The Third Reich, taking advantage of the support of Western masters interested in the speedy restoration of the military and economic power of the German Empire, to throw it into a “crusade” to the East, against the USSR-Russia, quickly eliminated the restrictions of the Versailles system and began to round off its possessions at the expense of its neighbors.
Hitler was preparing for a big war and solved the task of reuniting all Germans in one empire. In March 1938, the task of reunifying Germany with Austria was solved. Berlin took the first important step in creating a "middle Europe" - Hitler's European Union. The Germans received a strategic base for capturing Czechoslovakia (previously it was part of the Austrian Empire) and further expansion from South-Eastern Europe.
At the same time, the German generals were afraid of Hitler’s so aggressive and reckless policy. He was warned against the seizure of Austria, and then action against Czechoslovakia. The Third Reich had not yet restored its military potential, was not ready for war. Even Czechoslovakia alone could then successfully confront the Reich, it needed only political support. But France and England could easily stop Germany with a harsh political reaction and concentration of troops on its western border. However, Hitler resolutely went to his goals, not listening to quite reasonable warnings of his military. The fact was that he was sure that he would not be stopped, confined to censure. The Fuhrer knew that the owners of the West would surrender to him a significant part of Europe, so that he would then go to the East.
Fascist Italy, which had previously prevented the seizure of Austria, and was stronger than the newly created Nazi state, was now battered in Spain and Abyssinia (Ethiopia). The Third Reich surpassed the former "elder brother" in technology and military and economic power. Now Rome obediently followed a strong partner. England and France closed their eyes to the seizure of Austria. The masters of London and of Paris, who passively followed him, relied on Hitler, increasing the power of the Reich in order to set the Germans against the Russians again. Therefore, the diplomacy of England and France was silent, while Hitler pressed political resistance to Vienna. Left alone, Vienna capitulated. Chamberlain’s British government showed a characteristic pattern of hypocrisy: at first it protested, condemned Berlin, and in April it formally recognized the seizure of Austria by Germany. The fact that the leading Western powers are not inclined to give a collective rebuff to Berlin’s aggressive policy, Moscow noted. At the Plenum of the League of Nations 21 September 1938, the Soviet delegation stated: "The disappearance of the Austrian state went unnoticed for the League of Nations."
20 February 1938, the Hitler in the Reichstag, announced his desire to unite "10 millions of Germans living across the border." The German press actively demanded to satisfy the interests of the Germans in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Among the Sudeten Germans, the “Sudetenteme German party” Henlein was actively working. After the capture of Austria by the Reich, supporters of Henlein demanded territorial autonomy for the Sudetes. The same autonomy was demanded for Slovakia by the nationalist Glinka party.
Prague then had the opportunity to defend independence: the army was quite combat-ready, one of the best in Europe, had advanced equipment, good personnel, relied on strong frontier defensive lines and the military industry. However, the fate of Czechoslovakia was dependent on the decision of the owners of the West, primarily France, with whom Prague had an agreement on mutual assistance. Czechoslovak leaders themselves did not dare to confront Germany.
However, Paris was then in the wake of British politics. And London demanded that by all means avoid a collision with Germany. The fact is that the masters of London and Washington created the project “Hitler” in order to once again pit Germany and Russia. Therefore, Hitler was consistently given one position after another in order for Germany to strengthen and be able to attack the USSR. Later, Britain and the United States were to finish off Germany and establish their world order on the planet..
Britain, first through the press, and then through diplomatic channels began to put pressure on Prague. The Czechs were led to the idea that Britain and France would not fight for Czechoslovakia, so the Sudeten question should be resolved peacefully. Thus, in conversations with the Czech ambassador Massarik, the British foreign minister, Halifax, persistently urged him to prevent the war, to satisfy the demands of the Sudeten Germans. In the summer of 1938, the British and French recognized Hitler’s proposals on Czechoslovakia as acceptable, which became the basis for the future Munich Agreement.
July 22 London 1938 demanded that Prague take measures to "pacify Europe." The Czechs agreed to begin negotiations on the autonomy of the Sudeten Germans. However, Henlein and his associates were already few. July 29 Genlein made a declaration in Breslavl, where he proclaimed the principles of German Pan-Germanism: all Germans must live in one state and obey only German law. London immediately put pressure on Prague to conclude an agreement as soon as possible. Germany at that time put military pressure: they called on the reserve, started its mobilization, carried out military maneuvers, built new fortifications on the border of Czechoslovakia, German aircraft invaded Czech airspace, provocations began on the border, etc. threatened Prague that in the event of war Czechoslovakia would be crushed by Hitler's hordes, therefore it was necessary to yield. As a result, Prague was blamed for the fact that its tough stance could cause a general war in Europe.
