In 1937, five years after the Nazi came to power, Germany’s strength and armaments had taken the lead in the European continent.
Nazi leaders believed that Germany’s future could not be guaranteed by economic self-sufficiency or by increasing its share in the world’s industry and commerce, but by relying on regional expansion to strive for “living space”.
Therefore, the solution is to expand the boundaries of the German Empire.
On the afternoon of November 5, 1937, a secret meeting was held in Berlin to decide Germany’s future policy.
The meeting concluded that the first step of expansion was to immediately adjust Nazi Germany to expand to central Europe.
Because Germany can obtain food supply, raw materials and manpower from there as preparation for further military aggression to the East and to the rich land of Poland and Ukraine.
Therefore, Austria and Czechoslovakia must be acquired as a prerequisite for further aggression.
In March 1938, Germany annexed Austria in a so-called “peaceful” way without firing a shot, and classified it as a German province.
The annexation of Austria expanded Germany’s territory by 17%, increased its population by 10%, increased its industrial production capacity by 4-5% and increased its sowing area by 30%.
Germany thus controlled the strategic areas of central Europe, and achieved military and economic control over the traffic of the whole southwest Europe in terms of roads, shipping and railways, forming a strategic encirclement of Czechoslovakia.
When Hitler easily achieved strategic success, Britain, France, the United States and other Western powers did nothing about it except pretending to be weak protests.
By early April, Britain, France and the United States inherited and recognized Germany’s annexation of Austria and withdrew their embassy in Austria and replaced it with their consulate in Vienna.
The reaction of the western countries encouraged Hitler’s ambition.
He pointed the next goal of expansion directly to Czechoslovakia.
Moreover, the breakthrough point selected by Hitler was the issue of Germanic minorities in Sudetenland.
Czechoslovakia is a multi-ethnic country.
Among the more than 14 million people, there are more than 9.
5 million Czechs and Slovaks.
In addition, there are more than 5 million ethnic minorities in China, mainly Germanic.
At that time, there were about 3.
5 million Germanic people in the Czech Republic, mainly living in the Sudetenland region bordering Germany in the west of the Czech Republic.
Sudeten region is located at the border between Bohemia and Moravia.
It is a mountainous area, inhabited by nearly 3 million German speaking germanes.
The Germanic people living in this area have never been under the rule of the German Empire except that they have been subjects of the Roman Empire in history.
After the first World War, the territory was re divided and the region was assigned to the Czech Republic.
Although there was no rule of the German Empire in history, the identity of Germanic national identity was still stimulated.
After all, unlike the Austro Hungarian Empire dominated by Germans, they have become a minority in Czechoslovakia.
But even so, in the first 15 years of Czechoslovakia, the Germans in Sudeten rarely caused trouble.
They have indeed received better treatment than other ethnic minorities in central and Eastern Europe.
However, since Hitler came to power, the superiority of the Germanic nation and the infiltration of Nazi thought have made the original dissatisfaction erupt like a volcano.
The Sudetenland German Party and its leader Hanley abandoned their identity with Czechoslovakia because they regarded Nazi Germany as the protector of all Germans.
At the same time, in front of Berlin, he disguised himself as the guardian of the oppressed ethnic minorities in the Czech Republic, and then put forward the request of Sudeten Germanic autonomy.
This coincided with Hitler’s expansion policy and provided the best excuse for Hitler’s annexation of the Czech Republic.
On March 28, 1938, Hitler received Han lein in Berlin.
During this meeting, Hitler and Han lein discussed the basis of the new action.
Hitler said: “The German Party must now realize that it has won the support of a Germanic nation with 75 million people.
75 million people cannot tolerate the Czechoslovak Government’s continued oppression of the Germanic people in Sudetenland.
Therefore, the German Party must recognize its responsibility and play its role in the great liberation movement.
The task of the German party is to report to the people’s Republic of China The rag government made the necessary demands to ensure that the party received the privileges it aspired to.
” On April 24, hanlain put forward the “reasonable request” of the Germanic minority in Sudeten Region – the Karlsbad program in Karlsbad.
This program not only includes the harsh conditions for German autonomy in the Sudetenland region, but also lays a foundation for further territorial claims to Czech Republic.
Its main points include: not recognizing the minority status of Germans in Czechoslovakia and requiring the complete equality of Germans and Czechs.
Establish a German region in Sudetenland through legislation and implement complete autonomy.
All official positions in the German region are held by Germans.
End the unfair treatment suffered by the Sudetenland Germans since 1918, and release the Nazi political prisoners.
Moreover, hanlein also said in his later speech that Czechoslovakia must completely change its foreign policy of alliance with France and the Soviet Union, abolish the treaties it signed with France and the Soviet Union, and turn to be completely dependent on Germany.
Hanlein made it clear that “the Czechoslovak Government must completely change its foreign policy.
” Because he believed that “the Czech foreign policy so far has placed the country as an enemy of the Germanic nation”.
These so-called “reasonable demands” were put forward by the Germanic minority in Czechoslovakia, not directly by Germany.
This was very important to Hitler.
Because in this way, once the Prague government rejects these demands, Hitler can appear as “the protector of all Germans” to realize his expansion plan.
However, Czechoslovakia will not agree, even as a basis for negotiations.
The concessions that the Czechoslovak Government could make to hanlein could not satisfy Berlin, which Hitler had expected.
Therefore, after the issue of Sudetenland was first raised in late March, Germany has not given up its determination and preparation for military occupation of the Czech Republic.
Since May, Hitler’s intention and action to assemble troops on the border between Germany and Czech Republic have become increasingly obviousWhen it was handed over to the British side, it was very clear in a note attached to the text that this final concession was made by him and his government under the direct pressure of British and French diplomatic representatives.
