Final steps to war

Final steps to war

Munich Agreement (1938)

  • The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country’s borders.
  • Signed by Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France, it became a symbol of appeasement, the diplomatic policy of making political/military concessions to an aggressive power to avoid conflict.
  • British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain praised the agreement as achieving “peace for our time”, but it was heavily criticised, most notably by Winston Churchill.
  • The Munich Agreement became void in March 1939 when Hitler violated the agreement by invading Czechoslovakia.

Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939)

  • The Nazi-Soviet Pact was a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union that enabled those two powers to divide-up Poland between them.
  • Its formal name was the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and it was signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939.
  • It also contained a secret protocol dividing the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.
  • The pact was broken when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union less than two years later in June 1941.

Invasion of Poland and the Outbreak of War (1939)

  • The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland, marked the beginning of World War II.
  • The German invasion began on 1 September 1939 following the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, while the Soviet invasion commenced on 17 September following the Molotov-Tōgō agreement that terminated the Russian and Japanese hostilities in the east on 16 September.
  • The Polish army was defeated within weeks of the invasion.
  • As a result, Britain and France declared war on Germany, marking the start of World War II. This represented the end of appeasement and the beginning of Allied opposition to Nazi aggression.
  • Despite the declaration of war, Britain and France could provide little direct support for Poland.