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Ultimately, the events in Czechoslovakia in 1938-1939 played a major role in contributing to the outbreak of world war 2 as it ended the appeasement policy and led to Britain’s realization that war was the only solution. However, the nazi soviet pact is also a factor as it gave germany the confidence to invade Poland, a move that guaranteed war. After the anschluss, Czechoslovakia was next on hitler’s list of expansion. The Czech government felt threatened, and sought support from Britain and france should Hitler invade Czechoslovakia, and both Britain and france felt bound to help them.
On 15 september 1938, Hitler told chamberlain that he would risk war to bring the Sudeten germans into germany. Chamberlain found his demands reasonable, and decided that areas in which more than half the population was germans should be handed over to Hitler. However on 22 sep Hitler stepped his demands and asked for the whole of Sudetenland.
Originally, chamberlain rejected his demands. Eventually, in an attempt to avoid war, he, along with Mussolini and the prime minister of france decided that Sudetenland would be given to germany.
This was known as the munich agreement (29 sep). Czechoslovakia was not consulted, and it had felt betrayed. Following that, Hitler then assured chamberlain that he had no further claims in Europe. However, in march 1939, Hitler took over the rest of Czechoslovakia, showing that he could not be trusted. Following that, Britain and france both abandoned the appeasement policy and announced that it would declare war on germany in event that Hitler invaded Poland.
However, the nazi soviet pact was also an extremely important factor as it enabled Hitler to avoid a two frontwar, and allowed him to continue to provoke the western countries as stalin now secured his eastern border. Hence, Hitler could now channel all his resources to fighting the western front. Hitler learnt 2 important lessons from the First World War. Firstly, the importance of the involvement of Russia if a Slavic nation was attacked and next the strain of having to fight a war on two fronts. Therefore, the nazi soviet pact was signed on 23 august 1939 where communist Russia agreed to remain neutral if Poland was attacked.
It also contained a secret protocol whereby germany and Russia agreed to carve up Poland between them, with germany getting the western parts and Russia getting the eastern parts along with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. With this, Hitler felt assured and proceeded to attack Poland, which unleashed the second world war. In analysis, the events in Czechoslovakia played an extremely significant role in contributing to the outbreak of war in 1939 as compared to the signing of the nazi soviet pact. The events in Czechoslovakia had laid the foundation for the outbreak of war, and it was after the invasion of Czech that led to Britain’s realization that hitler’s aims went way further than merely just redressing the wrongs of the Treaty of Versailles. It showed that Hitler aimed to dominate central Eastern Europe and British knew that war was the only solution in stopping him.
Furthermore, the invasion of Czechoslovakia was so unjust that it gave Britain the high moral ground to “defend the right” without regard to self-interest. This was the point when Britain and France announced that they would declare war on Hitler were he to invade Poland. Although the nazi soviet pact did play a small role, it merely acted as the trigger for the invasion of Poland. Hitler’s invasion of Poland was inevitable, and the pact merely sped up the process. Rather, the decision of Britain and france to abandon appeasement and to defend Poland was made after the events in Czechoslovakia is 1938-1939, thus making it more crucial.
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