Results of the Munich settlement

Reaction to the Munich settlement was mixed. While many were relieved that war had been avoided, others saw it as a betrayal of democratic state.

Was the Munich settlement a failure for Chamberlain?

  • a number of British politicians criticised the agreement, including Winston Churchill and the Labour Leader Clement Attlee . However, only one Government Minister, Alfred Duff Cooper actually resigned
  • Munich was seen as a humiliating surrender to Hitler’s threats. Chamberlain was seen as weak as he had flown to meet Hitler in Germany three times
  • Hitler’s aggressive behaviour had not been stopped
    • he had been able to rearm Germany
    • he had remilitarised the Rhineland
    • he had completed the Anschluss
    • now Munich was another occasion in which his tactics had not been challenged
  • Britain had failed to defend a country which had come into existence at Versailles. Munich was a betrayal of Czechoslovakia
  • loss of the Sudetenland left Czechoslovakia defenceless against any further German aggression
  • increased Soviet suspicion of the British and French. The USSR was convinced that Hitler was being encouraged to head east

Was the Munich settlement a success for Chamberlain?

  • public opinion was supportive of Chamberlain in September 1938. Critics of Munich were in a minority in October 1938. Churchill was in the political wilderness and only one Government Minister resigned over the issue
  • Hitler resented the fact that a war had been avoided. He said That fellow (Chamberlain) has spoiled my entry into Prague. Some historian think the Hossbach Memorandum suggested that Hitler wanted a war as soon as possible
  • Czech defences in the Sudetenland had been outflanked by theAnschlussearlier that year. Furthermore, neither Britain nor France believed they could provide military assistance to Czechoslovakia
  • large sections of the British population were against another war due to the losses of the Great War. This left Chamberlain with few options
  • the British Empire was threatened by the Japanese, Italians and Germans. Australia, Canada and South Africa had all indicated their reluctance to go to war. Only New Zealand had promised their support
  • Britain’s military was not ready for another war. Munich bought time to build up its armed forces. It was used to build the Spitfires, Hurricanes and Rader Stations which helped win the Battle of Britain in 1940.
  • there was no real alternatives to the policy of appeasement.
    • collective security and the League of Nations were seen to have failed over Manchuria and Abyssinia
    • Britain lacked reliable allies - the USA was in isolation; the British government were suspicious of the USSR; France was politically unstable due to tensions between left and right
  • Poland and Hungary had taken parts of Czechoslovakia. They were unwilling to assist Britain and France. Poland refused to allow Soviet troops to cross its territory
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