In France, the military talked about the strategic need to protect Czechoslovakia. General Gamelin argued that Czechoslovakia can and must be protected, since it is a question of the security of France itself. The strongest army of Western Europe - the French, in alliance with the Czechoslovak army could stop the German aggression. However, French politicians were set differently. They believed that "a better world with Hitler than a war against him along with Voroshilov." Therefore, Daladier told the Czechs that France could not fulfill its allied obligations with respect to Czechoslovakia.
15 September 1938 was the meeting of Chamberlain with Hitler in Berchtesgaden. Hitler demanded the final and complete self-determination of the Sudeten Germans. After that, Chamberlain held a meeting with Daladier and Bonn. The British and French finally decided to donate Czechoslovakia in order to negotiate with Hitler. September 19 Prague was handed a note stating that, in order to prevent a European war, it should immediately hand over the Sudetenland to the Reich. Prague was promised an "international guarantee" of its new borders. In fact, London and Paris demanded suicide from Prague.
20 September Prague asked England and France to reconsider this decision and submit the issue to arbitration in accordance with the German-Czechoslovak agreement 1925 of the year. In the evening of the same day, the British warned the Czech government that if they persisted further, they would no longer "be interested in his fate." The French repeated this threat. September 21 Czechoslovak President Benes was presented an ultimatum: the demand for the immediate surrender of Czechoslovakia. Prague had to accept the Anglo-French plan, or it became "the only culprit of the inevitable war." Also, the Czechs warned that if they unite with the Russians, the war will take the form of a "crusade against the Bolsheviks." In the end, Prague capitulated. Thus, in fact, Czechoslovakia was crushed not by Germany, which Prague was ready to withstand the onslaught, but by “western friends” —England and France.
22 September 1938 of the year Chamberlain told Hitler during a meeting in Godesberg that the matter was settled - the issue of the Sudeten Germans was resolved in the interests of Germany. But now Hitler was not enough and this. He demanded that at the same time the territorial claims of Hungary and Poland to Czechoslovakia be satisfied. September 24 British transferred to Prague new demands of Berlin. On September 25, the Czechoslovak envoy Massarik presented Prague with a reply from the Chamberlain - the German proposals were called “absolutely unacceptable”. However, London continued its diplomatic pressure on Prague. In England and France, they staged a panic, "blackmail with war," fanning the threat of war with Germany over Czechoslovakia. Public opinion was inclined to "pacification" of Germany. Chekhov was shown as possible perpetrators of the start of a big war in Europe.
Hitler, seeing that not everything is going according to plan, raged, made a mental attack. In the evening of September 26, he spoke at the Berlin Sports Palace with new threats against Czechoslovakia. “If by October 1,” the Führer said, “the Sudetenland will not be handed over to Germany, I, Hitler, will go, as the first soldier, against Czechoslovakia.” He promised that after the settlement of the Sudeten question, Germany would not have any territorial claims in Europe: "We do not need Czechs." At the same time, the Czechs were accused of atrocities and oppression against the Sudeten Germans. Germany was seized with military psychosis.
September 29 The Munich-based European leaders of Germany, England, France, Italy - Hitler, Chamberlain, Daladier and Mussolini met in Munich in September. The fate of Czechoslovakia was decided without her participation. The Czech envoys were accepted in Munich only to report the results of the conference. Prague was offered to transfer to Germany all areas bordering on it, and not just the Sudetenland. These areas of the Czechs had to clean up before October 1938 10 year. All military fortifications that were in these areas were handed over to the Germans. Prague also had to properly resolve the issue of minorities with Hungary and Poland. It was meant that Czechoslovakia should transfer the relevant areas of Hungary and Poland.
Prague, under the pressure of London and Paris, capitulated. October 1 1938, the German troops freely entered Czechoslovakia. They captured the Sudetenland and a number of other areas and cities where there were almost no Germans. Slovakia gave Hungary the southern and eastern regions where the Hungarians constituted the majority of the population. Hungary received a part of the Carpathian Rus. Poland simultaneously with Germany sent troops to the Cieszyn region. At the insistence of the Germans, President Benes resigns. Thus, Czechoslovakia partially lost its sovereignty, 38% of its territory, a significant part of the population and its industrial potential. Her military security was destroyed. Border fortifications were lost. The Germans were in 30 km from Prague, the Czechs were forbidden to build new fortifications on the new border.
At the time of the signing of the Munich Agreement. From left to right: Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Ciano
The liquidation of Czechoslovakia
Further pliability of London and Paris on various issues showed Hitler that he could complete the seizure of Czechoslovakia. In particular, London and Berlin developed the concept of "eternal peace" on the basis of the redistribution of the world between Britain and Germany. The British hinted that when moving eastward, the Germans would not encounter interference from England. London and Paris established diplomatic relations with the victorious Spanish regime of Franco without any preconditions. France made concessions to Spain and Italy.
