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By: Oliver Popplewell

Munich Why?

Pages: 250 Ratings:
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This is a fascinating, cold-case review of the 1938 Munich agreement. There were five major players: Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Czechoslovakia. For the Czechs it was a disaster. In 1939, the Germans marched into Prague. The Czechs were to lose their independence for some 50 years. In Britain, Chamberlain was the self-appointed spokesman for the Czechs. He was simply found wanting because he never appeared to have the slightest understanding of Hitler’s dishonesty. The French were led by corrupt and incompetent politicians who had treaty obligations to the Czechs which they were determined, at all costs, to avoid being required to honour. The Germans were the villains of the act. Hitler was determined to smash the Czechs and “to remove the tribes of Bohemia and Moravia into reservations in Siberia and Wolhynia (a marshy part of Poland).” 

“Ethnic cleansing” had not then entered the English language. Russian foreign policy was famously described by Churchill as “a riddle, wrapped up in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

Oliver Popplewell is a distinguished retired High Court Judge. He received an MA and LLB from Cambridge University, a BA from Oxford University, an MA from the LSE and a BA from Buckingham University, where he also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Law. He is the author of two autobiographies: Benchmark: Life, laughter and the law; and Hallmark: A Judge’s life at Oxford. He is also the author of the recently published and well-acclaimed book, The Prime Minister and his Mistress, the astonishing story of the love affair between Prime Minister Asquith, aged 60 and Venetia Stanley, aged 22, the best friend of his daughter.

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