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Archive for Thursday, March 20, 2003

The rest of it

March 20, 2003

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To the editor:

In "2days' History Journal" (J-W, Friday), it was stated: "In 1939, the republic of Czechoslovakia was dissolved, opening the way for Nazi occupation."

This bland statement is correct as far as it goes, but readers unfamiliar with the history of this time might like to know that:

1. Hitler decided to destroy Czechoslovakia, an ally of France, as early as November 1937. The first step was annexation of the Sudetenland, agreed to by France and Britain at the Munich Conference in 1938. This led to the resignation and exile of President Edvard Benes and proclamation of the Second Czechoslovak Republic.

2. Taking advantage of tension between the Czechs and Slovaks, Hitler on March 14 told the Slovak leader, Father Jozef Tiso, that if he did not declare Slovak independence, his country would be partitioned between Germany, Hungary, and Poland. Tiso declared independence, but Slovakia became a satellite of Germany.

3. The President of the Second Czechoslovak Republic, Emil Hacha, was told by Hitler the night of March 14-15 that German troops would march in the next day and if he did not capitulate, Prague would be bombed.

4. The German army marched into Czech lands March 15 and Hitler proclaimed Bohemia-Moravia a German Protectorate and part of Greater Germany.

5. The outrage of public opinion in Britain led to the British Guarantee of Polish independence of March 31, 1939, and to fruitless British-French and Soviet alliance negotiations. Stalin chose to line up with Hitler and World War II began with the German invasion of Poland, Sept. 1,1939. France and Britain declared war on Germany two days later.

Anna M. Cienciala,

Lawrence

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