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Czechoslovakia September 1938


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Title: Czechoslovakia September 1938

Czechoslovakia September 1938
Peace in Our Time
What you need to know
  • German claims to the Sudetenland
  • Hitlers reasons for attacking Czechoslovakia
  • British and French policy towards Czechoslovakia
  • Chamberlains role in the Czech Crisis
  • The Munich Conference (terms of the agreement
  • The fall of Czechoslovakia and its effect on the
    policy of appeasement

Czechoslovakia 1918
  • Czechoslovakia had been established at the end of
  • The Czechs and Slovaks had previously been
    subjects of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
  • The Czechoslovaks had military alliances with
    France and the Soviet Union and were strong
    supporters of the League of Nations and
    Collective Security.
  • They had a well equipped army, a modern armaments
    industry and strong border defences
  • However, this stable and prosperous country
    contained several ethnic minorities which caused
    Czechoslovakia problems with nationalities
    wanting their independence.

Czechoslovakia 1918
  • The Czechs were the majority, the Slovaks,
    Hungarians, Poles, Ukranians were minorities.
  • The most numerous minority were the 3.5 million
    Germans, who lived mainly near the border with
    Germany, known as the Sudetenland.

Overview of the Czech Crisis
  • The Anschluss greatly weakened Czechoslovakias

Overview of the Czech Crisis
  • The western part of the country was now
    surrounded by German territory.
  • Hitler exploited the many racial tensions that
    existed within Czechoslovakia. He deliberately
    provoked a crisis involving the Sudeten Germans.

Overview of the Czech Crisis
  • Nazi influence was great among the Sudeten
  • Hitler and the Nazis played on German grievances
    which were mainly caused by the high unemployment
  • The Sudeten German Party demanded self-government
    and were encouraged and indeed subsidised, by
    Nazi Germany.
  • Neville Chamberlain was anxious that the crisis
    should not develop into a war.
  • In the course of September 1938 he made three
    visits to Germany.
  • He hoped that some kind of settlement between
    Czechoslovakia and Germany could be reached and a
    major conflict avoided.

Hitlers reasons for attacking Czechoslovakia
  • After the Anschluss in March 1938, it was obvious
    that the Sudeten German problem was next on the
  • Since the reoccupation of the Rhineland in March
    1936, Czechoslovakias security was threatened
    because France was no longer such a credible
    deterrent to Germany.
  • Hitler had many reasons to dislike Czechoslovakia
  • It was peopled by Slavonic Untermenschen
    (inferior people) whom Hitler hated
  • It housed 3.5 million Germans (in the
    Sudetenland) who he wanted back united for his
    Greater Germany. These people were forced to
    live there - they had no self-determination which
    angered Hitler

Hitlers reasons for attacking Czechoslovakia
  • Czechoslovakia was created by the much hated
    Treaty of Versailles
  • Czechoslovakia was the most successful of the
    new states born in 1919 from both an economic
    and democratic point of view.
  • He hated the fact that the Czechs were supporters
    of the League.

Hitlers reasons for attacking Czechoslovakia
  • Hitler also hated the Czechs allies France and
    Russia (Germanys sworn enemies)
  • Hitler needed to take over Czechoslovakia before
    conquering Poland or Russia.
  • The airfields of the Sudetenland could be used as
    bases for French or Russian aircraft to launch
    bomber raids on any of the important German
    cities or their troops could come down from the
    mountains and invade the fatherland.

How Hitler created the crisis -Sudetenland Germans
  • The greatest threat to the Czech state came from
    the Sudeten Germans and from Hitlers Germany
  • German grievances in the Sudetenland were
    sharpened by the slump of the 1930s which caused
    considerable unemployment
  • The Sudetenland Germans were very annoyed that
    they were forced to live in Czechoslovakia
  • Even before Hitler took power in Germany Nazi
    ideas and organisation took root among the
  • During 1935 the German Foreign Office secretly
    began to subsidise the Sudeten Germany Party
  • Konrad Henleins Sudeten German Party attracted
    support from most of the German voters in the
    Sudetenland. They won 62 of the vote in the
    elections in 1935

Sudetenland Germans
  • Hitler provided the party with political and
    financial support.
  • The Sudeten German Party, Hitler and the German
    Nazis tried to cause trouble in Czechoslovakia so
    that they would come close to a civil war.
  • Hitler intended to cause so much trouble in the
    Sudetenland that he could intervene on the
    pretext of protecting the Germans and preventing
    a civil war.
  • They wanted the war to encourage the
    Czechoslovaks to give the Sudetenland back to
    Germany or that Hitler would come in to protect
  • He used the plight of the Sudeten Germans as an
    excuse to attack Czechoslovakia. He entered the
    arena as the champion of an oppressed minority
  • He presented the issue as one of a fair deal for
    the Sudetens and not as a demand for the transfer
    of territory to Germany

British and French reaction to the trouble
brewing in the Sudetenland
  • Britain and France were anxious to avoid trouble
  • They urged the Czechs to pacify Henlein and
    reach an agreement with the Sudetens.
  • Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary,
    informed the delighted Germans of British and
    French policy.

