SLOVAKIA TRIBUTE 1939-1945 - THE MEMORY OF OUR GRANDFATHERS (SLOVAK REPUBLIK)
Slovakia Tribute 1939-1945 — Pamiatke Spomienka na našich starých otcov (The Memory of Our Grandfathers)
HITLER’S INVASION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA 15 March, 1939
There was a time during the period of the Second World War when Czechoslovakia ceased to exist as a nation. Abandoned by its allies, and left to fend for itself against the onslaught of Nazi Germany, Czechoslovakia was systematically dismembered over the course of late 1938 when it was forced to cede territory to Hitler, and then subsequently occupied by the German military in March of 1939. The process of dismantling the nation was completed at that time by splitting off Slovakia into a nominally “sovereign” puppet state, and then Hitler consolidated what was left over into the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. Czechoslovakia did not re-emerge as an independent nation again until the close of the war in Europe in May of 1945. Read on, and let’s take a closer look at how this all unfolded.
If you ever visit Prague, join us for the WW2 Tour to see the historical places for yourself. This 2,5-hour tour will take you back in time to one of Prague’s most dramatic periods. You will learn why Czechoslovakia was very important to Hitler and his Third Reich, so he took the country even before World War II has officially started on September 1st, 1939.
All throughout the 1930s, Adolf Hitler had had his covetous eye on the lands, people, and industry of young Czechoslovakia, a country which had only been founded just a few scant years before, when the Austrian Empire had fallen into ruins at the end of First World War. During the 1920s, Czechoslovakia had then become one of the most industrially advanced and politically progressive states in all of Europe. Hitler wanted that heavy industrial power for the German Reich, and so his expansionist plans had had Czechoslovakia as their first target of takeover since at least 1937, when he had first ordered his generals to draw up plans for a possible future military invasion.
In order to set the stage for a takeover that would provoke the least amount of international outcry, Hitler staged one of the most devious pieces of political theater of the 20th century. Czechoslovakia was an ethnically diverse nation which, in addition to the majority Czech and Slovak populations, also contained within its borders large amounts of German (3 millions), Polish, and Hungarian citizens, among others. Along Czechoslovakia’s northern frontier was a predominantly German-speaking region known as the Sudetenland. Hitler secretly collaborated with Karl Henlein, leader of the Sudeten German Party or SDP, and by 1935 the party was being covertly funded by the German Foreign Office. The SDP did everything in its power to instigate German nationalistic sentiment among the German-speaking peoples of Czechoslovakia, and started a massive propaganda campaign which aimed to show that the German minority was being repressed by the predominantly Czech government. Feigning outrage over the supposed mistreatment of German peoples inside the borders of his southern neighbor, in September 1938 Hitler demanded that Czechoslovakia cede the Sudetenland to Germany or be prepared to face war.
At that time, Czechoslovakia had standing mutual protection alliances with both France and the Soviet Union. However, the agreement with the USSR required that it come to Czechoslovakia’s defense only in the case that France did so also. The French government, in spite of its treaty agreements, had no desire to be drawn into a war with Germany, and neither did Great Britain which would have been obligated to aid France if war broke out on the continent. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, anxious to avoid war with Germany at any cost, visited Hitler at Obersalzberg on 21 September, and assured him that his aims in Czechoslovakia could be achieved peacefully.
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