Western Front (World War I)
The Western Front or Western Theater was the main theatre of war during World War I. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, the tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France. This line remained unchanged for most of the war. Between 1915 and 1917 there were several major offensives along this front, the attacks employed massive artillery bombardments and massed infantry advances. However, a combination of entrenchments, machine gun emplacements, barbed wire, as a result, no significant advances were made. In an effort to break the deadlock, this front saw the introduction of new technology, including poison gas, aircraft. But it was only after the adoption of improved tactics that some degree of mobility was restored, the German Armys Spring Offensive of 1918 was made possible by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that marked the end of the conflict on the Eastern Front.
In spite of the stagnant nature of this front, this theatre would prove decisive. The terms of peace were agreed upon with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, belgiums neutrality was guaranteed by Britain under the 1839 Treaty of London, this caused Britain to join the war at the expiration of its ultimatum at 11 pm GMT on 4 August. Armies under German generals Alexander von Kluck and Karl von Bülow attacked Belgium on 4 August 1914, Luxembourg had been occupied without opposition on 2 August. The first battle in Belgium was the Siege of Liège, which lasted from 5–16 August, Liège was well fortified and surprised the German Army under von Bülow with its level of resistance. German heavy artillery was able to demolish the main forts within a few days. Following the fall of Liège, most of the Belgian field army retreated to Antwerp, leaving the garrison of Namur isolated, with the Belgian capital, although the German army bypassed Antwerp, it remained a threat to their flank. Another siege followed at Namur, lasting from about 20–23 August, for their part, the French had five armies deployed on their borders.
The pre-war French offensive plan, Plan XVII, was intended to capture Alsace-Lorraine following the outbreak of hostilities, on 7 August the VII Corps attacked Alsace with its objectives being to capture Mulhouse and Colmar. The main offensive was launched on 14 August with 1st and 2nd Armies attacking toward Sarrebourg-Morhange in Lorraine, in keeping with the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans withdrew slowly while inflicting severe losses upon the French. The French advanced the 3rd and 4th Armies toward the Saar River and attempted to capture Saarburg, attacking Briey and Neufchateau, before being driven back
World War I
World War I, known as the First World War, the Great War, or the War to End All Wars, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history and it was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, and paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. The war drew in all the worlds great powers, assembled in two opposing alliances, the Allies versus the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war, Japan, the trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This set off a crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia. Within weeks, the powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.
On 25 July Russia began mobilisation and on 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia, Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, after the German march on Paris was halted, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that changed little until 1917. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army was successful against the Austro-Hungarians, in November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus and the Sinai. In 1915, Italy joined the Allies and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers, Romania joined the Allies in 1916, after a stunning German offensive along the Western Front in the spring of 1918, the Allies rallied and drove back the Germans in a series of successful offensives. By the end of the war or soon after, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, national borders were redrawn, with several independent nations restored or created, and Germanys colonies were parceled out among the victors.
During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Big Four imposed their terms in a series of treaties, the League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such a conflict. This effort failed, and economic depression, renewed nationalism, weakened successor states, and feelings of humiliation eventually contributed to World War II. From the time of its start until the approach of World War II, at the time, it was sometimes called the war to end war or the war to end all wars due to its then-unparalleled scale and devastation. In Canada, Macleans magazine in October 1914 wrote, Some wars name themselves, during the interwar period, the war was most often called the World War and the Great War in English-speaking countries. Will become the first world war in the sense of the word. These began in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia and Austria, when Germany was united in 1871, Prussia became part of the new German nation. Soon after, in October 1873, German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors between the monarchs of Austria-Hungary and Germany
The wars resulted from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and the Revolutionary Wars, which had raged on for years before concluding with the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Napoleon became the First Consul of France in 1799, Emperor five years later, inheriting the political and military struggles of the Revolution, he created a state with stable finances, a strong central bureaucracy, and a well-trained army. The British frequently financed the European coalitions intended to thwart French ambitions, by 1805, they had managed to convince the Austrians and the Russians to wage another war against France. At sea, the Royal Navy destroyed a combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in October 1805, Prussian worries about increasing French power led to the formation of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. France forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July, although Tilsit signified the high watermark of the French Empire, it did not bring a lasting peace for Europe.
Hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia, the Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, the Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. Unwilling to bear the consequences of reduced trade, the Russians routinely violated the Continental System. The French launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the collapse and retreat of the Grand Army along with the destruction of Russian lands. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France, a lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The Allies invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814 and he was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power.
However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again, the Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The Congress of Vienna, which started in 1814 and concluded in 1815, established the new borders of Europe and laid out the terms, Napoleon seized power in 1799, creating a de facto military dictatorship. The Napoleonic Wars began with the War of the Third Coalition, Kagan argues that Britain was irritated in particular by Napoleons assertion of control over Switzerland. Furthermore, Britons felt insulted when Napoleon stated that their country deserved no voice in European affairs, for its part, Russia decided that the intervention in Switzerland indicated that Napoleon was not looking toward a peaceful resolution of his differences with the other European powers. The British quickly enforced a blockade of France to starve it of resources. Napoleon responded with economic embargoes against Britain, and sought to eliminate Britains Continental allies to break the coalitions arrayed against him, the so-called Continental System formed a league of armed neutrality to disrupt the blockade and enforce free trade with France
World War II
World War II, known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, although related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the worlds countries—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing alliances, the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust and the bombing of industrial and population centres. These made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history, from late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States and European colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and quickly conquered much of the Western Pacific.
The Axis advance halted in 1942 when Japan lost the critical Battle of Midway, near Hawaii, in 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained all of its territorial losses and invaded Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in South Central China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy, thus ended the war in Asia, cementing the total victory of the Allies. World War II altered the political alignment and social structure of the world, the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The victorious great powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 46 years. Meanwhile, the influence of European great powers waned, while the decolonisation of Asia, most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery.
Political integration, especially in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities, the start of the war in Europe is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland and France declared war on Germany two days later. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or even the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred simultaneously and this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935. The British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the forces of Mongolia and the Soviet Union from May to September 1939, the exact date of the wars end is not universally agreed upon.
It was generally accepted at the time that the war ended with the armistice of 14 August 1945, rather than the formal surrender of Japan
The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and matériel resources of the United States could be fully deployed. They had the advantage in numbers afforded by the nearly 50 divisions freed by the Russian surrender. There were four German offensives, codenamed Michael, Gneisenau, once this was achieved, it was hoped that the French would seek armistice terms. The other offensives were subsidiary to Michael and were designed to divert Allied forces from the offensive on the Somme. No clear objective was established before the start of the offensives and once the operations were underway, the Allies concentrated their main forces in the essential areas, while leaving strategically worthless ground, devastated by years of combat, lightly defended. The Germans were unable to move supplies and reinforcements fast enough to maintain their advance, the fast-moving stormtroopers leading the attack could not carry enough food and ammunition to sustain themselves for long and all the German offensives petered out, in part through lack of supplies.
By late April 1918, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed, the German Army had suffered heavy casualties and now occupied ground of dubious value which would prove impossible to hold with such depleted units. In August 1918, the Allies began a counter-offensive with the support of 1–2 million fresh American troops and using new artillery techniques, the German government and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, nominally the Chief of the General Staff, were not party to the planning process. Eventually it was decided to launch Operation Michael near Saint-Quentin, at the hinge between the French and British armies, and strike north to Arras, the main reason for the choice was tactical expediency. The ground on this sector of the front would dry out much sooner after the winter and spring rains and it was a line of least resistance as the British and French armies were weak in the sector. However, these remained only secondary and weaker operations, subordinate to Michael, the constant changing of operational targets once the offensive was underway gave the impression the German command had no coherent strategic goal.
