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Chapter 20

From Munich to Yalta

Hitler's annexation of Austria on March 15, 1938, creating the "greater" Germany that had been the leitmotif of all German nationalist movements since 1848, was the first sign of weakness in the structure created by the victors of World War I. The Anschluss allowed the Wehrmacht, the German army, to move into the heart of Danubian Europe. From Vienna, German influence could spread at leisure throughout this part of Europe in preparation for conquest. Germany could count on a vast network of sympathizers in this area. First, there were sizeable groups of German minorities nearly everywhere, thoroughly steeped in national-socialist propaganda. Second, Germany had the support of national-socialist inspired political movements within most of the Danubian countries (Arrow-Cross in Hungary, Iron Guard in Rumania, National Gathering in Czechoslovakia), and also of the Croat and Slovak autonomist movements. In addition, Germany could exert considerable pressure through finance and trade agreements made with all of the Danubian and Balkan countries. Finally, Germany could count on a cooperative attitude from both the defeated countries, who hoped one way or another to have the treaties of 1919-1920 revised, and also from certain beneficiaries of these treaties, like Rumania and Yugoslavia, who wanted Germany to prevent any such revision.

Italy, who had played a major role in these regions between 1925 and 1935, was no longer in a position to dictate policy since Italian armed forces

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had been weakened by the war with Ethiopia and participation in the Spanish civil war; Italy itself was counting on Germany for military aid.

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Czechoslovakia in the mid-1930s was rightly considered the most powerful and best-armed state in the Danubian area, as well as a faithful spokesman for French interests in the region. Its own armament industry combined with generous military assistance from France consolidated its military strength. There were, however, latent weaknesses behind this image of power. The minority groups which made up nearly 40 percent of the population were becoming more strident in their calls for separatism, particularly in the Slovak and Ruthenian regions, and successive governments took care to hide these threats through a policy of authoritarian centralization .

But the security and even the independence of the Czech state was threatened by increased German military strength after Hitler's rise to power, by the hardening of President Benes' attitude toward the non-Czech populations, by the progressive weakening of France beginning in 1936, and particularly by the Anschluss. In early spring, 1938, the different national minorities led by the German Sudeten party under Konrad Henlein joined with the Slovak autonomists of Father Josef Tiso as a bloc to demand concessions from the Prague government. Shortly after the Wehrmacht entered Austria, the German Sudeten party deputies, who had won 70 percent of the German votes in the 1935 elections, demanded internal autonomy for areas with German-speaking populations. A similar claim was formulated on April 24, 1938, during the party congress held in Karlsbad (Karlovy-Vary) according to a program worked out between Henlein and the German leaders. Hitler knew very well that Benes would refuse to give in and there would be an excellent pretext to intercede militarily on behalf of the Sudeten Germans. Germany was counting on Hungary's cooperation in eventual military action against Czechoslovakia, and promised restitution of Hungarian territory lost in the Treaty of Trianon in return. Hungarian leaders wanted to avoid a war with Czechoslovakia; they knew they were militarily inferior and were still hoping for revision through peaceful means. Hitler was unable to obtain anything from them even during a visit to Germany by Admiral Horthy and his ministers on August 21-26, 1938.

Far from making concessions to the German minority as France and Great Britain had suggested, Benes decided to use force. Using the pretext of German troops amassing along the border, he began to call up the reserves on May 21. He halted this action a few days later, while Paris and London tried to induce both sides to restrain themselves. The French, at the same time, were investigating Soviet interest in helping Czechoslovakia in case of German attack. Maxime Litvinov, head of the Soviet diplomatic service, agreed in principle to assist Czechoslovakia in accordance with a treaty the USSR had signed on May 16, 1935, but on the condition that Soviet troops

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could cross Poland and Rumania. Both countries, Poland in particular, objected. Consequently, Czechoslovakia could no longer rely on Soviet military assistance in case of German aggression, leaving only France in a position to intervene. Benes, who was kept informed of these transactions, softened his position slightly on urgent advice from the British, and on September 7, 1938, initiated negotiations with representatives from the German Sudeten party. But on the same day, violence broke out between the Germans and the Czech police at Morawska-Ostrava. Though the situation remained tense, negotiations continued and an agreement was pending. Unfortunately, on September 12 in Nuremburg, Hitler gave a fiery speech denouncing Czech cruelty towards the Sudeten Germans and demanded their autodetermination. In the days that followed, rioting broke out in Sudetenland. Knowing he had Hitler's support, Henlein demanded that the Sudeten Germans be allowed to join the Reich.

In view of the seriousness of the situation, the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, went to Berchtesgaden on September 15 to meet with Hitler. During their conversation, the two agreed on the advisability of letting regions with German majorities join the Reich. London and Paris accepted the compromise reluctantly. Only Prague had to be persuaded to accept the Chamberlain plan. Would Benes, at the request of his allies, be willing to give up the territory that these same allies had offered him in 1919? On September 21 a French-British memorandum was sent to him; if Prague refused to accept the agreement made between Chamberlain and Hitler, Czechoslovakia could no longer in any circumstances count on aid from the Allies. Benes was forced to submit, particularly since the Soviets had let him know that they would not intercede either; the treaty of 1935 promised Soviet action only in conjunction with France. On the same day, the Czech cabinet led by Milan Hodza resigned in protest. Benes asked General Sirovy, the commander of the armed forces, to form a National Union government. In principle, everything seemed settled.

Encouraged by the Czech agreement, Chamberlain left Germany on September 22. During his interview with Hitler at Bad-Godesberg, Chamberlain was presented with new demands. Hitler wanted the same sort of agreement for the Hungarian and Polish minorities, and he was adamant about permitting emigrants to vote in the plebiscites to be held in zones with mixed populations. These new demands alarmed France and Great Britain, and both adopted a firmer stance. On September 23, Czechoslovakia began a general mobilization, France called up the reserves, and Great Britain put its fleet on alert. War seemed inevitable, especially after Hitler's violent speech of September 26, and his announcement to Chamberlain that Germany would begin mobilizing on the 28th. Chamberlain made another effort to preserve the peace. On the morning of September 28, he suggested an

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international conference to Hitler and Mussolini. Mussolini took credit for the idea, and it was accepted by all.

At the conference held in Munich on September 29, Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier agreed to give Germany the German-speaking Sudeten territories of Czechoslovakia before October 10, in an agreement known as the Munich Pact. In a document attached to the agreement, France and Great Britain pledged to guarantee the new Czech borders; Germany and Italy did the same, but on the express condition that the matter of the Hungarian and Polish minorities be settled within three months through direct negotiation between the concerned parties. The terms of the Munich Pact were then imposed on Czechoslovakia by the Great Powers, two of whom were allies who had taken part in its creation in 1919. Czechoslovakia,s partners in the Little Entente, Rumania and Yugoslavia, made no effort to assist their ally.

Immediately after the agreements were signed, the German authorities escorted by the Wehrmacht took over the ceded territories amid great enthusiasm from the local populations. Just before the conference in Munich, Poland revealed the treaty signed with Czechoslovakia in 1925, and claimed the Teschen territory in an ultimatum addressed to Prague on September 30. Then on October 2, Polish troops moved in to occupy this 386-square-mile territory whose population of 200,000 was 70 percent Polish. In Prague on October 5, Benes resigned in response to the Munich agreements, and left for London. He was replaced as president by Emil Hacha, a modest and honest magistrate, while the leadership of the government was taken over by Rudolf Beran, an Agrarian who headed a center-right coalition. The pro-Germanic Frantisek Chvalkovsky became head of foreign affairs. The Czechs were bitterly disappointed in the attitude of their foreign "friends," but after a few protest demonstrations, anger gave way to resignation. To stop the break-up of the country, Prague finally decided to grant the Ruthenians and Slovaks a measure of autonomy on October 6. The Slovak diet at Bratislava chose Father Tiso to head the local government, and Father Augustin Volisin took over that function for the Ruthenians.

The Hungarians thought that the moment had come to press for revision of the territorial clauses in the Treaty of Trianon. In accordance with the agreements of Munich, direct negotiations opened on October 9 at Komarno between a delegation from the Hungarian government and a Czechoslovaki- an delegation led by Father Tiso. The negotiations closed in failure on October 13. The two parties both agreed to ask Germany and Italy to arbitrate. In the First Arbitration of Vienna in November, 1938, Hungary regained 4670 square miles with 1,030,000 inhabitants, 830,000 of them Magyar and only 143,000 Slovak, and the towns of Kassa, Komarom and

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Munkacs (Munkatchevo). Between November 4 and 11, Hungarian troops marched into this territory and were universally welcomed as liberators. The Hungarians had hoped for more, but Hitler, who wanted to take charge of the Slovaks, had not meant to grant more. From a purely ethnic viewpoint, the new border was nearly perfect, with only 66,000 Hungarians under Czechoslovakian rule.

