November 10, 2011

"Never to go to war with one another again".

The Munich Crisis of 1938 was, it turned out to be, a short respite before Europe plunged into war a year later. A little over two months earlier, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain delivered the now-famous "gas mask" address, where he prepared England for what looked like inevitable war over the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia.

In what was later described as a terrible sell-out of the Czech people in the name of appeasement, Chamberlain agreed to step aside in Germany's quest for the territory, in exchange for a promise not to go to war.

In this address, made during the Lord Mayor's Banquet at Guildhall, Chamberlain reiterates much of what he breathlessly declared from the three famous paragraphs of his agreement with Hitler when he stepped off the plane on his return from Munich at the end of September.

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain: “In the first one, we agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for the two countries and for Europe. I don’t think anybody would deny that. The second one expresses an opinion, namely that we regard the agreements signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. And again I ask, could anybody knowing the feeling here, and knowing the feeling of the people in Germany, can anybody doubt that those words express the heartfelt desire of the two peoples? Then the third paragraph; we are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. Is anybody going to condemn that statement of policy?”

Needless to say, the "peace in our time" as proclaimed in the press was short-lived. By next year another region came into question and by the end of 1939 it would spiral quickly out of hand.

This is the complete address given by Prime Minister Chamberlain, and relayed by the BBC to listeners all over the world on November 9, 1938.

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