Events leading to the Munich settlement

Timeline showing the key events of the Sudetenland

12-13 September 1938 - Hitler threatens war

  • Hitler encouraged Konrad Henlein, leader of the Sudeten Nazis, to rebel, and demanded a union with Germany
  • when the Czech government declared martial law, Hitler threatened war

15 September 1938 - Chamberlain's first meeting with Hitler

  • Neville Chamberlain met Hitler at his summer retreat on the Austrian border, Berchtesgaden
  • with German invasion of Czechoslovakia looking imminent and a future European war a very real possibility, Chamberlain agreed in principle that Hitler could claim the Sudetenland without reprisal from Britain
  • on his return to Britain, Chamberlain managed to persuade his Cabinet and the French (who were allies of the Czechoslovakians) to accept the deal

22-23 September 1938 - Chamberlain's second meeting with Hitler

  • Chamberlain met Hitler again at Godesberg
  • with the reluctant agreement of the Czechoslovakian government, Chamberlain offered Hitler control of the Sudetenland
  • Hitler now demanded that the Czechoslovakian army leave the Sudetenland by 1 October. This was a demand designed to provoke the Czechs and provide an excuse for invasion of the whole country
  • an angry Chamberlain returned to Britain and the country prepared for war. Trenches and air raid shelters were made available in many of Britain’s cities. Gas masks were issued and plans for the evacuation of children to the countryside put into place.

25 September 1938 - preparing for military action

  • the Royal Navy was ordered to sea
  • the French armed forces were mobilised

28 September 1938 - Mussolini intervention

  • Mussolini intervened and offered to organise a conference. He was not prepared for another war at that moment
  • neither was Britain or France, who agreed to meet with Hitler
  • Hitler had been faced with a lack of enthusiasm for military action from both the German people and his Generals. He realised he could accomplish his demands without resorting to war

29 and 30 of September 1938 - The Munich settlement

  • representatives of France, Britain, Italy and Germany met at Munich to discuss the Sudetenland problem. Neither the Czechs, nor their allies the USSR, were consulted
  • Hitler traded the promise of peace in Europe for the Sudetenland
  • The Czechs had to either accept or face the might of the German army alone. They accepted