Although Czechoslovakia still existed in November, 1938, dismember- ment had taken its toll. The defense system was in complete disorder, with mountain heights and Bohemia all in the hands of the Germans. The population, however, was far more homogeneous than before. The remaining minorities constituted an insignificant percentage of the population. The Ruthenians and the Slovaks seemed content with the autonomy granted to them, and Hitler had just declared that he had no more ambitions for expansion in that direction. From November, 1938, Czechoslovakian policy underwent a change. The democracy organized by Masaryk -- with the limitations mentioned earlier -- rapidly evolved into an authoritarian system. The Communist party was banned and the opposition in parliament, composed of Socialists and friends of Benes, was reduced to silence. In Slovakia, the autonomists wanted more than autonomy, and Tiso made no secret of his desire to turn Slovakia into an independent and sovereign state. The Slovakian elections he had called in 1935 gave him an overwhelming majority in the diet and bolstered his intentions. Ruthenia was jointly coveted by Poland and Hungary, both desiring a common border to fend off the German threat.

In early March, 1939, tensions within Czechoslovakia brought another German intervention. The pretext was renewed conflict between the central government and the Slovaks. Prague took a dim view of Tiso's ardently defended calls for independence. On March 10, President Hacha dismissed Tiso's Slovak government and declared a state of siege throughout the country. In Bratislava, the people reacted to these measures with violent demonstrations organized by German agents from Vienna. A former leader of the Catholic party, Karol Sidor, formed a transition government, but Slovak agitation quickly overwhelmed the authorities. The Germans were quick to act. On March 13, they sent two emissaries to Tiso to persuade him that it was time for Slovakia to become independent. The same evening, Tiso went to Berlin, where he met with the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and then with Hitler, who advised him to declare Slovakian independence at once; according to the Germans, Hungary was only waiting for the right opportunityto invade the country. When the Slovak diet convened the following day, Karol Sidor presented his resignation and then urged the deputies to confide power to Father Tiso. With applause from the deputies, Sidor ended with: "Long live the Slovak nation; Long live free

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Slovakia!" Slovakian independence was promptly declared, carried by 57 out of 63 votes. Slovakian independence marked the beginning of the end of the Czechoslovakian state, and the end came quickly. Acting on the suggestion of Chvalkovsky, the Czechoslovakian minister of foreign affairs, Hitler called President Hacha to Berlin; during a dramatic and stormy interview on March 14, 1939, Hitler demanded that what was left of Czechoslovakia, meaning Bohemia and Moravia, be placed under the protection of the Reich. The German protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia was born. On March 15, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. German troops immediately marched into the country and disarmed the Czechoslovakian army. At the same time, Hungarian troops were moving into Carpathian Ruthenia, which had been part of their territory for over a thousand years, thus establishing a common border with its ally, Poland. One of the key elements in the system set up by the Entente in 1919 to defend their interests in Danubian Europe had crumbled. Germany's aggression and the inaction of the Allies, along with Czechoslovakian internal problems such as the multinational nature of its state and its oppressive centralizing policy toward non-Czechs, were largely responsible for the downfall of this artificial state. Neither Rumania nor Yugoslavia lifted a finger in its aid; both adopted the same passive stance as they had at Munich. But this time, in London and in Warsaw, there was a sudden realization that Germany would not be appeased and Poland would be next to serve German ambitions in eastern Europe. On March 22, Germany seized the port of Memel, which was officially Lithuanian but populated by Germans. Paradoxically once again, in Memel as in Sudetenland, Hitler made himself out to be a veritable champion of the people's right to self-determination. Thanks to him, the Germans and the Czechoslovakian Hungarians, the Poles in Teschen, the Slovaks, and the Germans in Memel had recovered their freedom!.


