To what extent did the Munich Conference contribute to the outbreak of World War 2?
To what extent did the Munich Conference contribute to the outbreak of World War Two?
- PLAN OF INVESTIGATION
On 30 September 1938, the Munich Conference took place. Neville Chamberlain- British Prime Minister and Adolf Hitler- Nazi leader in the 1930s, agreed on the annexation of Sudetenland-Czechoslovakia. The research question is: To what extent did the Munich Conference contribute to the outbreak of World War Two?
This investigation will assess the aims and motives of Britain and Germany’s leaders at the Munich Conference. This investigation will discuss the results of the Munich Conference and how the Munich Conference initiated World War Two.
Sources including magazine articles, newspaper articles, books and online database such as magazine article: “Munich Agreement Is Signed: September 30th, 1938” by Bartlett, J. W and the book “Neville Chamberlain, appeasement and the British road to war” by Frank McDonough will be analysed to figure out their origin, purpose, value, limitation, thus analyse how Munich Conference contributed to the outbreak of 2nd World War.
Word count: 147
- SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE:
Here is a summary of evidence that suggests the Munich Conference contributed to the Second World War.
2.1) Hitler’s demand:
In 1930s, the Nazis was the dominate power of the world. Its military power was the greatest and therefore scared the Allies, especially Great Britain who was not prepared for a war. Hitler demanded to take over the part of Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in order to unite all German speaking people: “In the north, in Sudetenland lived 3 million German-speaking people” (Bartlett 40). By doing this, Hitler hoped to achieve “Volksdeutsche- unite all German speaking people in one country to make a greater Germany” (Bankier). “Hitler had promised British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the German people that the Sudetenland would be his "last territorial demand" in Europe.” (The History Place)
2.2) The Munich Conference
In order to maintain the world peace and prevent an upcoming war, Neville Chamberlain decided to give Hitler what he wanted. The Allies tried to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Treaty of Versailles: “appeasement was designed to revise the Treaty of Versailles by peaceful means in favour of Germany, en route to a new general settlement of European problems” (McDonough 5). Moreover, Britain was not prepared for a war with Germany “Britain was unprepared for war. She had no draft, no Spitfires, no divisions ready to be sent to France” (Mandel and Buchanan). Hence, a peaceful solution was crucial for Great Britain.
On 30th September 1938, the Munich Conference took place to decide the Czechoslovakians’ fate. However, no Czechoslovakian was invited to the conference. Neville Chamberlain gave Hitler what Hitler wanted: "They signed a deal that reduced Czechoslovakia to a rump state, its Sudetenland to be absorbed by Germany and other pieces of its territory to be carved up by other central European powers" (Leibovitz and Finkel).
This is a preview of the whole essay
After attending the Munich Conference, Neville Chamberlain claimed “I believe it is peace for our time”. However, just 2 days after Hitler’s invasion, Chamberlain was shocked by the news that “the German Army rolled into the first non-Germanic territory to be taken by the Nazis. "Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist!" Hitler announced to the German people later that day” (The History Place). Chamberlain, along with the France government, “issued a war guarantee to Poland” (Mandel and Buchanan). The Allies immediately stopped pursuing the policy of Appeasement and promised to protect Poland, even if this could lead to a war against Germany.
1st September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. 3rd September, Britain and France declared war on Germany. World War Two officially broke out.
2.3) Orthodox and revisionist’s point of view:
There are revisionist historians who back up the Munich Conference: “….was a logical and realistic choice of the circumstances. It recognised the failings of the past and as a well-meaning attempt to solve them” (McDonough 4). Also, "to its later defenders it was a shrewd, calculated policy essential to Britain's security--a policy that bought precious time for rearming." (Schmitz and Challener, 51)
However, for the orthodox historians, the Munich Conference, along with the Appeasement, was a total failure that did not achieve the aim of peace protecting. According to Keith Middlemass, “it was based on a wholly defensive military strategy, which neither protected Britain adequately from air attack nor offered a deterrent to Hitler” (McDonough 4). For Ernst Presseisen, “the objective (peace) to be reached is so important that not much thought is given to events or policies in the following period” (Caputi 198).
Word count: 577
- EVALUATION OF SOURCES:
Magazine article: “Munich Agreement Is Signed: September 30th, 1938” by Bartlett, J. W., History Today
The origin of this article “Munich Agreement is Signed: September 30th, 1938” written by Jonathan W. Bartlett is that it was written right after the Munich Conference took place, and was published on History Today Magazine. The purpose of the source is to inform the process of the Munich Conference with the timeline of events happened. The value of this source is that it coherently shows the correct timeline of the Munich Conference as it was written right after the Munich Conference. Also, the events described are factual evidence without any author’s opinion, thus making the article seems credible. The limitation of this source is that it does not show the opinions of the historians towards the Munich Conference at that time- which is a very important aspect. As there were no clues of the reactions of the world citizens, it is hard to know whether they support the Munich Conference or not, and how significance the role of Munich Conference was in contributing to the outbreak of World War 2.
