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many of the men either on March 15 itself or on the follow-
*" (2826-PS) The background of the German intrigue in Slovakia is outlined in two British diplomatic despatches (D-571, D-572) and excerpts from despatches sent by M. Coulondre, the French Ambassador in Berlin to the French Foreign Office between 13 and 18 March 1939, and published in the French Yellow Book. (2943– PS)
In Slovakia the long-anticipated crisis came on 10 March. On that day the Czechoslovakian government dismissed those members of the Slovak Cabinet who refused to continue negotiations with Prague, among them Prime Minister Tiso and Durcansky. Within 24 hours the Nazis seized upon this act of the Czech government as an excuse for intervention. On the following day, 11 March, a strange scene was enacted in Bratislava, the Slovak capital. It is related in the report of the British Minister in Prague to the British government:
"Herr Buerckel, Herr Seyss-Inquart and five German generals came at about 10 P. M. on the evening of Saturday, the 11th March, into a Cabinet meeting in progress at Bratislava, and told the Slovak Government that they should proclaim the independence of Slovakia. When M. Sidor (the Prime Minister) showed hesitation, Herr Buerckel took him on one side and explained that Herr Hitler had decided to settle the question of Czecho-Slovakia definitely. Slovakia ought, therefore, to proclaim her independence because Herr Hitler would otherwise disinterest himself in her fate. M. Sidor thanked Herr Buerckel for this information, but said that he must discuss the situation with the Government at
Prague." (D-571) Events were now moving rapidly. Durcansky, one of the dismissed ministers, escaped with Nazi assistance to Vienna, where the facilities of the German broadcasting station were placed at his disposal. Arms and ammunition were brought from German
Offices in Engerau, across the Danube, into Slovakia where they were used by the FS and the Hlinka Guard to create incidents and disorder of the type required by the Nazis as an excuse for military action. The situation at Engerau is described in an affidavit of Alfred Helmut Naujocks:
“I, ALFRED HELMUT NAUJOCKS, being first duly sworn,
me voluntarily and without compulsion; after reading over
“(Signed) Alfred Helmut Naujocks
(3030-PS) At this time the German press and radio launched a violent campaign against the Czechoslovak government. And, significantly, an invitation from Berlin was delivered in Bratislava. Tiso, the dismissed prime minister, was summoned by Hitler to an audience in the German capital. A plane was awaiting him in Vienna. (998-PS; 3061-PS; 2943-PS)
M. Occupation of Czechoslovakia Under Threat of Military Force.
At this point, in the second week of March 1939, preparations for what the Nazi leaders liked to call the “liquidation" of Czechoslovakia were progressing with a gratifying smoothness. The military, diplomatic, and propaganda machinery of the Nazi conspirators was moving in close coordination. As during Case Green of the preceding summer, the Nazi conspirators had invited Hungary to participate in the attack. It appears from a letter Admiral Horthy, the Hungarian Regent, wrote to Hitler on 13 March 1939, which was captured in the German Foreign Office files, that Horthy was flattered by the invitation:
“My sincere thanks. "I can hardly tell you how happy I am because this Head Water Region—I dislike using big words—is of vital importance to the life of Hungary. “In spite of the fact that our recruits have only been serving for 5 weeks we are going into this affair with eager enthusiasm. The dispositions have already been made. On Thursday, the 16th of this month, a frontier incident will take place which will be followed by the big blow on Saturday. "I shall never forget this proof of friendship and your Excellency may rely on my unshakeable gratitude at all times.
"Your devoted friend.
“(Signed) HORTHY" “Budapest. 13.3.1939.” (2816-PS) From this letter it may be inferred that the Nazi conspirators had already informed the Hungarian government of their plans
for military action against Czechoslovakia. As it turned out, the timetable was advanced somewhat.
On the diplomatic level Ribbentrop was active. On 13 March, the same day on which Horthy wrote his letter, Ribbentrop sent a cautionary telegram to the German minister in Prague, outlining the course of conduct he should pursue during the coming diplomatic pressure:
"Telegram in secret code "With reference to telephone instructions given by Kordt today. “In case you should get any written communication from President HACHA, please do not make any written or verbal comments or take any other action on them but pass them on here by cipher telegram. Moreover, I must ask you and the other members of the Embassy to make a point of not being available if the Czech government wants to communicate with you during the next few days.
(Signed) RIBBENTROP”. (2815-PS) On the afternoon of 13 March, Monsignor Tiso, accompanied by Durcansky and by Karmasin, the local Nazi leader, arrived in Berlin in response to the summons from Hitler. Late that afternoon Tiso was received by Hitler in his study in the Reichs Chancellery and was presented with an ultimatum. Two alternatives were given him: either to declare the independence of Slovakia or to be left, without German assistance, to the mercies af Poland and Hungary. This decision, Hitler said, was not a question of days, but of hours. The captured German Foreign Office minutes of this meeting between Hitler and Tiso on 13 March show that in the inducements Hitler held out to the Slovaks Hitler displayed his customary disregard for truth:
Now he [Hitler] had permitted Minister Tiso to come here in order to make this question clear in a very short time. Germany had no interests east of the Carpathian mountains. It was indifferent to him what happened there. The question was whether Slovakia wished to conduct her own affairs or not. He did not wish for anything from Slovakia. He would not pledge his people or even a single soldier to something which was not in any way desired by the Slovak people. He would like to secure final confirmation as to what Slovakia really wished. He did not wish that reproaches should come from Hungary that he was preserving something which did not wish to be preserved at all. He took a liberal view of unrest and demonstration in general, but in this connection, unrest was only an outward indica
tion of interior instability. He would not tolerate it, and
While in Berlin, the Slovaks also conferred separately with Ribbentrop and with other high Nazi officials. Ribbentrop solicitously handed Tiso a copy, already drafted in Slovak, of the law proclaiming the independence of Slovakia. On the night of 13 March a German plane was placed at Tiso's disposal to carry him home. On 14 March, pursuant to the wishes of the Nazi conspirators, the Diet of Bratislava proclaimed the independence of Slovakia.
With Slovak extremists, acting at Nazi bidding, in open revolt against the Czechoslovak government, the Nazi leaders were now in a position to move against Prague. On the evening of 14 March, at the suggestion of the German Legation in Prague M. Hacha, the president of the Czechoslovak republic, and M. Chvalkovsky, his foreign minister, arrived in Berlin. The atmosphere in which they found themselves was hostile. Since the preceding weekend the Nazi press had accused the Czechs of using violence against the Slovaks and especially against members of the German minority and citizens of the Reich. Both press and radio