According to calculatorinc, the great majority of the German people, together with the rest of the world, gave a great sigh of relief in the confidence that peace had once again been saved; Hitler, on the other hand, took Munich as a confirmation of his opinion that the Western powers were only bluffing; his opponents in the army and the bureaucracy, who had prepared a coup d’etat to eliminate the regime when the order to attack was issued, were paralyzed by the outcome of the Munich convention. Already on 9 October Hitler, in his speech in Saarbrücken, gave vent to his discontent with the Munich solution. The Anglo-German declaration agreed in Munich and expressing the will never to go to war with each other, and which Chamberlain waved in his hands upon his return to London, it was taken by Hitler as little as seriously as the Franco-German non-aggression treaty signed in Paris on 6 December. Although the Prague government after the withdrawal of President Beneš showed great submissiveness, Hitler was nevertheless already determined to destroy what remained of the Czechoslovakian state. When disagreements between the government of Prague and Slovakia led, on March 10, 1939, to the military occupation of Bratislgva and the installation of K. Sidor as prime minister, Hitler summoned the president of the Czech state E. Hacha and presented him with the alternative either to submit his country to the protection of the Reich, or to expose it to an attack that would destroy it. Hacha chose the first alternative. The coup against Prague was in flagrant contrast with Hitler’s previous declarations of not wanting to annex even a Czech, and with the Munich agreement. For the first time, violence was done to a people of non-German nationality. World public opinion, still moved by the acts of violence organized by the Nazi party against Jews and Jewish property on November 9, 1938, after the murder of the German diplomat E. von Rath, which took place in Paris at the hands of a Jew, confirmed in the idea that Hitler was pursuing not only the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, but a shameless imperialism. Prague meant the break between peace and war. idea that Hitler pursued not only the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, but a shameless imperialism. Prague meant the break between peace and war.
It is true that in the following weeks Hitler had other successes. Lithuania ceded the Memel territory to him on 23 March, which it occupied in 1923; on the same day Romania entered into an economic treaty with Germany which, had it been carried out, would have considerably enlarged Germany’s resource base of raw materials. But on March 31, Poland accepted the guarantee of territorial integrity offered to it by England and refused to take into consideration the requests made by Hitler, namely the cession of Gdansk and the construction of an extra-territorial highway to East Prussia via the aisle. England introduced compulsory military service for all, the president of the United States addressed an appeal for peace to Hitler and Mussolini on April 16, which the former rejected in his speech of 28 April in an offensive form, as unwarranted interference in German affairs. The non-aggression pacts he made with Estonia, Latvia and Denmark at the end of May and the beginning of June were supposed to testify to his peaceful intentions, but in reality no one believed them.
Despite all the apparent successes, Germany was completely isolated in international politics. Negotiations for an alliance with Japan made no progress. The Steel Pact signed in Berlin on 22 May 1939 with Italy lost value compared to Hitler’s plans, since Mussolini, in a letter of 30 May delivered by gen. U. Cavallero, asked for a three-year period of peace for the Axis powers. Furthermore, the alliance with Italy did not free the Reich from the danger of a war on two fronts, that war which, for not having been avoided, Hitler in his book Mein Kampf reproached Wilhelminian Germany as the greatest error. Only an agreement with Russia could eliminate this danger. And to this agreement (for the negotiations, seeworld war, in this App.) he arrived with the agreements signed in Moscow on the night of 23-24 August by Ribbentrop: Russian-German non-aggression pact, together with a secret protocol for which Germany declared that it was not interested in Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Bessarabia and the Polish territories east of the Pisa, Narew, Vistula and San rivers. In Hitler’s eyes, the conclusion of this pact presented itself as the “biggest blow of his life”. He believed he had intimidated the Western powers and had a free hand in the march against Poland.
But already on the same day 23 August Chamberlain, in a personal letter delivered by Henderson to Hitler in Berchtesgaden, communicated that England was holding firm to its commitments with respect to Poland, while remaining ready to act as an intermediary for direct negotiations between Poland and Germany.. Elsewhere (see World War, in this App.) the history of the negotiations between England, Poland and Germany is detailed. In vain did Hitler try to separate England from Poland, proposing (which was hardly done in earnest) a general agreement that also included a guarantee of the whole British Empire by Germany. On 29 August he verbally communicated his new claims to Poland to the British Ambassador Henderson: the sale of Danzig and the corridor; arrival of a Polish plenipotentiary to Berlin by midnight on 30 August. But the German way of proceeding clearly showed that Hitler and Ribbentrop wanted to sabotage British mediation, first of all because it asked for an international guarantee for the agreements to be agreed between Germany and Poland, and humiliate Poland if not with weapons, at least with a “Diktat”. On the other hand, no German counter-proposals were made to the Polish ambassador Lipski, who on 31 August, ie after the deadline set, conferred with Ribbentrop to announce that Poland was ready to negotiate. Thus the thin thread of peace was broken. On the morning of September 1, at 5:45 am, the German aggression against Poland began.
A peace appeal from the pope, dated August 24, went unheeded, as did the peace warnings of other sovereigns. On 1 September Hitler gave a completely distorted version of the facts before the Reichstag, but did not directly reject a proposal by Mussolini, made to him on 2 September, to conclude an armistice and participate in an international conference; he hoped in the meantime to occupy the objectives that interested him: Gdansk and the corridor. Since England and France insisted on making the withdrawal of German troops as a precondition to any negotiation, this last attempt at peace also failed. When on 3 September Hitler received the declaration of war of the two powers, he exclaimed somewhat shaken: “But therefore they have declared war on us nevertheless !”.