Hitler's instructions to Henlein
Konrad Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten German Party [SdP], the principal political organisation representing the German minority within Czechoslovakia, together with his deputy, Karl Hermann Frank, visited Berlin on 28 March 1938. Henlein's Party, which was formed after the Czechoslovak authorities banned the German National Socialist Party, received secret financial support from the German Government. The record of the visit to Hitler, taken from the archive of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is unsigned.
TOP SECRET, MILITARY
TO BE HANDLED ONLY BY OFFICERS
Preliminary Report on My Conversation With Konrad Henlein, the Leader of the Sudeten German Party, and Karl Hermann Frank, His Deputy
I. Konrad Henlein's report on his audience with the Führer.
Besides the Führer, Reich Minister Hess, the Führer's Deputy, von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister, and Obergruppenführer Lorenz were also present, and the conversation lasted for almost three hours. The Führer stated that he intended to settle the Sudeten German problem in the not-too-distant future. He could no longer tolerate Germans being oppressed or fired upon. He told Henlein that he knew how popular he [Henlein] was and that he was the rightful leader of the Sudeten German element, and as a result of his popularity and attractiveness he would triumph over circumstances. To Henlein's objection that he, Henlein, could only be a substitute, Hitler replied: I will stand by you; from tomorrow you will be my Viceroy. I will not tolerate difficulties being made for you by any department whatsoever within the Reich.
The purport of the instructions, which the Führer has given to Henlein, is that demands should be made by the Sudeten German Party which are unacceptable to the Czech Government. In spite of the favourable situation created by the events in Austria, Henlein does not intend to drive things to the limit, but merely to put forward the old demands for self-administration and reparation at the Party Rally (April 23-24, 1938). He wished to reserve for later on a suggestion of the Führer's that he should demand their own German regiments with German officers, and military commands to be given in German. The Reich will not intervene of its own accord. Henlein himself would be responsible for events for the time being. However, there would have to be close cooperation. Henlein summarised his view to the Führer as follows: We must always demand so much that we can never be satisfied. The Führer approved this view.
The Führer appreciates the great success which Henlein has had in England and has requested him to go to London again, as soon as he possibly can, and to continue to use his influence with a view to ensuring non-intervention by Britain. As for the position of France, the Führer believes that in certain circumstances the possibility of a revolution in France can be reckoned with.
II. Karl Hermann Frank's report.
1. Cooperation between minorities in the Czech State.
Contact is maintained with the Hungarian and Polish minorities and the Slovak People's Party (Hlinka). A joint declaration by the Hungarians and Slovaks will be made in the Parliament today (March 29), which will demand autonomy for the territory of Slovakia on the basis of the Treaty of Pittsburgh. The Polish front was set up under unified leadership on March 28. The demands for autonomy which it has raised will be stressed by Beck in his next speech.
2. Czech precautionary and defence measures.
Karl Hermann Frank gave a detailed report, which is enclosed as an annex, on measures taken by the Czechs, the arming of the Jednota and the Sokol, and the recruiting of motorised formations from the Czech civilian population within the Sudeten German area. The placing of these formations directly under the command of the Czech General Staff means that with this the main provisions of the National Defence law have actually come into force, i.e. preparatory measures for a camouflaged mobilisation are already under way.
Karl Hermann Frank then drew special attention to the fact that internal disorders in the Czech State were already invalidating the basis of the alliance between France and Czechoslovakia. Boncour, the new French Foreign Minister, recently called attention to this possibility in no uncertain terms.
Hodza, the Czech Prime Minister, probably intends to settle the whole Czech problem by peaceful means as far as possible. However, it is no longer possible for him to do this, since the General Staff has completely seized control. Hodza is already being spied upon in his office by the General Staff. All the measures adopted by Hodza, e.g., the inclusion of Neuwith in the register of lawyers, are being sabotaged by the General Staff.
[Source: Documents on German Foreign Policy, (London, 1950),
Series D, vol. II, no. 107, pp. 197-8.]
[Source: Documents on German Foreign Policy, (London, 1950), Series D, vol. II, no. 107, pp. 197-8.]