November 9, 1938 – Neville Chamberlain And The Munich Crisis – Staving Off The Inevitable
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Lest we all forget events in history leading up to other events in history, the Munich Crisis of 1938 served as the Preview Of Coming Attractions in what would eventually become World War 2. In what became a word associated with weakness in Foreign Policy, Appeasement had averted, at least for a time, an armed confrontation with the Axis powers, namely Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan.
The crisis in question was over a disputed area of land in Czechoslovakia which Germany claimed was theirs. The Sudetenland, an area bordering Germany and what is now the Czech Republic, was the flash point for a crisis which quickly escalated in 1938.
Rather than go to war over the disputed area, Britain negotiated a settlement which allowed Germany to control the Sudeten region, and pretty much consign Czechoslovakia to German occupation.
The Munich Agreement was soon followed by the First Vienna Award on 2 November 1938, separating largely Hungarian inhabited territories in southern Slovakia and southern Subcarpathian Rus’ from Czechoslovakia while Poland also annexed territories from Czechoslovakia in the North. In March 1939, the First Slovak Republic was proclaimed, and shortly by the creation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Germany took full control of the remaining Czech parts. As a result, Czechoslovakia had disappeared.
On the occasion of his return from Munich and the signing of the peace agreement on September 30, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain addressed a reception at the Lord Mayor of London‘s banquet and explained the peace treaty and recapped the events surrounding it.
The collective sigh of relief was cautious and halting. And many rightly feared it was only the harbinger of things to come.
Here is that address, as relayed by the Mutual Broadcasting System from the BBC via shortwave on November 9, 1938.