On October 10, 1938 the Munich Agreement whose signatories included Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy finally ceded to Hiter’s demands possession of the ethnically German Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. In exchange Hitler made a commitment to non-aggression and dropped his petitions for additional territories.
When the agreement was first decided, Chamberlain stood outside 10 Downing Street and declared:
My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.
Unfortunately for Chamberlain his purported great foreign policy achievement became of the greatest gaffes in diplomatic history. His passive approach in dealing with a tyrant placated his constituency to meet his short-term goals of artificial peace, but paved the way for a German invasion of Czechoslovakia proper by March, then Poland by September of the next year, and soon much of Europe.
Edmund Burke characterized this type of passivity best:
All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
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