What were Winston Churchill's objections to the Munich agreement ?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Churchill despised Hitler, and he knew The Fuhrer was a man who could not be trusted. Churchill recognized that Neville Chamberlain's act of appeasement concerning the Munich Pact only postponed the inevitable: He knew that Hitler had his sights set on not only the Sudetenland (the ethnic border areas of Czechoslavakia) and all of Czechoslavakia, but Churchill saw that Hitler would soon invade other areas of Europe. Churchill called the pact "a disaster of the first magnitude," recognizing that it could be months or years, but that war would eventually result. Churchill believed that Germany had been strengthened substantially, and that "Britain and France were in a much worse position compared to Hitler's Germany." In his speech before the House of Commons, Churchill stated that

"We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat... without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road... the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged... And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless... we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."

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teachersage | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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While Churchill objected strongly to the Munich agreement, he had earlier made positive statements about Hitler, saying, according to Richard Holmes's book In the Footsteps of Hitler "I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between communism and Nazism, I would choose communism" (185). He initially hoped, as many did in the early 1930s, that Hitler, once he settled in and settled down, might prove a good and stabilizing influence on Germany. Churchill later, of course, changed his mind as Hitler increasingly showed his true colors and failed to normalize. From the mid to late 1930s, Churchill pushed for British rearmament, fearing that Germany would attack England. It is worth noting that Churchill was in his sixties at this point, had vast government experience, was widely traveled, and was not naive about how the world operated.

When Chamberlain signed the Munich agreement, essentially giving Czechoslovakia to the Germans in an attempt to prevent a war, Churchill opposed the pact both because it was dishonorable—he said it brought "shame" to England—and because he believed it was only forestalling, not preventing, the war he recognized was inevitable. He thought it would only make the situation worse later to appease Hitler rather than confronting him militarily over Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland.