The Munich Agreement (official name: Agreement between Germany , the United Kingdom , France and Italy , made in Munich on September 29, 1938 ) was signed on the night of September 29 to 30, 1938 by the heads of government Adolf Hitler , Neville Chamberlain , Édouard Daladier and Benito Mussolini signed in the Führerbau in Munich . The Czechoslovakia and the allied with it the Soviet Union were not invited to the conference. The agreement stipulated that Czechoslovakia had to cede the Sudetenland to the German Reich and vacate it within ten days. The invasion of the Wehrmacht began on October 1, 1938. An international committee was to determine the future borders and monitor referendums in other areas. Something similar was planned for the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia. As a result of the agreement, Poland occupied the Teschen area on October 2, 1938 . After bilateral talks, Hungary received territories in southern Slovakia and Carpathian Ukraine in the First Vienna Arbitration Award on November 2, 1938 .
The Sudeten crisis ended with the Munich Agreement . Hitler had escalated the conflict over the autonomy of the Sudeten Germans into an international conflict in which, according to his plan developed in the Hoßbach transcript , he was concerned with the isolation and ultimately smashing of Czechoslovakia. The Munich Agreement is considered the climax of the British-French appeasement policy . The war in Europe that Hitler wanted to provoke was prevented. Great Britain and France had already made it clear to the Czechoslovak government under Prime Minister Syrový on September 21, 1938 that they would not have to expect any assistance if the German demands were rejected. In order to avoid a war in which it would have stood alone against Germany, Czechoslovakia accepted the terms of the agreement. Due to the circumstances, the agreement is also known as the Munich dictation .
Although the Munich Agreement appeared to be a major foreign policy success for National Socialist Germany, Hitler was dissatisfied because he had actually wanted to conquer all of Czechoslovakia. As a result he pushed the military-strategic and operational planning and left on 15./16. March 1939 occupy the so-called "remaining Czech Republic" in breach of the Munich Agreement .
The Munich Agreement decreed that Czechoslovakia had to cede its border areas, the Sudeten German areas, which are predominantly inhabited by Germans , to the German Reich immediately . It came about after the deliberations of the heads of government of the four great powers Chamberlain , Daladier , Hitler and Mussolini in the Führerbau in Munich and was signed by them there on September 30, 1938 at 1:30 a.m. In additional declarations they laid down further modalities. In return for the cession , Great Britain and France guaranteed Czechoslovakia their survival and security in the event of an unprovoked attack. Germany and Italy also promised a guarantee, subject to a settlement of the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia.
The agreement only determined the principles of eviction, border determination and citizenship regulation. A committee of the signatory states should regulate the implementation of the agreement on the cession of the Sudeten area, the definition of the borders and the modalities of the evacuation. It was also supposed to determine the areas in which referendums should be held, following the model of the 1935 Saar vote . An option right for the population was provided.
The Czechoslovak government should send a representative to this international committee. A German-Czechoslovak committee should make arrangements for optants to enable them to move to and from the assigned areas. Czechoslovakia was not involved in the conference itself.
The Munich Agreement effectively signified the end of the multinational Czechoslovakia, which emerged in 1918, as the neighboring states of Poland and Hungary also seized the opportunity to occupy territories, in contrast to Germany, however, without the consent of the signatory powers Great Britain and France. The latter showed understanding for the wish of the Sudeten German population, which had been ignored since 1919, and therefore saw this resolution as a partial revision of the Treaty of St. Germain or as a subsequent fulfillment of the peoples' right to self-determination . First and foremost, they wanted to prevent a war. They hoped to ensure the continued existence of the Czechoslovak state through a policy of appeasement and thus to fulfill the assistance agreement.
As a result, all other great powers except France had considered the Munich Agreement to be valid until 1942 and treated it; only France subsequently specified its position of wanting to regard the agreement as null and void ab initio ; “In contrast, the British government takes the legal position that has always been adopted with great firmness, that the Munich Agreement was valid at the time, was legally binding for a while, but has since become obsolete with effect ex nunc due to the behavior of the German Reich”.
Consequences of the agreement
Representatives of Czechoslovakia not only did not take part in the Munich conference, but were only given incomplete information about its progress. On the morning of September 30, 1938, the Czechoslovak government was informed of the results from the German side. The Czechoslovak government saw itself isolated and feared that if it were rejected, Germany would attack immediately with the support of Hungary and probably also Poland, while help from the West could no longer be counted on. Their hope, therefore, was to avert further demands by accepting the agreement as a whole with the next international commission. President Edvard Beneš came to the conclusion that in case of rejection there would be an honorable war "in which we not only lose our self-determination, but the people are murdered". The decision was therefore to save at least the core of the Czechoslovak state. The Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Kamil Krofta told the British, French and Italian ambassadors on September 30th:
“On behalf of the President of the Republic and my government, I declare that we will submit to the decisions made in Munich without us and against us. [...] I don't want to criticize, but this is a disaster for us that we don't deserve. We submit and we will endeavor to ensure a peaceful life for our people. I do not know whether your countries will benefit from this decision made in Munich. But we are not the last, others will be affected after us. "
Czechoslovak politicians - above all the then President Beneš - felt betrayed by the protecting powers. That is why the population referred to the agreement as "Munich treason" or pointedly "About us, without us."
As a result of the peaceful solution to the Sudeten crisis, the September conspiracy directed against Hitler around Hans Oster , which is considered to be the most promising coup plan during the entire Nazi regime , fizzled out.
On October 1, 1938, the “ Decree of the Führer and Reich Chancellor on the administration of the Sudeten German territories” ( RGBl. 1938 Part I, No. 157, pp. 1331 f.) Was published. The military occupation of the Sudetenland took place from October 1st to October 10th according to a schedule set in Munich in five zones. The Sudetenland became part of the German Empire. The new borders of Czechoslovakia were laid down in the German-Czechoslovak Agreement of October 20, 1938. This agreement was confirmed on November 1, 1938 by a Czechoslovak note to the Polish government. The choice of citizenship and place of residence was granted to those affected by the “Treaty between the German Reich and the Czechoslovak Republic on Citizenship and Options”.
President Beneš resigned and founded a government in exile in 1940 . In mid-December 1941, on Churchill's instructions, the British Foreign Minister, Eden Josef Stalin, submitted a joint "agreement" to complement the Atlantic Charter and its orientation towards the United States of America . However, he rejected Stalin's proposal for a post-war order. In reality, Eden pursued a strategy of postponement and was not prepared to agree on details, whereupon the Moscow negotiations ended without result. Instead, Great Britain and the Soviet Union agreed in Soviet-British-Iranian negotiations on a joint treaty dated January 30, 1942, which secured military aid supplies through Iran and which the USA later joined.
On August 15, 1942, Anthony Eden, an opponent of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement, declared that Germany had "deliberately destroyed" the agreement, which is why the United Kingdom no longer felt bound by its promises and His Majesty's government was free to settle future borders Let hand. A few weeks later, the French government-in-exile followed suit .
The assertion made by Stalin at the Potsdam Conference on July 18, 1945, that after the Munich Agreement, Czechs were expelled from the Sudeten German border areas into the interior of the country , is now considered refuted in scientific research. In Moscow , during the war, Beneš obtained approval for a large “population transfer” in 1943 in a personal conversation with Stalin.
The agreement resulted in a number of advantages for National Socialist Germany's further war plans (after Winston Churchill's The Second World War: Memoirs ): The Czechoslovak border fortifications did not have to be overcome. Most of these fortifications were located in the Sudetenland. Chief of Staff Franz Halder even claimed after the war that the Czechoslovak fortification system was “impregnable and insurmountable”. A military solution might have changed the course of history decisively. In 1938 the Wehrmacht was still under construction and (according to Churchill) would have suffered heavy losses. The Czechoslovak army was at that time one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in Central Europe. The fortifications were used to strengthen the west wall and to prepare for the capture of the Belgian fortifications in 1940.
After the occupation of the Sudeten German territories, Germany benefited from commodity trading agreements and foreign exchange income from the former Czechoslovakia, for which, in contrast to Germany, the most-favored nation clause applied.
After the reestablishment of the Czechoslovakia, the Czechs, who took possession of the Sudetenland again in 1945, regarded the resident population of German nationality - as did the Slovaks the population of Hungarian nationality - as enemies; also people who had acted against the National Socialists. The restitution of private property by the end of the communist era in 1989 took place only Czech citizens, displaced persons were compensated only by the Federal Republic of Germany.
