“You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”
Winston Churchill speaking in Parliament on Chamberlain’s in 1938 on the munich agreement.
Chamberlain’s rationale for throwing Czechs to the wolves: “…a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”
Chamberlain (centre, hat, and umbrella in hands) walks with German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (right) as the Prime Minister leaves for home after the Berchtesgaden meeting, 16 September 1938. On the left is Alexander von Dörnberg, German diplomat, and SS officer, Chief of Protocol Foreign Office of Nazi Germany. (German National Archive)
From left to right, Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano as they prepare to sign the Munich Agreement. German National Archive.
This agreement was then forced on the Czechs by Britain and France.
[Ciano was Mussolini’s son-in-law who later played in role in overthrowing him. There are several versions of how Ciano came to be shot. This is my favorite although apocryphal: Hitler told Mussolini to have Ciano shot. Musso said Ciano was the father of his grandchildren. He could not have him shot. Hitler replied that Musso was not tough enough to be a dictator. “I will have him shot.” Shortly thereafter the SS in the Salo Republic shot Ciano.]
In the fall of 1938, Hitler had made a fool of Prime Minister Chamberlain through his sham negotiating in Berchtesgaden. The PM had returned to England after betraying the Czechs and forcing both them and the Skoda Works, the finest armament works in Europe, into the hands of a madman.
“I believe it is peace for our time.”
Commentary from the Imperial War Museum: “Neville Chamberlain holding the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich. He is showing the piece of paper to a crowd at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938.
He said: “…the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.
This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine…
….(waves paper to the crowd – receiving loud cheers and “Hear Hears”). Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you …”.
Later that day he stood outside Number 10 Downing Street and again read from the document and concluded: ‘”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.” (Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)
Charles McCain: Except, of course, it wasn’t.
Hitler was hardly going to keep his word and anyone who had observed him for a time knew that. The Czechs had been betrayed by Chamberlain.
Said Chamberlain in a radio broadcast, “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”
Chamberlain (left) and Hitler leave the Bad Godesberg meeting, 23 September 1938. German National Archive)
Czechs had been supplying steel of the highest quality to the Royal Navy
Yet many in Great Britain did know something about Czechoslovakia including this most critical fact: the Czechs had been supplying steel of the highest quality to the Royal Navy, steel of the quality required for warships no longer cast in sufficient amounts in Great Britain. *
The Admiralty knew this. Men of industry and finance knew. Chamberlain and the cabinet knew–but persisted in lying to the people of Great Britain as well as deluding themselves. They continued to live in what Aristophanes referred to as “Cloud-cuckoo-land”
*(Source: “Engage the Enemy More Closely: the Royal Navy in the Second World War” by Correlli Barnett)
Lord Halifax revealed as guilty of high treason–tried to negotiate peace with the Nazis without disclosure to war cabinet.
Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini, Lord Halifax, and Count Ciano at an opera in Rome, Jan 1939
Daily Telegraph of London, 2008:
“Lord Halifax, Britain’s Foreign Secretary at the outbreak of the Second World War, secretly met with an Old Etonian who tried to broker a peace deal with the Nazis, according to newly-declassified security files.”
Charles McCain: A sordid spectacle. History has rightly judged Chamberlain harshly along with his crony, the leading appeaser of Hitler next to Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary, the arch-schemer, Lord Halifax. Documents released in the last 10 years prove Halifax committed treason by carrying on peace negotiations through dubious second parties without informing the war cabinet.
In November of 1937, while Lord President of the Council (a cabinet position), Halifax paid a private visit to Herman Goering, the obese kleptomaniac and drug-addled C-in-C of the Luftwaffe. Since Halifax was a member of the Cabinet, the Germans thought of this as an “unofficial” official visit. This was done with Prime Minister Chamberlain’s knowledge and approval.
Lord Halifax with Hermann Göring at Schorfheide, Germany, 20 November 1937 (German National Archive)
Although Halifax was not then Foreign Secretary, he informed Adolf Hitler and “the evil gang who work your wicked will” * that the British government did not oppose Nazi Germany’s stated policy to incorporate Austria, half of Czechoslovakia and several former Imperial German provinces of Poland into the Third Reich. However, the honourable gentleman, Lord Halifax, loftily said this must be done peacefully.
(*Churchill in a speech during World War Two describing Hitler’s murderous and evil myrmidons.
Lord Halifax with Hitler on 19 November 1937
This interference in foreign affairs by Chamberlain and his trusted fellow appeaser, the noble Lord Halifax, led to the resignation of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. Would Halifax take the position? Certainly, if the Prime Minister asked him then naturally it would be his duty to accept the position which he did.
A deeply religious man was Halifax. Hence, a good man said his acolytes. Not one to dirty his hands with common politics or common people. (As a peer of the realm, he was a member of the House of Lords). There were few among the elite who attended divine service on a more frequent basis then Lord Halifax. Presumably, God was on his side, it was said. Many who knew him referred to him behind his back as the “Holy Fox.” It wasn’t a compliment.
CHURCHILL STATES THE TRUTH
Only a few both saw and were willing to state the truth. One of those was Winston Churchill, roundly condemned for what he said in Parliament after Chamberlain returned from Munich waving the piece of paper signed by Hitler which meant “peace in our time.”
Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain reviewing German troops during Chamberlain’s visit to sign the Munich Agreement.
Winston Churchill on chamberlain’s capitulation in Munich to Hitler, the House of Commons, 5 October 1938.
I will, therefore, begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and that France has suffered even more than we have.
The utmost my right hon. friend the Prime Minister… has been able to gain for Czechoslovakia in the matters which were in dispute has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course…”
He was heckled by other Conservative members of Parliament during this speech. Churchill’s judgment on Chamberlain after the signing of the Munich agreement:
“You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”
Chamberlain having a sincere handshake with Adolf Hitler.
You can read Churchill’s entire speech to Parliament on the Munich agreement here: winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/the-munich-agreement
3 September 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany for attacking Poland, whose territorial integrity had been hastily guaranteed by those two countries. After the craven conduct of the British on Austria and Czechoslovakia, Hitler was stunned. He turned to his vacuous Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, who had assured him the British and the French would do nothing, and said, “now what?”
Ribbentrop was an opportunistic, immoral, evil toad of man along with being stupid. At the Nuremberg Tribunal, an American interrogator asked him several questions about German foreign policy during the Third Reich. Ribbentrop said he did not know the answers.
Are you telling me, the American interrogator asked, that as Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany you did not know what the foreign policy was? “I am sorry but I must say ‘yes'” (As in ‘yes’ he did not know). The court convicted him on four counts: crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity
Ribbentrop was hanged 16 October 1946.
This iconic photograph of Churchill was taken by famed photographer Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941 immediately after a speech Churchill had given to the Canadian Parliament. This photo came to represent Great Britain’s defiance of the Nazis.
On 10 May 1940, Germany attacked France who surrendered within six weeks. On that same day, 10 May 1940, two days after Chamberlain had suffered a humiliating defeat in Parliament, his majority dropping from 280 votes to 80 in a vote of confidence, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain and led the British Empire to victory over the Nazis.
His speeches as Prime Minister rang with defiance against the Nazis and continue to inspire those who value individual freedom.
“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle to steady his fellow countrymen and hearten those Europeans upon whom the long dark night of tyranny had descended.”
Edward R. Murrow on Churchill in 1954.