On 29 and 30 September 1938, an emergency meeting of the major European powers was held in Munich – without Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union, allied with France and Czechoslovakia. An agreement was quickly reached on Hitler`s terms. It was signed by the leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy. On the military front, the Sudetenland was of strategic importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defences were there to protect themselves from a German attack. The agreement between the four powers was signed with low intensity in the context of an undeclared German-Czechoslovak war, which had begun on 17 September 1938. Meanwhile, after 23 September 1938, Poland transferred its military units to the common border with Czechoslovakia.  Czechoslovakia bowed to diplomatic pressure from France and Great Britain and decided on 30 September to cede Germany to Munich conditions. Fearing a possible loss of Zaolzie to Germany, Poland issued an ultimatum to Zaolzie, with a majority of Polish ethnic groups, which Germany had accepted in advance and accepted Czechoslovakia on 1 October.  This Sunday marks the 80th anniversary of the infamous Munich Convention – the agreement between Hitler, Mussolini and the two Western European powers that cut the German-speaking border of Czechoslovakia, including an important part of their industry and the alliance of fortresses, making the young Republic defenseless for any future German invasion. Munich is often seen by Western powers as a betrayal of the Czechoslovakian state and the French were ashamed to break their alliance. But why did the great powers act as they did? What were the underlying causes? And are the great „what ifs“ alternatives, such as the Easter conspiracy or the Soviet intervention, credible? Tom McEnchroe spoke with one of the leading experts on the origins of the Second World War to find out. On 29 September, Britain and France agreed on Hitler at a conference in Munich. Neville Chamberlain (Britain) and Edward Daladier (France) accepted most of Hitler`s demands and left Czechoslovakia to accept or fight Germany alone.
Czechoslovakia yielded to Hitler`s demands. Six months later (March 1939), Hitler broke all his promises and took over the rest of Czechoslovakia. The American historian William L. Shirer estimated in his „Rise and Fall of the Third Reich“ (1960) that Czechoslovakia, although Hitler was not bluffing about its intention to invade, could have resisted considerably. Shirer believed that Britain and France had sufficient air defence to avoid severe bombing of London and Paris, and could have waged a swift and fruitful war against Germany.  He quotes Churchill as saying that the agreement means that „Britain and France are in a much worse position than Hitler`s Germany.“  After personally inspecting the Czech fortifications, Hitler privately told Joseph Goebbels that „we shed a lot of blood“ and that it was fortunate that there had been no fighting.  Czechoslovakia was informed by Great Britain and France that it could either oppose Nazi Germany alone or submit to the prescribed annexations. The Czechoslovakian government single-purposely acknowledged the desperation of the fight against the Nazis, reluctantly capitulated (30 September) and agreed to abide by the agreement. The colony gave Germany, from 10 October, the Sudetenland and de facto control of the rest of Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler promised not to go any further.
On 30 September, after some time off, Chamberlain went to Hitler`s house and asked him to sign a peace treaty between the United Kingdom and Germany. After Hitler`s interpreter translated it for him, he was glad to have accepted it. The New York Times made the front page of the Munich agreement: „Hitler receives less than his claims from the Sudetenland,“ and reports that a „joyful crowd“ had applauded Daladier on his return to France and that Chamberlain had been „wildly applauded“ upon his return to the UK.  Neville Chamberlain, the British prize