invasion of sudetenland

invasion of sudetenland

invasion of sudetenland

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Sudetenland

The Sudetenland (/sˈdtənlænd/ (listen) soo-DAY-tən-landGerman: [zuˈdeːtn̩ˌlant]; Czech and Slovak: Sudety) is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia since the Middle Ages. Sudetenland had been since the 9th century an integral part of the Czech state (first within the Duchy of Bohemia and later the Kingdom of Bohemia) both geographically and politically.

The word “Sudetenland” did not come into being until the early part of the 20th century and did not come to prominence until almost two decades into the century, after the First World War, when Austria-Hungary was dismembered and the Sudeten Germans found themselves living in the new country of Czechoslovakia.

Germany

The Sudeten crisis of 1938 was provoked by the Pan-Germanist demands of Germany that the Sudetenland be annexed to Germany, which happened after the later Munich Agreement. Part of the borderland was invaded and annexed by Poland. Afterwards, the formerly unrecognized Sudetenland became an administrative division of Germany. When Czechoslovakia was reconstituted after the Second World War, the Sudeten Germans were expelled and the region today is inhabited almost exclusively by Czech speakers.

invasion of sudetenland
invasion of sudetenland

The word Sudetenland is a German compound of Land, meaning “country”, and Sudeten, the name of the Sudeten Mountains, which run along the northern Czech border and Lower Silesia (now in Poland). The Sudetenland encompassed areas well beyond those mountains, however.

Parts of the now Czech regions of Karlovy Vary, Liberec, Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia, and Ústí nad Labem are within the area called Sudetenland.

History

The areas later known as the Sudetenland never formed a single historical region, which makes it difficult to distinguish the history of the Sudetenland apart from that of Bohemia, until the advent of nationalism in the 19th century.

Early origins

The Celtic and Boii tribes settled there and the region was first mentioned on the map of Ptolemaios in the 2nd century AD. The Germanic tribe of the Marcomanni dominated the entire core of the region in later centuries. Those tribes already built cities like Brno, but moved west during the Migration Period. In the 7th century AD Slavic people moved in and were united under Samo’s realm. Later in the High Middle Ages Germans settled into the less populated border region.

In the Middle Ages the regions situated on the mountainous border of the Duchy and the Kingdom of Bohemia (Crown of Saint Václav) had since the Migration Period been settled mainly by western Slavic Czechs. Along the Bohemian Forest in the west, the Czech lands bordered on the German Slavic tribes (German Sorbs) stem duchies of Bavaria and Franconia; marches of the medieval German kingdom had also been established in the adjacent Austrian lands south of the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and the northern Meissen region beyond the Ore Mountains. In the course of the Ostsiedlung (settlement of the east) German settlement from the 13th century onwards continued to move into the Upper Lusatia region and the duchies of Silesia north of the Sudetes mountain range.

1919

The annexation of the Sudetenland by Germany was, to a large degree, prepared by the Sudeten Germans, who—after accepting with great reluctance the Treaty of Saint-Germain, which had placed them under Czechoslovak rule in 1919—responded with increasing approval to the German nationalist, anti-Czech, anti-Semitic propaganda disseminated by the Sudeten German (or Nazi) Party during the mid-1930s. That party, led by Konrad Henlein, exploited the dissatisfaction of unemployed workers in the Sudetenland, where the heavily industrialized economy had come almost to a standstill as a result of the Great Depression. The party also capitalized on discontent over the ethnic discrimination practiced in the region by Czech officials.

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In the parliamentary elections of May 1935, the party received almost two-thirds of the Sudeten German vote and sent the second largest bloc of representatives to the Czechoslovak Parliament. Afterward, the Sudeten Nazis increased their activities, which basically aimed at uniting the Sudetenland with Germany and included hostile outbreaks and provocative incidents. They not only succeeded in embarrassing the Czechoslovak government but also convinced Great Britain and France that the situation in the Sudetenland was highly inflammatory and that the Czechoslovak leaders must persuaded to take extreme action, even ceding the region to Germany, to avoid a war.

