« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Leopold be forbidden to negotiate
von Neurath, German Minister for
4. THE EXECUTION OF THE PLAN TO INVADE CZECHOSLOVAKIA
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
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 21 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.
B. The Background of Friendly Diplomatic Relations.
This conspiracy must be viewed against a background of amicable German-Czech diplomatic relations. Although they had in the fall of 1937 determined to destroy the Czechoslovak State, the leaders of the German government were bound by a treaty of arbitration and by assurances freely given to observe the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia. By a formal treaty signed at Locarno on 16 October 1925, Germany and Czechoslovakia agreed, with certain exceptions, to refer to an arbitral tribunal or to the Permanent Court of International Justice,
all disputes of every kind between Germany and Czechoslovakia with regard to which the parties are in conflict as to their respective rights, and which it may not be possible to settle amicably by the normal methods of diplomacy.
(TC-14). The preamble of this treaty stated :
“The President of the German Empire and the President of the Czechoslovak Republic; equally resolved to maintain
peace between Germany and Czechoslovakia by assuring the peaceful settlement of differences which might arise between the two countries; declaring that respect for the rights established by treaty or resulting from the law of nations is obligatory for international tribunals; agreeing to recognize that the rights of a State cannot be modified save with its consent; and considering that sincere observance of the methods of peaceful settlement of international disputes permits of resolving, without recourse to force, questions which may become the cause of division between States; have decided to embody in a treaty their common intentions in this respect.
(TC-14) Formal and categoric assurances of their good will toward Czechoslovakia were forthcoming from the Nazi conspirators as late as March 1938. On 11 and 12 March 1938, at the time of the annexation of Austria, Germany had a considerable interest in inducing Czechoslovakia not to mobilize. At this time Goering assured M. Mastny, the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, on behalf of the German Government that German-Czech relations were not adversely affected by the developments in Austria and that Germany had no hostile intentions toward Czechoslovakia. As a token of his sincerity Goering accompanied his assurance with the statement: "Ich gebe Ihnen mein Ehrenwort (“I give you my word of honor") (TC-27). At the same time von Neurath, who was handling German foreign affairs during Ribbentrop's stay in London, assured M. Mastny on behalf of Hitler and the German government that Germany still considered herself bound by the Arbitration Convention of 1925 (TC-27).
C. Planning for Aggression.
Behind the screen of these assurances the Nazi conspirators proceeded with their military and political plans for aggression. Ever since the preceding fall it had been established that the immediate aim of German policy was the elimination of Austria and Czechoslovakia. In both countries the Nazi conspirators planned to undermine the will to resist by propaganda and by fifth column activities, while the actual military preparations were being developed. The Austrian operation, which receive priority for political and strategic reasons, was carried out in February and March 1938. Thenceforth Wehrmacht planning was devoted to Case Green (Fall Gruen), the designation given to the operation against Czechoslovakia.
The military plans for Case Green had been drafted in outline form as early as June 1937. The OKW top secret "Directive