Initially, Berlin began to put pressure on Prague, so that the Czechs would give autonomy to Slovakia and Carpathian Rus. 7-8 October 1938, the Czechoslovak government granted autonomy to Slovakia and Carpathian Rus. On the initiative of Hitler’s diplomacy in Vienna 2 on November 1938, a compromise decision was made between Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia handed over to Hungary the southern regions of Slovakia (about 10 thousand km²) and the south-western regions of Carpathian Rus (about 2 thousand km²). In December, 1938 - January 1939, Berlin made it clear to Budapest that if the Carpathian Rus (Ukraine) were captured, the Hungarians would not meet Germany’s resistance. For this, Budapest promised to join the Anti-Comintern Pact, which was done in March 1939.
German diplomacy actively worked with Slovak nationalists. They were supposed to play the role of the Sudeten Germans, following the example of 1938 of the year. In Slovakia, the separatist movement was actively developing. In Germany, the press actively fanned the conflict between the Czechs and the Slovaks. Czech authorities accused of "atrocities." In Bratislava, a coup was organized. 9 March 1939, the Czech troops occupied the territory of Slovakia and removed the Slovak Prime Minister J. Tiso from power. The leaders of the Slovak separatists Tiso and Durchansky went to Hitler and asked for his protection from the Czech "oppressors". 13 March 1939 of the Year Tiso in Berlin declared the independence of Slovakia under the patronage of Germany. 14 March, the Slovak parliament declared independence. Tiso became prime minister and then president of “independent” Slovakia.
Events in Slovakia found an immediate response in Carpathian Rus. The Voloshin government formed there 15 March also declared independence. Voloshin asked for independence under the protection of the Reich. However, Berlin refused and offered not to resist Hungary. Hungarian troops occupied the Carpathian Rus by March 18.
Tanking of the Hungarian occupation troops of the Italian production "Fiat-Ansaldo" CV-35 enter the streets of the Czechoslovak city of Hust
The Hungarian tankettes of the Italian production Fiat-Ansaldo CV-35 and the soldiers on the street of the captured Czechoslovak city of Hust in Carpathian Rus. March 1939 of the year. Photo source: http://waralbum.ru
On the night of March 15, German troops began the occupation of the remnants of Czechoslovakia. The Fuhrer demanded the arrival of the Czech President in Berlin. President Gah with Foreign Minister Khvalkovsky arrived in the German capital. Here they were presented with a finished document on the final liquidation of the state and national independence of Czechoslovakia. Hitler told Gaha and Khvalkovsky that now is not the time to talk and he only needs their signature on the document according to which Bohemia (Czech Republic) and Moravia were included in the German Empire. Under severe psychological pressure (threats to destroy Prague, etc.), the Czech representatives surrendered. 1939 March Bohemia and Moravia declared a protectorate of Germany.
By note of 17 March, 1939, Berlin informed the world about the establishment of a protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia. This was justified by the fact that "for a millennium the Bohemian-Moravian lands were the living space of the German people." And Czechoslovakia was an “artificial formation”, a “source of anxiety” and discovered “internal non-viability”, therefore the state actually collapsed. And Berlin intervened to restore the "foundations of rational order in Central Europe."
Moscow refused to recognize the inclusion of the Czech Republic in the Reich. England, France and the United States expressed a formal protest.
Czechoslovak President Emil Gaha and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler. 15 March 1939
Residents of Brno meet German troops. March 1939
Thus, the owners of the West surrendered Czechoslovakia Germany. Hitler received an important strategic territory in the center of Europe, a strong Czechoslovak army was eliminated, which with the support of Britain and France could withstand the expansion of Germany. Now Hitler could start a war in the west or east. The Germans got the arms and stocks of the 30 Czechoslovak divisions (including the 3 armored vehicles and equipment), powerful Czechoslovak industry, including the military. So, by the year 1942, up to 40% of all the arms and ammunition of the German Empire was produced in the territory of the former Czechoslovakia.
The Germans conducted the ethnic and professional Germanization of the Czech Republic. Many Czech workers and engineers agreed to "become" Germans and provided with their work the work of the war machine of the Third Reich. The anti-fascist underground in the Czech Republic was almost imperceptible; the first partisans appeared only in the 1944 year, when it became obvious that Germany was losing the war. Therefore, the military industry of the former Czechoslovakia until the end of the Great War, regularly worked on the Reich. Hundreds of thousands of Czechs in 1939 - 1945 worked in Germany itself. In addition, the Czechs served in the Wehrmacht and the SS troops.
The army created in Slovakia actively fought on the side of Nazi Germany. 50-thousand the Slovak army (3 infantry divisions and other units) participated in the war with Poland. Then the Slovaks took part in the war with the USSR. In July, the Slovak Army Corps (1941-I and 1-I Infantry Divisions) was a part of the German Army Group South, in 2, a total of about 45 thousand soldiers. The hull supported the Slovak Air Force's 63 aircraft. In August, 1941, the infantry divisions decided to withdraw to Slovakia, instead they formed a mobile and security divisions. As a result, Slovak troops fought for Germany until April 1945.
The bridge over the Odra River (Oder), through which German troops enter the Czech city of Ostrava 15 March 1939.