Annexation of Czechoslovakia file photo [9276]

Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia

14 Mar 1939 - 17 Mar 1939

Contributor:

ww2dbaseAlthough Sudetenland in northwestern Czechoslovakia had been occupied by the Germans through diplomatic means during Sep and Oct 1938, it was actually a misstep by Adolf Hitler. He had unreasonably demanded Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, believing that it was likely to be rejected, thus he would have the excuse to move his troops into the whole of Czechoslovakia. The acts of appeasement by the United Kingdom and France, therefore, provided Germany only part of what Hitler ultimately wanted. In the first week of Oct, even prior to the occupation of Sudetenland being complete, Hitler was already conferring with his top military commanders to prepare a new plan for the invasion given the new circumstances. In the mean time, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop actively engaged in the funding of various groups in Czechoslovakia to stir sentiments against the ruling government based in Prague, Czechoslovakia; Slovakia and Ruthenia, for example, were among those receiving covert support.

ww2dbaseIn Mar 1939, Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha decided to clamp down on the nationalist sentiments to consolidate power. On 6 Mar, he suspected the Ruthenian local government, followed by a similar move on 9 Mar in Slovakia. On 10 Mar, he ordered Slovakian nationalist Jozef Tiso arrested. These moves forced Germany to move up the timetable. Arthur Seyß-Inquart was immediately dispatched to demand Slovakian leaders to proclaim independence immediately, while Emil Hácha was asked to allow German troops to occupy Bohemia and Moravia. Hácha traveled by train to Berlin, Germany during the night of 14 Mar 1939 in an attempt to dissuade German aggression, but instead faced what amounted to as bullying by Adolf Hitler, Wilhelm Keitel, Hermann Göring, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, who told him that German troops were marching across the border at 0600 hours on 15 Mar regardless of what Hácha might decide to do, but if Hácha chose to peacefully accept German entrance, Prague would be saved from devastating aerial bombing and many of his countrymen's lives would be saved. Even while the meeting was taking place, German SS troops already infiltrated the Moravian Ostrau strip to safeguard the modern steel mill at Witkowitz against potential Polish interference should a war between Germany and Czechoslovakia break out the next day. During the heated discussions, Hácha fainted twice, and both times Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal physician, revived him with injections to continue the negotiations. Hácha gave in at 0355 hours and signed the documents to allow German occupation, and telephoned his troops to stand down. After daybreak on 15 Mar 1939, German troops marched under a cold wintry sky into Czechoslovakia, taking control of Prague before the end of the day. Hitler entered Prague later on the same day, parading through Prague streets in his open-top Mercedes, few stiff-armed salutes were seen from the onlookers.

ww2dbaseOn 16 Mar, Hitler received the Czech government's official surrender in Prague, with Hácha (who had been brought back to Prague by a special train arranged by the Germans) at the head of the surrendering delegation; Hitler also installed Konstantin von Neurath as the head of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. On 17 Mar, Hitler and his entourage reached Vienna, Austria, where they he installed Jozef Tiso as the head of the puppet government of the Slovak Republic; that puppet state occupied the southeastern half of Czechoslovakia. Ruthenia, which had previously been encouraged to declare independence, was betrayed; less than a day after the region had proclaimed the independent nation of Carpatho-Ukraine, Germany allowed Hungary to occupy and annex the region.

ww2dbaseAlthough the Czech army was relatively small, it was highly modernized and was backed by a large industry base producing machine guns, tanks, and artillery. With this annexation, the German Army gained immediate access to these troops and the industrial capabilities. Some of the munitions plants were literally picked up and moved to Austria during the course of the occupation due to Hitler's distrust for the Czechs.

ww2dbaseThe United Kingdom and France, who had failed to act to save fellow ally Czechoslovakia, failed to even lodge a formal protest until 18 Mar 1939. Nevertheless, anti-appeasement sentiments finally began to be influential within the two western powers. After the war, Lord Boothby noted how Britain's appeasement policy damned Europe to war.