However, his view was that the Germans would not necessarily accept the proposal because of the well-known plan of the Berlin government and the objectives of the hanlein party.
In the early morning of September 7, during a demonstration in moluska oslava, a representative of the Sudeten German Party clashed with a Czech mounted police officer, who reportedly beat the representative with a whip.
That’s enough as an excuse.
The Sudetenland German party completely interrupted the negotiations with the Czech government, which stirred up a public commotion in the Sudetenland region.
It was not until September 15 that the hand to hand combat in the Sudeten region was settled.
In this way, the Czech government made great concession negotiations, which ended in the panic of the Sudetenland German Party about their own sudden victory.
On September 7, President Benes read such a proposal in the times that Czechoslovakia should make another sacrifice at the cost of ceding territory to Germany, which was never proposed by the Sudetenland German Party itself.
This is a measure taken by Britain and France to avoid conflict with Germany at the expense of Czechoslovakia’s interests.
Soon, at the invitation of France and on behalf of Britain, Chamberlain rushed to Germany to discuss “seeking a peaceful solution” with Hitler.
After consultation, Chamberlain brought back the basic principle of Hitler’s request to separate the Sudetenland German region from Slovak in the Czech Republic in accordance with national autonomy.
On September 19, Chamberlain immediately drafted the ultimatum to Czechoslovakia with the French government and sent it to the Czechoslovak Government.
The ultimatum claims that if Czechoslovakia does not immediately cede the area mainly inhabited by Germans to Germany, the maintenance of peace and the security of Czechoslovakia’s vital interests cannot be effectively guaranteed.
The British and French governments said that after Czechoslovakia made such great sacrifices, they agreed to participate in the international guarantee to the Xinjiang community of Czechoslovakia.
But at the same time, they also directly threatened that if Czechoslovakia did not change its attitude, France “would not fulfill its treaty obligations” and Britain would “stay out”.
On September 21, the helpless Czechoslovak Government sent a note to the British and French governments, saying: “the Czechoslovak Government was forced by the current situation to make concessions to this non-negotiable advice and had to accept the suggestions of France and Britain with a deep heart.
” “We have no other choice because we have been abandoned,” President Benes said angrily in his speech to the nation So far, Chamberlain flew to Germany again with the suggestions of Britain and France and the humiliation Treaty of Czechoslovakia to prepare for the second meeting with Hitler.
However, Chamberlain was poured cold water on his head.
Hitler put forward new requirements: the areas where the German nationality accounted for more than 50% of the residents should be occupied by Germany.
In areas where the German nationality does not account for the majority of residents, its ownership should be determined by “referendum”.
At the same time, Czechoslovakia should also meet the territorial claims put forward by Hungary and Poland.
Although Chamberlain was shocked and angry at Hitler’s greed and arrogance, he was more afraid that the German Czech conflict would involve Britain and France in the war, and worried that his efforts to safeguard peace with his personal reputation would fail.
So he promised to hand over Hitler’s new harsh conditions to the Czechoslovak Government.
Hitler’s greedy demands aroused strong repercussions throughout Europe.
There was a wave of protests across Czechoslovakia, demanding that the government resist aggression.
On the 25th, Czechoslovakia’s envoy to the UK submitted a rejection note to the British Prime Minister, and then issued a war mobilization order.
On September 20, 22 and 23, the Soviet government repeatedly stated that the Soviet Union would undertake its obligations to provide effective assistance to Czechoslovakia in accordance with the provisions of the mutual assistance treaty.
To this end, the Soviet Union assembled 30 infantry divisions in the West and ordered the air force and tank forces to enter combat readiness.
On September 25, the French government announced that if Czechoslovakia was attacked, France would fulfill its obligations under the French Czech treaty to provide assistance to Czechoslovakia, and announced partial mobilization on September 27.
Under the pressure of opposition at home and abroad, Chamberlain also had to issue a “warning” to Hitler: the French government has informed us that if the Czechs refuse the memorandum and Germany attacks Czechoslovakia, they will fulfill their treaty obligations to Czechoslovakia.
If the French army turns to war with Germany, we feel obliged to support them.
The situation in Europe is tense again.
In the midst of tension, on the one hand, Hitler wantonly attacked, abused and threatened Czechoslovakia and its leaders, and brutally limited that the Czechoslovak Government must accept Germany’s request before 14 p.m. on September 28.
On the other hand, he shook the olive branch against Britain and France with ulterior motives, claimed that Germany did not want to fight with Britain and France, thanked Chamberlain for his efforts to strive for peace, and reiterated that this was his last territorial claim in Europe.
After Chamberlain returned from Germany, he still insisted on giving way to Hitler.
“No matter how much we sympathize with a small country under the pressure of a strong neighbor, we can’t recklessly drag the whole British Empire into a war just for its sake,” he said Therefore, he called Benes twice and asked the Czech side to accept the “certain limited occupation” of Sudeten Germany by the Germans.
He also threatened: “if this plan is not adopted, it will be replaced by force invasion and force dismemberment.
” Under such delicate circumstances, German Fascist friends came out to save the scene.
Italian president Mussolini proposed to convene an international conference with the participation of Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
On September 28, Hitler agreed to the proposal and issued an invitation.
On the 29th, Chamberlain flew to Germany for the third time to discuss the scheme of dismembering Czechoslovakia with daradi, Mussolini and Hitler in Munich.
On the same day, the Soviet government also put forward a proposal to immediately convene an international conference to discuss measures to prevent aggression and avoid a new war.
However, in the eyes of both Britain and Germany, they are deliberately excluding the Soviet Union from participating in the settlement of Europe.