THE FIRST VICTIMS OF WARIn 1938, European countries underestimated the Nazi aggression threat
History and Modernity
Great Patriotic War
The 1st of September, 1939, is believed to be the date when World War II started. On that day, German troops intruded the territory of neighboring Poland on Hitler’s order. Britain and France, bound with Poland by mutual assistance treaties, declared war on Germany.
Czechoslovakia was the first victim of Hitler’s aggressive policy. It was occupied by Germany in 1938 with the connivance of European governments. Unfortunately, European politicians underestimated the danger of Hitler’s aggressive ambitions. Despite the manifestations of Nazism’s antihuman essence even then, they failed to anticipate the Nazis’ large-scale crimes against mankind.
European countries failed to organize a joint repulse to Nazi aggression. As a result, in less than two years, three-fourths of Europe found itself under the rule of Hitler and his allies.
The Nazis did not meet serious opposition and came to believe they were invincible. In the summer of 1941, Nazi Germany, supported by 6 satellite states, attacked the U.S.S.R.
Earlier Hitler easily “annexed” Austria to Germany, as well as actively backed the military coup in Spain without the interference of neighboring democratic countries. The aggressive policy of Japan which unleashed a war in China in 1931 did not meet any serious international counteraction either.
Edvard Benes, President of Czechoslovakia, 1938: “What is happening now is the beginning of a big European tragedy. There will be a war. Our allies do not want to fight together with us ... Well, they will have to fight for us when we ourselves will be unable to fight. Everyone will have to pay heftily”.