September 30th, 2011

Unhappy anniversary: Munich

It’s been 73 years to the day that the Munich Pact was signed (on September 30, although it was post-dated September 29), ceding the Sudetenland to Hitler and giving appeasement a bad name.

No, I don’t have the date memorized; I noticed it because of the subject matter of the top four articles at RealClearHistory. They are well worth reading as an object lesson not just in the perils of giving in to tyrants, but on just how gullible many people are about the nature of evil.

I learned some details I hadn’t known before. For example, in March of 1939, a few months after Munich, when Hitler had caused the Czech government to cease to exist and invaded the country, here’s how Chamberlain finally reacted:

Chamberlain responded to Hitler’s aggression by claiming the British were not bound to protect Czechoslovakia since the country in effect no longer existed after Slovakia had voted for independence on March 14th. And Hitler’s actions had occurred the next day, March 15th.

The Prime Minister’s willy-nilly statement caused an uproar in the British press and in the House of Commons…

Interestingly, while traveling on a train from London to Birmingham on Friday, March 17, Chamberlain underwent a complete change of heart. He had in his hand a prepared speech discussing routine domestic matters that he was supposed to give in Birmingham. But upon deep reflection, he decided to junk the speech and outlined a brand new one concerning Hitler…

“The Führer,” Chamberlain asserted, “has taken the law into his own hands.”…

“Is this the last attack upon a small state or is it to be followed by others? Is this, in effect, a step in the direction of an attempt to dominate the world by force?”

If so, Chamberlain declared: “No greater mistake could be made than to suppose that because it believes war to be a senseless and cruel thing, this nation has so lost its fiber that it will not take part to the utmost of its power in resisting such a challenge if it ever were made.”

Chamberlain finally had gotten the nature of the man he’d been negotiating with, supposedly in good faith. Too little, too late; but better late than never. And soon Chamberlain would be replaced by the man who had understood the nature of the enemy all along: Churchill.

[NOTE: Here's an attempt to defend Chamberlain---a little bit, anyway.]

11 Responses to “Unhappy anniversary: Munich”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    At least they had a friend in the US who was a manufacturing giant

    Who do we have? who could we borrow from? how could you get kids that cant add but think they are Einsteins to put in? how to motivate males who have no reason to fight anymore given hostile atmospheres?

    and as far as appeasement and learning, any one notice that putin i stepping into the drivers seat as planned now that he has been appeased with a crap reset button..

  2. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, i thought you would notice, given other distractions, that today is also the day that James Dean died…

  3. Artfldgr Says:

    How’s this for trivia…

    1938 Chamberlain arrives in munich

    Same day: Munich Agreement-forced Czechoslovakia to give territory to Germany

    One year to the day later Germany & Russia agree to partition Poland

    the pact was a month earlier and Poland was invaded 17th… there had to be a stopping point or else Germans and Russians would end up fighting.

    now whats ALSO interesting is they picked this time period and date for a reason (the left loves word games and symbols and alignments with other histories as if its magical)

    Sept. 30, 1773, the polish government ratifies a treaty of Russia, Prussia, and Austria that partitioned Poland.

    (note that when Hitler beat France he used the same train car that was a monument to the signing of the treaties against Germany)

    osama bin laden picked the same date as the gates of veinna in the 1600s…

    (and like Freud said. sometimes a date is just a coincidence too – or was that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar)

    Poland lost half its population and about a 1/3 of its land…

    Russia received all the Polish territory east of the line formed roughly by the Dvina and Dnieper rivers. Prussia gained the economically valuable province of Royal Prussia, excluding the cities of Gdańsk (Danzig) and Toruń, and also gained the northern portion of the region of Great Poland (Wielkopolska). Austria acquired the regions of Little Poland (Małopolska) south of the Vistula River, western Podolia, and the area that subsequently became known as Galicia.

    (i had to look this stuff up, vaguely remember then looked… but barely)

    20 years later.. in August and September 1793 by the Polish Sejm—surrounded by Russian troops—the Second Partition transferred to Russia the major remnant of Lithuanian Belorussia and the western Ukraine, including Podolia and part of Volhynia, and allowed Prussia to absorb the cities of Gdańsk and Toruń as well as Great Poland and part of Mazovia. The Second Partition accounted for an area of about 115,000 square miles (300,000 square km).

    Poland as a country didn’t exist really again till wwi… (though napoleon had some time there).

    adding more coincidences…

    German assault on Moscow: operation-Taifun, begins..

    it also was the begining of the end for hitler for i guess he thought he was better than napoleon who kind of made the same blunder in the same area, near the same days… different years though…

    in 1942 SS exterminates 3,500 Jews in Zelov Lodz Poland in 6 week period

    today the allies take Calais
    22 Nazi leaders found guilty of war crimes
    Von Ribbentrop & Goering sentence to death
    Berlin Airlift ends after 277,000 flights

    USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR / then again in 1966 / then again 1973 / then again in 1977 / and again 1980

    yes all of those nukes were on the same day of the year

    1986 was the US turn to set the last one off
    (and release spy Gennadiy Zakharov )

    Flintstones premieres (1st prime time animation show)

