Europe 1938: Appeasement at Munich
From March 1938, pro-Nazis in the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia with a large German population, started pressing for autonomy and closer ties with Germany. Desperate to avert a crisis, Britain and France decided to mediate. However, rather than supporting their ally Czechoslovakia, they agreed to let Germany annex the disputed territories. War had been avoided, but British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's claims of "Peace for our time" would soon be disproved.
29–30 Sep 1938 Munich Agreement▲
On 24 September 1938 German Führer Adolf Hitler demanded that Czechoslovakia cede the disputed Sudetenland to Germany or face invasion. To avoid war, an emergency meeting between Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—but crucially excluding both Czechoslovakia itself and the Soviet Union—took place in Munich, Germany, on the 29th. Prime ministers Neville Chamberlain of Britain and Édouard Daladier of France adopted a policy of appeasement, agreeing to what Hitler called his last territorial claim in Europe by signing the Munich Agreement at 1:30 a.m. on 30 September. Returning home to Britain that same day, Chamberlain announced that he had secured “peace for our time”.
1–10 Oct 1938 Occupation of the Sudetenland▲
On 30 September 1938 Britain and France signed the Munich Agreement, stipulating that Czechoslovakia must cede the Sudetenland to Germany. Although not consulted in the agreement, the Czechoslovak government reluctantly accepted its terms. The next day German troops began moving into the Sudetenland, completely occupying it by 10 October.
1 Oct 1938 Annexation of Teschen▲
Following World War I both Poland and Czechoslovakia claimed the region of Cieszyn Silesia (Teschen), eventually agreeing to divide it along the Olza River in 1920. When Germany threatened to annex the Sudetenland in 1938, Poland renewed its claim, delivering an ultimatum to the Czechoslovak government just hours after the Munich Agreement was signed on 30 September. The Czechoslovaks complied and the next day Poland annexed the rest of Teschen.
6 Oct 1938 Czecho-Slovakia▲
The Munich Agreement and loss of the Sudetenland greatly weakened Czechoslovakia, encouraging internal ethnic tensions. On 6 October 1938 the Czechslovak government accepted the formation of an autonomous Slovak government, officially renaming the country as Czecho-Slovakia to reflect the change. Two days later they also agreed to the autonomy of Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which became Carpatho-Ukraine.
2 Nov 1938 First Vienna Award▲
Following the Munich Agreement, Hungary demanded that Czechoslovakia cede ethnic Hungarian territory. When the Czechoslovaks refused to back down, Hungary, unwilling to face the Czechoslovakian military, appealed to Germany and Italy for support. As a result all four nations met at Vienna in November 1938, with the Germans and Italians deciding that most of southern Slovakia should be granted to Hungary.