September 13-16, 1938 – Berlin Radio – Mutual – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
This week was the culmination in a crisis that had been building ever since the end of World War 1.
The Sudeten Crisis (as it came to be known – also The Munich 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.
By 1938, Adolf Hitler had already re-militarized the Rhineland, which was meant to be a buffer zone between historic enemies Germany and France, and incorporated Austria into his new German Reich.
He had his eyes set on the Sudetenland, which was rich in the natural resources necessary for war and was conveniently populated by ethnic Germans – many of whom genuinely wanted to return to German rule.
Hitler’s first move was to order the Sudeten Nazi Party to demand full autonomy for ethnic Germans from Czech leader Edouard Benes, knowing that these demands would be refused. He then circulated fabricated stories of Czech atrocities towards Sudeten Germans and emphasized their desire to once again be under German rule, in an effort to legitimize his annexation of the territory.
If his intentions weren’t already clear enough, 750,000 German troops were sent to the Czech border, officially in order to carry out maneuvers. Unsurprisingly, these developments greatly alarmed the British, who were desperate to avoid another war.
This week in September was the beginning of that boiling point where the world watched and waited to see if another World War was in the wings. Here are some reports – from Berlin Radio (one which is hard to hear because of the conditions of Shortwave at the time) and another from Fulton Lewis Jr. who offered a commentary on the recently concluded speech by Adolf Hitler, who further outlined his demands for the Czech territory in question.
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