The way to Munich
Hitler considered various ways to achieve world domination in his opus Mein Kampf, written in his youth in 1924 in Landsberg prison, where he was put after the failed coup – The Beer Hall Putsch. He argued that Germany had lost the First World War partly because the war was fought on two fronts. So the premise of the book was as follows: if Germany again wants to become a world power, it should conclude a military alliance either with the United Kingdom or with Russia. The conclusion was that in the case of an alliance with Russia, especially after the power there was taken by “Jews and Marxists,” Germany will have to claim the position of a major maritime and colonial power, and take the place of the UK. Hitler believed this was nonsense, and, by the way, was right. Therefore, he strongly advocated an alliance with Britain, which he always called “the greatest world power,” unlike “rotting government corpses,” which, according to him, were Germany’s allies of the First World War. Only then, allegedly, Germany would become a great continental power, and the UK would remain the great colonial power, capable of protecting the “German Europe” from the sea.
According to British historian Chris McNab, even German bombing of the British Isles in 1940–1941 was intended not so much to prepare the ground for Britain’s occupation, as to put Britain at its knees, forcing the country into the alliance with Germany or, at least, into neutrality. “We need not Western or Eastern orientation, we need Eastern policy aimed at the conquest of new lands for German people,” Hitler said.
It is clear that the European leaders of the 1930s were familiar with Hitler’s book Mein Kampf; and not only familiar. There is the assumption that this was the book Chamberlain and Daladier were guided by in their appeasement of Hitler in 1938. Let Fuhrer quietly continue to realize his dream of “living space” (Lebensraum)
Appeasement or the beginning of World War II?
Let us recall the history. In the spring of 1938 pro-Nazi Sudeten German Party of Konrad Henlein started a massive campaign “for the rights of ethnic Germans” in Czechoslovakia, following the instructions received from Berlin. By the fall of that year the crisis became even more acute. On this pretext Germany began preparing a military invasion of Czechoslovakia. On 27 September 1938, Hitler informed the ambassadors of Great Britain and France that the German action against Czechoslovakia would begin the next day and offered to hold new talks on the issue of the Sudetenland. In fact, this was an ultimatum. But on September 28, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain assured Hitler that everything can be solved “without war, and without delay.”
As a result, on the night of 29/30 September 1938 British Prime Minister Chamberlain, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier and Italian dictator Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini arrived to the residence of Hitler in Munich to sign the Munich Agreement, which led to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Representatives of Czechoslovakia were forced to sign the agreement only after the “big boys” and under pressure from Britain and France – the countries that were formally considered to be their allies – despite all the protests. In the morning of September 30, President of Czechoslovakia Edvard Beneš ratified this agreement without the parliamentary approval. On October 5 he resigned, and the presidency was temporarily taken by the Army General Jan Syrovy.
On the same day, 30 September 1938, the UK signed mutual non-aggression pact with Germany, turning its back on the former ally – Czechoslovakia. By the end of the year a similar agreement was signed with France. Even the US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who at the time preached the policy of isolationism, sent his telegram to Chamberlain congratulating him on “peaceful resolution to the Sudeten crisis.” Having returned to England, Chamberlain said “I have returned from Germany with peace in our time.” Winston Churchill commented on the Munich agreement differently:
Meanwhile, the division of Czechoslovakia continued. Separatists of Slovakia and Ruthenia (Carpathian Ruthenia, Transcarpathian Ukraine) had declared autonomy, after which some of these areas were occupied by Hungary in agreement with Germany. The Cieszyn region of Czech Silesia was occupied by Poland – in agreement with Hitler as well.
The final crisis came on 14 March 1939. On this day, the abbot Jozef Tiso became the Prime Minister of Slovakia and declared its independence, and the next day turned to Hitler with a request to establish a German protectorate over Slovakia. On the night of 14/15 March, President of the Czech Republic (no longer Czechoslovakia)
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