Study Notes

Sudeten Crisis, September 1938


The Sudeten Crisis was a major development in Hitler’s foreign policy aims and one which tested both Britain and France. The Sudeten Crisis focussed on the Sudetenland which was an area of Czechoslovakia which bordered Germany. The region had German speakers who had been placed there after the break up of the empires at the end of World War One.

Czechoslovakia was led by Edward Benes who was deeply concerned about Germany’s actions after Anschluss. Determined to protect his country he desperately tried to work with Britain and France to ensure that they would be safe from German aggression. Hitler used similar tactics to that of Austria and got local Nazis to stir up trouble for the Czech authorities. Benes got assurances from France, Britain and the Soviet Union that they would help protect Czechoslovakia if it needed it. The Sudetenland was also important as this was where many Czech armament factories and defences were, so losing them would mean Czechoslovakia would be defenceless.

In order to help stop a war, Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler who said that Germany only wanted those parts of the Sudetenland which spoke German, and that they should be able to vote on it. Chamberlain believed this was a reasonable course of action and was convinced this would be the end of it. Chamberlain, alongside the French submitted the plan to the Czechs. However just days later Hitler then demanded all of the Sudetenland, not just the German speaking parts. Hitler used the pretext that the Czechs were oppressing the Germans and that the Reich should rescue them. The Sudeten Crisis led to the Munich Agreement in September 1938.

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