Military Review

How Hitler took Czechoslovakia

25
How Hitler took Czechoslovakia
Armored cars Sd. Kfz. 221 and motorcyclists of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in Prague. October 4, 1939

Preparing Munich



The Anglo-French "peacekeepers" were afraid that Hitler would start a war against Czechoslovakia, which could lead to undesirable military and political consequences. The plan to "appease" the Reich will collapse. Therefore, the British insisted that everything be decided by "peaceful evolution".

Britain sent Lord Runciman to Prague in the summer of 1938 as an "independent intermediary". In fact, he fully supported the aggressive policy of Berlin. The United States, although not so openly, but supported the policy of "appeasement" of Germany.

Thus, the American ambassador to Germany, Wilson, arrived in Prague in early August 1938 and, like Runciman, demanded that the Czechoslovak government make concessions to the Sudeten Germans (How Western Powers Helped Hitler End Czechoslovakia).

Meanwhile, the German command was preparing for the Czechoslovak operation. Hitler hoped that England and France would surrender Czechoslovakia to him.

On the western border (the Siegfried Line), new fortifications were defiantly built, showing that the French could not help the Czechs. The Fuhrer in September 1938 announced that about 450 thousand people were building the line. At the same time, the Nazis tirelessly insisted that the strengthening of the defense and the army was connected with the “Soviet threat”, which was positively received in London and Paris.

A Czechoslovakian soldier on duty on a road in northern Bohemia after the announcement of mobilization. September 1938

Czechoslovak sappers plant explosives on a railway bridge to blow them up in the event of a German attack. September 1938

Second Sudeten Crisis


The crisis in Czechoslovakia deepened.

The German party of Henlein became more and more impudent. The Henleinites rejected all the proposals of the Czech authorities and put forward new demands. In early September, Prague capitulated to the Sudeten separatists.

But this was not enough for the Nazis.

On September 7, clashes with the police were provoked.

Active anti-Czech propaganda began again in Germany. On September 12, Hitler demanded that Prague give the Sudeten Germans the right to decide their own fate.

Italy supported its ally.

The Henleinites organized numerous performances in the Sudetenland. The Czech authorities have introduced martial law in the region. Henlein, fearing arrest, flees to Germany. When the Czech authorities propose to resume negotiations, Henlein issues an ultimatum: the lifting of martial law in the Sudetenland, the withdrawal of Czech troops and the transfer of law enforcement to local authorities.

The British ambassador in Berlin warns of the possibility of war. The head of the British government, Chamberlain, arrives in Germany on September 15 to "save the world".

The Fuhrer said that he wanted peace, but he was also ready for war. War can be avoided if the Sudetenland is handed over to Germany.

Chamberlain agreed to this.

Militants of the Sudeten German Corps (Freikorps) with weapons on the line at the training camp. The militants are armed with Mannlicher rifles mod. 1895 September 1938

Militants of the Sudeten German Corps are marching along Broumova Street

On September 18, at the invitation of the British, Daladier and Bonnet arrived in London.

Chamberlain briefed the French ministers on the results of his visit to Germany, and both sides made a decision in principle on the Czechoslovak question.

On September 19, London and Paris demanded that Prague hand over to Germany border areas with a predominantly German population. France and England promised to act as guarantors of the new borders of Czechoslovakia, but Prague had to cancel the mutual assistance treaties with the USSR and France.

Subsequent events showed that the "guarantees" of the British and French were worthless. It was a deception to persuade the Czechs to the first serious concessions.

At the same time, it was obvious that in this case, Czechoslovakia would lose the most important industrial region and lose its border defensive lines, remaining defenseless against further German aggression.

The only great power that expressed support for Czechoslovakia was the Soviet Union. Moscow invited England and France to act as a common front in defense of Czechoslovakia, but the Westerners reacted coolly to this.

Moscow was ready to fulfill its obligations to Prague even without the support of France, if the Czechs asked for help and fought themselves. Moscow began the formation and deployment of army groups on the western border. In the event of aggression, she suggested that the Czechs send 700 fighters to help and supply aircraft on preferential terms.

