|Territorial evolution of Germany
in the 20th century
The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of Czechoslovakia's areas along the country's borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation "Sudetenland" was coined. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without the presence of Czechoslovakia. Today, it is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Germany. The agreement was signed in the early hours of 30 September 1938 (but dated 29 September). The purpose of the conference was to discuss the future of the Sudetenland in the face of ethnic demands made by Adolf Hitler. The agreement was signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Sudetenland was of immense strategic importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defenses were situated there, and many of its banks and heavy industry were located there as well.
Because the state of Czechoslovakia was not invited to the conference, it felt betrayed by the United Kingdom and France, so Czechs and Slovaks call the Munich Agreement the Munich Dictate (Czech: Mnichovský diktát; Slovak: Mníchovský diktát). The phrase Munich Betrayal (Czech: Mnichovská zrada; Slovak: Mníchovská zrada) is also used because the military alliance Czechoslovakia had with France proved useless. Today the document is typically referred to simply as the Munich Pact (Mnichovská dohoda).
Demands for Sudeten autonomy 
Sudeten German pro-Nazi leader Konrad Henlein founded Sudeten German Party (SdP) that served as the branch of the Nazi Party for the Sudetenland. By 1935, the SdP was the second largest political party in Czechoslovakia. Shortly after the anschluss of Austria to Germany, Henlein met with Hitler in Berlin on 28 March 1938, where he was instructed to raise demands unacceptable to the Czechoslovak government led by president Edvard Beneš. On 24 April, the SdP issued a series of demands upon the government of Czechoslovakia, that were known as the Carlsbad Program. Among the demands, Henlein demanded full equality of Germans with Czechs and autonomy for Germans living in Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakian government responded by saying that it was willing to provide minority rights to the German minority but it refused to grant them autonomy.
Sudeten Crisis 
As the previous appeasement of Hitler had shown, the governments of both France and Britain were set on avoiding war at any cost. The French government did not wish to face Germany alone and took its lead from the British government and its Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain believed that Sudeten German grievances were justified and that Hitler's intentions were limited. Both Britain and France, therefore, advised Czechoslovakia to concede to Germany's demands. Beneš resisted and on 20 May a partial mobilization was underway in response to possible German invasion. 20 May saw Hitler present his Generals with an interim draft for an attack on Czechoslovakia codenamed Operation Green , whereby he insisted that he would not "smash Czechoslovakia" militarily without "provocation, "a particularly favourable opportunity" or "adequate political justification". On 28 May, Hitler called a meeting of his service chiefs where he ordered an acceleration of U-boat construction and brought forward the construction of his first two battleships, Bismarck and Tirpitz, to spring 1940, and demanded that the increase in the firepower of the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau be accelerated . While accepting that this would be insufficient for a full scale naval war with Britain, Hitler hoped it would be a sufficient deterrent. Ten days later, Hitler signed a secret directive for war against Czechoslovakia to begin no later than 1 October. However, his adjutant, Fritz Wiedemann, recalled after the war that he was "very shocked" by Hitler's new plans to attack Britain and France 3–4 years after "deal[ing] with the situation" in Czechoslovakia. General Ludwig Beck, chief of the German general staff, noted that Hitler's change of heart in favour of quick action was due to Czechoslovak defences still being improvised, which would cease to be the case 2–3 years later, and British rearmament not coming into effect until 1941/42. General Alfred Jodl noted in his diary that the partial Czechoslovak mobilisation of 21 May had led Hitler to issue a new order for Operation Green on 30 May, and that this was accompanied by a covering letter from Keitel stating that the plan must be implemented by 1 October at the very latest.
In the meantime, the British government demanded that Beneš request a mediator. Not wishing to sever his government's ties with Western Europe, Beneš reluctantly accepted. The British appointed Lord Runciman, the former Liberal cabinet minister, who arrived in Prague on 3 August with instructions to persuade Beneš to agree to a plan acceptable to the Sudeten Germans. On 20 July, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet, told the Czechoslovak Ambassador in Paris that while France would declare her support in public to help the Czechoslovak negotiations, it was not prepared to go to war over the Sudetenland question. During August the German press was full of stories alleging Czechoslovak atrocities against Sudeten Germans, with the intention of forcing the Western Powers into putting pressure on the Czechoslovak to make concessions. Hitler hoped the Czechoslovaks would refuse and that the Western Powers would then feel morally justified in leaving the Czechoslovaks to their fate. In August, Germany sent 750,000 soldiers along the border of Czechoslovakia officially as part of army maneuvers. On 4 or 5 September, Beneš submitted the Fourth Plan, granting nearly all the demands of the Munich Agreement. The Sudeten Germans were under instruction from Hitler to avoid a compromise, and after the SdP held demonstrations that provoked police action in Ostrava on 7 September in which two of their parliamentary deputies were arrested, the Sudeten Germans used this incident and false allegations of other atrocities as an excuse to break off further negotiations.
