Czechoslovakia 1938

The Allies 1939-1945, and those fighting against Germany.

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sid guttridge
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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Sep 02, 2003 3:48 am

Hi Behlbc,

Article 1 of the Agreement of Mutual Assistance between Britain and Poland of 25 August 1939 stated:

"Should one of the Contracting Parties become engaged in hostilities with a European Power in consequence of aggression by the latter against that Contracting Party, the other Contracting Party will at once give the Contracting Party engaged in hostilities all the support and assistance in its power."

Article 1 (a) of the Secret Protocol of the same agrrement stated:

"By the expression "a European Power" employed in the Agreement is to be understood Germany"

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. The full text is on pp.190-191 of "The Major International Treaties 1914-1973" by J. A. S. Grenville (London, 1974).

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Thank you.

Post by behblc » Tue Sep 02, 2003 4:11 am

Sid,
Thank you for your update on the Poland ? UK / France Treaty.
Best Regards
" Life , to be sure is nothing much to loose ; But young men think it is , and we were young . "
A.E. Housman.

" The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori. " Wilfred Owen (M.C.).

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Enrico Cernuschi
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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Tue Sep 02, 2003 5:53 am

Hello Sid,

about 40 Divisions for the CZ Army? This seems me quite a strange data.
They were, in 1938, 14,7 millions. Poland, during the same period, had about 33 millions with a total of around 30 Div and 11 Cavalry brigades.
Perhaps 20 Div is a more feasible total for the Czechs.
Bye EC

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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Sep 02, 2003 7:22 am

Hi Enrico,

I haven't got the details with me, but 40 is about right. There were, I think, 17 active infantry divisions, each of which could be duplicated with a reserve division. There were also several formations equivalent to fortification divisions and four Rapid Divisions, not all of which were fully formed. I think the Prague garrison also had divisional status.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:14 am

Gee what a militarist nation! I begin to think Adolf was right to act the first. Bye EC

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Post by sid guttridge » Tue Sep 02, 2003 1:04 pm

Hi Enrico,

The Czechoslovak state could build an army to match Germany because it had had conscription throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1938 Germany had only had conscription for about three years, but was already able to field as many active divisions as Czechoslovakia could when fully mobilised because its population was so much bigger.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Wed Sep 03, 2003 5:10 am

Hi Sid,

after the great War butchery the inflation of division was, historically, always a mistake; quantity doesn't pay for quality. Look at the British professional Army amployed sur le champ since Summer 1944 until Spring 1944.
To rally such a number of divisions by the Cz when Germany had only the 100.000 men Reichswher and to mantail such an huge total in 1938 too could mean only a political choose for militarization of the society. Not very democratic in the spirit, indeed. (and as a matter of fact Cz was the only european country in good term with USSR; they bought even SB-2 bombers form the Soviets, perhaps they were more Slav then democrats). The more I think the more I believe that there was a certain soundness in Hitler acts.

Bye EC

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Post by sid guttridge » Wed Sep 03, 2003 8:35 am

Hi Enrico,

The Czechoslovak Army was large because not only Germany, but Poland and Hungary had claims on its territory. Between a third and a quarter was always tied down in Slovakia and Ruthenia. The rest was designed to hold the border fortifications in north and western Bohemia and Moravia. It had no significant offensive element until the Germans began to form panzer divisions in the mid 1930s, at which point the Czechs began to form four weaker rapid divisions of their own.

The USSR had no common border with either Germany or Czechoslovakia in 1938 and wasn't even represented at Munich. The Czechs built the SB-2 under licence.

The Czechoslovaks never had an offensive policy or army between the wars, and their connections to the USSR were strengthened only after Hitler's rise to power as a response to it. In the 1920s it was the Germans who had military links to the USSR, not the Czechs. During the Russian Civil War the Czechoslovak Legion had had to fight its way eastwards out of Russia via the Trans-Siberian railway before being repatriated via the USA.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Enrico Cernuschi
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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Wed Sep 03, 2003 11:00 am

Hi Sid,
frederick der Grosse said that if someone is going to defend everything he will finish to defend nothing. In an historical picture to have too many enemies (Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland) was too much. The very existence of the CZ state since 1918 until 1938 seems, so, basically wrong.
In this prospective the USSR amity (the inexistence of a common border is not significant) has got a certain logic, in spite of the old Russian Civil War enterprise of the CZ legion and his anabasys fron Ukraina to the Pacific.
I still think that the Slav element was an important one in the CZ politics. During the first years of the Twenties Prague planned to create an own navy in the Adriatic paying the bill and using in common with the friend Yougoslavia the harbour of that country along the Dalmatian coast. They palnned too to buy the ex "white" russians ships interned at Bizerta using, onece again, the yugo facilities for rent.

In this prospective the Munich accords proposed by Mussolini (and accepted, grungly, by Hitler who preferred a fine, little war, had a sound logic) the March 1939 mad dog coup of Prague was all an other matter, of course as Hitler did not know (than and in 1943) the time to stop as he believed his own propaganda (but the real guilty people, I think, were, then, his collaborators, unable to react and impose that common sense will which was, by law, in their right and chanches to impose. This is,. anyway, quite an other matter).

Next time EC

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Post by daveh » Wed Sep 03, 2003 3:19 pm

Czech army facing Germans in Case Green

http://www.geocities.com/kumbayaaa/czec ... een38.html

Air Force

http://www.geocities.com/kumbayaaa/czec ... force.html

Czech fortifications

http://members.tripod.com/~Sturmvogel/Zorach.html

http://members.tripod.com/~Sturmvogel/Biermann.html

Remember the lower level of training and equipment the Germans had in 1938 cf 1939 before ignoring the possibility of some Czech defensive success. Once the Sudatenland was part of Germany again the remainder of Czechoslovakia was not denfencable.

