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Germany Occupies the Sudetenland


The Sudetenland: made up of western Czechoslovakia (mostly inhabited by ethnic Germans) as well as parts of Moravia and countries associated with Bohemia. Because of the many ethnic Germans living in this area, Hitler wanted it annexed as well. And so, during the Munich Agreement (to be discussed later), Chamberlain all but handed it over – with, of course, the never-intended-to-be-kept-agreement that this would appease Hitler. This is largely why Chamberlain (and his biggest supporters) is now almost synonymous with appeasement.

Ultimately, this act just emboldened Hitler to continue his annexation – or invasion – of other countries.


Prior to the Munich Agreement, in March of 1938, Hitler had met with Konrad Helein, head of the Sudeten-German party. Initially, Helein had promised to compromise with Hitler, allowing his citizens free reign “to pursue membership in Germany’s Nazi Party” (Source). This was known as the Carlsbad Decrees. However, Hitler already knew this would never go over well with the Czech government. These demands would seem too unreasonable. So, he appealed to Britain and France instead. The German citizens in Czechoslovakia were being unfairly oppressed. And only he could right this wrong. By incorporating the Sudetenland into Germany.

Prime Minister Chamberlain and other Western Powers were in strong agreement that they wanted to avoid another war. So, Chamberlain pressured Czechoslovakia President, Evard Benes, to give in. Benes resisted and, instead, in May 1938, “ordered mobilization of his nation’s military in response to reported German troop movements. Europe was on a path to war” (Source).

[Below: Germans enter the Sudetenland]



PM Chamberlain now attempted to pressure President Benes to mediate the situation. Needing to stay on good terms with the Western Powers, President Benes reluctantly agreed. He soon put forth the Fourth Plan, essentially giving Nazi Germany everything it asked for. This did little to help the situation.

Violence still erupted across the Sudetenland via protesting Germans. This, unfortunately, only reinforced Hitler’s theory of the oppression of “his” people in the Sudetenland. Czech troops responding to the violence only made this worse.

On September 15, Hitler and Chamberlain met. Hitler made his demands clear: Sudetenland or war. 

Chamberlain gave him Sudetenland.

But, the Czech government resisted this agreement, so Chamberlain offered them his own ultimatum: Give up the area or lose any future assistance from western Europe” (Source).

Czechoslovakia still refused to budge. Their army was well-equipped with modern conveniences. They were ready to go to war. But only with Britain and France as their allies. “A stalemate ensued” (Source).

And so, on September 29, Hitler met with Britain, France, and his alley, Italy. Again, Czechoslovakia was left out. This meeting resulted in the Munich Agreement. Czechoslovakia had no choice but to agree.

[Below: Germans greeted by ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland.]



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Hitler’s Violation of the Treaty of Versailles


In 1930, Hitler began an era that would break the treaty that had put an end to WWI.



WWI came to an unofficial end on November 11, 1918 with the Armistice – the agreement to lay down weapons and cease fighting. The war officially ended on June 28, 1919 with the Treaty of Versailles. This treaty was negotiated by the Allied Powers at the Paris Peace Conference. In short, it “required Germany to accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage during the war” (Source). Similar articles were signed by the other members of the Central Powers. This was called the War Guilt Clause.

The Treaty of Versailles, however, required Germany to pay reparations for these damages. And to prevent another similar war, Germany was also forced to disarm and “make substantial territorial concessions” (Source). But, because these provisions were later deemed unsatisfactory, later treaties were signed in an effort to amend these problems.

In September 1924, the Dawes Plan went into effect, providing an end to the Allied occupation in the Ruhr. It also set forth to stagger Germany’s payment plans and, hopefully, to boost their economy. Then, on December 1, 1925, the Locarno Treaty was signed, dividing Europe into two categories: East and West. It was hoped that this would prevent Germany from going to war while also trying to normalize relations with them. The Dawes Plan failed, and so in 1929, the Allies once again set to work, hoping to fix it. In January 1930, the Young Plan was signed, effectively reducing Germany’s payments again.

All of these plans were cancelled by 1932, “and Hitler’s rise to power and subsequent actions rendered moot the remaining terms of the treaty” (Source).

