World War 2
Munich

Did Munich crisis contribute to World War 2?

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01/23/2008

There's a hell of a lot of debate on this so I don't want to provide an answer of yes or no.

Basically at Munich there were two options, the one taken, and the one advanced by Churchill and a few other critics such as parts of the Labour Party, possibly Austen Chamberlain, Vansittart, Cooper, etc. The option these Churchill would have prefered was to go to war over Czechoslovakia.

His reasoning is military-strategic. Russia and France were on side. Czechoslovakia had 36 divisions and 1500 aircraft that would later be lost. Russia was producing over 10,000 aircraft a year, far over what Germany was, and Romania might be persuaded to offer an air corridor. Over the next year the French didn't really improve defences, Czechoslovakia was lost to the Germans on the 15th of March, Russia and Germany became temporary allies as Litvinov was replaced by Molotov as the foreign minister, and Germany increased her army's size from 81 to 130 divisions.

On the other hand Britain vastly improved its aircraft production in this time from 240 to 660 aircraft a month, matching Germany by the time of war (although not over the full course of 1939). Public opinion was not ready, and this might lead to events such as the Red Clydeside events of the First World War where workers on the Clyde in Scotland had strikes against conscription. America also needed to be convinced to get out of neutrality if Britain was to succeed in the war. The 1936 extension of the Neutralities Act prevented it from selling arms - Britain would be defeated without them. Events in 1939 certainly played a role in convincing the US, although to some extent it was coming out of isolation after 1937 with the Japanese re-invasion of the Chinese mainland.

Hope that helps.