Moscow warned Warsaw, which was preparing to divide Czechoslovakia together with Germany, that in this case Poland would be considered an aggressor, and the non-aggression pact would be denounced.

The Soviet government proposed joint measures to contain the Reich and France.

Thus, Prague, relying on the support of the people, the army, the help of the USSR, could reject the demand for surrender. Czechoslovakia, having powerful border lines, could even repel the blow of the enemy itself. She had 45 divisions.

In total, the armed forces had about 2 million people, over 1 aircraft, 500 tanks, 5 guns.

And the Germans allocated 39 divisions for the Green Operation. The Nazis later marveled at the strength of the Czech fortifications.

“General surprise was caused by the Czech border fortifications,” said the former Minister of Armaments Speer. - During test shots, to the surprise of our specialists, it turned out that the weapon that was supposed to be used against them turned out to be ineffective.
Hitler personally went to the former border to get an impression of these fortifications, and returned shocked. The bunkers were amazingly powerful, exceptionally skillfully placed, deeply echeloned with excellent use of the nature of the terrain. Their capture, with a decisive defense, would cost us a lot of blood.

One of the leaders of the German army - Field Marshal Keitel at the Nuremberg trials said:

"We did not have the strength to force the Czechoslovak line of fortifications, and we did not have troops on the western border."

The threat from Poland and Hungary could be countered by a Russian military demonstration.

However, the Czech elite, which occupied pro-Western positions, had already given up. Therefore, Moscow's attempts to help Prague were generally ignored.

Thousands of rallies were held in Czechoslovakia in defense of the country, the people were ready to fight for their homeland with weapons in their hands. The Czechoslovak elite, frightened by social unrest, chose to capitulate.

Czechoslovakian soldier near the observation-machine-gun armored dome of the infantry bunker "At Linden", near the town of Kraliki on the border with Poland

A German soldier is photographed at the two-armoured machine-gun armored dome of the artillery turret "Na clearing" of the Czechoslovak artillery fortress "Ganichka". An infantry bunker "At the observation post" is visible in the background. October 1938

German soldiers are photographed against the background of the Czechoslovak artillery bunker "Na clearing", which was part of the artillery fortress "Ganichka" on the Czechoslovak-German border

The Munich Agreement


On September 20-21, 1938, England and France again put pressure on Prague.

Beneš was informed that if war broke out, France would not take part in it. England also disclaimed responsibility for the actions of Berlin and Prague.

The Czechoslovak government surrendered.

On September 22–23, Chamberlain again visited Hitler and expressed his readiness to hand over the Sudetenland to Germany.

The Fuhrer presented new demands: the right to secession for Hungarians and Poles. New borders to be determined immediately, without delay and without any commissions and committees. Resolve the issue by October 1st.

Czechoslovakia met the new demands of the "world community" with mass protest. The names of Goji, Benes, Hitler and Chamberlain were met with abuse.

Goji's government fell.

The former commander of the Czechoslovak Corps in Russia during the Civil War, Yan Syrovy, was appointed the new prime minister and minister of national defense (he was marked by the surrender of Admiral Kolchak). The people hoped that Syrovy would lead the resistance. However, the new head of government turned out to be the same capitulator.

The initiated mobilization (carried out on September 23-29) turned out to be a demonstration. After Benes accepted the terms of the Munich Agreement, Syrovy gave the order not to defend against the advancing Wehrmacht.

On September 29, 1938, a four-power conference was convened in Munich - Britain, France, Germany and Italy. The delegation of Czechoslovakia was not even allowed to the talks.

Hitler opened the conference, he demanded "in the interests of the European world" the immediate transfer of the Sudetenland.

Mussolini proposed a project, which was handed over to him from Berlin. Chamberlain and Daladier accepted this plan. On the night of September 30, the Czechoslovaks were simply introduced: they arrived ready to surrender.

The Sudetenland was given to Germany, and territorial claims from Poland and Hungary were also satisfied.

The Munich agreement became the peak of the provocative policy of England, France and the United States, which "appeased" Hitler at the expense of other countries and tried to direct his aggression to the East.

