World War Two: Fall of Austria & Czechoslovakia 1938: The Planning

I recently made reference in comparison of the Ukraine crisis to the Munich concession’s that Britain and France  gave to Adolph Hitler allowing him to implement the destruction of the government of Czechoslovakia in 1938. I am sure some are wondering how I came to the comparison, one of the greatest sources of information to the events of those years can be found in the trial documents and in the words of their own testimony, of those who perpetrated the deeds. These occurred at the war trails in Nurnberg 1945-46, to which I now defer. We see the world events as happening today, but we must keep in mind that the events that unfold are not spontaneous, but well thought out and planned.

Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal Nuremberg

14 NOVEMBER 1945 – 1 OCTOBER 1946

VOLUME I: Official Text in the English Language: Official Documents International Military Tribunal

(Details are the following)

INDICTMENT INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL

COUNT ONE-THE COMMON PLAN OR CONSPIRACY: (Charter, Article 6, especially 6 (a))

  1. Particulars of the Nature and Development of the Common Plan or Conspiracy

(F) UTILIZATION OF NAZI CONTROL FOR FOREIGN AGGRESSION

  1. Aggressive action against Austria and Czechoslovakia.

(a) The 1936-1938 phase of the plan: planning for the assault on Austria and Czechoslovakia.

The Nazi conspirators next entered upon the specific planning for the acquisition of Austria and Czechoslovakia, realizing it would be necessary, for military reasons, first to seize Austria before assaulting Czechoslovakia. On 21 May 1935, in a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler stated that: “Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, or to conclude an Anschluss.” On 1 May 1936, within two months after the reoccupation of the Rhineland, Hitler stated: “The lie goes forth again that Germany tomorrow or the day after will fall upon Austria or Czechoslovakia.” Thereafter, the Nazi conspirators caused a treaty to be entered into between Austria and Germany on 11 July 1936, Article 1 of which stated that “The German Government recognizes the full sovereignty of the Federated State of Austria in the spirit of the pronouncements of the German Führer and Chancellor of 21 May 1935.” Meanwhile, plans for aggression in violation of that treaty were being made. By the autumn of 1937, all noteworthy opposition within the Reich had been crushed. Military preparation for the Austrian action was virtually concluded.

An influential group of the Nazi conspirators met with Hitler on 5 November 1937, to review the situation. It was reaffirmed that Nazi Germany must have “Lebensraum” in central Europe. It was recognized that such conquest would probably meet resistance which would have to be crushed by force and that their decision might lead to a general war, but this prospect was discounted as a risk worth taking. There emerged from this meeting three possible plans for the conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Which of the three was to be used was to depend upon the developments in the political and military, situation in Europe. It was contemplated that the conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia would, through compulsory emigration of 2,000,000 persons from Czechoslovakia and 1,000,000 persons from Austria, provide additional food to the Reich for 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 people, strengthen it militarily by providing shorter and better frontiers, and make possible the constituting of new armies up to about twelve divisions. Thus, the aim of the plan against Austria and Czechoslovakia was conceived of not as an end in itself but as a preparatory measure toward the next aggressive steps in the Nazi conspiracy.

(b) The execution of the plan to invade Austria: November 1937 to March 1938.

Hitler, on 8 February 1938, called Chancellor Schuschnigg to a conference at Berchtesgaden. At the meeting of 12 February 1938, under threat of invasion, Schuschnigg yielded a promise of amnesty to imprisoned Nazis and appointment of Nazis to ministerial posts. He agreed to remain silent until Hitler’s 20 February speech in which Austria’s independence was to be reaffirmed, but Hitler in his speech, instead of affirming Austrian independence, declared himself protector of all Germans. Meanwhile, underground activities of Nazis in Austria increased. Schuschnigg, on 9 March 1938, announced a plebiscite on the question of Austrian independence.

On 11 March Hitler sent an ultimatum, demanding that the plebiscite be called off or that Germany would invade Austria. Later the same day a second ultimatum threatened invasion unless Schuschnigg should resign in three hours. Schuschnigg resigned. The Defendant SEYSS-INQUAT, who was appointed-Chancellor, immediately invited Hitler to send German troops into Austria to “preserve order”. The invasion began on 12 March 1938.

On 13 March, Hitler by proclamation assumed office as Chief of State of Austria and took command of its armed forces. By a law of the same date Austria was annexed to Germany.

(c) The execution of the plan to invade Czechoslovakia: April 1938 to March 1939.

    1. Simultaneously with their annexation of Austria the Nazi conspirators gave false assurances to the Czechoslovak Government that they would not attack that country. But within a month they met to plan specific ways and means of attacking Czechoslovakia, and to revise, in the Light of the acquisition of Austria, the previous plans for aggression against Czechoslovakia.
    2. On 21 April 1938, the Nazi conspirators met and prepared to launch an attack on Czechoslovakia not later than 1 October 1938. They planned specifically to create an “incident” to “justify” the attack. They decided to launch a military attack only after a period of diplomatic squabbling which, growing more serious, would lead to the excuse for war, or, in the alternative, to unleash a Lightning attack as a result of an “incident” of their own creation. Consideration was given to assassinating the German Ambassador at Prague to create the requisite incident. From and after 21 April 1938, the Nazi conspirators caused to be prepared detailed and precise military plans designed to carry out such an attack at any opportune moment and calculated to overcome all Czechoslovak resistance within four days, thus presenting the world with a fait accompli, and so forestalling outside resistance. Throughout the months of May, June, July, August, and September, these plans were made more specific and detailed, and by 3 September 1938, it was decided that all troops were to be ready for action on 28 September 1938.
    3. Throughout this same period, the Nazi conspirators were agitating the minorities question in Czechoslovakia, and particularly in the Sudetenland, leading to a diplomatic crisis in August and September 1938. After the Nazi conspirators threatened war the United Kingdom and France concluded a pact with Germany and Italy at Munich on 29 September 1938, involving the cession of the Sudetenland by Czechoslovakia to Germany. Czechoslovakia was required to acquiesce. On 1 October 1938, German troops occupied the Sudetenland.
    4. On 15 March 1939, contrary to the provisions of the Munich Pact itself, the Nazi conspirators caused the completion of their plan by seizing and occupying the major part of Czechoslovakia not ceded to Germany by the Munich Pact.

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®

SOURCE: Trial of Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal Nurnberg 1945-46 (LOC)
CONTRIBUTOR: Eddy Toorall

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