From 1935 to 1939 I watched the political leaders of Britain, in Government and in Opposition, at pretty close quarters; and I reached the conclusion, which I have no since changed, that with only two exceptions, Winston Churchill and Leopold Amery, they were all frightened men. On four occasions Hitler and his gang of bloody murderers could have been brought down, and a second world war averted, by an ultimatum.... Every time we failed to do it. And four times is a lot. The reasons for it, I am afraid, can only be ascribed to a squalid combination of cowardice and greed; and the British ministers responsible, instead of being promoted, should have been impeached.

ww2dbaseAs Germany publicized a peaceful annexation, the Czechs knew the real truth behind the propaganda. 250,000 Czechs were killed within the next month, with half of them being Jews. Young Jewish males were forced to register, and Nazi thugs used the registers to track down Jewish businesses to harass, vandalize, and sometimes destroy. One of Churchill's anonymous informants in Czechoslovakia reported, with purposeful dark humor, that Czech Nazi Party members wished to watch the Nazi propaganda film "Olympia" at the Capitol Cinema, but only to be disappointedly turned back because the Jewish-owned business was being boycotted by a Nazi picket. "There was no blinking the fact that this time Hitler had acted not as the champion of Germans living in a neighboring country but as a Genghis Khan bent upon pillage, enslavement, slaughter, and destruction", wrote William Manchester.

ww2dbaseBeneš, who resigned and left Czechoslovakia in Oct 1938, established a government-in-exile in London, England, United Kingdom as the central rallying point of resistance against the German occupation.

ww2dbaseSources:
Wilhelm Keitel, In the Service of the Reich
William Manchester, The Last Lion
William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Jun 2006

Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia Interactive Map

Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia Timeline

21 Oct 1938 Adolf Hitler issued the order to his top military commanders noting that German forces must be ready to seize the remainder of Czechoslovakia and Memel in Lithuania with minimal notice.
17 Dec 1938 Wilhelm Keitel ordered that the invasion of the remainder of Czechoslovakia must be done by a peacetime German Army that was not reinforced by mobilization.
21 Jan 1939 Czechoslovakian foreign minister visited Adolf Hitler in Berlin, Germany; Hitler demanded Czechoslovakia to decrease the size of its military, to hand over a large portion of its gold reserves to be stored in Germany, and to begin excluding Jews in society.
27 Jan 1939 Britain and France pledged a Ł8,000,000 loan and a Ł4,000,000 gift for Czechoslovakia in an attempt to save the country from falling apart.
8 Feb 1939 The United Kingdom and France inquired Germany on why no German guarantee of Czechoslovakian sovereignty has been signed as agreed upon in the Munich Agreement.
12 Feb 1939 Slovakian nationalist leader Vojtech Tuka met with Adolf Hitler in Berlin, Germany, seeking support for Slovakian independence. Hitler answered in the affirmative.
28 Feb 1939 Germany responded to the British and French inquiry of 8 Feb 1939 regarding why Germany had not yet guaranteed Czechoslovakian sovereignty, noting that Germany must "await first a clarification of the internal development of Czechoslovakia".
6 Mar 1939 Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha dismissed the Ruthenian government in an attempt to quell nationalist sentiments that was breaking apart his country.
9 Mar 1939 Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha suspended Jozef Tiso's Slovakian government and placed Slovakia under martial law.
10 Mar 1939 Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha ordered the arrest of Slovakian political leader Jozef Tiso.
11 Mar 1939 In response to Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha's sudden moves to consolidate power within Czechoslovakia, thus threatening German attempts to divide the nation, Adolf Hitler issued a ultimatum for Czechoslovakia to hand over Bohemia and Moravia, moving up the German schedule for the occupation of the remainder of Czechoslovakia. At 2200 hours, Austrian Nazi leader Arthur Seyß-Inquart visited Slovakian leaders, demanding them to proclaim independence immediately, otherwise Germany would no longer support their movement.
12 Mar 1939 German leaders demanded Slovakian leader Jozef Tiso to visit Berlin, Germany, where he was told to declare Slovakian independence immediately otherwise Germany would withdraw its support for such a movement.
13 Mar 1939 At 1900 hours, Adolf Hitler once again demanded Jozef Tiso to declare Slovakian independence from Czechoslovakia; meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop presented him reports of Hungarian troop movements on its border, hinting that Hungary, friendly to Germany, was ready to strike should the negotiations in Berlin, Germany fail.
14 Mar 1939 Slovakia and Ruthenia declared independence from Czechoslovakia; as Czechoslovakia had fallen into pieces, the United Kingdom and France considered it to be the evidence that Czechoslovakia no longer existed as a nation, thus they no longer had any alliance obligations to the now defunct nation. During the day, Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha traveled by train to Berlin, Germany to conduct last-minute negotiations with Adolf Hitler to save his country.
14 Mar 1939 Warned by the German Abwehr's Paul Thummel that Prague would be occupied on 15 Mar 1939, Colonel Franyišek Moravek, Chief of the Czechoslovak intelligence service, and ten members of his staff embark on a Dutch civilian aircraft hired by the British MI6. Later, in London, the group would offer their valuable services to Prime Minister Edvard Beneš' Czech government in exile.
15 Mar 1939 At 0115 hours, Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha met with Adolf Hitler, who was accompanied by Wilhelm Keitel, Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Theodor Morell, in Berlin, Germany. Hitler threatened Hácha that German forces were poised to invade Czechoslovakia at 0600 hours, so it was up to Hácha to either agree to a peaceful occupation or face a destructive invasion. At 0215 hours, Hitler left the conference room, and Göring and Ribbentrop continued to threaten Hácha with, among other things, the bombing of Prague. Hácha fainted twice during the negotiations, and both times were revived by injections by Dr. Morell. Hácha gave in at 0355 hours, and German troops marched across the borders at 0600 hours unopposed. In the evening, Adolf Hitler entered Prague in a grand parade. During the day in eastern Czechoslovakia, Hungarian forces marched into Ruthenia, ending the one-day-old nation of Capatho-Ukraine.
16 Mar 1939 In eastern Czechoslovakia, Slovakian leader Jozef Tiso sent a telegram, originally authored by Hermann Göring, to ask for German troops to enter Slovakian borders. In western Czechoslovakia, Germany declared the formation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, with Konstantin von Neurath as the German Protector, immediately enacting anti-Semitic laws.
18 Mar 1939 While in Vienna in German-occupied Austria, Adolf Hitler approved the formation of a German protectorate in Slovakia. Elsewhere, France, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union lodged official protests regarding the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.
23 Mar 1939 Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vojtech Tuka signed the official document in Berlin, Germany that declared Slovakia as an independent nation under German protection.

Photographs

Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha meeting with German leader Adolf Hitler, Berlin, Germany, 15 Mar 1939Adolf Hitler at Prague Castle, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 16 Mar 1939German troops marching on Prague Castle grounds, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 16 Mar 1939, photo 1 of 2German troops marching on Prague Castle grounds, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 16 Mar 1939, photo 2 of 2




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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Skluzaspecs says:
24 Apr 2007 08:59:42 AM

i lived in Czechloslovakia
2. Anonymous says:
13 Mar 2008 06:52:58 AM

this report sucks bad
3. Anonymous says:
11 Apr 2009 10:00:35 AM

i think you need to have stuff about what other countrie reaction to this was like the league of nations or the United States
4. Tom Flatman says:
26 Feb 2010 02:53:24 AM

This report is an outrage. I am deeply offended.
5. Anonymous says:
9 Mar 2010 07:27:53 PM

when did this end? i mean a specific date...
6. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2013 03:55:04 PM