In March of 1935, Hitler announced his new and improved Luftwaffe, but in the name of appeasement, no one reacted. Goaded to push the boundaries even further . . .

[Below: The public announcement of Germany’s Re-Armament.]



On March 16, 1935, Hitler introduced conscription and began building up Germany’s air force and navy. Of course, by this point, Hitler had long since been ignoring the rules set into place by the Treaty of Versailles.

See, in 1934, he began secretly giving orders to triple the size of their army to 500,000 men and to build bigger and better planes and submarines. At the same time, Göring was beginning to train air force pilots. Furthermore, Hitler began making speeches about a war in Europe, though claiming to be opposed to the idea of war.


Hitler’s not-so-secret rearmament did help to pull Germany out of her own depression by way of putting factories back into business. For example, shipyards “created branches that began to design and build aircraft” (Source). Plus, while other countries were practicing appeasement, Germany was busy building and experimenting with new weapons – these “advanced and sometimes revolutionary, technological improvements” left England and other countries even further behind. As Hitler later bragged: “We rearmed to an extent the like of which the world as not yet seen” (Source).

These new weapons would then be tested on Spanish soil during the Spanish Civil War with Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

On of the reasons many other countries stood back and allowed Hitler to rearm Germany was because many saw this as the “potential bulwark against the emergence of the USSR which, under Stalin, had successfully undergone a late military-industrial revolution” (Source). Of course, the two countries would later join hands instead – all while planing to invade one another. (And, can I just point out that pre Operation Barbarossa that Stalin was considered the supreme evil? And then we somehow forgot that? Hmm?)

While France and Britain (and to a greater extent America) did not want to rock the boat with Germany, France did take action by building the Maginot Line between themselves and Germany. At the same time, the Stresa front was “formed between Britain, France, and Italy (Italy had not at this time fully invaded Abyssinia and was not yet a German ally) in April 1935” (Source).

Britain went so far down the appeasement path, that she even made an agreement with Germany under the Anglo-German Agreement, effectively enlarging the number of submarines Germany was allowed to have. England hoped this would ease up the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles “and help assuage Germany’s anger towards Europe and reduce the chances of further conflict” (Source). Of course, though, Hitler would only push the boundaries even further . . .

[Below: Pre-war German re-armament produces the Heinkel He 111.]



Up Next:

The Nuremberg Laws & Beyond

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A Thought Question: Expanding WWII


We say that God doesn’t chose a side in war. God, however, is always on the side of freedom and liberty. We see how He blessed the Americans in the Revolutionary War, the North in the Civil War, and the Allies in WWI & WWII. When it comes to our military declaring liberty, He blesses – whether it be in the name of freedom of the King of England, the emancipation of the slaves, or freeing countries from the dictatorship and concentration camps of Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito. 

Yet, we stopped short of freeing those who lived under the slavery and tyranny of Stalin. What would have happened had we listened to Gen. Patton or to the non-Nazi Germans who all saw Stalin for the tyrant that he really was? When we came to understand that, just perhaps, Stalin was the bigger threat than Hitler, we let him continue on. Then, in 1947, after Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, we launched ourselves into a decades’ long Cold War.

But, given the notion that God blessed the Allies in fighting Hitler, wouldn’t He have continued to bless us as we defeated Stalin? How could we call the job finished if more people were still living in tyranny? We went home while Stalin took over the parts of Europe Hitler had occupied. To me, that says the job wasn’t finished. Shouldn’t we have declared war before Stalin had our plans stolen for the atomic bomb?  Shouldn’t we have fought to free all of Europe, not just some? Yes, it would have meant the loss of more lives, but don’t you believe God would have continued to bless the Allies?

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The Night of Long Knives


June 30-July 2, 1934: Operation Hummingbird: A purge in Nazi Germany, designed to insure and strengthen Hitler’s absolute power over Germany.



By mid-1934, there were over 4,000 Nazi stormtroopers (SA) or “brown shirts” (Gretchen’s brother, Reinhard, in Prisoner of Night and Fog &Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke was a brown shirt).

The SA was a paramilitary branch of the NSDAP and significant to Hitler’s rise to power. “It’s primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Slavic and Romani people, unionists, and Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses” (Source). However, they predated Hitler’s Nazi party, having originally been used in WWI as specialized assault troops. 