On 12 September Hitler made a speech at a Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg on the Sudeten crisis in which he condemned the actions of the government of Czechoslovakia. Hitler denounced Czechoslovakia as being a fraudulent state that was in violation of international law's emphasis of national self-determination, claiming it was a Czech hegemony where neither the Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians, Ukrainians, nor Poles of the country wanted to be in union with the Czechs. Hitler accused Czechoslovakia's President Edvard Beneš of seeking to gradually exterminate the Sudeten Germans, claiming that since Czechoslovakia's creation over 600,000 Germans were allegedly intentionally forced out of their homes under the threat of starvation if they did not leave. He claimed that Beneš' government was persecuting Germans along with Hungarians, Poles, and Slovaks, and accused Beneš of threatening these nations to either be loyal to the country or else be branded a traitor. He claimed that he, as the head of state of Germany, would support the right of the self-determination of fellow Germans in the Sudetenland. He condemned Beneš for his government's recent execution of several German protesters. He accused Beneš of having a belligerent and threatening behaviour towards Germany which, if war broke out, would result in Beneš forcing Sudeten Germans to fight against their will against Germans from Germany. Hitler accused the government of Czechoslovakia as being a client regime of France, claiming that the French Minister of Aviation Pierre Cot had said "We need this state as a base from which to drop bombs with greater ease to destroy Germany's economy and its industry".
On 13 September, after internal violence and disruption in Czechoslovakia ensued, Chamberlain asked Hitler for a personal meeting to find a solution to avert a war. Chamberlain arrived by plane in Germany on 15 September and then arrived at Hitler's residence in Berchtesgaden for the meeting. The Sudeten German leader Henlein flew to Germany on the same day. On that day, Hitler and Chamberlain held discussions in which Hitler insisted that the Sudeten Germans must be allowed to exercise the right of national self-determination and be able to join Sudetenland with Germany; Hitler also expressed concern to Chamberlain about what he perceived as British "threats". Chamberlain responded that he had not issued "threats" and in frustration asked Hitler "Why did I come over here to waste my time?". Hitler responded that if Chamberlain was willing to accept the self-determination of the Sudeten Germans, he would be willing to discuss the matter. Chamberlain and Hitler held discussions for three hours, after which the meeting adjourned and Chamberlain flew back to the UK and met with his cabinet to discuss the issue.
After the meeting, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier flew to London on 16 September to meet British officials to discuss a course of action. The situation in Czechoslovakia became more tense that day with the Czechoslovak government issuing an arrest warrant for the Sudeten German leader Henlein, who had arrived in Germany a day earlier to take part in the negotiations. The French proposals ranged from waging war against Germany to supporting the Sudetenland being ceded to Germany. The discussions ended with a firm British-French plan in place. Britain and France demanded that Czechoslovakia cede to Germany all those territories where the German population represented over fifty percent of the Sudetenland's total population. In exchange for this concession, Britain and France would guarantee the independence of Czechoslovakia. The proposed solution was rejected by both Czechoslovakia and opponents of it in Britain and France.
On 18 September, Italy's Duce Benito Mussolini made a speech in Trieste, Italy where he declared "If there are two camps, for and against Prague, let it be known that Italy has chosen its side.", with the clear intention that Mussolini supported Germany in the crisis.
On 21 September, Czechoslovakia capitulated to accept the demands that were agreed upon by Britain, France, and Germany. The next day, however, Hitler added new demands, insisting that the claims of ethnic Germans in Poland and Hungary also be satisfied.
