On this day in history : 30th September 1938 – Neville Chamberlain arrives back in the UK with an agreement signed by Hitler…. He claims “I believe it is peace for our time” – he could not have been more misguided….

Chamberlain holds the paper signed by himself and Hitler on his return to Heston Airport – Ministry of Information Official Photographer – Public domain

The Prime Minister had met with the German leader three times in the last two weeks of September…. This last meeting had been at the Munich Conference – which involved talks between Britain, Germany, France and Italy, to decide the future of Sudetenland, part of Western Czechoslovakia…. The Czech government had been hoping Britain and France would come to its aid in the event of a German invasion…. However, it was Chamberlain’s main priority to avert war – British people were terrified of another conflict within Europe…. It was agreed that Germany would annex a large part of Czechoslovakia and Britain and France would not support any resistance put up by Czechoslovakia; in return a non-aggression pact was signed with Germany…. Czechoslovakia was forced to hand over Sudetenland, though it had not even been present at the conference….

Chamberlain arrived back at Heston Airport, West London, where a large crowd greeted him, eager to hear him read out the signed agreement…. He then went on to Buckingham Palace, where he appeared on the balcony with the King and Queen – and then went on to hold a further audience outside No.10 Downing Street…. The crowds were jubilant….but there were also many who believed Chamberlain had given in to the demands of Hitler….

Needless to say, Hitler did not adhere to his promise…. A year later he dismissed the agreement as a ‘scrap of paper’ and on the 1st of September 1939 Germany invaded Poland…. World War 2 was declared two days later…. Chamberlain was succeeded by Winston Churchill after being forced to resign in May 1940; he died the following November….

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