Now Israel knows how Czechoslovakia felt in 1938
In early 1938, as the tepid reaction to the German Anschluss with Austria had shown, the governments of France, and the United Kingdom were set on avoiding war at any cost. The French government did not wish to face Nazi Germany alone and took its lead from the British government and its Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain believed that Sudeten German grievances were justified and that Hitler’s intentions were limited. Britain and France, therefore, advised Czechoslovakia to concede to the Nazi demands. Czechoslovakia resisted, countering that Hitler’s aims were far from limited, arguing that Hitler’s proposal would ruin the nation’s economy and lead ultimately to German control of all of Czechoslovakia. The United Kingdom and France issued an ultimatum, making a French commitment to protect Czechoslovakia contingent upon acceptance. On 21 September, Czechoslovakia capitulated to French and British pressure. The next day, however, Hitler added new demands, insisting that the claims on Poland and Hungary also be satisfied.
On 28 September, Chamberlain appealed to Hitler for a conference. Hitler met the next day, at Munich, with the chiefs of governments of France, Italy and Britain. The Czech government was neither invited nor consulted. On 29 September, the Munich Agreement was signed by Germany, Italy, France, and Britain. Even as Chamberlain arrived home in the U.K. waving the treaty signed with Hitler and proclaiming that the deal had brought “peace in our times” Hitler’s war machine was gearing up, all the plans were in place, and 6 months later in March 1939 Germany fully took over Czechoslovakia.
All of Czechoslovakia’s allies were silent. France, the U.K., and even Russia had all given warm promises that they had the Czech’s back but those were just soothing words masking their behind the scenes dealings with Hitler. We all know what came after the allies sold Czechoslovakia down the river without a backward glance. Poland fell to Germany in September 1939 and then nation after nation and Chamberlain’s London was pounded by German bombs daily in the Blitz.
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.
—Neville Chamberlain, September 27, 1938, 8 p.m. radio broadcast
What will be the words of John Kerry and President Obama as they wave the agreement just signed with Iran, an agreement with worse terms than Chamberlain and allies knuckled under to Hitler at the Munich conference and how will history judge them?