The Road to War - 1938

The Road to War – 1938

The German War Minister Werner Von Blomberg resigns after the revelation that his new wife had taken pornographic pictures a few years before.

General Werner Von Fritsch, Commander in Chief of the German Army, is forced to resign on the counts of homosexuality. Taking advantage of the called Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, Hitler removes several military and government leaders considered unsympathetic to his cause and objectives. At the same time War Ministry is replaced by the OKW (Oberkommando der Wermacht) which gave Adolf Hitler direct command over the German Army (Wermacht). The Foreign Affairs Minister, Konstantin Von Neurath ,is also replaced by Joachim von Ribbentrop.
On the 12th, the Chancellor of Austria, Kurt von Schuschnigg is forced (under the threat of invasion) in a meeting with Hitler to accept the release of all Austrian Nazi members and a considerable participation of them in the Government.
The British Naval base of Singapore becomes operational as a major strategic point of control between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans.
Anthony Eden, disagreeing from Prime Minister on the way to act with Italy, resigns from the place of Foreign Secretary and is replaced by Lord Halifax.

The British present to Hitler a plan of a summit about the division of Africa in exchange for extended guarantees that Germany will take no military actions to change the current borders. Hitler emphatically refuses this ideia.
On the 12th, German troops march into Austria following a well planned and executed coup by the Austrian Nazi Party. They are greeted by thousands of Austrians who see the unification with Germany as a way to escape to harsh economic conditions and political instability. France, Great Britain and, especially Italy react but in a moderate way, which fueled Hitler’s nest moves. On the following days the German army will control the whole territory, thousands of people will be arrested for belonging to other political parties or being a threat to the annexation. A plebiscite will also be held to ask the general public about this movement, the result will be over 99,00% favorable…
Two days after the French government will assure the Czech counterpart that France will respect all treaties in case of an invasion by the German.

Edouard Daladier becomes Prime-Minister of France and his Foreign Minister will be Georges Bonnet, a firm defender of the Appeasement Policies. He will, for instance, deny the assurances given to the Czechs the previous month…

The Vatican recognizes Franco’s government in Spain.
The Chief of Staff of the German Army, Ludwig Beck submits a memo to Hitler opposing the plan of war against Czechoslovakia (Fall Grun), stating that the Armed Forces are not prepared for the full war that will follow that action.
On the 20th, Czech government declares partial mobilization of its forces in the borders with Germany
Three days latter, Hitler will appease the Czechs reinforcing that Germany has no intentions over any parcel of their territory. This was caused by the international pressure and the mobilization declared in Czechoslovakia’s borderland
However, on the 28th, in a conference at the Reichstag, Hitler declares that Czechoslovakia will be destroyed, if necessary by the force of arms. 96 divisions will be mobilized for that purpose.

Italy beats Hungary in the World Cup Final by 4-2

The Mauthausen concentration camp is opened in Austria
Concerning the Spanish Civil War, the Non-Intervention Committee votes that all foreign volunteers and fighters will withdraw from the conflict. This will be respected mostly by the International Brigades fighting for the Republican side but will be ignored by the German and Italian combatants on the Franco’s side. This will cripple in a severe way the already beaten republican side and speed up the end of the war.

Hitler contests the arguments of Ludwig Beck over the operation against Czechoslovakia at a secret meeting. He will gather the majority of the senior officers to support Fall Grun.
General Ludwig Beck, convinced that Germany is walking towards the abyss, resigns from his post and is replaced by Franz Halder.
28 - The British ambassador to Germany is called to London and instructed by Neville Chamberlain to set up a meeting between him and Adolf Hitler as a premonition that the crisis in Czechoslovakia is about to break out.
31 - Before the end of the month, in a written memo, Winston Churchill will advise the Prime-Minister that Britain should form a broad international front (including the United States and USSR) against the Germans and their intentions towards their neighbors.

The month of all decisions in Czechoslovakia.
2 – The soviet ambassador to London states that USSR is prepared to go to war to guarantee the territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia.
5 – Czech President Edvard Bénes meets with Sudeten Germans and states that he will accept all their demands as long as the region stays under Czech territory.
7 – The Times publishes an important article advising the Czechs to give up the Sudetenland to the Germans
9 – F.D. Roosevelt confirms that in the event of a German invasion of Czechoslovakia and the probable conflict in Europe, United States will remain totally neutral. This statement disallows a biased interpretation of a speech by William Bullitt (American Ambassador to France), that affirmed that “France and America were united in war and in peace” .
10 – Hermann Goring in a speech at Nuremberg rallies, refers to the Czech as an under race (“a miserable pigmy race”). The Czech President, in a radio broadcast, appeals to calm on both sides
12 – Hitler makes the much anticipated speech at Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally attacking the Czechs and their President, Edvard Bénes.
13 – The Sudeten Germans, lead by Konrad Henlein, take arms against the Czech Governement and martial law is instaured. Order returns but not before severe confrontations. British Prime Minister sends a telegram to Adolf Hitler, requesting an immediate meeting with him
15 – Neville Chamberlain arrives at Berchtesgaden and begins negotiations with the German Fuhrer. Among other things, Hitler demands total and unconditional annexation of the Sudetenland.
17 – British Premier returns home for consultations over the German demands. Hitler confers with his inner circle that he feels extremely optimistic regarding the Czech situation
18 – French Prime Minister, Édouard Deladier and Neville Chamberlain conclude that neither France nor Great Britain are willing to go to war over Czechoslovakia and the Sudetenland question
21 – Edvard Bénes is informed by the Western Democracies that they will not fight Germany if Hitler moves forward on the Sudetenland demands. The Czechs, surprised and alone in this situation, will accept, latter that day, the demands posted by the Germans. On that same day, Winston Churchill makes a statement regarding the dangers, in a short term, that this capitulation poses to the security of Europe. The Soviet Union, left out of the discussion and caught by surprise by the impositions, will make a similar statement in the League of Nations.
22 – Milan Hodza, the Czech Prime-Minister, resigns, unable to cope with the capitulation to the German demands.
Neville Chamberlain arrives in Germany for another round of conversations with Adolf Hitler. The German requirements are now higher than before and the Fuhrer demands that the Sudetenland have to be annexed until the first day of October. The British Prime Minister, reversing the previous position, asks the Czechs to fully mobilize their army. Europe is at the brink of war…
23 – Czechoslovakia’s armed forces fully mobilize and prepare for invasion
24 – In the dawn, Chamberlain and Hitler conclude their talks. The German demands are passed to the Czech Government that totally rejects them. British and French Cabinets also reject them and a partial mobilization is started.
26 – In a speech to a large crowd in Berlin, Hitler states that war over Sudetenland will begin in a few days.
28 – As October 1 approaches, Hitler invites Benito Mussolini, Édouard Deladier and Neville Chamberlain for a last conference in Munich. The Czechs are deliberately left out
29 – The Munich Agreement is achieved between Italians, French, British and Germans. Most of Hitler’s demands are accepted and the agreement is presented to the Czechs, who were non-signatories of the document, as final.
30 – Neville Chamberlain, at the peak of its popularity, arrives at London with the Munich Agreement in his hand, stating that it meant “Peace in our Time”.

1 – German troops march into Sudetenland and are received in glory by the population (over 90% is German).
2 – Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty, resigns with grave differences with the Prime Minister regarding the way the Czech situation was managed. A debate begins in the House of Commons but as Chamberlain is seen as a peacekeeper and savior of the country, nothing really comes from it. Only a few voices will continue to speak against the situation as time passes by.
5 – Edvard Bénes resigns. Amputated of a large portion of their territory, Czechoslovakia will slowly embrace obscurity and internal crisis (fueled by the Germans).
16 – Winston Churchill in a broadcast to the United States, considers the Munich Agreement as a defeat and warns that Europe and America that they should prepare for armed resistance against Germany.
18 – Over 12,000 Polish Jews are expelled from Germany but only half of them are accepted in Poland. The rest will remain in a borderland no-man’s-land in refugee’s camps
21 – In a direct disrespect with the Munich Agreement, Hitler posts a secret order with the objective of total liquidation of the rest of Czechoslovakia. The occupation of Prussian territory of Memel (in Lithuania) is also a target.
24 – German Foreign Minister states to the Polish Ambassador to Berlin that:
- Dantzig must be returned to Germany
- Poland must sign the Anti-Comintern Pact
- Special powers should be given in the Polish Corridor
These two events will prove that Hitler totally fouled France and Britain at Munich. At the same time, the next target is set: Poland
30 – Orson Welles’ radio broadcast adaptation of The War of The Worlds (H.G. Wells) causes panic in several parts of the United States.
Japanese forces overrun Canton in China.

9 – Kristallnacht takes place in Germany. Nazi supporters carry out a widespread pogrom against jews all over Germany. Over 7500 businesses are destroyed, more than 250 synagogues burned down and almost 100 Jews killed in that night. Numbers are confuse but at least 25.000 Jews are arrested. The event will be considered the point of no return against Jews and other minorities in Germany and other occupied territories.
12 – In France the Government takes several measures that go against the Trade Unions and Popular Front’s previous initiatives. Civil unrest begins all over France.
25 – French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet, after removing several “anti-appeasement” officials from his Quay d’Orsay (French Foreign Office), asks the Ambassador to Poland (Léon Noel) that excuses for the end of the alliance between both countries must be found.
30 – Emil Hacha is elected President of Czechoslovakia
Italy states several demands to France, including territories in Africa (Tunisia and French Somaliland), Nice and Corsica. This will open a profound crisis between Italy and France which will only benefit Germany.
General strike is called in France by the Communist Party against the Government measures taken on the 12th of November.

1 – President Roosevelt, in a clear move against Japan’s aggression in China, agrees to loan up to 25 million dollars to the Nationalist China of Chiang Kai-shek.
6 – In a visit to Paris, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, receives word from his counterpart, Georges Bonnet, that France accepts all of Eastern Europe as a sphere of influence of the III Reich. This will be latter denied by Bonnet but it is considered as a “carte blanche” to the German foreign policies in 1939.
13 – Neunengamme concentration camp opens in Hamburg, Germany.
Adolf Hitler is Time’s Man of the Year.
Following the victory in The Battle of the Ebro, Franco launches a major invasion into Catalonia as the Spanish Civil War approaches its final months. Most foreign combatants on the Republican side are now removed from the frontlines (as agreed by both parties in July) but the German and Italian volunteers still fight on the Nationalist’s trenches.


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