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Impact of Chamberlain’s Munich Agreement on World War Two

1452 words (6 pages) Essay in History

18/05/20 History Reference this

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To what extent did Neville Chamberlain’s miscalculation of Hitler contribute to the cause of World War Two?

On September the 30th, 1938, British and French Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier signed a Munich pact with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The Munich agreement was an international agreement between Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy, emboldening Hitler’s Germany. The agreement was purely designed to avoid war between the powers of Europe by allowing Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, to annex the Sudetenland, attempting to satisfy Nazi Germany before it would go to a conflict. However, March 1939, considering the original motive, to a moderateextent, the appeasement averted the outbreak of World War Two. The appeasement became a symbol of failed diplomacy when the German Army seized the rest of Czechoslovakia, leaving them unable to defend themselves and in return, giving Hitler’s expansionism an air of legitimacy, and convincing the dictator that Paris and London were weak.

Hitler had threatened to unleash a European war unless the Sudetenland, a border area of Czechoslovakia containing an ethnic German majority, was surrendered to Germany.[1] Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Daladier, unprepared for the outbreak of hostilities, travelled to Munich, where they gave in to Hitler’s demands on September the 30th. When Chamberlain returned from their meeting, he claimed he had secured ‘peace for our time.’[2] However, it is said that the Munich agreement gave Hitler everything he wanted, giving him control over the regions where the Sudeten Germans were. In May 1938, it became known that Hitler and his generals were drawing up a plan for the occupation of Czechoslovakia.[3] The agreement averted the outbreak of war, giving Czechoslovakia away to German conquest.

On the 15th of March 1938, negotiations between Germany and Poland broke down when Germany broke its promise and invaded Czechoslovakia.[4] On this day, Czechoslovakia handed over to the Nazi war machine 66% of its coal, 70% of its iron and steel, and 70% of its electrical power, leaving them vulnerable to complete German domination.[5] Hitler threatened a bombing raid against Prague, the Czech capital, unless he obtained from Hacha free passage for German troops into Czech borders. From here, German troops poured into Bohemia and Moravia, offering no resistance, meaning they were quickly made a protectorate of Germany.[6] Later that day, Hitler made a triumphant entry into Prague where he proclaimed his bloodless victory at Prague Castle, and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist for the next 6 years.[7] Due to this, the appeasement gave Germany access to crucial natural resources, allowing troops into a formerly demilitarized zone, depriving the Allies of an important defensive position and encouraging German territorial expansion. Due to these huge consequences upon Poland, Britain and France as well as Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, the appeasement was actually a mere negotiating ploy by Hitler, only temporarily delaying his future plans, and therefore causing World War Two to a moderate extent.

Provided the appeasement caused World War Two to a moderate extent, many other factors contributed in this cause, including, the Treaty Of Versailles, the Great Depression, the rise of the Nazi’s, the failure of the League Of Nations and Japan’s militarism. The Treaty of Versailles was a peace treaty signed by Germany and the Allies in 1919, aiming to punish Germany and meet the goals of the various Allied Powers. However, less than 20 years later, the treaty resulted in harsh treatment upon Germany with them being forced to admit all guilt for the war as well as pay a large amount of money in reparations to the Allies. The Great Depression was a huge contributing factor to the outbreak of World War Two, shrinking economies as well as increasing unemployment. This led to the growing protectionism and depressed international and preferential trade among countries. From here, Germany began looking for a strong political leader to resolve the large problems of the depression. This then led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Germany’s Militarism.

The failure of the League of Nations also led to disputes between countries. Not all countries joined the league which meant they had no army to prevent military aggression and therefore nothing to control invasions on countries at the time.[8] One thing led to another and after Japan was hit hugely by the Great Depression and ignored the League of Nations, they invaded Manchuria. They turned to the army to find a solution to their problems which meant they began invading many countries in Asia including United States Asian Territories. Japan felt that its expansion could be threatened by the United States military and attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941.[9] Each of these factors played a contributing role to the rise of the Second World War.

The destruction of World War One was so traumatic that it was called ‘the war to end all wars.’ However, the agreement to end World War One did not resolve the problems of the world and lead directly to the next catastrophe of World War Two. The Second World War was the most destructive conflict in history, which as recorded above, was initiated due to many international disputes. After weighing up both the miscalculation of Neville Chamberlain’s against other causes of World War Two, it is clear that the appeasement contributed to the cause of World War Two to a moderate extent.

Word count: 887

Bibliography:

Books:

  • Carrodus, G, Delany, T, McArtur, K & Smith, R 2012, Oxford Big Ideas Australian Curriculum History 10, Oxford, Melbourne.
  • Darby, G 2007, Hitler, Appeasement and the road to war, Second edition edn, N.a, UK.
  • Hill, D 2011, World War Two, N.a, Britain.

Websites:

  • Appeasement in WWII n.d., viewed 13 August 2019, <https://wwtwoappeasement.weebly.com/how-did-appeasement-impact-wwii.html>.
  • Fritz, J 2017, HITLER’S INVASION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA 15 March, 1939, viewed 13 August 2019, <http://extravaganzafreetour.com/hitlers-invasion-of-czechoslovakia-15-march-1939/>.
  • History 2010, Munich Pact signed, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/munich-pact-signed>.
  • HistoryExtra 2018, The Munich crisis: the battle over appeasement, viewed 10 August 2019, <https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/munich-crisis-battle-over-appeasement-neville-chamberlain-lord-halifax/>.
  • The National Archives n.d., The Munich crisis: the battle over appeasement, viewed 11 August 2019, <http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/chamberlain-and-hitler/>.
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum n.d., Timeline of Events, Washington, viewed 13 August 2019, <https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/munich-agreement>.​

[1]Timeline of Events 2019, n.d, Washington, viewed 11 August 2019, <https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1933-1938/munich-agreement>.

[2] Hill, D 2011, World War Two, N.a, Britain, pg.13

[3] Nelsson, R 2019, The Munich Agreement – archive, September 1938, viewed 12 August 2019, <https://www.theguardian.com/world/from-the-archive-blog/2018/sep/21/munich-chamberlain-hitler-appeasement-1938>.

[4] Nazis take Czechoslovakia 2019, n.d, viewed 13 August 2019, <https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nazis-take-czechoslovakia>.

[5] Nazis take Czechoslovakia 2019, n.d, viewed 13 August 2019, <https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nazis-take-czechoslovakia>.

[6] Nazis take Czechoslovakia 2019, n.d, viewed 13 August 2019, <https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nazis-take-czechoslovakia>.

[7] Fritz, J 2017, HITLER’S INVASION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA 15 March, 1939, viewed 14 August 2019, <http://extravaganzafreetour.com/hitlers-invasion-of-czechoslovakia-15-march-1939>.

[8] World War II: Causes (1919–1939) 2014, n.d, viewed 16 August 2019, <https://www.lcps.org/cms/lib/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/10599/Causes%20of%20WWII.pdf>.

[9] World War II: Causes (1919–1939) 2014, n.d, viewed 16 August 2019, <https://www.lcps.org/cms/lib/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/10599/Causes%20of%20WWII.pdf>.

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