On 22 September, Chamberlain, about to board his plane to go to Germany for further talks, told the press who met him there that "My objective is peace in Europe, I trust this trip is the way to that peace." Chamberlain arrived in Cologne, where he received a lavish grand welcome with a German band playing "God Save the King" and Germans giving Chamberlain flowers and gifts. Chamberlain had calculated that fully accepting German annexation all of the Sudetenland with no reductions would force Hitler to accept the agreement. Upon being told of this, Hitler responded "Does this mean that the Allies have agreed with Prague's approval to the transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany?", Chamberlain responded "Precisely", to which Hitler responded by shaking his head, saying that the Allied offer was insignificant. He told Chamberlain that he wanted Czechoslovakia to be completely dissolved and its territories redistributed to Germany, Poland, and Hungary, and told Chamberlain to take it or leave it. Chamberlain was shaken by this statement. Hitler went on to tell Chamberlain that since their last visit on the 15th, Czechoslovakia's actions, which Hitler claimed included killings of Germans, had made the situation unbearable for Germany. Later in the meeting a prearranged staged act was undertaken in order to influence and put pressure on Chamberlain: one of Hitler's aides entered the room to inform Hitler of more Germans being killed in Czechoslovakia, to which Hitler screamed in response "I will avenge every one of them. The Czechs must be destroyed." The meeting ended with Hitler refusing to make any concessions to the Allies' demands. Later that evening, Hitler grew worried that he had gone too far in pressuring Chamberlain, and telephoned Chamberlain's hotel suite, saying that he was would accept annexing only the Sudetenland, with no designs on other territories, provided that Czechoslovakia begin the evacuation of the German majority territories by 26 September at 8:00am. After being pressed by Chamberlain, Hitler agreed to have the ultimatum set for 1 October (the same date that Operation Green was set to begin). Hitler then said to Chamberlain that this was one concession that he was willing to make to the Prime Minister as a "gift" out of respect for the fact that Chamberlain had been willing to back down somewhat on his earlier position. Hitler went on to say that upon annexing the Sudetenland Germany would hold no further territorial claims upon Czechoslovakia and would enter into a collective agreement to guarantee the borders of Germany and Czechoslovakia.
A new cabinet, under General Jan Syrový, was installed and on September 23 a decree of general mobilization was issued. The Czechoslovak army, modern and possessing an excellent system of frontier fortifications, was prepared to fight. The Soviet Union announced its willingness to come to Czechoslovakia's assistance. Beneš, however, refused to go to war without the support of the Western powers.
In the early hours of 24 September, Hitler issued the Godesberg Memorandum, which demanded that Czecholslovakia cede the Sudetenland to Germany no later than 28 September, with plebiscites to be held in unspecified areas under the supervision of German and Czech forces. The memorandum also refused to rule out the possibility of war and stated that it the Czechs did not agree to the German demands by 2 pm on 28 September, Germany would take the Sudetenland by force. On the same day, Chamberlain returned to Britain and announced that Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland without delay. The announcement enraged those in Britain and France who wanted to confront Hitler once and for all, even if it meant war, and its supporters gained strength. The Czechoslovakian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jan Masaryk, was elated upon hearing of the support for Czechoslovakia from British and French opponents of Hitler's plans, and said "The nation of Saint Wenceslas will never be a nation of slaves".
On 26 September, Chamberlain sent Sir Horace Wilson to carry a personal letter to Hitler declaring that the Allies wanted a peaceful resolution to the Sudeten crisis. Later that evening, Hitler gave his reply in a speech to the Sportpalast in Berlin, in which Hitler gave Czechoslovakia a deadline of 28 September at 2:00pm to cede the Sudetenland to Germany or face war.
On 28 September at 10:00am, four hours prior to Hitler's deadline and with no agreement to Hitler's demand by Czechoslovakia, the British ambassador to Italy, Lord Perth, called Italy's Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano to request an urgent meeting. Perth informed Ciano that Chamberlain had instructed him to request that Mussolini enter the negotiations and urge Hitler to delay the ultimatum. At 11:00am, Ciano met Mussolini and informed him of Chamberlain's proposition; Mussolini agreed with it and responded by telephoning Italy's ambassador to Germany and told him "Go to the Fuhrer at once, and tell him that whatever happens, I will be at his side, but that I request a twenty-four hour delay before hostilities begin. In the meantime, I will study what can be done to solve the problem." Hitler received Mussolini's message while in discussions with the French ambassador. Hitler told the ambassador "My good friend, Benito Mussolini, has asked me to delay for twenty-four hours the marching orders of the German army, and I agreed." Upon speaking with Chamberlain, Lord Perth gave Chamberlain's thanks to Mussolini as well as Chamberlain's request that Mussolini attend 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 2:00pm. Mussolini agreed. Hitler's only request was to make sure that Mussolini be involved in the negotiations at the conference.