Any capture of an important strategic objective, such as the Channel ports, the success of Operation Michael led German infantry to advance too far from its supply bases and railheads. The stormtrooper units leading the advance carried supplies for only a few days, the advance was slowed by supply shortages, which gave Allied commanders more time to reinforce the threatened areas and to slow the advance still more. The stormtrooper tactic was to attack and disrupt enemy headquarters, artillery units, each major formation creamed off its best and fittest soldiers into storm units, several complete divisions were formed from these elite units. The Germans failed to arm their forces with a mobile force, such as cavalry. This tactical error meant the infantry had to keep up a tempo of advance. Notwithstanding the effectiveness of the stormtroopers, the following German infantry often made attacks in large traditional waves, to enable the initial breakthrough, Lieutenant Colonel Georg Bruchmüller, a German artillery officer, developed the Feuerwalze, an effective and economical creeping barrage scheme.
There were three phases, first, a bombardment on the enemys command and communications, destruction of their artillery
Operation Crusader was a military operation by the British Eighth Army between 18 November–30 December 1941 in North Africa during the Second World War. The operation relieved the 1941 Siege of Tobruk, Rommel had to withdraw his armoured units to support the fighting at Tobruk. It was the first victory over the German ground forces by British-led forces in the Second World War, following the costly failure of Operation Battleaxe, General Archibald Wavell was relieved as Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command and replaced by General Claude Auchinleck. The Western Desert Force was reorganised and renamed the Eighth Army under the command of Lieutenant-General Alan Cunningham replaced by Lieutenant-General Neil Ritchie, the Eighth Army comprised two Corps, XXX Corps under Lieutenant-General Willoughby Norrie and XIII Corps under Lieutenant-General Reade Godwin-Austen. XXX Corps was made up of 7th Armoured Division, the understrength South African 1st Infantry Division with two brigades of the Sudan Defence Force and the independent 22nd Guards Brigade.
XIII Corps comprised 4th Indian Infantry Division, the newly arrived 2nd New Zealand Division, the Australian Major-General Leslie Morshead had been succeeded as Allied commander at Tobruk by the British Major-General Ronald Scobie. However, by November, the Australian 20th Brigade remained in Tobruk, in reserve, the Eighth Army had the South African 2nd Infantry Division, making a total equivalent of about 7 divisions with 770 tanks. Directly under the Italian High Command, remained Italian XX Corps, the Italian XX Corps under Lieutenant General Gastone Gambara with 132nd Armoured Division Ariete with 146 medium tanks M13/40 and 101st Motorised Division Trieste. The Axis forces had built a line of strong points along the escarpment running from near the sea at Bardia and Sollum. Axis initial air support consisted of about 120 German and 200 Italian serviceable aeroplanes but these could be reinforced quickly by transfer of units from Greece, a German motorised division needed 360 tonnes per day and moving the supplies 480 kilometres took 1,1702. 0-tonne lorries.
With seven Axis divisions and naval units,71,000 tonnes of supplies per month were needed. From February–May 1941, a surplus of 46,000 tonnes was delivered, attacks from Malta had some effect but in May, lack of transport in Libya left German supplies in Tripoli and the Italians had only 7,000 lorries for deliveries to 225,000 men. A record amount of supplies arrived in June but at the front, in November a five-ship convoy was sunk during Operation Crusader and ground attacks on road convoys stopped journeys in daylight. Lack of deliveries and the Eighth Army offensive forced a retreat to El Agheila from 4 December, crowding the Via Balbia, where British ambushes destroyed about half of the remaining Axis transport. Convoys to Tripoli resumed and sinkings increased but by 16 December, the situation had eased, except for the fuel shortage and in December. The Vichy French sold 3,700 tonnes of fuel, U-boats were ordered into the Mediterranean, the Italian navy used warships to carry fuel to Derna and Benghazi, made a maximum effort from 16–17 December.
