The Sudetaland

The Sudetenland On January 30, 1933, the Nazis acquired mastery of Germany when Adolf Hitler was appointed
chancellor. That evening Hitler stood triumphantly in the window of the Reich Chancellery waving to thousands of storm
troopers who staged parades throughout the streets of Berlin. The Nazis proclaimed that their Third Reich would be the
greatest civilization in history and would last for thousands of years. But the meteoric rise of Hitler and national socialism was
followed by an almost equally rapid defeat; the Third Reich survived for a mere twelve years. But one of the main causes of
World War II was Hitlerís public justification for the dismemberment of the Czech state through either war or diplomacy was
the plight of the 3.5 million ethnic Germans the Treaty of Versailles had left inside Czechoslovakia. The main land that Hitler
wanted to annex to Germany was that of the Sudetenland, where most of the people living there were of German origin. The
land also bordered Germany to the South East, and Germany was prepared to conquer this land at all cost. "And now before
us stands the last problem that must be solved and will be solved It (the Sudetenland) is the last territorial claim which I have to
make in Europe, but it is the claim from which I will not recedeÖ" - Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin, September 26 1938,
just prior to the Munich conference. Most of the German minorities live in Sudetenland, an economically valuable and
strategically important area along the Czech border with Germany and Austria. The grievances of the Sudeten Germans against
the Czech state had led to the rise of a strong German nationalist movement in the Sudetenland. By the mid -1930ís, this
movement had the support of almost 70 percent of the Sudeten German population. Their leader, the pro-Nazi Konrad
Heinlen, began demanding autonomy for this region Both the real and contrived problems of the Sudeten Germans added
credibility to Hitlerís charge that they were denied the right of self-determination and lived as an oppressed minority, which he
was obligated to defend In the spring of 1938, Heinlein was directed by Hitler to make demands that the Czechs could not
accept, thereby giving Germany a reason to intervene. The Czech situation soon turned into an international crisis that
dominated the European scene for the rest of that current year. The weekend which began on Friday, May 20, 1938,
developed into a critical one and would later be remembered as the "May crisis." During the ensuing forty-eight hours, the
Governments in London, Paris, Prague and Moscow were panicked into the belief that Europe stood nearer to war than it had
at any time since the summer of 1914. This may have been largely due to the possibility that new plans for a German attack on
Czechoslovakia called "Case Green" which were drawn up for him, got leaked out. Hitler had begun to prepare an attack on
the Sudetenland. The target date was the beginning of October. He was prepared to employ an army of ninety-six divisions.
The Czechoslovak Government, aware of Hitlerís intentions but uncertain when the blow would fall, ordered a partial
mobilization on May 21. Hitler was outraged, explaining to his generals that he had offered no threat and was being treated
with contempt. He had been humiliated, and no one yet humiliated him with impunity. His rage against Czechoslovakia
increased, and on May 30 he issued a secret directive to his high command: "It is my unalterable decision to smash
Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future." All through the summer Britain, France and the Soviet Union were aware
that Hitler planned to strike at the Sudetenland and perhaps the whole of Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovaks had an excellent
intelligence system with Germany and knew from day to day what Hitler was planning. Germany also had an excellent
intelligence system, and in addition it had in Konrad Henlein, the National Socialist leader in the Sudetenland, a man who would
stop at nothing to produce an insurrection or an act of deliberate provocation against the Czechoslovak Government. The
German newspapers were filled with accounts of mass arrests of innocent men and women in the Sudetenland, and there were
the inevitable circumstantial stories "by our correspondent." Nonexistent people in nonexistent villages were being slaughtered.
The Czechoslovak Government attempted to refute some of these stories but gave up in despair. Hitler ordered a massive
propaganda barrage against Czechoslovakia to prepare the