MUNICH: Reappraising the Munich Agreement and Repurposing the Munich Analogy
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On September 30, 1938, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy signed an agreement detailing the procedure by which territory would be transferred from Czechoslovakia to Germany. Known as the Munich Agreement, that document is remembered not for the changes that it effected (they were not lasting), but for the swiftness with which its terms were broken. On the morning of March 15, 1939, German forces occupied what remained of Czechoslovakia, thus negating Hitler’s repeated assertions that he sought only justice for repressed German minorities within neighboring states. The Four Powers’ negotiated solution failed to secure peace for Europe, and that failure has since come to encompass appeasement, the policy under whose auspices the agreement was pursued. In this essay, I reconsider the predominant historical narrative regarding Great Britain’s actions in the 1930s. I then evaluate the uses to which the Munich analogy has been put to interpret the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.