• Hitler invades Czechoslovakia

    On 15 March 1939 Germany invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Herbert Sulzbach was then living amongst other emigrés in Basel, in Switzerland. For some months they had been pooling their experience and expertise in a desperate fight against Nazism. He followed events with horror, recording his thoughts in his diary.

    'Today the world stands stunned in front of the fact that Prague, Pilsen, Ostrava and the whole of the rest of Czechoslovakia has been occupied by German troops. Overnight, Czechoslovakia has disappeared from the European map - like Austria and the Sudetenland.

    'In Prague there are Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria, Sudetenland and now Slovakia. So in that mousetrap can now be found all the poorest of the poor. German and Gestapo troops are drafted in.

    'The world – and above all Chamberlain and Bonnets – stand back and watch. Here in Basel everyone holds their breath – could the same happen here tomorrow?

    'The swastika flies in Prague. Hitler sits in Prague, so in a few days there will be the Germanisation of Europe. How many people are now trying to get away from Prague? Czechoslovakia is occupied by Gestapo, SA and SS. Nobody can get out – nobody! Who can uphold the law?

    'A few days ago Chamberlain announced a world peace conference. What sense would an agreement have while the Nazi dynamic exists? Germany and its Führer are capable of everything!

    'Whole countries vanish from the maps, and the French and English are beginning to realise that sooner or later Hitler will start in the west. It begins to dawn on Poland and Hungary that it will be their turn next.'

    Sulzbach wrote to Duff Cooper, hoping for positive action.

    'Don't you think that something ought and could be done to make organised propaganda for the truth? If we could unite the spirits who fight for human rights, humanism, and freedom there is some hope that the poison could be successfully opposed.'

    After the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Britain changed its policy towards Hitler and war, but Herbert Sulzbach mourned for the country and its dignified former President.

    'The slandered and mocked Beneš is the friend of democracy!'

    (picture: Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia 1935 – 38, President in exile 1939 – 45.)


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