The Munich Conference, October 1938

What was the Munich Conference?
The Munich Conference was an international meeting that began on 29th September, 1938, to settle the dispute between Germany and Czechoslovakia over the Sudetenland.
Who attended the Munich Conference?
The Munich Conference was organised by Mussolini of Italy and Chamberlain of Britain. However, there was controversy over the attendees.
  • The Conference was attended by Hitler from Germany, Chamberlain from Britain, Daladier from France and Mussolini from Italy.
  • Czechoslovakia was not invited, despite the Sudetenland being part of its territory.
  • The USSR was not invited, even though it had an alliance with Czechoslovakia. This caused distrust between Stalin and the western powers.
What decisions were made at the Munich Conference?
At the Munich Conference, it was decided the Sudetenland was to be transferred from Czechoslovakia to Germany.
  • The transfer was to take place over a ten-day period.
  • Plebiscites would be held in areas where there was a mix of ethnic groups.
  • Some areas of Czechoslovakia would also be given to Hungary and Poland.
  • Britain, France, Germany and Italy would guarantee the independence of the rest of Czechoslovakia.
What were the reactions to the Munich Conference?
The Munich Conference led to several outcomes.
  • Germany gained the Sudetenland, along with 29,000 square kilometres of territory and a population of 3.6 million.
  • Without French protection, Czechoslovakia was forced to accept the break-up of its country.
  • Poland and Hungary laid claim to other Czech territories and Poland seized Teschen in October 1938.
  • After the Munich Agreement, Chamberlain and Hitler signed a document promising that Britain and Germany would promote peace in Europe. Chamberlain returned to London and announced that he had secured ''peace in our time".
  • Chamberlain wasn't convinced that he had achieved peace. He prepared Britain for war, producing more than 660 aircraft in 1939 (from 240 in 1938). A new radar system was also installed along Britain's coast as a defensive measure.
What were the positives of the Munich Conference?
There were a number of arguments for the decisions made by Chamberlain at the Munich Conference, and several reasons why it was positive for Britain.
  • Britain was late to rearm and its military - particularly its airforce - needed more time to prepare.
  • The countries in the British Empire (the Dominion) weren't all prepared to support Britain in a war in 1938. By 1939 they were behind it.
  • There was a strong argument for the self-determination of the Sudeten Germans. A war at that point would have been harder to justify.
What were the negatives of the Munich Conference?
Chamberlain's decisions at the Munich Conference have been criticised for a number of reasons.
  • It made Hitler and Germany stronger and more confident.
  • It was morally wrong to allow Czechoslovakia to be dismantled.
  • It was viewed as unfair that Czechoslovakia was not consulted at the conference.
  • It was the ultimate example of appeasement.
  • It lost 36 Czech divisions that could have been used to fight for the allies in the Second World War.
  • It alienated the USSR, which might also have provided support for Britain and France.
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