Four battleships, three cruisers and 20 destroyers escorted four ships to Libya. The use of an armada for 20,000 tonnes of cargo ships depleted the navy fuel reserve, bizerta in Tunisia was canvassed as an entrepôt but this was in range of RAF aircraft from Malta and was another 800 kilometres west of Tripoli
Eighth Army (United Kingdom)
The Eighth Army was a field army and one of the best-known formations of the British Army during the Second World War, fighting in the North African and Italian campaigns of World War II. Subordinate units came from Australia, British India, Free French Forces, New Zealand, Rhodesia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Significant formations which passed through the Army included, British V Corps, British X Corps, British XIII Corps, British XXX Corps, I Canadian Corps, II Polish Corps. The Eighth Army was formed from the Western Desert Force in September 1941 and it gained its number from the fact that the French Army had fielded seven field armies previously in the same war, whereas the British had fielded the British Expeditionary Force. At its creation, the Eighth Army comprised two Corps, XXX Corps under Lieutenant-General Willoughby Norrie and XIII Corps under Lieutenant-General Reade Godwin-Austen, XXX Corps was made up of 7th British Armoured Division, the South African 1st Infantry Division and the 22nd Guards Brigade.
XIII Corps composed of the 4th Indian Infantry Division, the 2nd New Zealand Division, the Eighth Army included the Tobruk garrison, and the Polish Carpathian Brigade. In reserve, the Eighth Army had the 2nd South African Infantry Division making a total of seven divisions. By the time the army was fighting the Second Battle of El Alamein, it had reached a size of over 220,000 men in 10 divisions and several independent brigades. Despite achieving a number of successes, Rommel was forced to concede Tobruk and was pushed back to El Agheila by the end of 1941. In February 1942 Rommel had regrouped his forces sufficiently to push the over-extended Eighth Army back to the Gazala line, just west of Tobruk. Both sides commenced a period of building their strength to launch new offensives but it was Rommel who took the initiative first, ritchie proved unable to halt Rommel and was replaced when Auchinleck himself took direct command of the army. The Panzer Army Afrika were eventually stopped by Auchinleck at the First Battle of El Alamein, gott was killed in an air crash on his way to take up his command and so Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery was appointed in his place.
Alexander and Montgomery were able to resist the pressure from Churchill, building the Armys strength and adding a pursuit formation, X Corps, to the Armys XIII and XXX Corps. The Eighth Army participated in the Italian Campaign which began with the Allied invasion of the island of Sicily, when the Allies subsequently invaded mainland Italy, elements of the Eighth Army landed in the toe of Italy in Operation Baytown and at Taranto in Operation Slapstick. After linking its left flank with the U. S. Fifth Army, led by Mark W. Clark, which had landed at Salerno on the west coast of Italy south of Naples, together these two armies made up the Allied Armies in Italy (later redesigned 15th Army Group, under General Sir Harold Alexander. At the end of 1943, General Montgomery was transferred to Britain to begin preparations for Operation Overlord, Command of the Eighth Army was given to Lieutenant-General Oliver Leese, previously the commander of XXX Corps, which was being returned to England. Following three unsuccessful attempts in early 1944 by the U. S.
S, Fifth Army in order to mount a major offensive with them
Weimar Republic is an unofficial, historical designation for the German state between 1919 and 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place, the official name of the state was still Deutsches Reich, it had remained unchanged since 1871. In English the country was known simply as Germany. A national assembly was convened in Weimar, where a new constitution for the Deutsches Reich was written, in its fourteen years, the Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism, and contentious relationships with the victors of the First World War. The people of Germany blamed the Weimar Republic rather than their leaders for the countrys defeat. However, the Weimar Republic government successfully reformed the currency, unified tax policies, Weimar Germany eliminated most of the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles, it never completely met its disarmament requirements, and eventually paid only a small portion of the war reparations.
