viernes, 8 de mayo de 2015

4º British: Occupation of Czechoslovakia

On September 30, 1938, Hitler, Mussolini, French Premier Daladier, and British Prime Minister Chamberlain signed the Munich Pact, which sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia, virtually handing it over to Germany in the name of peace.

Although the agreement was to give into Hitler’s hands only the Sudentenland, (that part of Czechoslovakia where 3 million ethnic Germans lived), it also handed over to the Nazi war machine 66% Czechoslovakia’s coal, 70% of its iron and steel, and 70% of its electrical power. Without those resources, the Czech nation was left vulnerable to complete German domination.

No matter what concessions the Czech government attempted to make to appease Hitler (like dissolving the Communist Party or suspending all Jewish teachers in ethnic-German majority schools), rumors continued to circulate about “the incorporation of Czechoslovakia into the Reich.”

In fact, on March 15, 1939, during a meeting with Czech President Emil Hácha (66-year-old, Hácha was an inexperienced politician with a bad heart condition) Hitler threatened a bombing raid against Prague, the Czech capital, unless he obtained free passage for German troops into Czech borders. He got it. That same day, German troops poured into Bohemia and Moravia. The two provinces offered no resistance, and they were quickly made a protectorate of Germany. By evening, Hitler made a triumphant entry into Prague. "Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist!" he announced.

Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia was the end of appeasement:

  • It proved that Hitler had been lying at Munich.
  • It showed that Hitler was not just interested in a 'Greater Germany' (the Czechs were not Germans).
  • On 31st  March, Chamberlain guaranteed to defend Poland if Germany invaded. That happened on 1st September 1939. It was the beginning of the II World War...

Meanwhile, Czechs took an active resistance against the regime. In fact, high-ranking official Reinhard Heydrich was the only leading Nazi assassinated during the war: on May 27, 1942 two Czech parachutists, sent by the Czech government-in-exile in London, hurled a bomb at his car; Heydrich died several days later because of the injuries.

At the beginning of 1945, Praguers openly rebelled against the Germans, as the Soviets arrived to free Prague on May 9, setting the country on a different, though just as bleak and dismal, path that triggered 40 years of Communist terror...

You can read more details about the Czech resistance and also watch a 3-minutes video about the German occupation of Czech territory.

No hay comentarios: