The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
The Execution of the Plan to Invade Czechoslovakia<(Part 1 of 29)

A. Development of the Nazi Program of Aggression.

In the period 1933-1936 the conspirators had initiated a program of rearmament designed to give the Third Reich military strength and political bargaining power to be used against other nations. Furthermore, beginning in the year 1936 they had embarked on a preliminary program of expansion which, as it turned out, was to last until March 1939. This program was intended to shorten Germany's frontiers, to increase its industrial and food reserves, and to place it in a position, both industrially and strategically, from which the Nazis could launch a more ambitious and more devastating campaign of aggression. At the moment, in the early spring of 1938, when the Nazi conspirators first began to lay concrete plans for the conquest of Czechoslovakia they had reached approximately the halfway point in this preliminary program.

The preceding autumn, at the conference in the Reichs Chancellery on 5 November 1937, Hitler had set forth the program which Germany was to follow. The events of this conference are contained in the so-called Hossbach minutes. The question for Germany, as the Fuehrer had informed his military commanders at this meeting, is where the greatest possible conquest can be

[Page 516]

made at the lowest cost (386-PS). At the top of his agenda stood two countries: Austria and Czechoslovakia. On 12 March 1938 Austria was occupied by the German Army, and on the following day it was annexed to the Reich. The time had come for a redefinition of German intentions toward Czechoslovakia.

A little more than a month later Hitler and Keitel met to discuss plans for the envelopment and conquest of the Czechoslovak State. On 22 April 1938, Hitler and Keitel discussed the pretexts which Germany might develop to serve as an excuse for a sudden and overwhelming attack. They considered the provocation of a period of diplomatic squabbling which, growing more serious, would lead to the excuse for war. In the alternative, and this alternative they found to be preferable, they planned to unleash a lightning attack as the result of an "incident" of their own creation. Consideration was given to the assassination of the German Ambassador at Prague to create the requisite incident. The necessity of propaganda to guide the conduct of Germans in Czechoslovakia and to intimidate the Czechs was recognized. Problems of transport and tactics were discussed with a view to overcoming all Czechoslovak resistance within four days, thus presenting the world with a fait accompli and forestalling outside intervention. (388- PS, Item 2)

Thus in mid-April 1938 the designs of the Nazi conspirators to conquer Czechoslovakia had already reached the stage of practical planning.

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