Under the Locarno Treaties, Germany accepted the borders of the republic. From 1930 onwards President Hindenburg used emergency powers to back Chancellors Heinrich Brüning, Franz von Papen, the Great Depression, exacerbated by Brünings policy of deflation, led to a surge in unemployment. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor with the Nazi Party being part of a coalition government, the Nazis held two out of the remaining ten cabinet seats. Von Papen as Vice Chancellor was intended to be the éminence grise who would keep Hitler under control, within months the Reichstag Fire Decree and the Enabling Act of 1933 had brought about a state of emergency, it wiped out constitutional governance and civil liberties. Hitlers seizure of power was permissive of government by decree without legislative participation and these events brought the republic to an end, as democracy collapsed, a single-party state founded the Nazi era. The Weimar Republic is so called because the assembly that adopted its constitution met at Weimar, Germany from 6 February 1919 to 11 August 1919, but this name only became mainstream after 1933.
To the right of the spectrum the politically engaged rejected the new democratic model, the Catholic Centre party, Zentrum favoured the term Deutscher Volksstaat while on the moderate left the Chancellors SPD preferred Deutsche Republik. Only during the 1930s did the term become mainstream, both within and outside Germany, after the introduction of the republic, the flag and coat of arms of Germany were officially altered to reflect the political changes. The Weimar Republic retained the Reichsadler, but without the symbols of the former Monarchy and this left the black eagle with one head, facing to the right, with open wings but closed feathers, with a red beak and claws and white highlighting. If the Reichs Eagle is shown without a frame, the charge and colors as those of the eagle of the Reichs coat of arms are to be used. The patterns kept by the Federal Ministry of the Interior are decisive for the heraldic design, the artistic design may be varied for each special purpose. The achievements and signs of movement were mostly done away with after its downfall
The Aisne is a river in northeastern France. It is a tributary of the Oise. It gave its name to the French department of Aisne and it was known in the Roman period as Axona. It rises in the forest of Argonne, at Rembercourt-Sommaisne, near Sainte-Menehould and it flows north and west before joining the Oise near Compiègne. The Aisne is 356 kilometres long and its main tributaries are the Vesle, the Aire and the Suippe. Three bitter battles of World War I were fought into the valleys of the Aisne and towns along the river include, Meuse Marne, Sainte-Menehould Ardennes, Rethel Aisne, Soissons Oise, Compiègne Small boats can travel much of the length of the river. Canals join the Aisne to the Seine and Meuse rivers, in the small-capacity network of waterways, the Aisne and the Canal latéral à lAisne give access to the agricultural towns of Soissons and Vailly-sur-Aisne, both large exporters of cereals. The waterway links Northwestern Europe to the inland harbour of Reims. The Aisne is connected to the rest of the network by the Oise, the Canal de lOise à lAisne the Canal des Ardennes, a 57.
1-kilometre portion of the river, with 7 locks, has been canalized, from Vailly-sur-Aisne to Compiègne. It is the westernmost segment of the Aisne, at the western end, it terminates at the Canal latéral à lOise. At the eastern end, it continues into the Canal latéral à lAisne, PK is continuation of numbering from Canal latéral à lAisne from east to west
Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the general officer ranks. However, in small military forces, such as those of Iceland or the Vatican. It is used in police forces and paramilitary organizations. Historically, in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, a colonel was typically in charge of a regiment in an army, the rank of colonel is typically above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The rank above colonel is typically called brigadier, brigade general or brigadier general, equivalent naval ranks may be called captain or ship-of-the-line captain. In the Commonwealth air force rank system, the equivalent rank is group captain, the word colonel derives from the same root as the word column and means of a column, and, by implication, commander of a column. The word colonel is therefore linked to the column in a similar way that brigadier is linked to brigade. By the end of the medieval period, a group of companies was referred to as a column of an army. Since the word is believed to derive from sixteenth-century Italian, it was presumably first used by Italian city states in that century.
