Neville Chamberlain: 'Peace for Europe'
"Germany has invaded Poland." With those words spoken on Sept. 1, 1939 on CBC Radio, listeners knew the Second World War had begun. While this was distressing news for worried Canadians, it wasn't a surprise. For more than a year, it had become increasingly clear that war was on the horizon. CBC Digital Archives presents several radio broadcasts chronicling the coming of the Second World War, from Neville Chamberlain's hopes for peace in 1938 to Canadian troops departing for Europe in December 1939.
Chamberlain and German leader Adolf Hitler have signed a pact granting the Sudetenland, then part of Czechoslovakia, to Germany. Now, at the airport in London, Chamberlain reads from the document that, he says, assures the "peace of Europe" and is a promise by both Germany and the United Kingdom "never to go to war with one another again."
• CBC also exchanged programs with broadcasters in the United States and several countries in Europe and South America.
• Czechoslovakia was created in 1919 from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War. Its Sudetenland region bordered on Germany and was populated mainly by ethnic Germans.
• Many people in the region were unhappy under Czechoslovakian rule and formed the Sudeten German Party to fight to join Germany. By 1935 it was the largest political party in Czechoslovakia.
• Britain, Germany, Italy and France met at the Munich conference to negotiate the future of the Sudetenland. Czechoslovakia was not present. The agreement demanded the handover of the Sudetenland to Germany and said that if Czechoslovakia resisted, the rest of Europe would not offer help in the conflict.
• On Oct. 1, 1938, Czech guards abandoned the Sudetenland and German troops moved in to occupy the region.
• In less than a year, Adolf Hitler dismissed the Munich Agreement as a "scrap of paper" and invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Two days later the Second World War began when Britain and France declared war on Germany. Canada entered the war on Sept. 10.
• Chamberlain's appeasement efforts earned him much criticism, and he resigned as British prime minister in May 1940. He was replaced by Winston Churchill. Neville Chamberlain died six months later.
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: Sept. 30, 1938
Guest(s): Neville Chamberlain
Last updated: October 2, 2013
Page consulted on November 6, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returns to cheering crowds ...
The former prime minister of Great Britain appeals for aid for Jewish ...
As conflict looms, CBC correspondent Graham Spry looks at Britain's re...
A Canadian panel debates whether the end of the Spanish Civil War will...
BBC reporters provide live commentary on British parliamentary speeche...
With this attack, the Second World War begins.
In December 1939 Canadian soldiers arrive by train to join a convoy of...
As England and France go to war, Prime Minister Mackenzie King tells C...
"Germany has invaded Poland." With those words spoken on Sept. 1, 1939...