Handshake between Adolf Hitler and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at the Munich Conference. September 29, 1938

Chamberlain, Mussolini, Hitler and Daladier before signing the Munich Agreement

Partition and liquidation of Czechoslovakia


On October 1, 1938, the Wehrmacht occupied the Sudetenland, occupying not only areas dominated by the Germans, but also other areas with a mixed population (a plebiscite was supposed to be held there).

At the same time, Poland demanded the transfer of the Teszyn region. The Germans supported this demand.

Under pressure from Berlin, Prague recognized the autonomy of Slovakia on October 7, and the autonomy of Transcarpathian Ukraine on October 8.

On November 2, the Vienna Arbitration took place, according to which Hungary received the southern regions of Slovakia and Transcarpathian Ukraine with a population of more than 1 million people.

All this happened with the tacit consent of England and France.

As a result, Czechoslovakia lost about half of its production capacity, 80% of energy. The new borders destroyed the country's defense capability and disrupted its transport communications.

On October 11, 1938, Hitler instructed Ribbentrop to work out a plan for the further solution of the Czech problem.

Prague was given to understand that it was in the sphere of Germany's vital interests, no more alliances with France and Russia. The Czechoslovak economy is included in the economy of the Reich.

A protocol was signed on the construction of the Danube-Oder Canal, an agreement on the construction of the Breslau-Brno-Vienna highway. German enterprises are actively absorbing Czech ones, trade is made dependent on Germany.

Hungarian residents of Slovakia with flowers meet Hungarian soldiers. 1938

Residents of the Sudetenland with flowers welcome the incoming troops of the Wehrmacht. 1938

In October - December 1938, military preparations were underway for the complete absorption of the Czech Republic.

German intelligence threw Henlein's "free corps" fighters, reconnaissance and sabotage groups into Bohemia and Moravia, and a wide intelligence network was created.

Since the problem of the German community was solved, Hitler found a new reason to interfere in the affairs of Czechoslovakia - the protection of the Slovaks from the dominance of the Czechs. The card of Slovak separatism was played. The Germans established contact with the Slovak separatists.

Slovak Prime Minister Tiso met with representatives of German intelligence and promised that he was ready to proclaim the sovereignty of Slovakia under the protection of the Reich.

On March 13, 1937, Tiso visited Berlin. On March 14, the Slovak Parliament announced the secession of Slovakia from Czechoslovakia and the formation of the Slovak Republic. The Slovaks called on German troops to help. In the Czech Republic and Moravia, the Germans organized a series of provocations.

On the night of March 15, 1939, Hitler, having received the Czechoslovak President Gakha and Foreign Minister Khvalkovsky in the capital, declared the inadmissibility of resistance to the Wehrmacht.

Hacha pleaded for Czech sovereignty to be preserved. Goering and Ribbentrop processed it. They delivered an ultimatum: either capitulation or the German Air Force would destroy Prague within a few hours. Hundreds of planes are waiting for the order to bombard, which will begin at 6 o'clock in the morning.

It was a bluff, the Luftwaffe did not have such opportunities.

But Gakha broke down. The Czech elite accepted the ultimatum and signed an agreement to transfer the fate of the Czech people and country into the hands of the Fuhrer.

On March 15, German troops occupied the Czech Republic and Moravia without resistance and entered Prague.

Before that, saboteurs and agents from among the Sudeten Germans captured key facilities, points and police departments.

The Czechs did not resist.

The protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was created. Slovakia gained independence, but under the protectorate of the Reich. Subcarpathian Rus (Ukraine) declared independence, but it was occupied by the Hungarians.

England and France reacted to this event with understanding and even relief. Like, this is “internal decay”.

Thus, Germany received a powerful military and economic potential of Czechoslovakia. The Germans began to dominate the Danube and gained a foothold for aggression in the Balkans.

The death of Czechoslovakia deprived France of a strong ally, approximately 35-40 well-armed divisions, respectively, the Germans were able to equip 40 of their divisions with Czech weapons.

For France, it was also a political catastrophe, which was not realized then. Paris betrayed its ally. The entire system of collective defense, created by the French earlier, collapsed.

In Warsaw, Bucharest, Belgrade they saw the price of an alliance with the French. There they fussed to negotiate with Berlin.

Czechoslovak infantry bunker "Quarry" near the city of Nachod, which was part of the border fortifications on the Czechoslovak-German border

Polish 7TP tanks enter the Czech city of Tesin

The success of the information war


Hitler achieved a brilliant success in this campaign, an almost bloodless victory over a strong opponent. The capture of its resources, material and industrial base, which did not suffer in any way, since there were no hostilities.

Formally, no war was declared; until the last moment, diplomatic relations between Prague and Berlin were maintained.

The Germans were able to organize in Czechoslovakia a powerful "fifth column" of the Sudeten Germans, with the involvement of Slovak, Hungarian and Polish nationalists, separatists. Intelligence was active, sowing fear and panic behind enemy lines.

The calculation worked on the weakness, worthlessness of the democratic-bourgeois government in Czechoslovakia. The Czech elite turned out to be rotten, it had all the opportunities and resources to repel German aggression, but got scared and capitulated. Since the main hope was that "the West will help us." As soon as England and France "leaked" Prague, the Czech elite threw out the white flag.

The Germans skillfully inflicted a series of psychic, informational attacks on England and France. They played on the fact that Western society after the First World War was terribly afraid of a big war.

The Nazis spread rumors that, in the event of the intervention of the French and British, their submarine fleet would strike at the main British trade routes in the Atlantic. That a surprise Luftwaffe attack on the British home fleet is possible.

This misinformation was launched by the chief of the Abwehr, Canaris. Although the Reich submarine forces were still in the initial stage of development, the Air Force was also weak and relatively small in number.

The press during the Sudeten Crisis immediately spread these rumors. The ghosts of non-existent submarines and the armada of the Luftwaffe shocked the inhabitants of England and France. In September 1938, war seemed imminent. Even the French generals believed that Paris would be destroyed. They mistakenly believed that their Air Force was worse and weaker than the German ones.

In France, the roads that led from Paris to the west were clogged with cars. Residents of large cities fled to the west of the country. Already during a real war, terrible traffic jams and panic will greatly undermine the combat capability of the French army.

Gas masks were handed out in London, shelters were being dug in parks, and children were being evacuated. Installed anti-aircraft batteries. Newspapers wrote that thousands of people would be killed during the raids in the very first days.

Similar rumors circulated in Prague. In particular, they expected a biological attack.

Departure of the train with mobilized Czechs and Slovaks. September 1938

Residents of Prague are digging trenches on Klarov Square. September 1938

Fear and horror worked in the West!

Hitler was allowed to dismember Czechoslovakia, first tear off the industrial Sudetenland, and then occupy the Czech Republic itself.

Daladier and Chamberlain believed that they had saved their countries and the whole world from a terrible war, Paris and London from destruction by the deadly Luftwaffe.

Interestingly, the German generals themselves, the military leaders, on the contrary, were sure (knowing about the real state of the Wehrmacht) that the war against Czechoslovakia, which France, England and Russia would inevitably support, would be lost.

Parts of the Wehrmacht are marching through the streets of Prague. March 15, 1939

German armored vehicles Sd.Kfz. 232 at the parade in Prague. March 1939
Author:
Photos used:
https://ru.wikipedia.org/, http://waralbum.ru/
25 comments
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  1. Uncle lee
    Uncle lee 24 January 2022 05: 22
    +4
    The calculation worked on the weakness, worthlessness of the democratic-bourgeois government in Czechoslovakia.
    A warning from those times.....
    1. mitroha
      mitroha 24 January 2022 06: 23
      +13
      The Fuhrer said he wants peace, but is ready for war

      So that's where the neighborhood clown got inspiration for his speech.
      President Zelensky said that Ukraine does not want war, but is ready for it
    2. Uncle lee
      Uncle lee 24 January 2022 10: 51
      -2
      Quote: Uncle Lee
      A warning

      Choi, the local fifth column is inflated!
      "So he will crack at this jump, radish, at the first nix"!
    3. Victor Tsenin
      Victor Tsenin 24 January 2022 22: 40
      +2
      I don’t know who disagrees with you, in my opinion everything is correct, the calculation and well-known actions of Western degenerates.
  2. north 2
    north 2 24 January 2022 07: 32
    +12
    Quote from Friedom
    Good and interesting article. The events of 84 years ago are reminiscent of today's realities. Putin's Russian Federation behaves like Hitler's Germany in the second half of the 30s of the 20th century. The same priorities - the aggressive actions of the under-empire are covered by the protection of some kind of "peace".
    as I understand it, the obvious activation of organized groups and teams of trolls under the leadership of the SBU, this is your comment. But what will happen to you at hour X, then there was an article about this not long ago about such people. They hung and dangled ... This is your world. And the Russian World has the right to read the verdict to the traitors.
  3. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 24 January 2022 08: 38
    +11
    That's what's interesting - how the Sudeten Germans were kicked out of the territory of compact residence in 1945, so no one returns them there. In our country, Khrushch Kukuruzny recorded Nazi accomplices as "innocent victims of Stalinist repressions" and returned them back, but for some reason it is not so in Europe. "Is it different?"
    1. Daniil Konovalenko
      Daniil Konovalenko 24 January 2022 09: 52
      +12
      Benes' decision to evict Germans from Czechoslovakia received the support of the Allies at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945. During the deportation, 18 Germans died, of which 816 were killed, 5 committed suicide (according to official sources), 596 died in concentration camps, 3411 6 died during transport, 615 immediately after transport, 1 during the escape and 481 for unknown reasons. Many were maimed as a result of bullying or raped. And in the spring of 705, the then Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, during negotiations with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, called the Beneš decrees "extinct". And films about this are not being made either in the Czech Republic or in Germany.
    2. faiver
      faiver 24 January 2022 10: 26
      +13
      Well, it was the same with the Germans in the territories that moved to Poland ...
      1. Sergej1972
        Sergej1972 25 January 2022 14: 59
        +1
        Several tens of thousands of Germans still remained. And sometimes people with Polish roots, but Germanized, were evicted. Bierut and Gomulka believed that there would be no sense in such denationalized Poles.
    3. Zakirov Damir
      Zakirov Damir 24 January 2022 23: 53
      -2
      Quote: Aviator_
      That's what's interesting - how the Sudeten Germans were kicked out of the territory of compact residence in 1945, so no one returns them there. In our country, Khrushch Kukuruzny recorded Nazi accomplices as "innocent victims of Stalinist repressions" and returned them back, but for some reason it is not so in Europe. "Is it different?"

      These are Catholics who do not live according to the Sermon on the Mount.
  4. Fitter65
    Fitter65 24 January 2022 12: 28
    +3
    There is a lot of confusion about the dates.
    Fuhrer in September 1838 year said
    March 13 1937 Tiso visited Berlin. On March 14, the Slovak Parliament announced the secession of Slovakia from Czechoslovakia and the formation of the Slovak Republic.
  5. Russian Bear_2
    Russian Bear_2 24 January 2022 15: 28
    +3
    The fortifications on the border are powerful, and if desired, the Czechs could put quite a few Germans.
    1. deddem
      deddem 24 January 2022 18: 28
      +4
      Actually, very unfinished. Just look at the staffing of artillery.
      Well, whatever one may say, the Czechs were not mentally prepared for the war.
      They walked, manifested, and quietly merged.
      The obscurantist Slovaks at least raised an uprising, in contrast to.
  6. Catfish
    Catfish 24 January 2022 15: 57
    +4
    And what else was to be expected after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which was extremely humiliating and predatory for Germany, the only question was when it would flare up, and in what direction.
    Thanks to the author for the magnificent photographs of Czech fortifications and for their description, this is new information for me.
  7. Alex013
    Alex013 24 January 2022 17: 45
    +2
    Yes, only Karel Pavlik and his company offered the only resistance...
  8. Avior
    Avior 24 January 2022 20: 37
    +3
    Very often people wonder why the Czechs did not fight.
    The author said about the reasons, but the key point was gracefully bypassed.
    Czechoslovakia, having powerful border lines, could even repel the blow of the enemy itself. She had 45 divisions.