    It was also the day that Captain kangaroo as clarabel the clown said good bye to all the kids and the end of howdy doody…

    Bill for Boston Tea Party is paid by Mayor Snyder of Oregon who wrote a check for $196, the total cost of all tea lost

    JFK routes 3,000 federal troops to Mississippi
    Andrei A Gromyko retires
    Aristide ousted as president of Haiti

    there is always a lot more… :)

  4. Richard Aubrey Says:

    In a democracy, a leader can’t get too far in front of the people. But if he isn’t out front just a bit, he’s not doing his job.
    Rebecca West, in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon has a preface and a suffix discussing in some detail and historical context the whole thing. Yes, they had gotten themselves some time, but “we built no airplanes” with the time they’d gotten.
    The real failure was in 1936 when the French allowed the occupation of the Rhineland, when even Hitler knew he didn’t have the combat power to prevail. Found out years later that the generals would have canned Hitler if the French had resisted.

  5. Trimegistus Says:

    Chamberlain remained a weasel. Even as late as the invasion of Poland he was trying to weasel out of Britain’s treaty commitments by proposing that they declare war but not actually fight the Germans. Apparently Churchill literally couldn’t understand what Chamberlain was suggesting.

  6. Curtis Says:

    From Artfldgr: “(the left loves word games and symbols and alignments with other histories as if its magical)”

    Yes.

    Classic misunderstanding of the irrational nature of the Third Reich and the continued manifestations of evil. Whew. Hope that doesn’t offend people.

    If Chamberlain had not been so “ethnocentric,” he might have realized the “good v. evil” dogma which Hitler believed. However, Chamberlain, couldn’t “get” Hitler the same way many don’t get Obama. But it’s there. Obama used the words of Alice Walker (heal the oceans and the other nonsense) which is a signal to all college educated zombies that he is “in.” (Note the question Michelle O is using: Are you “in?”) And the irony is that the religious zeolots are those on the left, not the right. Further irony, the fundamental right believes in a good v. evil struggle. And the left doesn’t.

  7. expat Says:

    Curtis,
    For another example of a religious zealot, see this Paul Ryan review of Jeffrey Sach’s latest foray into controlling the masses.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903703604576589090204327736.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion

    Ryan is wonderful.

  8. Curtis Says:

    Yes sir. So many good quotes from that article. I like this one:

    “Happiness is the recompense of real effort, whether intellectual or physical, and of earned success.”

    But, for me, the most remarkable achievement of that article, is its tone. It is not angry; the words don’t harangue and accuse. Yet, it is devastatingly persuasive. Ryan is a first class mind and writer.

  9. Sergey Says:

    “Ryan is a first class mind and writer.” Can’t agree more. The best article on the topic I ever read.

  10. A_Nonny_Mouse Says:

    Like our current crop of idiots at the top, Chamberlain believed that people (especially LEADERS) are practical, reasonable, and fair.

    This is one of the reasons that plain working people –farmers, for example– have a greater understanding of the Nature of Evil than most of our professional bureaucrats do. A farmer knows there are weasels & foxes just waiting for an opportunity to get to his chickens. There are weevils and cutworms going after his crop. Any gate he doesn’t close/ any fence he doesn’t mend/ any broken slat he doesn’t replace/ lets the predators in to destroy his livelihood. (And then of course, there’s the random, unforeseeable stuff like drought, hail, and flood.) The farmer’s take-away: everything is OUT TO GET YOU. Don’t give ‘em an inch.

    But on the other hand, our brilliant, savvy, well-credentialed leaders think THEY can look into the eyes of their opponent at the negotiating table and “see into his soul”. There’s no hint of evil, no-no-no. There’s only eagerness for mutual understanding and rational compromise. All we have to do is see things from the other guy’s point of view; and if we just compromise on a few issues, he’ll see we’re not unreasonable, not hostile to his interests. All we have to do is yield and keep on yielding (but slowly, slowly) while we’re waiting for the other side to realize that we have a common goal and outlook; and THEN we’ll have Peace In Our Time.

  11. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Expat,
    Thanks for the link to Ryan’s piece. I read Jeffery Sachs’ book, “ENDING POVERTY,” back in 2006. His idea was to get foreign aid directly to the people, not the governments in Third World countries. He believed that somehow, if the people are healthier, better fed, and had a little money in their pockets, they would become entrepreneurs and overcome the political barriers to getting out of poverty. Shortly after that I read Paul Theroux’s book, “DARK STAR SAFARI.” Theroux was revisiting Africa after 40 years when he worked there as member of the Peace Corps. Here’s what he found: “Africa is materially more decrepit than it was when I first knew it; hungrier, poorer, less educated, more pessimistic, more corrupt, and you can’t tell the politicians from the witch doctors. Not that Africa is one place. It is an assortment of motley republics and seedy chiefdoms.” He described in some detail the way that UN and NGO groups that were delivering aid directly to the people had generally turned their various target populations into welfare societies. It was an almost direct refutation of Sachs’ thesis. So much for Sachs’ grand idea for ending poverty. In many ways foreign aid can be likened to Obama’s stimulus ideas. It seems like a great idea until you look at the results. Ryan makes that case quite well about the Sachs’ new prescription for recovery.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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