The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
The Execution of the Plan to Invade Czechoslovakia<(Part 15 of 29)

Some time afterwards, when there was no longer need for pretense and deception, Konrad Henlein made a clear and frank statement of the mission assigned to him by the Nazi conspirators. This statement was made in a lecture by Konrad Hen-

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lein quoted on page 29 of "Four Fighting Years", a publication of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this lecture, delivered by Henlein on 4 March 1941 in the Auditorium of the University of Vienna under the auspices of the Wiener Verq tungsakalame, he discussed the "fight for the liberation of the Sudetens" in the following terms:

"National Socialism soon swept over us Sudeten Germans. Our struggle was of a different character from that in Germany. Although we had to behave differently in public we were, of course, secretly in touch with the National Socialist revolution in Germany so that we might be a part of it. The struggle for Greater Germany was waged on Sudeten soil, too. This struggle could be waged only by those inspired by the spirit of National Socialism, persons who were true followers of our Fuehrer, whatever their outward appearance. Fate sought me out to be the leader of the national group in its final struggle. When *** in autumn, 1933, the leaders of the NSDAP asked me to take over the political leadership of the Sudeten Germans, I had a difficult problem to solve.

"Should the National Socialist Party continue to be carried on illegally or should the movement, in the interest of the self-preservation of the Sudeten Germans and in order to prepare their return to the Reich, wage its struggle under camouflage and by methods which appeared quite legal to the outside world? For us Sudeten Germans only the second alternative seemed possible, for the preservation of our national group was at stake. It would certainly have been easier to exchange this hard and mentally exhausting struggle for the heroic gesture of confessing allegiance to National Socialism and entering a Czechoslovak prison. But it seemed more than doubtful whether by this means we could have fulfilled the political task of destroying Czechoslovakia as a bastion in the alliance against the German Reich." (2863-PS.)

1. Evidence Implicating Nazi Conspirators in Czechoslovak Agitation.

The foregoing account of Nazi intrigue in Czechoslovakia is the outline of this conspiracy as it had been pieced together by the Czechoslovak government early in the summer of 1945. Since then captured documents and other information made available since the defeat of Germany have clearly and conclusively demonstrated the implication, which hitherto could only be deduced, of the Nazi conspirators in the Sudetenland agitation.

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A telegram sent from the German Legation in Prague on 16 March 1938 to the Foreign Office in Berlin, presumably written by the German Minister, Eisenlohr, proves conclusively that the Henlein movement was an instrument of the Nazi conspirators (3060-PS). The Henlein party, it appears from this telegram, was directed from Berlin and from the German Legation in Prague. It could have no policy of its own; even the speeches of its leaders had to be coordinated with the German authorities. This telegram reads as follows:

"Rebuff to Frank has had a salutary effect. Have thrashed out matters with Henlein, who recently had shunned me, and with Frank separately and received following promises;

"1. The line of German Foreign Policy as transmitted by the German Legation is exclusively decisive for policy and tactics of the Sudeten German Party. My directives are to be complied with implicitly.

"2. Public speeches and the press will be coordinated uniformly with my approval. The editorial staff of "Zeit" (Time) is to be improved.

"3. Party leadership abandons the former intransigent line which in the end might lead to political complications and adopts a line of gradual promotion of Sudeten German interests. The objectives are to be set in every case with my participation and to be promoted by parallel diplomatic action. Laws for the protection of nationalities (Volksschutzesetze) and 'territorial autonomy' are no longer to be stressed.

"4. If consultations with Berlin agencies are required or desired before Henlein issues important statements on his program, they are to be applied for and prepared through the Mission.

"5. All information of the Sudeten German Party for German agencies is to be transmitted through the Legation.

"6. Henlein will establish contact with me every week, and will come to Prague at any time if requested.

"I now hope to have the Sudeten German Party under firm control, as this is more than ever necessary for coming developments in the interest of foreign policy. Please inform ministries concerned and Mittelstelle (Central Office for Racial Germans) and request them to support this uniform direction of the Sudeten German Party." (3060-PS)

The dressing-down administered by Eisenlohr to Henlein had the desired effect. The day after the telegram was dispatched from Prague, Henlein addressed a humble letter to Ribbentrop, asking an early personal conversation (2789-PS). This letter,

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dated 17 March 1938, and captured in the German Foreign Office files, states:

"Most honored Minister of Foreign Affairs:

"In our deeply felt joy over the fortunate turn of events in Austria we feel it our duty to express our gratitude to all those ho had a share in this new grand achievement of our Fuehrer.

"I beg you, most honored Minister, to accept accordingly the sincere thanks of the Sudeten Germans herewith.

"We shall show our appreciation to the Fuehrer by doubled efforts in the service of the Greater German policy.

"The new situation requires a reexamination of the Sudeten German policy. For this purpose I beg to ask you for the opportunity for a very early personal talk.

"In view of the necessity of such a clarification I have postponed the Nation-wide Party Congress, originally scheduled for 26 March 1938 and 27 March 1938, for 4 weeks.

"I would appreciate if the Minister, Dr. Eisenlohr, and one of my closest associates would be allowed to participate in the requested talks.

"Heil Hitler,
"Loyally yours,
"/s/ Konrad Henlein."

This letter makes it clear that Henlein was quite aware that the seizure of Austria made possible the adoption of a new policy toward Czechoslovakia. It also reveals that he was already in close enough contact with Ribbentrop and the German minister in Prague to feel free to suggest "early personal" talks.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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