Until the sommer of 1938, Germano - Polish relations had been polite on the whole, particularly after the signing of the non-agression treaty in 1934. It was only natural that Poland had taken advantage of Chechoslovakia's troubles to retake Teschen, coveted since 1919. But there were latent sources of tension with Germany. Foremost was the problem of Danzig and the corridor. The "Free City"had been in Nazi control since 19535, and the city made no secret of wanting to return to Germany. At any moment a minor incident in the corridor could provoke crisis, and the presence of over 1,200,000 Germans in Posnania and Upper Silesia only complicated the situation. Members of the German minority were organized in cultural associations directed from Berlin, having the potential to initiate a wave of disorder that the Polish authorities would feel compelled to put down. Germano-Polish relations began to deteriorate in October, 1938. On October 24, 1938, Foreign Minister Ribbentrop proposed a new treaty to the Polish ambassador in Berlin. By this new agreement, he argued, Danzig would be returned to Germany and Germany would be granted extraterritorial rights to build a highway and a railroad through the corridor. In exchange for these major concessions, Poland could keep a free zone in the port of Danzig and could use the extraterritorial railroad. Also, the non-aggression pact signed in 1934 would be extended from ten to 25 years, assuring the mutual borders.

However, the response of the Polish foreign minister, Colonel Beck, was that returning Danzig to Germany was out of the question. But diplomatic relations were not broken, and Beck was invited to meet with Hitler on January 5, 1939, at Berchtesgaden. A few days later, Ribbentrop went to Warsaw to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Germano-Polish treaty of 1934. Officially, nothing seemed to have changed between the two countries except that the subject of Danzig had been broached. Within Poland, however, friction between Poles and Germans was increasing, though not reaching the level of violence in Sudetenland the preceding year.

After the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939, German-Polish relations suddenly entered a new phase of tension. A few days after the occupation of Prague, the German government again demanded Danzig, and on March 27, the German navy staged maneuvers near the mouth of the Vistula. Beck held his ground, and the British government backed his resistance in view of Hitler's successive failures to keep his promises. On March 31, in a speech to the Commons, Chamberlain announced that Britain would stand beside Poland if its independence were threatened and the Poles chose to resist. A few days later, Beck went to London to sign a treaty of alliance. On April 13, the French government took the same firm stand, and Poland also expected some support from Hungary with whom it had shared a common border since March 15. Meanwhile, Hitler was completing his plans for attack and reinforcing his links to Italy with a defensive and offensive military alliance treaty signed on May 22, the Pact of Steel. Incidents of violence between Poles and Germans were increasing in Upper Silesia and in the corridor. Common people on both sides vented feelings of extreme nationalism, while Polish authorities hardened their position.

In view of the German threat, France and Great Britain, who chose to support Poland, turned to Russia. In mid-summer 1939, at the instigation of the French, political negotiations opened in Moscow, followed by opening of military negotiations on August 11. But relations were strained, and two

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major obstacles made signing of a treaty highly unlikely. First, Poland did not want Russian troops to cross its territory in case of war with Germany; second, the Soviets continued to introduce new counter-projects and additions as if to prolong the talks. In fact, while negotiating with the French and British, the Soviets were also holding discussions with the German Ambassador von Schulenburg on the advantages of a political agreement between the two countries. The Western Powers were in for a shock when on August 23, a German delegation led by Ribbentrop arrived in Moscow to sign a non-aggression pact.

By this Russo-German pact, valid for ten years and in immediate effect, the two countries agreed to abstain from any act of aggression against each other and to refrain from entering into any system of alliances that could pit one against the other. Even more importantly, the document secretly provided that, in the event the Polish situation changed, the USSR could take over the eastern Polish provinces up the Narew-Vistula-San line, as well as Estonia, Latvia, Finland, and even Rumanian Bessarabia. Despite French and British efforts to work out a compromise between Berlin and Warsaw, the dice were cast; Hitler had decided to settle his differences with Poland by force.

On September 1, 1939, at 5:45 in the morning, the German army invaded Poland. On the same day, the Danzig senate announced the rejoining of Danzig to the Reich with Gauleiter Forster, head of the local Nazis, already chosen on August 23 to lead the free state. The German invasion of Poland provoked an outraged reaction. In the evening of September 1 , French troops were ordered to mobilize; on the following day, the Polish government urged its allies to respect their obligations. On September 3, after Berlin rejected a Franco-British ultimatum demanding withdrawal of German troops from Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. The Danubian and Balkan states, along with Italy and the USSR, declared neutrality.

