Crisis 1938

This year we can remind plenty of "eighth" anniversaries, including year 1938. Czechoslovakia was target of operation we use to call a hybrid war nowadays. Aggressor was not Putin's Russia, which is nowadays more (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, ...) or less (EU, North America) systematically destabilizing states, where it has power ambitions. That time aggressor was Hitler's Germany, which (similarly to contemporary Russia) misused its minorities in countries of central and eastern Europe to their destabilization and conquest. These operations accelerated after Anschluss of Austria March 3rd. Hitler's Germany was using Sudeten German Party (SDP) to break down Czechoslovakia. Members of this party were systematically trained in terrorist actions and their equipment and training was from Germany. SDP used, according to contemporary language, terrorist methods and victims were all "different" -- Germans refusing Nazism, Czechs, Jews and others.

Czechoslovak government was aware of the danger of radicalization of its German minority. Since mid 1930s also military headquarter started to deal with this issue. Unfortunately, neither soldiers, neither politicians were unable to find working defense against Nazi propaganda and subversive activities. In this phase, it was "just" war of nerves. Hitler was not yet prepared to open conflict. German generals were afraid of Czechoslovak fortification and their operational plans supposed up to 90% looses in first-line troops. Czechoslovak generals were aware of German superiority in numbers and possibility to attack anywhere along whole long border of western half of the state. It was very uncomfortable situation for Czechoslovakia.

Film Crisis shows this time. During year 1938, two documentarists -- Czechoslovak Alexandr Hackenschmied and American Herbert Kline were going to Sudetenland, where they pretended to be great Nazis. So that they were able to make the movie. For comparison they filmed also Czechoslovak democracy in the interior. Their film is a unique evidence of its time.

Situation was of course more complicated. The film doesn't show animosity of Poland and Hungary, which behaved as Hitler's loyal allies. The film was made before conclusion of Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which in 1939 declared non-aggression between Germany and Soviet Union (secret amendment divided Poland into two occupation zones). Role of the Soviet Union was problematic in that time. It did nothing and it obviously waited if there would be some pieces of the victim. For example Carpatho-Ukraine. Film also doesn't show Czechoslovak fortification (naturally, it was prohibited to film it, so that there are only few period movies).

Czechoslovak 1st republic was not perfect. Coevals criticised many of its features. Neverthless it was the only one really democratic and liberal state all around. It was surrounded by more or less autoritative and totalitary regimes. In the Czechoslovakia, minorities could visit schools in their languages, use it in public communication and they had members in parliament. Something like this was nearly impossible in Poland or Hungary. Not speaking about Germany, Soviet Union or Italy...

Film Crisis 1938


Other related films

Short overview of events will give Undeclared war 1938.

Other films will present that-time Czechoslovak army.

And finally critical moments aroundMunich Agreement... It was followed by collapse of the state, moral hangover, Second Czechoslovak Republic awaited half year of agony and finally occupation and creation of Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and Slovak Republic.

Among the results of the war was i significant shift of Soviet borders westward, followed by penetration of criminal communistic regime in the same direction. After war, people doubted about democracy, which so fatally failed, what (together with another factors) facilitated 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état. One atrocious dictatorship (communistic) with small break replaced another (Nazi). We use to have tendency now to see the first republic as the golden age. It was not, but in its time it could be paragon for most of Europe and it was incomparable better than what preceded and followed.

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