Reasons Kennan Felt The Munich Agreement Was Unnecessary

George F. Kennan was Director of the State Department`s Policy Planning Staff from 1947 to 1949. In his book Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin (1960), he wrote about the Munich Agreement: “The Munich Agreement was a tragically misunderstood and desperate act of appeasement at the expense of the Czechoslovakian state, led by Chamberlain and The French Prime Minister Daladier, in the vain hope of satisfying Hitler`s turbulent ambition and thus guaranteeing a peaceful future for Europe. We now know that this was not necessary – useless because the Czech defence was very strong, and if the Czechs had decided to fight, they could have resisted significantly; Even more useless, because the German generals, aware of Germany`s relative weakness at the time, were in fact prepared to attempt Hitler`s impeachment at the time and there, if he persisted stubbornly in doing things until the war. It is the fact that the Western powers and the Czechoslovakian government gave in at the last moment and that Hitler again won a bloodless triumph, depriving the generals of any excuse for such an approach. We see again, as is often the case in history, that it is sometimes worth dealing with one`s own problems, contemptuous of man, even if there is no certain victory in sight.¬†When Hitler continued to make incendiary speeches calling for the reunification of the Germans in Czechoslovakia with their homeland, war seemed imminent. However, neither France nor Great Britain felt ready to defend Czechoslovakia and both tried to avoid a military confrontation with Germany at all costs. In France, the popular Front government had ended and on 8 April 1938 Edouard Daladier formed a new cabinet without socialist participation or communist support. Four days later, Le Temps, whose foreign policy was controlled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, published an article by Joseph Barthelemy, a professor at the Paris Law School, in which he scrutinized the 1924 Franco-Czechoslovakian Treaty of Alliance and concluded that France was not obliged to go to war to save Czechoslovakia. Earlier, on 22 March, the Times of London had stated in an editorial by its publisher G.G. Dawson that Britain could not wage war to preserve Czech sovereignty over the Sudeten Germans without anticipating its wishes; Otherwise, “Britain may well be fighting the principle of self-determination.” After successfully capturing Austria in Germany in March 1938, Adolf Hitler looked forward to Czechoslovakia, where about three million people were of German descent in the Sudetenland. In April, he discussed with Wilhelm Keitel, head of the high command of the Bundeswehr, the political and military aspects of Case Green, the code name for the Sudetenland acquisition project. A surprising rush of “clear skies without any cause or justification” was rejected, as the result would have been “a hostile opinion of the world that could lead to a critical situation”.

Decisive action would therefore take place only after a period of political turmoil on the part of the Germans within Czechoslovakia, accompanied by diplomatic quarrels which, if they became more serious, would be either an apology for the war or grounds for a blitz after an “incident” of German creation.