Word Count: 2140On January 30, 1933, the Nazis acquired mastery of Germany when AdolfHitler was appointed chancellor. That evening Hitler stood triumphantlyin the window of the Reich Chancellery waving to thousands of stormtroopers who staged parades throughout the streets of Berlin. The Nazisproclaimed that their Third Reich would be the greatest civilization inhistory and would last for thousands of years.
But the meteoric rise ofHitler and national socialism was followed by an almost equally rapiddefeat; the Third Reich survived for a mere twelve years. But one of themain causes of World War II was Hitlers public justification for thedismemberment of the Czech state through either war or diplomacy was theplight of the 3.5 million ethnic Germans the Treaty of Versailles hadleft inside Czechoslovakia. The main land that Hitler wanted to annex toGermany was that of , where most of the people livingthere were of German origin. The land also bordered Germany to the SouthEast, and Germany was prepared to conquer this land at all cost.
“And now before us stands the last problem that must be solved and willbe solved It (the Sudetenland) is the last territorial claim which Ihave to make in Europe, but it is the claim from which I will notrecede” – Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin, September 26 1938, justprior to the Munich conference.Most of the German minorities live in Sudetenland, an economicallyvaluable and strategically important area along the Czech border withGermany and Austria. The grievances of the Sudeten Germans against theCzech state had led to the rise of a strong German nationalist movementin the Sudetenland. By the mid -1930s, this movement had the support ofalmost 70 percent of the Sudeten German population. Their leader, thepro-Nazi Konrad Heinlen, began demanding autonomy for this region Boththe real and contrived problems of the Sudeten Germans added credibilityto Hitlers charge that they were denied the right of self-determinationand lived as an oppressed minority, which he was obligated to defend Inthe spring of 1938, Heinlein was directed by Hitler to make demands thatthe Czechs could not accept, thereby giving Germany a reason tointervene.
The Czech situation soon turned into an international crisisthat dominated the European scene for the rest of that current year. The weekend which began on Friday, May 20, 1938, developed into acritical one and would later be remembered as the “May crisis.” Duringthe ensuing forty-eight hours, the Governments in London, Paris, Pragueand Moscow were panicked into the belief that Europe stood nearer towar than it had at any time since the summer of 1914.
This may have beenlargely due to the possibility that new plans for a German attack onCzechoslovakia called “Case Green” which were drawn up for him, gotleaked out. Hitler had begun to prepare an attack on the Sudetenland.The target date was the beginning of October. He was prepared to employan army of ninety-six divisions.
The Czechoslovak Government, aware ofHitlers intentions but uncertain when the blow would fall, ordered apartial mobilization on May 21. Hitler was outraged, explaining to hisgenerals that he had offered no threat and was being treated withcontempt. He had been humiliated, and no one yet humiliated him withimpunity. His rage against Czechoslovakia increased, and on May 30 heissued a secret directive to his high command: “It is my unalterabledecision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future.” All through the summer Britain, France and the Soviet Union were awarethat Hitler planned to strike at the Sudetenland and perhaps the wholeof Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovaks had an excellent intelligencesystem with Germany and knew from day to day what Hitler was planning.Germany also had an excellent intelligence system, and in addition ithad in Konrad Henlein, the National Socialist leader in the Sudetenland,a man who would stop at nothing to produce an insurrection or an act ofdeliberate provocation against the Czechoslovak Government.
The Germannewspapers were filled with accounts of mass arrests of innocent men andwomen in the Sudetenland, and there were the inevitable circumstantialstories “by our correspondent.” Nonexistent people in nonexistentvillages were being slaughtered. The Czechoslovak Government attemptedto refute some of these stories but gave up in despair.
Hitler ordered amassive propaganda barrage against Czechoslovakia to prepare the Germanpeople for the October invasion. On September 12th at Nuremberg, Hitler went as close to declaring waragainst Czechoslovakia as possible without actually signing the order tohis troops to advance into enemy territory. He cried out that theCzechoslovak Government was using all of its means possible toannihilate the 3.5 million Sudeten Germans.
He claimed that these peoplewere being deprived of their rights, for example, they were notpermitted to sing German songs or to wear white stockings. If indeedthey went through with any of these crimes they were brutally struckdown. Although the tone was ferociously threatening, he gave no examplesof atrocities, perhaps because there were none. “The misery of theSudeten Germans is without end,” he declared. He then went on to promisethat Germany would take care of her own and put an end to the continuedoppression of 3.5 million Germans. “I hope that the foreign statesmanwill be convinced that these are not mere words,” he added ominously.