This article fails to mention that the German population in Bohemia and Moravia should have never been part of the Czech state. Had they been allowed the so-called "right to self determination" they would have been part of Austria or Germany. France purposefully attempted to surround Germany with hostile states after WW1 and used the Czechs as pawns; they prospered during the war and suffered very little. Benes the war criminal however is responsible to the murder of thousands of Germans and Magyars. When will the Czechs denouce the "Benes Decrees?"
7. Anonymous says:
15 Mar 2014 12:26:44 PM

Here's another take. Hitler recovered lands stripped away from Germany as part of the bounties demanded by the victors of WWI. But then Stalin's secret agents (highly trained & skilled members of the NKVD & GRU) tried to subvert the region & foment open revolution because of the Soviets' own designs on it. Hitler was then forced to take over the remaining lands in order to secure the safety of the German citizens in the Sudetenlands, who now looked to Germany for their protection & security. For the outcome, read "The Crushing of Eastern Europe," by Anne Applebaum Viktor Suvorov thinks the outcome was planned from the very beginning & no fortuitous event, as many now think. See "The Chief Culprit."
8. Anonymous says:
16 Mar 2014 07:31:27 AM

The Czechs colonized Ruthenia and conducted campaigns against the local Hungarians, Germans, Poles and Ryssians. Britain and France with their "Little Entante" used the Czechs as pawns. They never had any intention of helping them, and eagerly handed them over to Stalin.
9. Miton Morris says:
15 Mar 2016 10:03:39 AM

Hitler wanted to reconstitute part the Austro-Hungarian Empire that was ripped apart by the greedy & vengeful European victors of WWI. People always point to the Treaty of Versailles as the casus belli of WW2. But the victors concludes treaties with Germany's allies that were much harsher than the Treaty of Versailles. Many experts also believe that Edward Beneš was one of Stalin's secret agents (Agent 19 described in the Venona decrypts). If so, he must have had a nest of others working in collusion with him & against the Nazis. Read chapters 8-10 in Buchanan's "The Unnecessary War," for the shameful & unnecessary start to WW2. And read, "Day of Deceit," by Robert Stinnett for how America got manipulated into WW2.
10. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
16 Mar 2016 08:44:04 AM

Miton Morris: Your comment was just starting to get interesting and then you quote Pat Buchannan and Robert Stinnett as authorities. Both of these authors assume their invented historical “truth” at the outset and then spend the rest of the books only weighing evidence against that “truth.” This is the very definition of crack-pot logic.
11. Milton Morris says:
15 Mar 2017 12:44:27 PM

http://www.hunsor.se/trianon/treatyoftrianon1920.htm There was no Czechoslovakia until the European victors of WWI stole 2/3 of Hungary's land pursuant to the Treaty of Trianon. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005425 “By this means governments may secretly and unobserved, confiscate the wealth of people, and not one man in a million will detect the theft.” ~ John Maynard Keynes, commenting on what the Europeans did to the Germans following WW1. Keynes predicted that the harsh results the victors imposed on the vanquished would lead to WW2.

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More on Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia
Participants:
» Blaskowitz, Johannes
» Chamberlain, Neville
» Göring, Hermann
» Hácha, Emil
» Hitler, Adolf
» Jodl, Alfred
» Morell, Theodor
» Ribbentrop, Joachim
» Tiso, Jozef

Location:
» Czechoslovakia

Documents:
» No. 10: Speech by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords
» No. 11: Question and the Prime Minister's answer in the House of Commons
» No. 12: Message from Sir N. Henderson to Viscount Halifax
» No. 9: Speech by the Prime Minister at Birmingham

Related Books:
» Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948
» The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia Photo Gallery
Czechoslovakian President Emil Hácha meeting with German leader Adolf Hitler, Berlin, Germany, 15 Mar 1939
See all 4 photographs of Dismemberment of Czechoslovakia




Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935