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A deal was reached on September 29, and at about 1:30am on September 30, 1938, Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Édouard Daladier signed the Munich Agreement. The agreement was officially introduced by Mussolini although in fact the so-called Italian plan had been prepared in the German Foreign Office. It was nearly identical to the Godesberg proposal: the German army was to complete the occupation of the Sudetenland by October 10, and an international commission would decide the future of other disputed areas.
Czechoslovakia was informed by Britain and France that it could either resist Nazi Germany alone or submit to the prescribed annexations. The Czechoslovak government, realizing the hopelessness of fighting the Nazis alone, reluctantly capitulated (September 30) and agreed to abide by the agreement. The settlement gave Germany the Sudetenland starting October 10, and de facto control over the rest of Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler promised to go no further. On September 30 after some rest, Chamberlain went to Hitler and asked him to sign a peace treaty between the United Kingdom and Germany. After Hitler's interpreter translated it for him, he happily agreed.
On September 30, upon his return to Britain, Chamberlain delivered his famous "peace for our time" speech to crowds in London.
Though the British and French were pleased, as were the Nazi military and German diplomatic leadership, Hitler was furious. He felt as though he had been forced into acting like a bourgeois politician by his diplomats and generals. He exclaimed furiously soon after the meeting with Chamberlain: "Gentlemen, this has been my first international conference and I can assure you that it will be my last". Hitler now regarded Chamberlain with utter contempt. A British diplomat in Berlin was informed by reliable sources that Hitler viewed Chamberlain as "an impertinent busybody who spoke the ridiculous jargon of an outmoded democracy. The umbrella, which to the ordinary German was the symbol of peace, was in Hitler's view only a subject of derision". Also, Hitler had been heard saying: "If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers." In one of his public speeches after Munich, Hitler declared: "Thank God we have no umbrella politicians in this country".
Joseph Stalin was also upset by the results of the Munich conference. The Soviets, who had a mutual military assistance treaty with Czechoslovakia, felt betrayed by France, who also had a mutual military assistance treaty with Czechoslovakia. The British and French, however, mostly used the Soviets as a threat to dangle over the Germans. Stalin concluded that the West had actively colluded with Hitler to hand over a Central European country to the Nazis, causing concern that they might do the same to the Soviet Union in the future, allowing the partition of the USSR between the western powers and the fascist Axis. This belief led the Soviet Union to reorient its foreign policy towards a rapprochement with Germany, which eventually led to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939.
The Czechoslovaks were greatly dismayed with the Munich settlement. With Sudetenland gone to Germany, Czecho-Slovakia (as the state was now renamed) lost its defensible border with Germany and its fortifications. Without them its independence became more nominal than real. In fact, Edvard Beneš, the President of Czechoslovakia, had the military print the march orders for his army and put the press on standby for a declaration of war. Czechoslovakia also lost 70% of its iron/steel, 70% of its electrical power, 3.5 million citizens to Germany as a result of the settlement.
The Sudeten Germans celebrated what they saw as their liberation. The imminent war, it seemed, had been avoided.
In Germany, the decision preempted a potential revolt by senior Army officers against Hitler. Hitler's determination to go through with his plan for the invasion of all Czechoslovakia in 1938 had provoked a major crisis in the German command structure. The Chief of the General Staff, General Ludwig Beck, protested in a lengthy series of memos that it would start a world war that Germany would lose, and urged Hitler to put off the projected war. Hitler called Beck's arguments against war "kindische Kräfteberechnungen" ("childish force calculations"). On August 4, 1938, a secret Army meeting was held. Beck read his lengthy report to the assembled officers. They all agreed something had to be done to prevent certain disaster. Beck hoped they would all resign together but no one resigned except Beck. However his replacement, General Franz Halder, sympathised with Beck and they both conspired with several top generals, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (Chief of German Intelligence), and Graf von Helldorf (Berlin's Police Chief) to arrest Hitler the moment he gave the invasion order. However, the plan would only work if both Britain and France made it known to the world that they would fight to preserve Czechoslovakia. This would help to convince the German people that certain defeat awaited Germany. Agents were therefore sent to England to tell Chamberlain that an attack on Czechoslovakia was planned and their intentions to overthrow Hitler if this occurred. However, the messengers were not taken seriously by the British. In September, Chamberlain and Daladier decided not to threaten a war over Czechoslovakia and so the planned removal of Hitler could not be justified. The Munich Agreement therefore preserved Hitler in power.
Opinions about the agreement 
The population had expected imminent war and the "statesman-like gesture" of Chamberlain was at first greeted with acclaim. This generally positive reaction, however, quickly soured. Despite royal patronage, Chamberlain was greeted as a hero by the royal family and invited on the balcony at Buckingham Palace before he had presented the agreement to Parliament. But there was opposition from the start; Clement Attlee and the Labour Party opposed the agreement, in alliance with two Conservative MPs, Duff Cooper and Vyvyan Adams who had been seen, up to then as a die hard and reactionary element in the Conservative Party.
In later years, Chamberlain was excoriated for his role as one of the Men of Munich, perhaps most famously in the 1940 book Guilty Men. A rare wartime defence of the Munich Agreement came in 1944 from Viscount Maugham, who had been Lord Chancellor at the time. Maugham viewed the decision to establish a Czechoslovak state including substantial German and Hungarian minorities as a "dangerous experiment" in the light of previous disputes and ascribed the Munich Agreement largely to France's need to extricate itself from its treaty obligations in the light of its unpreparedness for war.
Édouard Daladier believed he saw Hitler's ultimate goals as a threat. He told the British in a late April 1938 meeting that Hitler's real aim was to eventually secure "a domination of the Continent in comparison with which the ambitions of Napoleon were feeble." He went on to say, "Today it is the turn of Czechoslovakia. Tomorrow it will be the turn of Poland and Romania. When Germany has obtained the oil and wheat it needs, she will turn on the West. Certainly we must multiply our efforts to avoid war. But that will not be obtained unless Great Britain and France stick together, intervening in Prague for new concessions but declaring at the same time that they will safeguard the independence of Czechoslovakia. If, on the contrary, the Western Powers capitulate again they will only precipitate the war they wish to avoid.". Perhaps discouraged by the arguments of the military and civilian members of the French government regarding their unprepared military and weak financial situation, as well as traumatised by France's bloodbath in the First World War that he was personally a witness to, Daladier ultimately let Chamberlain have his way. On his return to Paris, Daladier, who was expecting a hostile crowd, was acclaimed. He then told his aide, Alexis Léger: "Ah, les cons!" ("Ah, the fools!").
In 1960, William Shirer in his classic - The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - took the view that although Hitler was not bluffing about his intention to invade, Czechoslovakia would have been able to offer significant resistance. He believed that Britain and France had sufficient air defences to avoid serious bombing of London and Paris and would have been able to pursue a rapid and successful war against Germany. He quotes Churchill as saying the Munich agreement meant that "Britain and France were in a much worse position compared to Hitler's Germany".
Consequences of the Munich agreement 
On October 5, Beneš resigned as President of Czechoslovakia, realising that the fall of Czechoslovakia was fait accompli. Following the outbreak of World War II, he formed a Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London.
The first Vienna Award 
In early November 1938, under the first Vienna Award, which was a result of the Munich agreement, Czechoslovakia (and later Slovakia) — after it had failed to reach a compromise with Hungary and Poland — was forced by Germany and Italy to cede southern Slovakia (one third of Slovak territory) to Hungary, while Poland gained small territorial cessions shortly after.
As a result, Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia lost about 38% of their combined area to Germany, with some 3.2 million German and 750,000 Czech inhabitants. Hungary, in turn, received 11,882 km2 (4,588 sq mi) in southern Slovakia and southern Ruthenia; according to a 1941 census, about 86.5% of the population in this territory was Hungarian. Meanwhile Poland annexed the town of Český Těšín with the surrounding area (some 906 km2 (350 sq mi), some 250,000 inhabitants, Poles made about 36% of population) and two minor border areas in northern Slovakia, more precisely in the regions Spiš and Orava. (226 km2 (87 sq mi), 4,280 inhabitants, only 0.3% Poles).
Soon after Munich, 115,000 Czechs and 30,000 Germans fled to the remaining rump of Czechoslovakia. According to the Institute for Refugee Assistance, the actual count of refugees on March 1, 1939 stood at almost 150,000.
On 4 December 1938, there were elections in Reichsgau Sudetenland, in which 97.32% of the adult population voted for NSDAP. About a half million Sudeten Germans joined the Nazi Party which was 17.34% of the German population in Sudetenland (the average NSDAP participation in Nazi Germany was 7.85%). This means the Sudetenland was the most "pro-Nazi" region in the Third Reich.
Because of their knowledge of the Czech language, many Sudeten Germans were employed in the administration of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia as well as in Nazi organizations (Gestapo, etc.). The most notable was Karl Hermann Frank: the SS and Police general and Secretary of State in the Protectorate.
Invasion of the remainder of Czechoslovakia 
Germany stated that the incorporation of Austria into the Reich resulted in borders with Czechoslovakia that were a great danger to German security, and that this allowed Germany to be encircled by the Western Powers.
On 14 March Slovakia seceded from Czechoslovakia and became a separate pro-Nazi state. On the following day, Carpathian Ruthenia proclaimed independence as well, but after three days was completely occupied by Hungary. Czechoslovak president Emil Hácha traveled to Berlin, was letf waiting, while orders to invade were already given and after meeting with Adolf Hitler he fainted and later was forced to sign his acceptance of the German occupation of the remainder of Bohemia and Moravia. Churchill's prediction was fulfilled as German armies entered Prague and proceeded to occupy the rest of the country, which was transformed into a protectorate of the Reich.
By seizing Bohemia and Moravia the Third Reich gained all the skilled labour force and heavy industry placed there as well as all the weapons of Czechoslovakian army. By the Hitlers attack on France, roughly 25% of all german weapons came from protectorate Böhmen und Möhren. Third Reich also gained whole Czechoslovakian gold treasure, including gold stored in the Bank of England. Of total 227 tons of gold found after war in saltmines, was after war returned only 18,4tons to Czechoslovakia in 1982. Most of this gold came from Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was also forced to "sell" to wehrmacht war material for 648 milion of pre-war Czechoslovak crowns. This debt was never repaid.
Germans even took precaution by sending their troops over borders as early as March 14th afternoon, causing incident between 13th (Silesian) Czechoslovakia batalion and 8th infantry division of Nazi army in Místek. After while Germans decided to pull out as the escalation could endanger "peaceful" takeover.
Meanwhile concerns arose in Great Britain that Poland (now substantially encircled by German possessions) would become the next target of Nazi expansionism, which was made apparent by the dispute over the Polish Corridor and the Free City of Danzig. This resulted in the signing of an Anglo-Polish military alliance, and consequent refusal of the Polish government to German negotiation proposals over the Polish Corridor and the status of Danzig.
Prime Minister Chamberlain felt betrayed by the Nazi seizure of Czechoslovakia, realizing his policy of appeasement towards Hitler had failed, and began to take a much harder line against the Nazis. Amongst other things he immediately began to mobilize the British Empire's armed forces on a war footing. France did the same. Italy saw itself threatened by the British and French fleets and started its own invasion of Albania in April 1939. Although no immediate action followed, Hitler's invasion of Poland on September 1 officially began World War II.
Non-negligible industrial potential and military equipment of the former Czechoslovakia had been efficiently absorbed into the Third Reich.
Quotations from key participants 
- Neville Chamberlain, wrote King George VI before the first meeting with Hitler in September, 1938:
Imperial England and Nazi Germany are "the two pillars of European peace and buttresses against communism."
- Neville Chamberlain, announcing the deal at Heston Aerodrome:
...the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ' ... We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.'
Later that day he stood outside 10 Downing Street and again read from the document and concluded:
- Chamberlain in a letter to his sister Hilda, on 2 October 1938:
"I asked Hitler about one in the morning while we were waiting for the draftsmen whether he would care to see me for another talk….I had a very friendly and pleasant talk, on Spain, (where he too said he had never had any territorial ambitions) economic relations with S.E. Europe, and disarmament. I did not mention colonies, nor did he. At the end I pulled out the declaration which I had prepared beforehand and asked if he would sign it. As the interpreter translated the words into German, Hitler said Yes, I will certainly sign it. When shall we do it? I said "now", and we went at once to the writing table and put our signatures to the two copies which I had brought with me."
- Winston Churchill, denouncing the Agreement in the House of Commons:
"We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat... you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude...we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road...we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting". And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."
