotiations and simply told to ‘sign here or else…’

Given that most of the Czech border defences were in the Sudetenland I can well understand their relectance to sign.  With hinsight though it seems that the Czech army was better prepared to face an invasion that at first thought and German military ‘punch’ was not as strong as originally assumed. Nazi re-armament was not scheduled to be complete until 1941.  In short, Hitler’s Germany was not ready for a war. That said, President Benes of Czechoslovakia knew they couldn’t hold for long without potential allies and those evaporated like morning mist with the signing of the Munich Agreement.  It is interesting to speculate what might have happened if Britain and France had refused to agree with Hitler.  War in 1938 might well have gone very differently indeed – an idea Harry Turtledove explores well in his counterfactual series ‘Hitler’s War’.

On this day in 1938

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