While the SA helped Hitler gain power, once Hitler and his Nazis had said power, it became clear that the SA was becoming “increasingly eager for power itself” (Source). As a way to prevent too much SA power, Hitler reassigned the off-shoot branch, the SS, to Heinrich Himmler. And, as a result, the SS became more and more important to Hitler, slowly replacing the SA as his official bodyguards. He simply came to see them as being “better suited to carry out [his] policies, including those of a criminal nature” (Source).

See, the SA took more seriously the “socialist” part of National Socialism then, perhaps, Hitler wanted them to. They wanted a second revolution, even though other Nazis were completely content with the results of their first.

Meanwhile, they and their leader, Ernst Röhm, were posing a real threat to the regular Army High Command, whom Hitler had promised to restore to “former military glory and break the ‘shackles’ of the Treaty of Versailles, which limited the Army to 100,000 men and prevented modernization” (Source). 

A former street brawler himself, Röhm had been with Hitler from the very beginning, an instrumental part. As a result, Röhm had been given a seat at the National Defence Council, where over time, he became more and more demanding about his say in military matters, much to the annoyance and concern of other members, General Werner von Blomberg (Minister of Defence) and General Walther von Reichenau (Chief of the Reichswehr’s Ministerial Department).

[Below: An SA parade with leader, Ernest Röhm]



Meanwhile, the SA party members were becoming more disliked throughout Germany because of their “arrogant, gangster-like behavior, such as extorting money from local shop owners, driving around in fancy new cars showing off, often getting drunk, beating up and even murdering innocent civilians” (Source). Many of Hitler’s lieutenants (even Hitler himself) were becoming progressively more worried by Röhm’s “growing power and restlessness” (Source). SS leaders Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, along with Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, and Rudolf Hess began plotting against Röhm. By May 1934, “lists of those to be ‘liquidated’ started to circulate amongst Göring and Himmler’s people, who engaged in a trade, adding enemies of one in exchange for sparing friends of the other” (Source).

Many world leaders tried telling Hitler the importance of taking away power from Röhm and the SA. But he didn’t immediately listen. Eventually, Blomberg had to warn Hitler that if he did not intervene himself, “that Hindenburg was close to declaring martial law and turning the government over to the Reichswehr if Hitler did not take immediate steps against Röhm and his brownshirts” (Source). This pressure gave Hitler no choice but to act. He now intended both “destroying Röhm and settling scores with old enemies” (Source).

In preparation, Himmler and Heydrich concocted evidence suggesting that “Röhm had been paid 12 million Reichsmark by France to overthrow Hitler” (Source). On June 25, the Reichswehr were placed on high alert and the promise of the army’s full cooperation was secured.

On June 30, “Hitler first ordered the arrest of the SA” (Source). That taken care of, a car took Hitler, Hess, and others to an SS-secured resort hotel, where Röhm and the present SA men were arrested and sent to Stadelheim prison (just outside Munich) to be executed.

At 10 am, Hitler called Göring in Berlin, exchanging the code word: Hummingbird. This code word unleashed “a wave of murderous violence in Berlin and twenty other cities” (Source). The SS and Göring’s own personal police took to the streets, executing anyone appearing on the prepared list. Röhm, however, was “given a pistol containing a single bullet to commit suicide” (Source). But Röhm refused, insisting Hitler had to do it. Instead, SS guards, Theodore Eicke (commander of the Totenkopf (Death’s Head) guards at Dachau), entered Röhm’s cell and “shot him point blank” (Source).

The bloody purge lasted until July 2nd, but did not end before Hitler held a tea party for his cabinet members in the garden of the Chancellory as a ploy to ensure citizens that all was going back to normal. When it was all over, deaths totaled, some say, as high as 1,000 or more. Only half of those deaths were actually SA officials.

On July 13, Hitler gave a speech announcing the 74 “justified murders”: “If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people” (Source).

By he proclaiming himself the supreme judge of Germany, he placed himself above law, making his word law. And, by aiding Hitler in the raid, the German army aligned themselves with Hitler.

[Below: Removal of Murdered SA bodies.]



Up Next: 

 Hitler’s Violation of the Treaty of Versailles 

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