Legal nullification 
During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Churchill, who opposed the agreement when it was signed, became determined that the terms of the agreement would not be upheld after the war and that the Sudeten territories should be returned to postwar Czechoslovakia. On August 5, 1942, Foreign Minister Anthony Eden sent the following note to Jan Masaryk:
"In the light of recent exchanges of view between our Governments, I think it may be useful for me to make the following statement about the attitude of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom as regards Czecho-Slovakia.
"In my letter of the 18th July, 1941, I informed your Excellency that the King had decided to accredit an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Dr. Beneš as President of the Czecho-Slovak Republic. I explained that this decision implied that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom regarded the juridical position of the President and Government of the Czecho-Slovak Republic as identical with that of the other Allied heads of States and Governments established in this country. The status of His Majesty's representative has recently been raised to that of an Ambassador.
"The Prime Minister had already stated in a message broadcast to the Czecho-Slovak people on the 30th September, 1940, the attitude of His Majesty's Government in regard to the arrangements reached at Munich in 1938. Mr. Churchill then said that the Munich Agreement had been destroyed by the Germans. This statement was formally communicated to Dr. Beneš on the 11th November, 1940."The foregoing statement and formal act of recognition have guided the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to Czecho-Slovakia, but in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding, I desire to declare on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that as Germany has deliberately destroyed the arrangements concerning Czecho-Slovakia reached in 1938, in which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom participated, His Majesty's Government regard themselves as free from any engagements in this respect. At the final settlement of the Czecho-Slovak frontiers to be reached at the end of the war they will not be influenced by any changes effected in and since 1938".
To which Masaryk replied as follows:
"I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 5th August, 1942, and I avail myself of this opportunity to convey to your Excellency, on behalf of the Czecho-Slovak Government and of myself, as well as in the name of the whole Czecho-Slovak people who are at present suffering so terribly under the Nazi yoke, the expression of our warmest thanks.
"Your Excellency's note emphasises the fact that the formal act of recognition has guided the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to Czecho-Slovakia, but, in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding, His Majesty's Government now desire to declare that, as Germany has deliberately destroyed the arrangements concerning Czecho-Slovakia reached in 1938, in which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom participated, His Majesty's Government regard themselves as free from any engagements in this respect. At the final settlement of the Czecho-Slovak frontiers to be reached at the end of the war, they will not be influenced by any changes effected in and since 1938."My Government accept your Excellency's note as a practical solution of the questions and difficulties of vital importance for Czecho-Slovakia which emerged between our two countries as the consequence of the Munich Agreement, maintaining, of course, our political and juridical position with regard to the Munich Agreement and the events which followed it as expressed in the note of the Czecho-Slovak Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the 16th December, 1941. We consider your important note of the 5th August, 1942, as a highly significant act of justice towards Czecho-Slovakia, and we assure you of our real satisfaction and of our profound gratitude to your great country and nation. Between our two countries the Munich Agreement can now be considered as dead".
Following Allied victory and the surrender of the Third Reich in 1945, the Sudetenland was returned to Czechoslovakia, while the German speaking majority was expelled.
During the Cold War, Chamberlain's agreement at Munich again resurfaced, with prominent anti-communists arguing that the United States could not duplicate his perceived mistakes by "appeasing" the Soviet Union.
See also 
- Appeasement of Hitler
- Neville Chamberlain's European Policy
- German occupation of Czechoslovakia
- Lesson of Munich
- Treaty of Prague (1973)
- Western betrayal
- Sudetenland Medal
- Eleanor L. Turk. The History of Germany. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 1999. ISBN 9780313302749. Pp. 123.
- Noakes, J. & Pridham, G. 2010, p. 100-1.
- Noakes, J. & Pridham, G. 2010, p. 102.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Munich Agreement|
- The Munich Agreement - Text of the Munich Agreement on-line
- The Munich Agreement in contemporary radio news broadcasts - Actual radio news broadcasts documenting evolution of the crisis
- The Munich Agreement Original reports from The Times
- British Pathe newsreel (includes Chamberlain's speech at Heston aerodrome) (Adobe Flash)
- Peace: And the Crisis Begins from a broadcast by Dorothy Thompson, October 1, 1938
- Post-blogging the Sudeten Crisis - A day by day summary of the crisis
- Text of the 1942 exchange of notes nullifying the Munich agreement
- Photocopy of The Munich Agreement from Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts in Berlin (text in German) and from The National Archives in London (map).
- Map of Europe during Munich Agreement at omniatlas