This incredible declaration caused all of Europe to scramble andmobilize its respective armies. Hitler was demanding the directannexation of the Sudetenland by the Reich, hinting that if necessary,he would resort to war. The Prime Minister of Britain, NevilleChamberlain was particularly distressed by the reports coming out ofGermany. Feeling that quick action was necessary, he sent off aseven-line telegram to Hitler:Having regard to the increasingly critical situation, I propose to visityou immediately in order to make an attempt to find a peaceful solution.
I come to you by air and am ready to leave tomorrow. Please inform me ofthe earliest time you can receive me, and tell me the place of meeting.I should be grateful for a very early reply. Neville ChamberlainHitler accepted Chamberlain and following an entire days talks withHitler, an exhausted Chamberlain flew back to London to consult with hiscolleagues. Over the next week, Chamberlain met many more times withHitler. However, there was still a discrepancy over the exact date whenthe evacuation would begin.
On September 29th, 1938 the MunichConference was held. It was attended by representatives of France,Italy, Germany and Britain. During the course of this conference a pactwas drawn up and signed by all the representatives of the respectivecountries.
Secret Reich AffairsAgreementreached between Germany the United Kingdom France and Italy,in Munich on 29 September 1938Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, taking into considerationthe agreement, which has already been reached in principle for thecession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory, have agreed on thefollowing terms and conditions governing the said cession and themeasures consequent thereon, and by this agreement they each holdthemselves responsible for the steps necessary to secure itsfulfillment:-1. The evacuation will begin on the 1st October.2. The United Kingdom, France and Italy agree that the evacuation ofthe territory shall be completed by October 10th, without any existinginstallations having been destroyed and that the Czechoslovak Governmentwill be held responsible for carrying out the evacuation without damageto the said installations.7.
There shall be the right of option into and out of the transferredterritories, the option to be exercised within six months from the dateof this agreement. A German-Czechoslovak commission shall determine thedetails of the option, consider ways of facilitating the transfer ofpopulation and settle questions of principle arising out of the saidtransfer. 8.The Czechoslovak Government will within a period of 4 weeksfrom the date of this agreement release from theirmilitary and police forces any Sudeten Germans who may wish to bereleased, and the Czechoslovak Government will within the same periodrelease Sudeten German prisoners who are serving terms of imprisonmentfor political offenses. Munich, September 29, 1938ADOLF HITLERED.
DALADIERMUSSOLININEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN The date set in the pact for the beginning of Czechoslovakianevacuation of the territory was October 1st 1938, and German occupationof four specified districts was to take place in successive stagesbetween October 1 and 7. Additional territories of predominantly Germanpopulation were to be specified by an international commission composedof delegates from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy andCzechoslovakia, and those territories were to be occupied by Germany byOctober 10th. The international commission was also to determine andoccupy areas in which plebiscites were to be held and fix a date forsuch plebiscites no later than the end of November. The plebiscites,however, were never held.
It was also agreed that if the claims ofHungarian and Polish minorities in Czechoslovakia were not settled inthree months, a new conference was to be convened. Great Britain andFrance agreed, in an annex to the pact, to guarantee the new boundariesof Czechoslovakia against aggression, as did Germany. The night of the Munich conference Chamberlain slept in Munich, and inthe morning he called on Hitler to sign the Anglo-German agreement.After all that Chamberlain had done for Hitler he felt that the least hecould demand of Hitler was a declaration of peaceful intentions towardEngland.
Hitler signed the document without any particular show ofinterest, since for him the “method of consultation” was totallymeaningless. Chamberlain returned to England in triumph, waving theletter to cheerful crowds, believing that the peace of Europe wasassured for a generation. The belief was not shared by Hitler whodespised Chamberlain as a weakling. “Our enemies are little worms,” hesaid a year later.
“I saw them at Munich.” In conclusion, Hitlers victory was complete: the Sudetenland was his.While there were still a few minor details to sort out, Adolf Hilter hadgotten what he had come for.
However, in March 1939, the Munich pact wasnullified when the Germans invaded Czecho-Slovakia and subsequently mademost of the country a German protectorate.BIBLIOGRAPHYPayne, Robert. The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler.
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