For Poland, the war began under disastrous conditions. Isolated from its western allies, Poland had easily defendable natural borders with friendly Hungary and Rumania, but on the sides where danger lay, to the west as well as to the east, there were only wide open plains with over 900 miles of border to be defended. Moreover, despite the bravery and heroism of its soldiers and officers, the Polish army was composed mainly of cavalry, and lacked the motorized units necessary to face a well-trained and well-equipped enemy. At the outset of the war, the small Polish air force was destroyed on the ground by the Lqftwaffe. Major railway intersections were also attacked frorn the air by the Germans, and even more demoralizing to the Poles was the bombardment of civilian populations. From the beginning of the war, the Gerrnan minority within the country behaved as a fifth column, actively

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preparing to welcome their "liberators." Polish authorities brutally reacted to any sabotage attempts, sometimes resorting to summary executions as on September 2, when 150 German civilians were shot at Bydgoszcz. In retaliation, German troops increased the number of civilians executed in villages where they met resistance. The Polish army under Marshal Smigly-Rydz was scattered around the country, making effective defense more difficult. On September 14, less than two weeks after hostilities began, Warsaw was surrounded. The city was under constant artillery fire and attack from the air, and was then cut off from water and food supplies. The German invasion was soon joined by a Russian invasion. On September 9, Foreign Affairs Minister V.M. Molotov advised the German government that the Soviet army was about to occupy eastern Poland according to the provisions of the Russo-German Pact of August 23. On cue, the Soviet press unleashed a violent campaign against Poland, with accusations of oppressed White Russian (Bielorussian) and Ukrainian populations within Polish borders. Then on September 17, just as the already outnumbered Polish army neared exhaustion, the Soviets launched a rear attack. The Soviets had two excuses ready to justify their aggression: first, the Polish state had practically ceased to exist, and so the non-aggression pact signed with it in 1934 was void, and second, the USSR fully intended to protect the White Russians and the Ukrainians in Poland. The Red Army concentrated on the southern borders of Poland in order to prevent the remnants of the Polish army from crossing into Hungary and Rumania. The Polish government and the high command had already fled with President Moscicki into Rumanian territory. Despite the difficulties, thousands of civilians and soldiers managed to reach the Hungarian and Rumanian Carpathian mountains, and escape the misfortune besieging their country.

The Blitzkrieg in Poland was a total success for the Wehrmacht. Warsaw capitulated on September 27, after a 17-day resistance led mainly by civilians, and the Germans and the Soviets controlled nearly all of the country. The last islands of resistance around Gdynia fell on October 2. One month of war had put an end to Polish independence once again; Poland lost 300,000 men, 450,000 prisoners were in the hands of the Germans, and 200,000 were taken by the Soviets.

The will of the country had still not been broken. President Moscicki, tainted by association with the colonels' regime, resigned in exile on September 30, and a National Union government was formed in Paris under the leadership of General Sikorski -- committed to continuing the struggle with the Allies. Former members of the army, found in Hungary and sent to France through Yugoslavia, were organized into a Polish Legion.

The fate of occupied Poland was already sealed. On September 22,

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Germans and Soviets agreed on the fourth partition of Poland. Germany took over all the territories to the west of the Bug as stipulated in the Russo-German non-aggression pact. As compensation, Lithuania went to the Soviets. The new borders were set on September 28 by a treaty of "delineation and friendship,' in which each party pledged to "tolerate no Polish agitation on their part of the territory liable to upset order in the other part." This condemned any Polish resistance in advance.

Both of the co-partitioners began to organize their new acquisitions. Germany simply annexed the regions it supposedly ceded to Poland in 1919; these were Posnania, Danzig, the corridor, and Upper Silesia, which for administrative purposes became the Incorporated Territories of the East. The German-speaking citizens were its elite, and were reinforced by German colonists from inside the Reich and by Germans repatriated from the Baltic area. Alongside them, the Poles who were not expelled were subjected to a policy of Germanization, reduced to the ranks of second-class citizens and relegated to menial jobs. The remaining Polish territory became the General-Gouvernement of occupied Polish provinces under the authority of the German governor, Hans Frank. The General-Gouvernement, populated by around 12 million Poles with Cracow as its capital, was in a reality a huge occupied zone with a partially Polish local government under close surveillance by the Germans. Polish occupied territories furnished the Reich with a large reservoir of manpower as well as with a considerable amount of food stocks and raw materials. The Jews, who were numerous in the cities and towns, were the first to feel the effects of Poland's new status. By the end of September, they had been re-enumerated and were forced to wear the yel1ow star; by the end of 1939, they were being pushed into ghettos.

