Changing European Political Alignments

October 18, 1938

Report Outline
Final Disintegration of Versailles System
Post-War Period of French Ascendancy
Europe After the Rise of Nazi Germany
Munich Accord and German Hegemony

Final Disintegration of Versailles System

The accord signed at Munich on the last day of September by the responsible heads of the governments of France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy snatched Europe from the brink of war. Viewed in broader perspective, it marked the end of the era in European history which began at Versailles, and it signified the opening of a new period whose outlines are as yet but dimly discernible. The postwar treaty settlements and the political structures and relationships built upon or developing out of them had been disintegrating at an accelerated pace since Hitler rose to power in Germany. At Munich this process in effect reached its culmination.

The Munich settlement, comprising partition of a small state at the dictation of four great powers, represented a complete antithesis of the principles and ideals which it was thought, when the League of Nations was founded, would thenceforth govern international relations. Long before Munich, however, the League had lost prestige and influence, but the fact that it played no part in the vastly important decisions there taken emphasized vividly the distance that had been traveled since 1919. Munich made it clearer than ever before that Europe had followed the road back, that power politics once more prevailed. Germany's triumph had been won by the grim threat of force.

Significance of the Four-Power Munich Agreement

In practical effect, Munich signified the passing of French hegemony of the Continent. It meant the destruction of the system of treaties and alliances with the small states of Central and Eastern Europe by which France had sought to maintain that hegemony and to guarantee her own security. It meant the weakening, if not the effective suppression, of the Little Entente as a force in Central European politics. It foreshadowed the transformation of Czechoslovakia into a vassal state of Germany, opening the way for domination of Eastern Europe by the Reich in furtherance of the Pan-German and Nazi policy of pressure toward the east.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
World WarII Catalysts
Oct. 17, 1939  Coalition Government and National Unity
Oct. 03, 1939  Present and Proposed Neutrality Legislation
May 10, 1939  Demands of the European Dictators
Apr. 01, 1939  American Neutrality Policy and the Balance of Power
Jan. 10, 1939  Nazi Objectives in Eastern Europe
Oct. 18, 1938  Changing European Political Alignments
Jan. 27, 1938  The Spread of Dictatorship
Oct. 21, 1937  Neutrality vs. Sanctions
Feb. 05, 1937  Germany's Demand for Colonies
Dec. 04, 1935  Revision of American Neutrality Policy
May 06, 1935  The Great Powers and the Danubian Problem
Jan. 16, 1935  Neutrality Policy of the United States
Jun. 04, 1928  The International Cartel Movement
Regional Political Affairs: Europe