Munich agreements

Munich agreements

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Title: Signature of the Munich agreements. Mussolini, Hitler, Daladier and Chamberlain.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1938

Date shown: September 30, 1938

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Photographic print

Storage location: Eyedea - Keystone website

Contact copyright: © Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency" website

Picture reference: K003908

Signature of the Munich agreements. Mussolini, Hitler, Daladier and Chamberlain.

© Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

Publication date: September 2005

Historical context

The military ambitions of the IIIe Reich

Along with the establishment of an authoritarian regime in Germany when he came to power on January 30, 1933, Hitler immediately broke with the disarmament policy implemented under the aegis of the League of Nations, taking a series of measures which endangered international peace and violated the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919. He thus achieved theAnschluss on March 12, 1938, annexing the whole of Austria, before demanding the cession of Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, where three million Germans lived. These elements explain why Hitler's ever-growing demands on the Sudetenland from 1938 caused a stir in international opinion, divided on the Führer's intentions and on the course to be adopted.

Image Analysis

Munich or peace at all costs

In order to resolve the crisis, Hitler proposed in extremis, through Mussolini, a conference between Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany. This was held in Munich on September 29 and 30, 1938 in the absence of Czechoslovakia and led to agreements between the representatives of the four countries mentioned, Chamberlain, Daladier, Mussolini and Hitler, as shown in a photograph of the an era which represents the handshake exchanged between Daladier and Mussolini. These agreements, which enshrined the dismantling of Czechoslovakia and the reunification of the Sudetenland with Germany, despite the alliance concluded between France and Czechoslovakia, were motivated by a desire to safeguard peace in Europe and by the incapacity of democracies. Western countries to form a united front against the Axis. Several elements in the photograph of the Munich agreements illustrate this cleavage which existed between the camp of the warmongers and that of the pacifists: if Daladier and Chamberlain, standing side by side, wear civilian clothes, Mussolini and Hitler, who face them, are dressed , the first in a military uniform, the second in a jacket decorated with the insignia of the Nazi party; likewise, Daladier's bowed head shaking hands with Mussolini, who, for his part, proudly raises his head like Hitler, a smile of satisfaction on his lips, suggests the feeling of shame and helplessness that Daladier then seems to feel, agreeing to sign this agreement only encouraged Hitler to continue his policy of expansion. Rich in meaning, this image reflects the importance that photography took on during the interwar years, thanks to the popularity of illustrated newspapers. The impact of this process on mentalities turns out to be all the stronger as it is able to show the story in the making and interpret events through the choice of a particular framing.

Interpretation

The march to war

Widely distributed like many others, this photograph may thus have contributed to provoking various reactions within the population, torn between a bitter impression of defeat and a feeling of "cowardly relief". However, the latter was short-lived: far from constituting a guarantee for peace in Europe, these were broken a few months later by Hitler who invaded Czechoslovakia in March 1939, then signed on August 23 a pact with Russia, which had been excluded from the Munich agreements, and invaded Poland, allied with France (September 1) - aggression which led to the entry of France and Great Britain into World War II. Several factors explain this passive attitude adopted by the French and British leaders on the occasion of the Munich agreements and immediately denounced by the anti-fascists as a betrayal and an abdication: indeed, if France and Great Britain underestimated the danger Hitler, the bad economic situation, the numerous social tensions, the differences which existed within the opinion, divided between the fight against fascism and that against communism, the opposition of the right and the left in France, the contradictions internal to these parties and the trauma caused by the 1914-1918 war must also be taken into account in order to fully understand the state of mind of the leaders of the time.

  • Hitler (Adolf)
  • Germany
  • War of 39-45
  • Mussolini (Benito)
  • fascism
  • Italy
  • Nazism
  • photography
  • Third Republic
  • League of Nations (League of Nations)
  • annexation
  • Daladier (Edouard)
  • Third Reich
  • pacifism
  • imperialism
  • Treaty of Versailles

Bibliography

The Thirties. From crisis to warParis, Le Seuil-L’Histoire, coll. “Points Histoire”, 1990. Jean-Pierre AZEMA, From Munich to the Liberation (1938-1944), Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1979.Serge BERSTEIN, France in the thirties, Paris, A.Colin, 1988. Jean-Baptiste DUROSELLE, The Decadence, 1932-1939, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1983.Pierre MILZA, Fascisms, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 1991.

To cite this article

Charlotte DENOËL, "The Munich Agreements"


Video: The Munich Agreement. History Lessons