Hitlers Actions May Crisis 1938
  • In May 1938, Hitler started Operation Green

It is my unalterable decision to smash
Czechoslovakia by military action in the near
Hitlers Actions May Crisis 1938
  • He had hoped to launch a decisive attack before
    any possible intervention by the Western powers.
  • The plan was to cause trouble between the
    Sudetens and the Czechs
  • Konrad Henlein (leader of the Sudeten German
    Party) was advised by Hitler to always demand so
    much that we can never be satisfied.

Hitlers Actions May Crisis 1938
  • Although the Czechs had an good army and strong
    defences, Hitler was confident that the Western
    Powers would not risk starting a war over the
    issue of the Sudetenland.
  • When the Czechs took firm action against
    Heinlens party, Hitler portrayed the Sudeten
    Germans as the victim of oppression.

British and French Reaction to the May Crisis
  • To Hitlers surprise and fury he received a
    warning from Britain and France over the dangers
    of war if Czechoslovakia were to be attacked.
  • Both France and Russia repeated their pledge to
    help Czechoslovakia.
  • Hitler had expected no such unity among the
    European powers

The end of the May Crisis
  • The outcome of what came to be known as the May
    Crisis was that he was forced to eat humble pie,
    protesting that he had no aggressive intent
    towards the Czechs.
  • After this humiliation he was even more
    determined than ever to mutilate Czechoslovakia
    and laid his plans while quietly fuming at

Hitlers actions after the May crisis
  • In the summer of 1938 things moved Hitlers way
  • General Keitel was told that Operation Green
    would be implemented by October 1st at the
  • Hitler knew that Britain and France were putting
    pressure on the Czechs to make concessions to the
    Sudetens and that Benes must have felt very
    isolated as a result.
  • Hitler worked on that isolation
  • Heinlein continued to agitate the Sudeten Germans
    and avoid an agreement with the Czech president

What did Britain and France do as a result of
this agitation in the Sudetenland?
  • Chamberlain, a believer in face to face
    negotiations, sent a message to Hitler offering
    to fly to Germany to meet him.
  • Hitler was delighted.
  • The British Prime Minister, a man of 69 who had
    never flown before, would cross Europe to beg for

The three meetings
  • You must remember the dates and details of the 3
    meetings between Hitler and Chamberlain.
  • Bad Godesberg and Munich are the two most popular
    to be examined.

15th September 1938/Berchtesgaden
  • On 15th September, he flew to Germany and met
    Hitler at Berchtesgaden.
  • Hitler stressed to Chamberlain what a reasonable
    man he had been Anglo-German Naval Agreement
    and making a non-aggression pact with Poland.
  • However, Hitler said he could not be as generous
    about the Sudetenland as it involved persecuted

15th September 1938
  • Hitler made it clear that he would go to any
    length, even war, to have the Sudeten Germans in
    the Reich.
  • After accusing Hitler of wasting his time as he
    was not willing to negotiate Chamberlain
  • Here the PM was prepared, in principal, to
    concede the surrender of the Sudetenland to
  • He asked Hitler not to be rash with his actions
    until he consulted his Cabinet and the French.
  • On his return he persuaded the Cabinet and the
    French, who were allies of the Czechs to agree.

22nd September 1938/Bad Godesberg
  • On the 22nd September, Chamberlain flew to see
    Hitler for a second meeting this time to
    Godesberg on the Rhine.
  • Chamberlain felt confident of success because his
    proposals appeared to meet all the German
    demands. What he failed to see that this scheme
    would deny Hitler smashing Czechoslovakia and
    this is what he wanted above all else (to enable
    him to move East)
  • At this meeting Hitler demanded the immediate
    Czech surrender of the Sudetenland without any
  • Chamberlain criticised Hitler for his failure to
    acknowledge the British efforts to secure peace.
  • It seemed that Hitler was determined to invade
  • Hitler relented only to the extent of agreeing to
    postpone his deadline for invasion to 1st
    October. This was clearly a man looking for a

