The year of 1938 had been so far fruitful for Hitler's ambitions. Among his feats was the peaceful Anschluss of Austria, and the securing of Hungary as ally. However, the next step in his plans involved Czechoslovakia, and even though he was anxious to amend reasons to spark a war, soon he hit a wall of bricks. British bricks.
Hitler was becoming way too aggressive in his demands. Even though the Sudeten german population was voicing their desire for integration with Germany, Hitler presented impossible timetables and conditions for a Czech withdrawal from the contested territories. Fearing that France would stand by its pact with Czechoslovakia and drag with it Britain into war, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain decided to directly intervene. By proposing more reasonable conditions and by mounting pressure over the Czech government, Chamberlain was slowly disrupting Hitler's plans of putting the German machinery of war in action.
The final blow came when Chamberlain imposed an ultimatum on Czech president Edvard Beneš, forcing it to opt between a peaceful concession of the Sudetenland or a military invasion by Germany, with Czechoslovakia unaided by the Entente. The Czech president opted to cede.
Bunker from the Czech line of border fortifications. Without the Sudetenland, the Czechs lost their strategic defensive assets.
German units hurry to occupy former Czech positions.
However, both Britain and France reassured their guarantee of Polish borders. This marked the end of Hitler's aims of attaining an alliance with Great Britain, when he realized the British would not tolerate further his desires of expansion. At the same time the Munich Agreement was celebrated as a victory for Chamberlain, in the OKW plans began to be laid for war in the west.
Still, the Czechoslovakia was not finished yet. In March 1939, after internal political breakup and the declaration of independence by the Slovaks, Germany took the opportunity and invaded the remainder of the Czech republic, annexing it into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. This caused affliction in the west, prompting France and Poland to order immediate mobilization of its armed forces.
Also the French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier began talks with the Belgium and Dutch governments for protection against a possible German attack. They, however, have refused to abandon their neutrality stances.
March 1939 Armed Forces Report
By March 1939, the German Armed Forces had reached a formidable size.
316 regiments distributed into 85 divisions:Luftwaffe
- 7 Panzer Divisions
- 72 Infantry Divisions
- 6 Motorized Infantry Divisions
- 6 Mountain Divisions
- Panzer Division: 2 Light Armor + 1 Mot. Inf.
- Infantry Division: 3 Inf.
- Mot. Inf. Division: 2 Mot. Inf. + 1 Self-propelled AT
- Mountain Division: 2 Mountain Inf.
Organized into 29 Corps, 9 Armies and 3 Army Groups.
713,000 men in service, reaching 1 million soldiers if mobilised.
Strategic manpower reserve around 1.7 million.
2,600 combat aircraftKriegsmarine
- 1200 BF-109 fighters
- 1200 He-111 bombers
- 200 He-115 coastal bombers
2 Battleships (Bismarck and Tirpitz) + 2 building
2 Battlecruisers (Scharnhorst, Gneisenau) + 2 building
2 Pre-war Battleships (Schleswig-Holstein, Schlesien)
6 Heavy Cruisers (Deutschland, Admiral Scheer, Graf Spee, Admiral Hipper, Blücher, Prinz Eugen)
6 Light Cruisers
9 Destroyers flotillas (36 ships)
10 U-boat flotillas (40 subs) + 4 building