On the 29th September 1938, Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Édouard Daladier reached an agreement on the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland areas of Czechoslovakia. Seen by many as the ultimate act of failed appeasement, the Munich Agreement that was tabled on the 29th and signed in the early hours of the 30th was broken by Hitler six months later when he annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia.
As a result of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the First World War, Germany had lost territory to the newly-created state of Czechoslovakia. Following his rise to power in Germany, Hitler set about reuniting with ethnic Germans. After the Czechoslovakian government turned down the Sudetenland’s branch of the Nazi Party request for autonomy from the rest of Czechoslovakia, which had been encouraged by Hitler, tensions between the two countries rose.
By the autumn of 1938 the situation had become a crisis, and Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had begun to engage Hitler in discussions aimed to avoid war. Britain and France were both desperate to reach a peaceful resolution and, when faced with Hitler’s demand to annex the Sudetenland but make no further territorial demands in Europe, the leaders eventually agreed.
Czechoslovakia had no option but to agree to the terms of the agreement, despite not being involved in the discussions. Meanwhile Chamberlain returned to Britain and made his famous speech in which he referred to the Munich Agreement and the related Anglo-German Declaration as securing “peace for our time”. Sadly he was wrong. Britain declared war on Germany less than a year later.