The situation was no better in Soviet-held territories. These regions were annexed as part of the Socialist Republics of Bielorussia and the Ukraine, after a pretense of consulting the public. Citizens of Polish origin were stripped of their rights and placed under the constant surveillance of the Soviet authorities. Over a million Poles -- a million and a half according to Polish General Wladyslaw Anders -- were deported to the USSR between October, 1939 and June, 1941. Over 200,000 of these perished in Soviet prison camps. The principal victims of these deportations were the middle class and the liberal professions. Also included were prominent personalities: priests, intellectuals, former military officers, politicians and union leaders, in short, the people important to society. Even more characteristic of Soviet behavior in eastern Poland was the persecution of Jews who had fled German-occupied territory. Two members of the Jewish socialist organiza- tion, BUND, Henryk Ehrlich and Victor Atler, fled Warsaw in September, 1939, for refuge in eastern Poland. They were arrested there in 1941, even though they had formed a Jewish Anti-Hitlerian Committee at the request of

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Soviet authorities. When the Germans attacked the USSR in June of 1941, the Committee was evacuated to Moscow and then to Kouibychev. After that, in December, 1941, no more was heard of them: Ehrlich and Atler simply disappeared. Later, it was learned that they had been executed for anti-Soviet activities. Theirs was not an isolated case; the two partners in Poland's partition exhibited strangely similar behavior.


In accordance with the pacts signed with Germany, the USSR began to move into the Baltic republics. Governments of those countries were forced to sign treaties of mutual assistance which included the surrender of naval bases and air fields to Soviet-manned garrisons. Finland refused these Soviet terms, and was invaded on November 30, 1939. Though finally overcome, the determined resistance of the Finns at least enabled them to salvage their political independence. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were less fortunate. In June, 1940, the Soviets used the pretext of local acts of aggression against the Red Army for direct intervention in these countries, setting up Communist-dominated governments subservient to Moscow. Elections held on July 14 resulted in over 90 percent for the pro-Soviet single list of candidates, and gave a semblance of legality to the takeover of the three Baltic republics. Baltic independence, regained in 1917, had hardly lasted longer than Poland's.

The events of August-September, 1939, the Russo-German pact, and the liquidation of the Polish state under joint assault by Stalin and Hitler, clearly demonstrated to the still independent Danubian and Balkan countries who the true masters of Europe were at this time. Each state began its own system of reorganization in view of the new conditions.

Hungarian Neutrality and Revisionism

For the Hungarian leaders, who since 1919 had based their policy on the struggle against bolshevism, the signing of the pact between Molotov and Ribbentrop came as a shock, and even more of one since in January of 1939, they had agreed to sign the German-sponsored Anti-Comintern Pact against the USSR. Their indignation intensified when in early September, 1939, Hitler requested permission to transport German troops across Hungarian territory to attack the Polish army from behind. Count Teleki, the Hungarian prime minister, categorically refused, giving further instructions to the border guards to assist fleeing Polish soldiers and civilians crossing the border. Teleki had to act with care, however; he had to avoid directly offending Germany in view of the two countries' disproportionate military

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forces and he also knew perfectly well that if Hungary wanted to obtain its revisionist goals in Transylvania, support of the Axis powers was a necessity. Teleki attempted to turn to his other ally, Italy, to counterbalance German influence, but Mussolini's policy had grown progressively more dependent on Hitler's since 1939. Without abandoning his policy of strict neutrality, Teleki accelerated the rearmament begun by his predecesor in 1938 to prepare for any opportunity to retake territory lost in 1920. The opportunity arose in 1940, when the USSR demanded surrender of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from Rumania. The Axis countries, maintained a neutral stance in this affair, encouraging the Hungarian government to ask Rumania to open negotiations in Transylvania. Talks began at Turnu-Severin, but quickly bogged down. Germany and Italy stepped in to mediate once again, and in the Second Arbitration of Vienna on August 30,1940, Hungary was awarded the north of Transylvania, a territory of 17,000 square miles and 2,500,000 inhabitants, over 1,100,000 of them Magyar. The acquisition included the towns of Kolozsvar, Nagyvarad as well as the entire Szekely country.

