Munich, 1938 And The Unnecessary War
When President Bush, before the
used the word "appeasement" to
label those who would negotiate with Iran`s Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, he invoked the most powerful analogy in
any debate over war and peace.
No man wishes to be regarded as an
But, as this writer has discovered
since my book Churchill, Hitler and The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World
launched Memorial Day, there is a deep well of
what happened that September, 70 years ago.
Why did Neville Chamberlain go to
Munich? How did Munich lead to World War II?
The seeds of the crisis were
planted at the Paris peace conference of 1919. There,
the victorious Allies carved the new nation of
Czechoslovakia out of the
But instead of following their
principle of self-determination, the Allies placed under
the rule of 7 million Czechs 3 million Germans, 3
million Slovaks, 800,000 Hungarians, 150,000 Poles and
500,000 Ruthenians. These foolish decisions spat upon
Woodrow Wilson`s 14 Points, under the terms of which
the Germans, Austrians and Hungarians had laid down
By 1938, Germany had arisen,
re-armed and brought
Austria into the Reich, and was demanding the right
of self-determination now be granted to the 3 million
Germans in Czechoslovakia, who were clamoring to be free
of Prague to rejoin their kinsmen.
Britain had no alliance with, and
no obligation to fight for, the Czechs. But France did.
And Britain feared that if Adolf Hitler used force to
bring the Sudeten Germans back to German rule, France
might fight. And if France declared war, Britain would
be drawn in, and a second bloodbath would ensue as it
had in 1914.
Chamberlain went to Munich because
he did not believe that keeping 3 million Germans inside
a nation to which they had been consigned against their
will was worth a world war.
Moreover, Britain was unprepared
for war. She had no draft, no
Spitfires, no divisions ready to be sent to France.
Why should the British Empire commit suicide by
declaring war on Germany, to support a Paris peace
agreement that he, Chamberlain, believed had been
unjustly and dishonorably imposed on a defeated Germany?
Chamberlain believed not—and, after
three trips to Germany that September, he effected the
transfer of the Sudeten Germans to Berlin`s rule, where
they wished to be. He came home in triumph to be hailed
as the greatest peacemaker of all time.
Why, then, are "Munich" and
"appeasement" terms of obloquy?
The answer lies in what happened
Chamberlain returned from Munich to
a rapturous reception, waving a paper he and Hitler had
signed, and declared: "For the second time in our history,
a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany
bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our
This was palpable nonsense. Hitler
had already turned to the next item on his menu, Danzig,
a city of 350,000 Germans, detached from the Reich at
Versailles and made a Free City to give the new Poland
an outlet to the sea. Hitler did not want war with
Poland. Indeed, he wanted the kind of alliance with
Poland he had with Italy. But, first, Danzig must be
Here, too, the British Government
agreed: Danzig should be returned. For of all the
amputations of German lands and peoples at Versailles,
European statesmen, even Winston Churchill, regarded
Danzig and the
Polish Corridor that sliced Germany in two as the
most outrageous. The problem was the Poles, who refused
to discuss Danzig.
Then, in March, Czechoslovakia
suddenly began to fall apart. The Sudetenland had been
annexed by Germany. Hungary had taken back its lost
lands, and Poland had annexed the disputed region of
Teschen. Slovakia and Ruthenia now moved to declare
independence, and Prague began to march on the
Hitler intervened to guarantee the
independence of Slovakia and gave Hungary a green light
to re-annex Ruthenia. Czech President Hacha then asked
to see Hitler, who bullied him for three hours into
signing away Czech sovereignty and making his nation the
German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
Chamberlain, now humiliated, mocked
by Tory back-benchers, panicking over wild false rumors
of German attacks on Romania and Poland, made the
greatest blunder in British history. Unasked, he issued
a war guarantee to Poland, empowering a Polish
dictatorship of colonels that had joined Hitler in
dismembering Czechoslovakia to drag the British Empire
into war with Germany over a city, Danzig, the British
thought should be returned to Germany.
It was not Munich. It was the war
guarantee that guaranteed the war that brought down the
Empire, and gave us the Holocaust, 50 million dead and
the Stalinization of half of Europe.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to VDARE.COM readers;
his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its
Empire and the West Lost the World,
Paul Craig Roberts.