Chamberlain, Appeasement, and "Peace for our Time"
The Czech situation brought the most severe of the pre-war crises, for France and the Soviet Union were committed by treaty to protect the Czechs. At every Czech concession Hitler escalated his demands and threatened a solution by force. He was not bluffing. In May, he had issued secret orders stating his “unalterable intention to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future.” But he was also willing, grudgingly, to let the democracies deliver Czechoslovakia to him without war. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, obliged him. Chamberlain made 3 frantic trips to Germany to negotiate a settlement. In Munich, with Mussolini’s encouragement and France’s acquiescence, Chamberlain and Hitler made terms (Munich Agreement = an act of appeasement). The Czech’s who were not represented, lost their defensible mountain frontier region, where the Sudeten Germans and nearly a million Czechs lived. Chamberlain was heavily criticized for appeasing Hitler, but he did so because he did not want another World War I. During his speech in Britain, he announced that the Munich Agreement heralded “peace in our time”