The return of part of Transylvania to the "motherland" was greeted enthusiastically by the Hungarian people. It was a clever move on Hitler,s part, because, as he hoped, it created a rivalry between Hungary and Rumania for Germangs attentions, in one case in order to obtain the rest of Transylvania, and in the other, to recover the part lost. Count Teleki was aware of Hitler's motives. Straining to maintain neutrality, Teleki initiated rapprochment with his southern neighbor, Yugoslavia; the two countries signed a friendship pact on December 12, 1940, pledging to settle their differences through negotiation. But Teleki was the first to realize the limited extent of his freedom. Germany was victorious on all fronts and more powerful than ever, and in late November, 1940, Hungary was forced to comply when Hitler invited it to endorse the Tripartite Pact, a defensive agreement Germany, Italy, and Japan had signed on September 27, 1940. Thus, while still officially neutral, Hungary was being drawn into the new European order.

The Fascistization of Rumania

The establishment of the royal dictatorship in Rumania in early 1938 had little effect on the country's problems. Codreanu and the main leaders of the Iron Guard were eliminated, but their followers continued to agitate under Horia Sima. In addition, the different nationalist populations increased their demands for secession despite a relatively liberal statute granted them on August 4,1938. The Bulgars in southern Dobrudja rose up in May, 1939, and were severely repressed, increasing the tension between Bucharest and Sofia. The situation was scarcely better in Transylvania where the Hungarian minority was increasingly impatient to be returned to

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Hungary, and where the German minority, under the influence of intense national-socialist propaganda, was setting up a state within a state with the barely disguised support of Berlin. Finally, in Bessarabia and Bukovina, Communist propaganda encouraged by Moscow inspired separatist demonstrations among the Russian and Ukrainian populations. To all of this was added country-wide political agitation by the old parties, now formally dissolved. The winter of 1939-40 was particularly difficult because of the economic repercussions of the war; Rumania was principally affected by sudden rises in prices and food shortages caused by existing trade agreements with Germany, which required supplies.

The crisis came to a head during the summer of 1940. On June 26,1940, a Soviet ultimatum demanded surrender of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina within 24 hours. Rumania gave in, since Germany, when asked, refused to stand up for Rumanian rights. Then came the crisis with Hungary that the German-Italian arbitration settled in Vienna by giving Hungary the western half of Transylvania. And finally the Bulgars demanded western Dobrudja; bilateral negotiations held at Craiova resulted in an agreement on September 7, by which southern Dobrudja was restored to the Bulgars. These actions marked the end of the "great,, Rumania granted by the treaties of 1919-1920, but it was also the birth of a new Rumania, smaller of course, but with a more homogeneous population and closer to the principles of nationalism. This new Rumania no longer had Bulgars, Russians, or Ukrainians; the only national minorities were some 500,000 Hungarians and an equal number of Germans, comprising scarcely seven percent of the total population. The public, however, nourished since 1919 on the dream of a "great" Rumania extending from the Tisza to the Dniester, had trouble accepting these territorial adjustments. Popular discontent grew, and after the loss of western Transylvania, the public turned against King Carol II, who was subsequently accused of treason. The discontented elements and the pro-German nationalists pinned their hopes on General Ion Antonescu, minister of war and general chief of staff, who had objected to the successive capitulations of the sovereign. Under pressure of public opinion, the king relinquished power on September 4,1940, to the general -- who then took the title of Conducator (Supreme Guide). The next day, Antonescu asked the king to step down, and Carol II abdicated in favor of his son, Michael, who had already held the scepter from 1927 to 1931.

General Antonescu established a military dictatorship, a move supported by the fascist Iron Guard, and stripped King Michael of most of his powers; Antonescu then reinforced ties between Rumania and Nazi Germany, with the intention of benefiting his country, and on October 8, authorized German troops to set up bases on Rumanian territory. Rumania became a fascist state, called the National Legionary State. The new regime

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was violently anti-Semitic. Thousands of Jews and political opponents were arrested and their property confiscated. The Guardists who ran the country kept their own police alongside the official police for the purposes of extortion and vengeance. During the night of October 26, 1940, in the same Jilava military prison where exactly two years before Codreanu was shot by the police, the Guardists massacred 64 well-known supporters of the old regime, including General Marinescu and Professor Nicolas Iorga, known for their anti-German sentiments.

