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Paris, October 3, 1938.
THE answer given on September 27 by Herr Hitler to the personal message from Mr. Neville Chamberlain conveyed to him in Berlin the day before by Sir Horace Wilson was not such as to bring about a relaxation of the general tension. Herr Hitler refused to make any concessions, and maintained his decision to send his troops into the territory inhabited by the Sudeten Germans on the 1st of October. Field-Marshal Goering still further emphasized this attitude by declaring to Sir Nevile Henderson on September 27 that, if the Czechoslovak Government had not accepted the terms of the Godesberg memorandum on the next day, September 28, by 2 p.m., measures of mobilization would immediately be taken and followed by action.
In spite of this German intransigence, the French and British Governments persevered in their efforts to find a basis for a peaceful solution of the Czechoslovak question.
In the evening of September 27, Sir Nevile Henderson presented to the German Government a new plan consisting mainly of the occupation, on October 1, of the territories of Eger and Asch.
This plan not having been accepted, the French Ambassador immediately approached Herr Hitler himself, during the morning of September 28, with another proposal which, while conforming with the procedure contemplated in the British plan, considerably enlarged the zone of territory to be occupied by the Germans from the 1st of October.
As a result of this conversation, which lasted a whole hour and during the course of which the Chancellor had behaved in a calm and almost friendly manner, our Ambassador had the impression that it might not be impossible to reach an agreement. Without rejecting the French proposal, Herr Hitler reserved his reply with a view to a written communication.
It was in these circumstances that, as a result of a suggestion made by Mr. Neville Chamberlain in agreement with the French Government after President Roosevelt's appeal, and supported in Berlin by Signor Mussolini, Herr Hitler, in the afternoon of the 28th September, invited the Heads of the French, British and Italian Governments to meet on the 29th September at Munich.
After laborious negotiations, which began at midday on September 29, an agreement was signed during the night of the 29th-30th of September.
There is no need to summarize here the text of that agreement, which was published on the 30th of September; nevertheless, it seems useful to compare the principal points of the agreement with the demands formulated by Herr Hitler at Godesberg on the 23rd September.
(1) At Godesberg, the whole of the zone inhabited by the Sudeten Germans was to have been ceded to Germany on the 1st October. At Munich it was agreed that this occupation would take place by stages, being spread over a period of ten days.
(2) At Godesberg, the new frontier was to be determined by a unilateral decision of Germany alone. At Munich, an international commission was to determine it finally.
(3) At Munich, Germany gave up the idea of the plebiscite which had been insisted upon at Godesberg in the zone inhabited by a strong majority of Sudeten Germans, no doubt with the intention of creating a precedent which Germany might invoke in other cases.
(4) At Godesberg, Herr Hitler had demanded the organization of plebiscites in certain regions with a strong Czech majority, but with German minorities. At Munich, he abandoned this claim, leaving it to the international commission to decide upon the advisability, and to determine the territorial limits, of any plebiscites.
(5) At Munich, Germany conceded to the population the right of option "to be included in the transferred territories or to be excluded from them."
(6) Whilst, in the Godesberg plan, the German Government would accept only one plenipotentiary representing the Czechoslovak Government and Army as agent de liaison with the German General Staff, it has now agreed to the presence within the international commission of a Czechoslovak representative on an equal footing with the German representative.
(7) The German plan at Godesberg did not mention any project of international guarantee. At Munich, Britain and France have undertaken unconditionally and without delay to participate in an international guarantee of the new Czechoslovak frontiers against any unprovoked aggression; Germany and Italy have undertaken to give their guarantee as soon as the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities shall be settled.
(8) Taken as a whole, the Godesberg plan resembled in many respects a veritable armistice convention concluded after victorious military operations on the part of Germany; the Munich agreement as the character of a settlement, concluded under the guarantee of the four Powers, the execution of which is essentially under the control and even, in many cases, subject to the decision of an international commission.
The Czechoslovak Government, with the highest self-abnegation, and in a spirit to which we must pay tribute, has accepted the agreement of the 29th September. All the measures provided for in this agreement are now in course of execution.
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