Does any know of the proposed Soviet aid for the Czechs in case of war? I believe air units were to be transferred to Czech airfileds, is this correct?

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Post by sid guttridge » Thu Sep 04, 2003 6:51 am

Hi Daveh,

Yes. Poland and Romania both refused the Red Army passage to aid Czechoslovakia, but Romania did grant air transit rights. The Red Air Force had several hundred bombers on standby to fly in if required by the Czechoslovaks in September 1938. I believe the Journal of Slavic Military Studies had an aticle with some details in the mid 1990s.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Pirx » Thu Sep 04, 2003 8:55 am

How anybody can imagine Red Army in transit trough Romania or Poland? 500 000 Russians goes to Czechoslovakia and what then? How send them food, amunition, other supplies? And after victory over wehrmacht Red Army goes back to Kiev and Odessa?
Of course Czechoslovakia and Poland was in cold relation, and it's shame that Poland took few towns in march 1939 (Karvina and Cesky Tesin - about 100 sq. kilometers). But Stalin's help is similar to Hitler's request: exteritorial highway, and Danzig for Germans. Stalin ask also Finland for some buffor teritory near Leningrad, and naval bases on coast of Latvia, and Estonia.
So don't belive in international brotherhood and disinterested help from Soviet Union. From Prag is close to Vienna, Berlin and Munich!

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Enrico Cernuschi
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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Thu Sep 04, 2003 9:14 am

Pirx promt answer seems me a confirm, again 60 years after, that the chance to open the gage to the Russian bear was a dreadful one.
In this prospect the CZ consitution of a paratrooppers corps in 1938 is a further, curious item. This kind of initiative was not, clearly, a defensive one, so what? May we think about a Prague-Moscow governments entente in 1937-1938 with the purpose (against the will of the majority of the CZ population) to do war or, maybe, a confrontation (which, for a dictatorship like Nazi Germany, is almost the same thing as a dictator is usually damned to be always a victor or to disappear) against Berlin?

A suspicious Enrico

PS the 1938 Sudeten loss with the local fortifications conform, anyway, that the CZ problem was resolved in Munich and that the March coup of Prague was an ususeful and self damaging act. EC

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Post by sid guttridge » Thu Sep 04, 2003 9:50 am

Hi Pirx,

The one thing that Germany, Italy, France and Britain were probably agreed on at Munich was that the presence of the Red Army in central Europe was to be avoided at all costs. Therefore the USSR, Czechoslovakia's most forceful ally, was not even present at Munich.

Poland and Romania were of the same view, but Romania had obligations to Czechoslovakia, which it presumably hoped to fulfill by permitting the Red Air Force passage - something it couldn't stop anyway.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hi Suspicious Enrico,

Your use of the word "corps" makes the Czechoslovak paratroop unit sound much bigger than it was. It never even did a company drop and was never operational. Furthermore, if its role was sabotage missions behind an attacker's lines, it could still be considered essentially defensive.

Italy was developing paratroops in Libya at the same time, but they were mostly local Arabs for use in internal security operations within the colony and were not offensive either.

The mere possession of paratroops is not necessarily proof of offensive intent.

Hitler himself, in his dictated testament to Bormann in 1945, stated that his occupation of Bohemia-Moravia in March 1939 was a key turning point in terms of international public opinion. However, he said his solution would have been to go to war against Czechoslovakia and seize all of it in September 1938. He blamed Chamberlain for outmanoeuvring him at Munich by agreeing to his demands and depriving him of the war he was after!

In other words, Hitler is on record as saying that appeasement at Munich was a defeat for him, not the Anglo-French!

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Thu Sep 04, 2003 12:43 pm

Hi Sid,

I know that Hitler didn't like the Munich agreement at which was led by Mussolini and Chamberlain, working that (unfortunatly) last time, toghether.

The word corps could sound, as a matter of fact, like a Corp d'Armée but it this was not my intention, of course. The unit had to become a full battalion, no more, according the logic CZ 1938 plans.
The idea to use as a defensive tactic penny packets of paratroopers is, anyway, debatable; the beginning doctrine of these times, descendig as it was from the Soviet absolute beginners of 1934, was purely an offensive one.

The Libyan paratroopers (with Italian NCO and officiers) had not the defensive or counter insurgency purpose yoy described (do you remember the source? It could be interesting). They had to be dropped over Suez according the Gen. Pariani and Marshall Balbo plans originally thought in May 1936 and newly planned since late 1937. The program was to drop a regiment (three battalions) of parà to be followed by a libyan division (the future II one) carried there by planes (S.75 some S.74 and, later, the new S.82, the military version of the civilian S.75).

The action (if necessary) had to be ordered within Sept 1939 if the British had refused the fait accompli of the planned invasion of Greece by the Bulgarians and the Italians. The arrive of two brigades of the IV Indian Division at Suez and Port said on late Aug. 1939 induced the too much timorous Mar. Badoglio to cancel the program in spite of Pariani and balbo opposition and Mussolini doubts according which it was better to go on with the original progam approved in March 1939 after the final agreement with USSR (who had to present, in the same time, an ultimatum to Turkey claiming two bases in the Straits). Pridence prevaile, at least. What a pity.

Bye EC

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