On This Day: Munich Agreement was signed

Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini persuaded Hitler to attend a peace conference, where a plan was put forward to integrate Sudetenland.

munich agreement 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
munich agreement 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Exactly 83 years ago, the Munich Agreement was signed between France, Italy, Britain and Nazi Germany, allowing the German annexation of western Czechoslovakia, also referred to by the German name Sudetenland.

The land was given to the Germans after Britain and France attempted to persuade Adolf Hitler from a military invasion of the territory. There were approximately three million people of German origin in Sudetenland when Hitler wanted all the Germans in that area to be united with Germany. 

Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini persuaded Hitler to attend a peace conference in Munich between Germany, Italy, Britain and France, where a plan was put forward to integrate Sudetenland into Germany. 

A joint proposal was prepared, stating that Sudetenland areas with more than half of the population being German would be turned over to Nazi Germany. Czechoslovakia was not consulted about the meeting, and its government was forced to accept it.

A few days later, Hitler had changed his demands, now wanting all of Sudetenland occupied by the German army and the Czechoslovaks to be evacuated by September 28. The Czechoslovaks, the British cabinet and the French rejected the proposal. 

 German soldiers are seen marching in Warsaw following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. (credit: FLICKR) German soldiers are seen marching in Warsaw following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. (credit: FLICKR)

On October 1, the German army invaded Sudetenland. 

The Czechoslovaks had relied on military assistance from France since the two nations were allies, but France, Britain and other European nations had wanted at first to avoid military confrontations against the Germans. 

Hitler later decided to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia in March of the following year. A couple of months later, the Second World War started.

Czechoslovakia was a country that was formed at the end of the First World War in 1918. Decades after the Nazi occupation, Czechoslovakia split into two new countries: Slovakia and the Czech Republic.