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lunes, 16 de enero de 2012

Munich Pact

Munich Pact is considered one of the most ignominious chapters of the history of United Kingdom and France. Chamberlain's appeasement policy was a complete breakdown due to it only fed the Hitler´s expansion ambitions and, furthermore, Munich Pact also contributed to lead Europe on the Second World War.

The Munich Pact document is a juridical text because it contains a treaty signed by sovereign states in which they express an agreement under international law. The treaty is the outcome of the meeting hosted in Munich on 29 September 1938 among Germany, Italy, France and United Kingdom. The aim of this meeting was to reach an arrangement on the conflict that faced Germany against Czechoslovakia. The tension basically consisted in the differences between the Sudeten German Party and Prague. The origin of the conflict laid in (apart from Hitler's expansionist obsession) the complex ethnic composition of Czechoslovakia, this country was a manufactured state consisting of many minorities. In Sudetenland, a region bordering Germany and Austria, a significant minority of German population inhabited, so Hitler used self-determination to inflame internal discontent so that Nazi troops could intervene to restore order. In conclusion, the treaty allowed that Germany annexed Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland.

The agreement was finally signed by Adolf Hitler (Führer of Germany), Neville Chamberlain (Prime Minister of the United Kingdom), Benito Mussolini (Prime Minister of Italy) and Édouard Daladier (Prime Minister of France). The final agreement was thought to have been prepared by Mussolini, but actually the so-called Italian plan came from the German Foreign Office, it was quite similar to the Godesberg proposal. It should be noted that no representative of the Czechoslovak government attended the meeting. This text was obviously public due to it was used to obtain international legitimation for the annexation of the Sudetenland.

Specifically the document contains the following directives: Czechoslovak government would be responsible to carry out an evacuation of the Sudetenland before 10th October, “without any existing installations having been destroyed”. Furthermore, an international commission would be created and composed of representatives from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia. Subsequently, 1st October, German troops would occupy the marked territory –the international commission would ascertain the preponderantly German character territories- and, finally, these territories would be “occupied by German troops by the 10th of October”.

Besides of the above-mentioned points the international commission would take over to determine those territories in which a plebiscite would be held and the date of this plebiscite. Apart from that, the international commission would also carry out the delimitation of the frontiers. In conclusion, the Czechoslovak Government was forced to release from their military and police forces any Sudeten Germans who may wish to be released, and besides any Sudeten German prisoners who are serving terms of imprisonment for political offences.

The Czechoslovak government was doomed to accept the agreement due to a rejection would have led to a conflict against Nazis completely alone. Thereby Germany obtained the Sudetenland and de facto control over the rest of Czechoslovakia although Hitler promised to go no further. Poland and Hungary also gained much coveted Czechoslovak territory. During the following months Hitler maintained pushing to the Czechoslovak government to accept the Germany control over the whole country. Finally, March 15 Wehrmacht invaded the country, except Slovakia that was converted in a puppet state of Germany. The conquered area was integrated in the German protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia.

This invasion meant that the Munich Pact ended up being cancelled. After that, Great Britain finally chose to ensure the integrity of the Poland borders so the German attack to Poland on September 1 triggered the World War II.

The Neville Chamberlain´s appeasement policy, used by European democracies in the 1930s, was shown a tragic miscalculation. These policies of avoiding war with Germany allowed Hitler to grow too strong. Peace at any cost induced Hitler to demand gradually more terrains, while giving enough time to have ready his war machine. At the time, these concessions were widely seen as positive, the Munich Pact prompted Chamberlain to announce that he had secured "peace for our time" .

Nevertheless Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden criticized the agreement. Their arguments pointed out that no only had the British government acted shamefully, but it had collaborated to disband the Czech Army, one of the best in Europe, that would had been helped in the upcoming war. Winston Churchill wrote:

«The Soviet Union's undoubted willingness to join the Western Powers and go to all lengths to save Czechoslovakia was ignored. The services of thirty-five Czech divisions against the still unripened German army were cast away, when Britain could only supply two divisions to strengthen the front in France... There was sense in fighting for Czechoslovakia in 1938 when the German army could scarcely put together half a dozen trained divisions on the Western Front, when the French with nearly sixty or seventy divisions could have most certainly have rolled forward across the Rhine or into the Rhur.»

It´s noteworthy that the Non-Intervention Agreement signed in August 1936 was part of this appeasement policy. This agreement sought to avoid the foreign intervention in the Spanish Civil War, with the ultimate aim to avoid extending the conflict beyond the Spanish borders, involving whole Europe. The commitments were systematically missed, chiefly by Germany and Italy.
In conclusion, Munich Pact has been considered the quintessential symbol of the dangers posed by an international policy of compromise with totalitarian expansion.

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