Krieg vor dem Krieg: Die Annexion Österreichs und die Zerschlagung der Tschechoslowakei 1938/39

Up to now research has perceived those propagandist, diplomatic, “folksy,” and military acts of aggression below war level by the NS-dictatorship against Austria and Czechoslovakia mainly as the prelude to World War II. The present contribution changes this perspective significantly. The author analyses the acts of violence in 1938/39 as a flight forward by the German ruling classes to evade an economic, social, and mental crisis within their area of rule that had bevome a threat to the system. This situation forced them to give up their initial strategic plan which had scheduled a big European war for the time after 1942 and to enter an era of improvised outer and inner war of conquest instead. The spoils made during this time (gold and currency, commodities and semi-finished products, ordnance factories, economic potential and human labor) allowed them to produce constantly growing steps of escalation which led to war actions as early as 1939 and to a world war only two years later.

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