Courtesy Reuters

Czechs and Slovaks Since Munich

THE Czecho-Slovak Republic left by the Munich settlement of September 29, 1938, was destined from the start to be short-lived. At Munich one third of the country's territory and population was amputated and forty percent of its national wealth. Its frontiers were drawn without regard for economics and in a way to make it helpless strategically. It had a chance of becoming a viable state only if it received substantial financial assistance from the Western Powers and if its neighbors refrained from interference for a long period. The Western Powers promised financial help but gave little. Germany never for a moment made more than a pretense of keeping hands off.

After Munich, a new government was formed at Prague under the leadership of Rudolf Beran, the Germanophile head of the dominant Agrarian Party. In foreign policy the Beran government aimed at neutrality and coöperation with Berlin. At home it went a long way to meet most of the National Socialist demands. All anti-Nazi tendencies were suppressed and the Third Reich was given permission to build a highway, with extraterritorial privileges, through the heart of the country. Yet the more the Government of Czecho-Slovakia (after Munich this spelling replaced the old "Czechoslovakia") strove to accommodate itself to the new situation the clearer it became that Berlin intended to impose a more "integral" solution. Over a hundred German ultimata were delivered to the Foreign Minister in Prague in the space of a few months.

The Munich arrangement had left less than 400,000 German-speaking persons scattered among the solid mass of the new Czecho-Slovakia's nine million Slavs. It soon became clear that the German enclaves were entrusted with "a special mission" and also that the Nazis were seeking to break up the new federal union. The Vienna radio station incessantly broadcast anti-Czech propaganda inciting the Slovaks to secede, despite the fact that Slovakia's free status in the federal union met all the important demands of the Slovak autonomists. Prior to Munich, the Republic was a unified

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