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Munich

 

Please take the time to enjoy a small selection of the artifacts that we have on display at the Museum of World War II. Every artifact in our collection has its own history, and ties to human lives. Each artifact has a small section of its story told here.

You can use this map to jump to any section of the Museum of World War 2 to view a selection of the artifacts displayed there.

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This section contains artifacts specifically about the Munich Agreement and what it meant. In addition to the original document used for the Munich Agreement, France's fall is also chronicled in the full set of German invasion maps and reconnaissance books of France, propaganda posters and leaflets, and culminates in Roosevelt's message to French Premier Paul Reynaud.

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The draft of the Munich Agreement bearing Hitler's changes in his bold pencil, and Chamberlain's notes in the margins, was left on a conference table after the amended version was typed and signed. It was saved by British Ambassador to Berlin Neville Henderson. Chamberlain's six page letter written twelve days before his death defends his decision agreeing to this infamous agreement.

France's fall is chronicled in the full set of German invasion maps and reconnaissance books of France, propaganda posters and leaflets, and culminates in Roosevelt's message to French Premier Paul Reynaud.
 
This photograph shows Adolf Hitler meeting with Neville Chamberlain over the Munich Agreement, the memorandum annotated by Hitler outlining his demands for not starting World War II. Hitler viewed the existence of Czechoslovakia as one of the outrageous terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Among the many nationalities incorporated into Czechoslovakia were 750,000 Sudeten Germans. He saw this issue as an opportunity to occupy Czechoslovakia. Britain and France announced that Czechoslovakia should cede this territory to Germany.
 

THE MUNICH AGREEMENT: Chamberlain went to see Hitler on September 22, agreeing to his demands, but Hitler responded by increasing them. Chamberlain refused, and the following day they agreed to a final meeting. It was at that meeting that Hitler presented Chamberlain with this typewritten statement of his demands--Czechoslovakia had 48 hours to begin evacuation of the Sudetenland and 96 hours to complete it. 

With the English ambassador, Neville Henderson, at his side, making pencil notations on Hitler’s memorandum, Chamberlain and Hitler argued furiously over Hitler’s demands. The agreement, with Chamberlain's notations in the margins and Hitler's in the text, displayed. Chamberlain asked if this memorandum was Hitler’s final word. He said it was. Chamberlain said he was leaving with his hopes for peace destroyed. Hitler offered a concession—“You are one of the few men who whom I have ever done such a thing.” He took the memorandum over which they had been arguing and changed the date of the occupation of Sudetenland to October 1, and altered some of the phrases Chamberlain would not accept. Chamberlain was overwhelmed by Hitler’s gesture, not knowing that October 1 had been Hitler’s target date all along.

 

Chamberlain returned to London September 24, and after difficult negotiations with the Czechs and the French met with Hitler and Mussolini in Munich on September 29 and agreed to the terms that Hitler demanded in this document. The postcard on the left celebrates Chamberlain's perceived progress in securing "peace in our time."

The issue of Czechoslovakia was the least important of Hitler's strategies at this time. His belief that Britain and France had been so weakened by their experiences of World War I that they would not fight under any circumstances except direct attack was proven correct. Britain's capitulation in accepting the terms of this memorandum emboldened Hitler to trust his instincts even more, and undermined the judgment of his generals.

 

CHAMBERLAIN'S POLITICAL TESTAMENT: On October 28, 1940, twelve days before his death and more than a year after the Germans had invaded Poland, Neville Chamberlain wrote his political testament in this six page letter: "So far as my personal reputation is concerned, I am not in the least disturbed about it....Without Munich the war would have been lost and the Empire destroyed in 1938....I should not fear the historians' verdict."

 

ERWIN ROMMEL writes to his wife from Hitler's headquarters, four days after Germany's attack on Poland began."The Fuhrer is here now with us.  He went to the Vistula River yesterday.  We drove 400 km on a difficult cross-country route....The troops made an incredibly good impression and the Fuhrer is in the best of moods.  I am involved in all basic events here and even talk with the Fuhrer....We have now been at war for a few days....The West has not shot yet.  Quiet before the storm?" Sept. 5, 1939.

 
The Fall Of France
A call to arms for French reservists. Uniforms worn by a British tank soldier and a French Red Cross worker.
 

German leaflet to British and French soldiers at Dunkirk

 
A message from Adolf Hitler to the soldiers of France. Message to the Paris populace that the Nazis were now in control of the city.
 
  Of special importance are letters and documents of Philippe Pétain and other Vichy French leaders, ranging from Pétain's notes for the armistice with Germany in June, 1940, to his message to the French people as the Allied armies overran France in August, 1944.
 
DeGaulle Phillipe Pétain, typewritten manuscripts with corrections by Pétain, June 21, 1940.  Pétain’s original draft of the armistice terms that were given to the Germans the next day and led to the signing of the armistice.
 
This original photograph and corresponding news release document the Nazi march into Paris: "On August 10th, 1940, the boots of German conquerors echoed hollowly along the Champs Elysees as the Nazis marched in arrogant symbolism through the Arc de Triomphe." A brass statue of the Eiffel Tower, with a Nazi banner at the top.  This German souvenir celebrated the Nazi occupation of Paris.
 
De Gaulle’s pioneer article on mobile warfare.  It was widely ignored both in France and in England but avidly read by Adolf Hitler.
 
DeGaulle Charles De Gaulle, March 12, 1925: “The modest study which the Fr[ench] Mil[itary] Review just published….I had to point out to intellects capable of reflecting on their own the dangers of a doctrine which is too dogmatic and increasingly so….This manner of French military thinking is part of the very nature of our mentality.”
 
De Gaulle, July 8, 1927: “The capital idea of the complete transformation of war by the fact of aviation….This transformation will not suppress military order….It will give it new weapons—and that’s that.”
 
Charles De Gaulle, autograph letter, October 8, 1934: “I would like to laugh at…French politics….The professional army is making great progress….”
 
Charles de Gaulle: “The era of armed nations in nearing its end.  Military strength will reside more and more in mechanical and elite elements (Air Force, Navy, Armored Units)…”
 
Charles De Gaulle, October 9, 1944: “I hear that the Americans want to organize a ‘gala’ of American, English and French military music in Paris.  This is obviously unacceptable.  If there is a gala, it should be organized by us.  This should be shown to Koenig [the military governor of Paris] who lets our ‘allies’ do anything they want with him.”
 
05_France.jpg Charles De Gaulle entering Bayeux, the first town liberated in France. 05_France.jpg