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September 28, 1938 – Developments in the Munich Crisis – BBC Commentators to NBC – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The Munich Crisis of 1938 had major diplomatic as well as personal and psychological repercussions. As much as it was a climax in the clash between dictatorship and democracy, it was also a People’s Crisis and an event that gripped and worried the people around the world. The traditional approach has been to examine the crisis from the vantage points of high politics and diplomacy. Traditional approaches have failed to acknowledge the profound social, cultural and psychological impacts of diplomatic events, an imbalance that is redressed in this volume. Taking a range of national examples and using a variety of methods, The Munich Crisis, Politics and the People recreates the experience of living through the crisis in Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, Britain, Hungary, the Soviet Union and the USA.
Germany had started a low-intensity undeclared war on Czechoslovakia on 17 September 1938. In reaction, the United Kingdom and France on 20 September formally asked Czechoslovakia to cede its territory to Germany, which was followed by Polish territorial demands brought on 21 September and Hungarian on 22 September. Meanwhile, German forces conquered parts of Cheb District and Jeseník District and briefly overran, but were repelled from, dozens of other border counties. Poland also grouped its army units near its common border with Czechoslovakia and also instigated generally unsuccessful sabotage on 23 September. Hungary also moved its troops towards the border with Czechoslovakia, without attacking.
An emergency meeting of the main European powers – not including Czechoslovakia, although their representatives were present in the town, or the Soviet Union, an ally to both France and Czechoslovakia – took place in Munich, Germany, on 29–30 September 1938. An agreement was quickly reached on Hitler’s terms, being signed by the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, and Italy. The Czechoslovak mountainous borderland that the powers offered to appease Germany had not only marked the natural border between the Czech state and the Germanic states since the early Middle Ages, but it also presented a major natural obstacle to any possible German attack. Having been strengthened by significant border fortifications, the Sudetenland was of absolute strategic importance to Czechoslovakia.
Here is a running commentary and relay of the speech by Sir Neville Chamberlain as it was being delivered, since no live broadcasting from Parliament was allowed at the time, so portions of the speech were hand delivered as it was given. All on this day in September, 1938.
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