In 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded that the Sudetenland be ceded to Germany, alleging that ethnic Germans living in the area were being mistreated by the Czech government. He further alleged that the German population of the Sudetenland wished to become part of the German Reich.
Representatives of the "Big Four" (Great Britain, Italy, France, and Germany) met in Munich, Germany to discuss the issue. The end result was that the Sudetenland was ceded to Germany in order to appease Hitler, and (supposedly) to avert the threat of war. Since Italy was allied with Germany, only France and Great Britain could have stood in the way of Hitler's demands, but chose not to do so. When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned to Great Britain, he held a copy of the agreement in his hand, and announced publicly that, "I have returned from Germany with peace for our time." As later events were to prove, Chamberlain was wrong.
Shirer's radio commentary seems to echo Chamberlain's sentiments about the agreement, as well as his assumption that the Munich agreement spelled an end to German aggression in Europe. While acknowledging that the Czech people "are not too happy" about the agreement, Shirer appears to praise Hitler, stating that "his (Hitler's) waiting ten short days has saved Europe from a world war." Shirer's observation was proven to be as incorrect as Chamberlain's, as Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 (after assuring the world that he would make no further territorial demands in Europe).
Both Chamberlain and Shirer expressed an overly optimistic (and politically naïve) view of Hitler's ambitions, assuming that Hitler was a man of his word, and ignoring Hitler's previous statements regarding his plans for conquering Europe; as early as 1928, Hitler publicly stated that it was his intention to "destroy the Soviet Union".
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Apr 21st, 2015
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