How to Listen

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty broadcasts in 28 languages. Most of our programs are available on FM and medium-wave frequencies of local radio stations in the countries of our broadcast area. If you are having problems listening to programs on the internet, please read our technical help document.

Monday, August 29, 2016

75th Anniversary Of The Munich Agreement

Published 26 September 2013

In the early hours of September 30, 1938, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy signed an agreement in Munich, Germany, allowing Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler to annex German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia. It was seen as an attempt to stop another war in Europe, 20 years after the end of the bloody trench warfare of World War I. Hitler invaded the remaining territory of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, and then Poland on September 1, 1939, finally forcing Britain and France to declare war.


Prime Ministers (left to right) Lord Neville Chamberlain of the United Kingdom and Edouard Daladier of France, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and Foreign Minister Count Gian Galeazzo Ciano gather in Munich on September 29, 1938, to sign the Munich treaty between Nazi Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, authorizing Hitler to annex the Czech territory called the Sudetenland.


Neville Chamberlain (left) and Adolf Hitler talk with the help of an interpreter as German Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop looks on in the background on September 23, 1938, in Bad Godesburg, Germany.


Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler meet for the "talk over the teacups" at Berchtesgaden, Germany, on September 24, 1938. Hitler demanded that Czechoslovakia cede the Sudetenland by September 28. Following a political crisis in May, Hitler had told his generals that an invasion should begin no later than October 1.


U.K. Prime Minister Arthur Neville Chamberlain (left) signs the Munich Agreement as Hitler's secretary, Martin Bormann, looks on in Munich in the early hours of September 30, 1938 (although the document was dated September 29).


French Prime Minister Daladier signs the Munich Agreement as Hitler (second right), Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering (third left), Hitler's secretary Martin Bormann (right), and top Nazi officers look on. France refused to fight Germany alone and followed the British lead, despite a military pact with Czechoslovakia.


Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini signs the Munich Agreement as Martin Bormann (second right) and Joachim von Ribbentrop (right) look on. 


In London on September 30, 1938, Neville Chamberlain holds up the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich. "My good friends, for the second time in our history a British prime minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time," he said.


France's Edouard Daladier reads a statement to journalists after returning from Munich on September 30, 1938. Regarding the unexpected acclaim he received  after returning to Paris, Daladier was said by Jean-Paul Sartre to have said, "Ah, the fools."


Czechoslovak Army soldiers patrol in the Sudetenland in the town of Krasna Lipa in September 1938, as tensions mounted in the country's German-speaking areas. Despite Soviet support against Hitler's demands, President Edvard Benes refused to fight without the backing of Britain and France.


A sketch map of Bohemia and Moravia attached to the Munich Agreement of September 29, 1938. The shaded areas show the regions taken from Czechoslovakia and given to Germany.


A map of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1945) showing the distribution of nationalities in 1931. (German areas are in blue, Hungarian in green.) More than 3 million ethnic Germans lived in the Czech side of Czechoslovakia


German troops cross the Czechoslovak border in October 1938. About 40 percent of the territory of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was occupied by Germany.


German armored cars enter the city of Aussig (Usti nad Labem) in the north of Czechoslovakia, near Dresden, on October 9, 1938. Following the Munich Agreement, 115,000 Czechs and 30,000 Germans fled the Sudetenland for rump Czechoslovakia.


Nazi German troops cross the border near Kleinphilipsreuth, west of what is today Cesky Krumlov (Bohmisch Krummau), to occupy the Sudetenland on October 1, 1938.


Germans remove a Czechoslovak border post in September/October 1938. The Sudetenland took its name from the Sudeten mountain range that runs along the Czech-German and (after 1945) Czech-Polish border, which had a large population of ethnic Germans.


Czechs expelled from the Sudetenland fill out a questionnaire for refugees in Prague on October 13, 1938. The territory annexed by Germany contained over 3 million Germans and 750,000 Czechs.


This bunker in the Krkonose Mountains was part of a system of border fortifications, as well as some fortified defensive lines inland, built by Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938 as a defensive countermeasure against the rising threat of Nazi Germany.


The objective of the fortifications was to prevent the taking of key areas by an enemy (not only Germany but also Hungary) by means of a sudden attack before the mobilization of the Czechoslovak Army could be completed, and to enable effective defense until allies (Britain, France, and possibly the Soviet Union) could help.


According to German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels' diary, when Adolf Hilter personally inspected the Czech fortifications after the occupation of the Sudetenland, he told Goebbels, "we would have shed a lot of blood" and that it was fortunate that there had been no fighting.


The Fuehrerbau, a Nazi Party building in Koenigsplatz, Munich, was where the the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938. Today it is a school for music and theater called the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater Muenchen.