“Neville Chamberlain, appeasement and the British road to war” by Frank McDonough
This book was written way after the Munich Conference took place. There are orthodox and revisionist’s points of views on one same issue. The origin of this book is that the writer – Frank McDonough- presents both primary and secondary sources of the Munich Conference as well as the policy of Appeasement, after the war finished for such a long time. The purpose of this book is to evaluate and analyse the views of orthodox and revisionist views on how the Munich Conference and the policy of Appeasement contributed to the outbreak of war. The value of this source is that there are controversial viewpoints to illustrate a vast range of opinions of both the orthodox and revisionist historians, thus showing how the public view the Munich Conference and its contribution to the outbreak of war. Also, as it was written way after the Munich Conference, it is able to consider the final consequences of the event. However, the limitation of this source is that there are so many views of the historians who do not know Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler enough to interpret their inner desires, needs and wants. Moreover, as there are many opinions, there could be a level of bias which distorts the truth. Therefore, more credible and neutral information is needed.
Word count: 386
All of the “3 million German-speaking people” (Bartlett 40) were used for Hitler’s purpose of taking back what Germany had lost. Hitler hoped to unite all German speaking people “Volksdeustche” (Bankier) in order to build a powerful Nazi empire. At the end, the war was inevitable. To what extent the Munich conference led to the outbreak of World War Two was still a big question.
The Munich Conference did not lead to the war, according to the revisionist historians. The Munich Conference “was a logical and realistic choice of the circumstances. It recognised the failings of the past and as a well-meaning attempt to solve them” (McDonough 4). For Neville Chamberlain, it is crucial to keep peace, and to avoid the mistake of the Treaty of Versailles. Therefore, appeasing Hitler was believed to be the best solution. Also, from hindsight, Britain was not ready for a war against Germany: “She had no draft, no Spitfires, no divisions ready to be sent to France.” (Mandel and Buchanan). Therefore, Neville Chamberlain came up with the policy of Appeasement, in which the Munich Conference was an important part, to give Hitler what he wanted. Neville Chamberlain’s motive was simply to protect the peace and British security. What’s more, the Munich Conference was a move that bought time for Britain to prepare for its army to defend itself against the Germans as the conference was: “a policy that bought precious time for rearming." (Schmitz and Challener, 51). As Hitler got what he wanted: “Sudetenland to be absorbed by Germany”(Leibovitz and Finkel), any aggressive moves which could potentially damage the peace and Britain’s security were delayed. Therefore, the revisionist historians believed that the Munich Conference to be a favourable solution to save the world peace, and to buy time for Britain to prepare for further conflicts.
However, there are also arguments made by the orthodox historians that the Munich Conference indeed led to the 2nd World War. It is believed that “the objective (peace) to be reached is so important that not much thought is given to events or policies in the following period” (Caputi 198). Chamberlain wanted the world peace more than anything else, even if this meant selling out the Czechoslovakians and weakening British image. However, his solution did not stop Hitler from conquering lands; instead, being able to take over Sudetenland encouraged Hitler to be more willing to take over the whole Czechoslovakia: “the German Army rolled into the first non-Germanic territory” (The History Place). Hitler believed that if he took over the whole country of Czechoslovakia and attacked Poland, the world could not stop him due to the prolonged policy of Appeasement. What’s more, the Munich Conference “was based on a wholly defensive military strategy” (McDonough 4), which means it aimed to secure Britain’s security, thus making Hitler believed that Britain would not dare to fight against his powerful army. Because of the Munich Conference, Hitler had a chance to take over what he wanted and his desire for a larger Germany was encouraged. Hitler’s attack on Poland in 1939 which initiated the 2nd World War was a result because Hitler believed that the policy of Appeasement was still pursued by Britain. For Hitler, the invasion of Poland was a part of the policy of Appeasement and that Britain would not stop him, like what it did at the Munich Conference. However, Chamberlain finally realized that Hitler’s promise of “Sudetenland would be his "last territorial demand" (The History Place) was a lie. The incident of Chamberlain “issued a war guarantee to Poland” (Mandel and Buchanan) was unexpected to Hitler. The world war broke out as Britain defended Poland. By giving Hitler what he wanted, Neville Chamberlain accidentally gave Hitler the desire to rule the world. And Hitler’s desire encouraged him to invade Poland which consequentially led to the outbreak of World War Two.
Word count: 642
Hitler’s invasion of Poland (September 1st 1939) initiated the Second World War. By setting up the Munich Conference, Chamberlain’s aim was to save the world peace, even if this meant selling out the country of Czechoslovakia. However, its aim for peace was not achievable as the Munich Conference finally could not prevent a war. The Munich Conference allowed Hitler to take whatever he wanted without any interference of other nations in order to achieve “Volksdeustche” (Bankier). After the success of conquering Sudetenland, Hitler’s continuing wants for lands led him to march to the non-German part of Czechoslovakia and to invade Poland. Hitler’s attack on Poland was a misinterpretation because Hitler believed that the policy of Appeasement could still be pursued, and he would still be appeased by Britain for the purpose of peace protecting. The incident of Chamberlain’s promise to defend Poland, and Britain and France’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939 were unexpected by Hitler. Therefore, the Munich Conference built up in Hitler a misconception that he could get whatever he wanted without being stopped by Britain. The Munich Conference led to the 2nd World War to a large extent.
Word count: 192
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