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.]