Annexations and invasion of the "rest of the Czech Republic" in 1939
On October 1, 1938, Poland had an ultimatum put to Czechoslovakia and Czech areas in the divided after acceptance of the ultimatum from October 2 Cieszyn Olsagebiet occupied . Hungary then occupied border areas with a share of 86.5% Hungarian-speaking population and, in 1939, the slightly Hungarian-populated Carpathian Ukraine .
On March 15, 1939, "Remaining Czech Republic", as it was called in the time of National Socialism , was occupied by the German Wehrmacht in violation of international law, which was a breach of the Munich Agreement. After this de facto annexation of Czechoslovakia under German was territorial sovereignty standing Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia built. Slovakia, as Slovak Republic a clerical-fascist oriented "protectorate" , has been recognized by the German Reich on March 14, 1939 the justifying "protection contract" was signed a few days later on March 23rd. Complete control over the former Czechoslovakia was important to Hitler for strategic reasons, especially since this long strip of land extended into the center of the Greater German Reich . Hitler's relatively easy success in taking the land and the rather wait-and-see attitude of the western democracies motivated other neighbors of the Czechoslovakia to take the land.
With the invasion of the "Czecho-Slovak Republic", significant stocks of weapons, ammunition, raw materials and, last but not least, foreign exchange as well as the Škoda works, one of the largest European machine builders and armories of the time, came under German control (e.g. Jagdpanzer 38 ). The weapons of the Czechoslovak army were no small prey for the Wehrmacht (e.g. the Panzerkampfwagen 35 and 38 ).
The role of the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union wanted to participate in the Munich conference and offered Czechoslovakia and France military assistance to enforce the existing Czechoslovak-French assistance pact, which was rejected by France. Whether this offer of help was meant seriously is controversial. Richard Overy demonstrated that the Red Army was partially mobilized, that is, it made its offer, but that could only have been in connection with the general danger of war. In fact, the USSR was only able to help Czechoslovakia to a limited extent because it had neither a common border with it nor the rights to march through or fly over Polish territory.
In the Soviet and apologetic historiography of the former Eastern Bloc, such as the GDR , the Munich Agreement is portrayed as a plot between the Western democracies and the National Socialists. During the Cold War , the Soviet Union used this thesis to create propagandistic sentiment against the West .
Klaus Hildebrand writes that from the Soviet point of view, the Western democracies had proven with the conference that they would even be happy to work with Hitler in order to isolate the Soviet Union in terms of foreign policy. Stalin felt thus excluded from the concert of the major European powers. It therefore seemed impossible to him to continue to cooperate with the Western powers. As a result, he changed his foreign policy and now also sought rapprochement with Germany. The Munich Agreement thus belongs to the prehistory of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact .
Hitler's war plans and the Munich Agreement
Hitler was ambivalent about the Munich Agreement. For one thing, he couldn't wage his war. On the other hand, it got a boost in popularity, as the German population was against war at the time and Hitler was portrayed in the newspapers as a peacekeeper.
Hitler had wanted war as early as September 1938, and in the Borman dictates of February 1945 he regretted not having started it: “From a military point of view, we were interested in starting it a year earlier […]. But I couldn't do anything because the English and French in Munich accepted all of my demands. "
The Munich Agreement was regarded by the 1973 Prague Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic of December 11, 1973, ratified in 1974 , as " null and void with regard to their mutual relations in accordance with this treaty ". The legal question between the federal government , which only regards the agreement as invalid with the conclusion of the Prague Treaty (with effect ex nunc ), and the Czech government, which regards it ex tunc - i.e. from the start - as null and void, as it is illegally under threats concluded or was inadmissible under general international law to the detriment of a third party, namely the ČSR, was left open by the Prague Treaty. In 1992, the treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic on good neighbors and friendly cooperation confirmed the Prague Treaty of 1973, also with regard to the nullity of the Munich Agreement.
- Germans in the First Czechoslovak Republic (overview of the political events surrounding the Germans in the countries of the Bohemian Crown and their successor states 1848–1938)
- Prehistory of the Second World War in Europe
- Beneš decrees
- Sudetenland (Reichsgau)
- Second Czechoslovak Republic
- German-Czech declaration
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- according to the 1941 census
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