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1938: 'Peace for our time' - Chamberlain

The British Prime Minister has been hailed as bringing "peace to Europe" after signing a non-aggression pact with Germany.

PM Neville Chamberlain arrived back in the UK today, holding an agreement signed by Adolf Hitler which stated the German leader's desire never to go to war with Britain again.

The two men met at the Munich conference between Britain, Germany, Italy and France yesterday, convened to decide the future of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland.

Mr Chamberlain declared the accord with the Germans signalled "peace for our time", after he had read it to a jubilant crowd gathered at Heston airport in west London.

The German leader stated in the agreement: "We are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe."

But many MPs are bound to criticise it as part of the Prime Minister's "appeasement" of German aggression in Europe.

And Mr Chamberlain's personal pact will be little comfort to the Czechoslovakian Government which has been forced to hand over the region of Sudetenland to Germany, despite not being present at the conference.

After greeting members of the public at the airport, Mr Chamberlain appeared in front of another rejoicing throng on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the King and Queen, and again later outside 10 Downing Street.

The British Prime Minister was forced to mobilise the Royal Navy four days ago when Germany announced it was building massive fortifications in Rhineland.

But the Conservative leader has always expressed his desire to find a peaceful solution to the Fuehrer's wish to create a new - and enlarged - German homeland in Europe.

In Context
Adolf Hitler did not keep to the promises he made to Neville Chamberlain in September 1938.

A year later the German leader derided the agreement as just a "scrap of paper" and invaded Poland on 1 September 1939.

Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany two days later and the Second World War began.

The Prime Minister's policy of "appeasement" towards Germany in the 1930s is often criticised, but at the time many British people were terrified at the thought of another conflict engulfing Europe.

Mr Chamberlain was forced to resign in May 1940 and was succeeded in office by Winston Churchill. He died in November 1940.

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