The Collapse of Czechoslovakia, March 1939
In March 1939, Czechoslovakia finally disappeared from the map of Europe.
- Hitler invaded and occupied the remains of Czechoslovakia.
- Bohemia and Moravia became German protectorates (controlled by Germany).
- Slovakia remained independent in theory; but was largely dominated by Germany.
- Ruthenia was handed over to Hungary.
The end of Appeasement
The final occupation of Czechoslovakia suggested that war was on its way.
- Hitler's promises made at the Munich Agreement were clearly worthless.
- Britain and France were rapidly rearming and they accepted that the Policy of Appeasement had obviously failed.
The Pact of Steel, May 1939
In the Spring of 1939, the tide of events seemed to be favouring the dictators.
- In March, Hitler forced the Lithuanians to hand over the Baltic town of Memel and a portion of land along their south-west border.
- In April, General Franco's nationalist forces, supported by Germany and Itay, took power in Spain.
- In May, Mussolini followed Hitler's example in Czechoslovakia by invading Albania.
In May 1939, Hitler and Mussolini signed The Pact of Steel in which they promised to act side by side in future events. It was clear that Europe was now divided into two camps. Britain and France both looked at the USSR as a possible source of support against Germany.
Hitler’s next target then became Poland. The Treaty of Versailles had taken away German territory and given it to the Polish, giving them access to a sea port (this was the Polish Corridor), the Baltic Sea, and Danzig (which had been a German city) had been put under League of Nations control. After Hitler’s success in Czechoslovakia, in March 1939, Hiler demanded the return of the Polish Corridor and Danzig.
The French and British Governments had both been greatly humiliated by Munich and the events that followed. They decided to act decisively.
- In April, they gave guarantees of support to the Poles, Greeks and Romanians Governments against German Aggression.
- They also increased their production of arms and equipment.