The aftermath of 22 September 1938
  • On his return to Britain, Chamberlain presented
    the dictators demands to his cabinet.
  • The cabinet proved unwilling either to accept
    them or to attempt to force them on the Czechs.
  • Britains Navy mobilised (28th September 1938),
    trenches were dug in London and the entrances to
    important buildings sandbagged.
  • War seemed unavoidable, just then Hitler backed
    off very slightly.
  • He half suggested that it might be worth
    Chamberlains time to continue with his peace

Munich Conference 29th to 3oth September 1938
  • Chamberlain was deeply depressed at the thought
    of war and was concerned that the British could
    be attacked by air.
  • This explains his acceptance of an invitation to
    a four-power Conference at Munich at which
    Britain, France, Italy and Germany agreed to the
    German occupation of the Sudetenland between 1st
    to 10th October.
  • Neither the Czechs nor the Soviet Union were
  • The Czechs were faced with acceptance or single
    combat with Germany
  • Hitler emphasised that this was his last
    territorial claim in Europe and that he did not
    want to spoil the Reich by the inclusion of
  • Britain and France guaranteed the rest of
    Czechoslovakia against aggression

Munich Conference 29th to 3oth September 1938
  • Chamberlain persuaded Hitler to sign a
    joint-declaration after the signature of the
    Munich Agreement.
  • We (i.e. Hitler and Chamberlain) regard the
    (Munich) agreement and the Anglo-German naval
    agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two
    peoples never to go to war with one another

British and French reaction to the Munich
  • The initial reaction of British and French public
    opinion was favourable it seemed as if war had
    been avoided.
  • Chamberlain hoped that Munich would lead to a
    general settlement of European disputes.
  • On his return home, he claimed he brought back
    peace for our time and peace with honour.
  • Churchill replied to Chamberlains comment by
    saying, he had to choose between war and
    dishonour. He chose dishonour, he will get war.

Peace for our Time
I believe it is peace for our time
Munich Conference 29th to 3oth September 1938
  • Hitler regarded this agreement as of no
    importance. Nor was he content with the Munich
    Agreement, since he had wanted the destruction of
    the Czech state
  • As he said, That fellow Chamberlain has spoiled
    my entry into Prague

The invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia
  • On 1st October 1938 German troops entered the
  • In March 1939, Hitler broke another of his
    promises and took the rest of the Czech lands.
  • They gratefully received, the great Skoda arms
    factory and the Brno small arms work, not to
    mention 2,200 artillery pieces, 600 tanks and 750
  • Germanys military strength had been made a lot

Consequences of the Czech Crisis for Britain
  • Lost an ally in Czechoslovakia
  • British public were split over Chamberlain. Some
    believed he was a hero others a coward.
  • Britain started to rearm in case of war

Consequences of the Czech Crisis for the Czechs
  • Lost Sudetenland
  • More insecure as Germany now surrounded
  • Lost British and French support
  • Disillusioned and demoralised

Consequences of the Czech crisis for Germany
  • Hitlers confidence was boosted as he had read
    the situation correctly.
  • The Czech affair served to increase Hitlers
    status in Germany
  • By acquiring the Sudetenland Germany gained land,
    people and weapons.
  • By getting into Czechoslovakia it made it easier
    for Hitler to move into Poland and Russia
  • Now Britain and France had lost the possible
    services of a strong ally in Czechoslovakia
  • Hitler was even more assured that France and
    Britain were pushovers

Consequences of the Czech Crisis for Russia
  • Russia had been totally ignored by Britain and
    France and were deeply offended. Their
    suspicions of Britain and France were reinforced.
  • They had been willing to act to help control
    Hitler and hadnt even been invited to Munich
  • They now would not be keen to ally with France
    and Britain against Germany

Consequences of the Czech crisis for the policy
of Appeasement
  • The policy of appeasement was now over!
  • Appeasement had failed

Hitler justified his actions
  • Hitler, of course, was not short of an
    explanation for his actions
  • Germany a few months ago was compelled, in the
    face of the intolerable terrorist regime of
    Czechoslovakia, to take under its protection
    German fellow-countrymen living in self-contained
    areas of settlement.

  • Go back to your map of Europe which shows Hitlers
    expansion plans. Shade or highlight the
    Sudetenland and write the date that Hitler got
    control of it.
  • Make a spider diagram about why Hitler wanted to
    attack Czechoslovakia include all the reasons
    why Hitler thought Czech was attractive
  • Make a spider diagram about the 3 important
    meetings Chamberlain had with Hitler during
    September 1938. Include the date and location in
    BOLD and note the important events that happened
    during that meeting.
  • Collect a copy of the Opinions about Munich
    Grid at the front of the class as well as the
    yellow Road to War booklet.
  • Turn to page 40. Complete the grid using the
    information in the sources on pg 40.