1938

The Czechoslovak government responded to the Sudeten Germans’ grievances to the satisfaction of the non-Nazi groups (1937) and also acceded (in September 1938) to almost all of Henlein’s demands, which made in April 1938 and called for full autonomy for the Sudetenland and the adoption of a pro-German foreign policy by Czechoslovakia. But the Czech government was unable to reach an accommodation with Hitler (who was using the Sudetenland as a pretext for the eventual takeover of all of Czechoslovakia). Consequently, France and Great Britain arranged to meet with Italy and Germany at Munich (September 29–30), where they issued an ultimatum to Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany by October 10.

After World War II the Sudetenland restored to Czechoslovakia, which expelled most of the German inhabitants and repopulated the area with Czechs.

Occupation of the Sudetenland

Following the success of Anschluss, Hitler’s next target was Czechoslovakia, which now surrounded by German territory. The northern part of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland.

The Sudetenland desired by Germany not only for its territory, but also because a majority of its population were ‘ethnically’ German.

In the summer of 1938 Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland into Germany. At this point Hitler was aware that the Allies were desperate to avoid war, and thought it likely that they would appease his demands.

Hitler threatened war over the issue of the Sudetenland. On 29 – 30 September 1938 the British, Italian, French and German leaders met in Munich to discuss the issue.

The Allies agreed to concede the Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for a pledge of peace. This agreement known as the Munich Pact.

invasion of sudetenland
invasion of sudetenland

What was Chamberlain trying to do?

After the First World War, the map of Europe re-drawn and several new countries formed. As a result of this, three million Germans found themselves now living in part of Czechoslovakia. When Adolf Hitler came to power, he wanted to unite all Germans into one nation.

In September 1938 he turned his attention to the three million Germans living in part of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland. Sudeten Germans began protests and provoked violence from the Czech police. Hitler claimed that 300 Sudeten Germans killed. This was not actually the case. But Hitler used it as an excuse to place German troops along the Czech border.

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During this situation, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, flew to meet Hitler at his private mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden in an attempt to resolve the crisis. Use this lesson to explore documents concerning Chamberlain’s original meeting with Hitler and advice given to him at home in Britain.

Background

The Treaty of Versailles, made in 1919 at the end of the First World War, intended to make a lasting peace. Many people felt that the Treaty had caused terrible resentment in Germany. On which Hitler had been able to play in order to achieve power. The government believed that Hitler and Germany genuine grievances. But that if these met (‘appeased’) Hitler satisfied and become less demanding.

Hitler was open about his refusal to accept many of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Soon after he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 he began to re-arm the country, breaking the restrictions placed on the German armed forces. In 1936, he sent German troops into the Rhineland and in March 1938 he joined Germany and Austria. Czechoslovakia was the logical next step for his aggression. And German Nazis in the Sudetenland told to stir up the trouble that led to the crisis examined here. Edvard Benes, the leader of Czechoslovakia, concerned that if Germany given the Sudetenland. Most of the Czech defences handed over to the Germans and they left defenceless.

On 29 Septembe

Chamberlain’s flight to Berchtesgaden followed by another to Godesberg a week later and then another to Munich on 29 September. At Munich, Chamberlain got an international agreement that Hitler should have the Sudetenland in exchange. For Germany making no further demands for land in Europe. Chamberlain said it was ‘Peace for our time’. Hitler said he had ‘No more territorial demands to make in Europe.’. On 1 October German troops occupied the Sudetenland: Hitler had got what he wanted without firing a shot.

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Although people in Britain relieved that war averted, many now wondered if appeasement was the best decision. They did not think it would stop Hitler, and simply delayed the war, rather than prevented it. Even while Chamberlain was signing the Munich Agreement. He was agreeing a huge increase in spending to increase Britain’s armament in preparation for war. He must known from the situation outlined to him by General Ismay, that Czechoslovakia lost, that war bound to come.

invasion of sudetenland
invasion of sudetenland

1939

Six months later, in March 1939, German troops took over the rest of Czechoslovakia. Poland seemed to be the next most likely victim of Nazi aggression and Chamberlain made an agreement. With the Poles to defend them in Germany invaded. Hitler did not think Britain would go to war over Poland, having failed to do so over Czechoslovakia. He sent his soldiers into Poland in September 1939. Two days later, Britain declared war on Germany.

Chamberlain struggled on as Prime Minister until May 1940. When he resigned and Winston Churchill, a bitter critic of appeasement, took over. Chamberlain died in November 1940. However he continued to be vilified for appeasement in general and for his actions in September 1938. In particular long after his death and the conclusion of the war.

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