Churchill Speech Munich Agreement

But Munich quickly became a symbol of the dangers of the exercasion of aggressive governments. The agreement broke down and Hitler conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, a decisive step on the road to World War II. Today, Munich occupies a place in the public idea when the moment when a chance to resist Hitler was lost and an example of the folly of trusting the unscrupulous. It`s a small thing to introduce into such a debate, but during the week I heard about the tadpole and the tap. You were very keen to have an election by universal suffrage, a way, if I may say so, of choosing reverse khaki. I wish the Prime Minister had heard last night the speech of my honourable and courageous friend, the Member of Parliament for Westminster Abbey (Sir Sidney Herbert). I know that no one is more patient and more regular than the Prime Minister and it is wonderful to see how he is able to conduct so many of our debates, but it happened that he did not come at that time by bad luck. However, I am sure that if he had heard the speech of my honourable and gallant friend, he would have been very upset that such a rumour could have circulated. Churchill was one of the greatest proponents of British rearmament.

In A Total and Unmitigated Defeat, Churchill stressed the need for rapid rearmament and the construction of national defense. For British public opinion, the idea of rearmament was dangerous because it believed it was behind the arms race, secret diplomacy and military imperialism. For many, these were the actions of a country that had nothing to gain and much to lose by participating in the war; Peace was the greatest national interest. [9] But after Churchill`s speech, the flow of British public opinion shifted to building national defence, particularly the Royal Air Force and royal Navy. Chamberlain had escaped the trap that his political rivals had set for him. Many of them interpreted the Munich agreement faithfully to what it meant for their own perspectives. Some feared that Chamberlain would declare an early general election in which he would go on a rampage for victory. A panicked Churchill explored building an alliance with Labour, the Liberals and the rebellious Conservatives and suggested that a commitment to the League of Nations and „collective security” could serve as the basis for a joint campaign. When Macmillan protested, „This is not our jargon,” Churchill yelled, „This is jargon we may all have to learn!” The Munich agreement is ingrained in the population as a diplomatic disaster and a source of lasting lessons for the future. The political crisis in Britain, caused by Hitler`s ambitions for the Sudetenland, is much less well known. Yet it was one of the most serious of the century.

This shows that even in moments of great danger, politicians will of course take care of themselves. But it also reminds us to pay particular attention to the interaction between foreign and domestic policy. More often than we imagine, these two are intertwined. In a debate in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill, then a member of Epping, challenged Chancellor sir John Simon`s request to „reaffirm the policy of Her Majesty`s Government that avoided war during the recent crisis.” For MPs at the time, a vote in favour of John Simon`s request would mean approval of the signing, on 30 September 1938, of the Munich Agreement by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who was to reject the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia to Germany, and more broadly approval of Chamberlain`s strategy of appeasement towards Hitler. . . .

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