General Antonescu, anxiously holding on to his authority, quickly realized the threat to the country posed by the uncontrolled Guardists. After meeting with Hitler and assuring him of Rumania's total loyalty, Antonescu rid himself of the most radical Guardist elements. The Guardist police and the Green Shirts were dissolved; their leader, the vice-premier Horia Sima, was dismissed and escaped to Germany where the Germans kept him in reserve in case Antonescu became less cooperative. The country welcomed this purge. Though rid of the Guardists who had helped him to power, the Conducator stuck to his policy of personal rule. Rumania remained a totalitarian fascist state with a foreign policy completely aligned with the Reich, as demonstrated by its eager acceptance of the Tripartite Pact on November 23, 1940.

Ambiguities in Bulgaria

Like Hungary, Bulgaria had managed, though with difficulty, to stay out of the international crisis of summer 1939, and to adopt a stance of strict neutrality when war broke out. Despite personal sentiments favoring the Axis powers, King Boris III tried to keep his country out of the conflict for as long as possible. The policy adopted in the early 1930s was not altered when a Germanophile, Bogdan Filov, became head of the government; Bulgaria remained an authoritarian state with a neutral foreign policy. Neutrality, however, did not prevent the Bulgarian government from taking advantage of Rumanian difficulties and taking back the southern Dobrudja Rumania had annexed at the end of the Second Balkan War. Bulgaria was able to obtain part of its revisionist goals peacefully.

During the winter of 1940-41, just as Germany was preparing plans for invading the USSR, Hitler tried to bring Bulgaria into his fold as an ally, or at least to secure Bulgarian neutra1ity and economic cooperation. He asked Bulgaria to join the Tripartite Pact, and promised restoration of the Aegean coast it had lost in 1910 -- as soon as Greece, who had been at war with the Axis powers since October 28, 1940, was defeated. Mean- while, the USSR, viewing Germany's political evolution with growing alarm, made diplomatic overtures to Bulgaria, even offering a pact of friendship and mutual assistance on November 25, 1940. Approached by the

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two greatest powers of the time, Bulgaria hesitated to take sides. Public opinion traditionally preferred the Russians because of the decisive role Russia played during the war of independence; however, Russian advances were carefully refused, avoiding a diplomatic break. Boris III took his time in responding to the Germans, but on March 1,1941, Bulgaria submitted and joined the Tripartite Pact. The next day, German troops from Rumania arrived in Bulgaria to set up bases for a counter-offensive against Greece, following the setback for the Italian expeditionary corps.

The End of the Yugoslavian State

After the assassination of King Alexander, Yugoslavia began to pull away from its traditional alliances in favor of Germany. This new policy was primarily the work of the regent, Prince Paul. During the two Czechoslovakian crises in 1938-1939, and during the German attack on Poland, the Belgrade government adopted a neutral stance, though Yugoslavian leaders realized their country's independence was threatened by the danger of growing German domination in the Danubian area. It was in part to offset this threat that they normalized relations with Hungary by signing a friendship pact in 1940. Hitler was planning to invade the USSR, and wanted Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Pact in order to strengthen his alliances. After lengthy hesitation, Yugoslavia accepted, and on March 25, 1941, in Vienna, representatives of the Belgrade government signed their country into the Tripartite Pact. When this news reached the Yugoslavians, it caused a wave of protest among the pro-French and anti-German Serbian populations. There were violent demonstrations in Belgrade. On the night of March 26, Serbian officers opposed to the regent's policies and secretly aided by British agents, seized power, removed Prince Paul from office, and declared Prince Peter, son of the deceased King Alexander, of age. At the request of King Peter II, the Serbian general, Duchan Simovitch, formed a National Union government. To the disappointment and anxiety of the Croats and Slovenes, it was dominated by Serbs. Simovitch completely revised Yugoslavian foreign policy. He established contact with the British, and prepared a friendship treaty with the USSR, signed on April 5.

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