March 15

This Day in History

World War II

Mar 15, 1939:

Nazis take Czechoslovakia

On this day, Hitler's forces invade and occupy Czechoslovakia--a nation sacrificed on the altar of the Munich Pact, which was a vain attempt to prevent Germany's imperial aims.

On September 30, 1938, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, French Premier Edouard Daladier, and British Prime Minister Neville 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 percent of Czechoslovakia's coal, 70 percent of its iron and steel, and 70 percent 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, whether 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, as early as October 1938, Hitler made it clear that he intended to force the central Czechoslovakian government to give Slovakia its independence, which would make the "rump" Czech state "even more completely at our mercy," remarked Hermann Goering. Slovakia indeed declared its "independence" (in fact, complete dependence on Germany) on March 14, 1939, with the threat of invasion squelching all debate within the Czech province.

Then, on March 15, 1939, during a meeting with Czech President Emil Hacha--a man considered weak, and possibly even senile--Hitler threatened a bombing raid against Prague, the Czech capital, unless he obtained from Hacha 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.

The Munich Pact, which according to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had purchased "peace in our time," was actually a mere negotiating ploy by the Hitler, only temporarily delaying the Fuhrer's blood and land lust.

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