Peace for our time

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Neville Chamberlain showing the Anglo-German Declaration to a crowd at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938

The phrase "peace for our time" was spoken on 30 September 1938 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in his speech concerning the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration.[1] The phrase echoed Benjamin Disraeli, who upon returning from the Congress of Berlin in 1878 stated "I have returned from Germany with peace in our time." It is primarily remembered for its ironic value, as the German occupation of the Sudetenland began on the following day. Less than a year after the agreement, following continued aggression from Germany and its invasion of Poland, Europe was plunged into World War II.

It is often misquoted as "peace in our time", which had appeared long before in The Book of Common Prayer as "Give peace in our time, O Lord", probably based on the 7th-century hymn 'Da pacem Domine! in diebus nostris, Alleluja'.[2] It is unknown how deliberate Chamberlain's use of such a similar term was, but anyone of his background would be familiar with the original.

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The speeches

Chamberlain landed at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938, and spoke to the crowds there:

The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ' ... We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.'[3]

Later that day he stood outside 10 Downing Street and again read from the document and concluded:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.[3]

Upon hearing of the Munich Settlement and the avoiding of a new world war, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt sent a 2 word telegram to Chamberlain:

Good man.

Cultural references

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