The first use of colonel as a rank in an army was in the French National Legions created by King Francis I by his decree of 1534. Building on the reforms of Louis XIIs decree of 1509. Each colonel commanded a legion with a strength of six thousand men. With the shift from primarily mercenary to primarily national armies in the course of the seventeenth century, the Spanish equivalent rank of coronel was used by the Spanish tercios in the 16th and 17th centuries. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, nicknamed the Great Captain, divided his armies in coronelías or colonelcies, the Spanish word probably derives from a different origin, in that it appears to designate an officer of the crown, rather than an officer of the column. This makes the Spanish word coronel probably cognate with the English word coroner and this regiment, or governance, was to some extent embodied in a contract and set of written rules, referred to as the colonels regiment or standing regulation. By extension, the group of companies subject to a colonels regiment came to be referred to as his regiment as well, the position, was primarily contractual and it became progressively more of a functionless sinecure.
By the late 19th century, colonel was a military rank though still held typically by an officer in command of a regiment or equivalent unit. As European military influence expanded throughout the world, the rank of colonel became adopted by every nation
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
German leader Adolf Hitlers pretext for this action was the alleged privations suffered by the ethnic German population living in those regions. New and extensive Czechoslovak border fortifications were located in the same area. Following the Anschluss of Austria to Nazi Germany, in March 1938, the incorporation of the Sudetenland into Germany that begun on 1 October 1938 left the rest of Czechoslovakia weak, and it became powerless to resist subsequent occupation. On 15 March 1939, the German Wehrmacht moved into the remainder of Czechoslovakia and, from Prague Castle, the occupation ended with the surrender of Germany following World War II. Sudeten German pro-Nazi leader Konrad Henlein offered the Sudeten German Party as the agent for Hitlers campaign, Henlein met with Hitler in Berlin on 28 March 1938, where he was instructed to raise demands unacceptable to the Czechoslovak government led by president Edvard Beneš. On 24 April, the SdP issued the Karlsbader Programm, demanding autonomy for the Sudetenland, if Henleins demands were granted, the Sudetenland would be able to align itself with Nazi Germany.
I am asking neither that Germany be allowed to oppress three and a half million Frenchmen, nor am I asking that three and a half million Englishmen be placed at our mercy. Rather I am simply demanding that the oppression of three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia cease and that the right to self-determination take its place. As the tepid reaction to the German Anschluss with Austria had shown, the governments of France, the French government did not wish to face Germany alone and took its lead from the British government and its prime minister, Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain contended that Sudeten German grievances were justified and believed that Hitlers intentions were limited and France, advised Czechoslovakia to concede to the German demands. Beneš resisted, and on 20 May 1938 a partial mobilization was under way in response to possible German invasion, ten days later, Hitler signed a secret directive for war against Czechoslovakia to begin no than 1 October. In the meantime, the British government demanded that Beneš request a mediator, not wishing to sever his governments ties with Western Europe, Beneš reluctantly accepted.
The British appointed Lord Runciman and instructed him to persuade Beneš to agree to a plan acceptable to the Sudeten Germans, on 2 September, Beneš submitted the Fourth Plan, granting nearly all the demands of the Karlsbader Programm. Intent on obstructing conciliation, the SdP held demonstrations that provoked police action in Ostrava on 7 September, the Sudeten Germans broke off negotiations on 13 September, after which violence and disruption ensued. As Czechoslovak troops attempted to order, Henlein flew to Germany. On the same day, Hitler met with Chamberlain and demanded the swift takeover of the Sudetenland by the Third Reich under threat of war, the Czechs, Hitler claimed, were slaughtering the Sudeten Germans. Chamberlain referred the demand to the British and French governments, both accepted, the Czechoslovak government resisted, arguing that Hitlers proposal would ruin the nations economy and lead ultimately to German control of all of Czechoslovakia. The United Kingdom and France issued an ultimatum, making a French commitment to Czechoslovakia contingent upon acceptance, the next day, Hitler added new demands, insisting that the claims of Poland and Hungary be satisfied