    This is a common cliché about the alleged strength of the Czechoslovak army. In fact, not only Czechs were in the army, Slovaks made up a significant part of the army. Slovakia left Czechoslovakia the day before the German ultimatum, and the Slovaks refused to fight for the Czechs, leaving the army. The army was actually paralyzed, and these 45 divisions turned into paper ones, in fact, most of them lost their combat effectiveness, they could not provide effective resistance to the Germans or anyone in such a state. The border lines, in fact, were not ready for battle either.
    1. Kwas
      Kwas 30 January 2022 22: 11
      0
      A very valid remark. I would develop the idea - a patchwork education, pursuing a policy of national oppression, cannot be lasting. As a no less striking example - Poland, which is the sample of 1939, which is the sample of 1772-95.
  9. Victor Tsenin
    Victor Tsenin 24 January 2022 22: 38
    +4
    >that the strengthening of the defense and the army is associated with the "Soviet threat", which was positively received in London and Paris.

    Pay attention to the innate wretchedness - the Russian threat / Soviet / Russian, but how convenient it is for the centers of suggestion that, in general, the remaining smart people in the West understand and do not hide.

    By the way, to shame, I didn’t know about Heinlein at all, so I classically thank VO and its authors for enlightenment.
  10. Aitvaras
    Aitvaras 25 January 2022 09: 41
    +2
    Similar ideas were expressed by the participants in the program of Mr. Solovyov on the program "Evening" about Lithuania, as for example. that this is primordially Russian land, the Lithuanians did not live there but only in the swamps, that it is necessary to restore the common economic space and territory, as in the USSR. To save and free the humiliated and offended compatriots in Lithuania, about "Stalin's gifts" - Vilnius and Klaipeda. Almost the same , as in the speeches of A. Hitler about Czechoslovakia in 1937 Nothing new.
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 25 January 2022 11: 11
      +5
      Quote: Aitvaras
      about "Stalin's gifts" - Vilnius and Klaipeda

      And what, Vilnius was not a gift? Polish territory (from the beginning of the 20s), which in 1939 during reunions for some reason, they gave it to the state, which did not take part in the whole procedure at all. But it could have been the original Belarusian city of Vilna. smile
      1. Aitvaras
        Aitvaras 25 January 2022 12: 40
        0
        No, Vilnius is not a gift. In 1920, an agreement was signed between Soviet Russia and Lithuania on the recognition of Lithuania's independence. It states that Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. In 1939, there was an agreement between the USSR and Lithuania that Vilnius was returned to Lithuania on the basis of an agreement dated July 12, 1920. Then Lithuania and the USSR were military allies in order to resist Nazi Germany. Vilnius was never a Belarusian city because there were no ancient Belarusians in the Middle Ages.
  11. Altmann
    Altmann 25 January 2022 12: 34
    0
    Zradili všichni, ale bojo am vat jsme meli!
  12. APASUS
    APASUS 27 January 2022 13: 15
    0
    For some reason, the Poles are not reproached for dividing Czechoslovakia and they are hickeyed with the Czechs. In fact, this is the beginning of WWII. At that time, the army of Czechoslovakia was larger than the German one and could have fought, but they were betrayed by PARTNERS
  13. Sergey Faraonov
    Sergey Faraonov 28 January 2022 07: 46
    0
    and these tell us something else
  14. Ivan Daraktchiev
    Ivan Daraktchiev 24 February 2022 17: 22
    0
    Therefore, it is necessary to consider 01.10.1938/XNUMX/XNUMX the beginning of WWII - see for example. in 
    https://www.academia.edu/37688587/The_Truth_only_the_Truth_the_whole_Truth_80_Years_from_the_Beginning_of_WWII_on_October_1938  и еще в   https://www.academia.edu/40180222/The_thief_shouts_Catch_the_thief_louder_than_everyone_else_Poland_fits_Churchills_label_portraying_itself_as_innocent_victim_even_though_it_has_started_WWII_together_with_Germany_and_Hungary_on_Oct_1_st_1938