Encyclopedia

Sudetenland

a section of Bohemia and Moravia in which the German population of Czechoslovakia ( Volksdeutsche) was concentrated. In 1938 it was transferred to Germany as a result of agreements reached at the Munich Conference. "Munich" became a symbol of "Appeasement" which meant in this context the pursuit of a short-range policy of conciliation to an aggressive tyrant.

In 1938 Hitler was acquiring territory at little cost to Germany. Nazi foreign policy aimed at expanding the borders of Germany, expanding German "Lebensraum" (living space).

In March he had annexed Austria in the Anschluss. In April Hitler encouraged the German minority in the Sudetenland to raise radical demands based on trumped up grievances. Hitler threatened to crush Czechoslovakia by force.

An international crisis ensued. On September 15 the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain met with Adolf Hitler at Hitler's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden. The annexation of the Sudetenland was agreed to in principle but certain contingencies remained to be worked out.

On September 22 Chamberlain again went to Germany to meet Hitler at Bad Godesberg. Hitler added to his earlier demands a demand for immediate occupation. The British, the French and the Czechs hardened their attitude.

On September 28 Chamberlain returned to Germany for a third time. Meeting Hitler in a hotel in Munich he essentially agreed to the terms that had been offered and rejected earlier at Bad Godesberg. The Czechs were not invited to participate in these negotiations.

On his return from Munich Chamberlain brandished the declaration he had signed with Hitler claiming he had achieved "peace in our time." However, this was a vain proclamation. The new balance of power aided Hitler to keep up his aggression and increased the likelihood of war.

On March 16, 1939 Hitler sent in the German Army to complete his occupation of the Second Czechoslovak Republic (The First Czechoslovak Republic was created after World War I; the Second Czechoslovak Republic was declared in the wake of the Munich Conference and the transfer of the Sudetenland). By this time the British public were disillusioned. World War II broke out when Hitler invaded Poland over trumped up grievances on September 1, 1939.


Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.



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