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PostFor Ethnic Minorities, the 1938 Munich Conference Was a Success (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 08/17/23 4:24 am)
Commenting on my post of 14 August, our esteemed moderator wrote:
"An urgent European peace conference was already tried--in Munich in 1938. That one didn't turn out so well. Eugenio, do you seriously believe that a conference in the fall of 1939 would have 'saved' France and more importantly, prevented Hitler from his oft-stated plan to make war on the Soviets?"
The comments of our esteemed editor are always the best part of the posts. Without them WAIS content would seem unfinished.
I will try to answer both questions. The first I'll answer with conviction, while the second is in the sphere of "what if" history, where anything is possible.
1. The 1938 Munich conference, in my opinion, was a great success for the oppressed minorities. The German provinces of the Sudetenland (German Bohemia and German Moravia) had already been proclaimed independent in October 1918 but were occupied by Czech forces. Even President Wilson had been in favor of their union with Austria or Germany.
Not only were the Germans satisfied but, later, Poland received the Polish area of Tesin, Hungary got the Hungarian southern part of Slovakia plus Transcarpathian Ruthenia, while Slovakia became independent. The fact that this was a correct action was re-confirmed in 1993.
I never found anybody saying that the passage of Tesin/Cieszyn to Poland was an "appeasement" to be condemned.
In 1945 all Germans were persecuted, killed, and finally expelled from these areas. I saw some photos of freight trains full of expelled Germans.
The cadet Vlado Mezencev, whom my wife and I helped to escape from a USSR training ship in Genoa in 1968, was born in Kosice and changed nationalities three times--Hungarian, Czechoslovakian, and then Slovakian. He learned a lot of languages including Italian when he stayed in Savona.
2. Hitler did not have any aim on France, and none on the UK. France in 1930s had a lot of pro-fascist and even pro-Nazi intellectuals, plus several sympathetic political parties.
After the arrival of the Allies all were persecuted. Robert Brasillach and Paul Chack ended up in front of a firing squad, George Montandou was killed by the partisans, and many others including Pierre Drieu de la Rochelle received prison sentences, while a few could escape from France. Hitler was interested in a friendly France on his side. When France was defeated, he blocked Spanish and Italian revanchism.
France was fairly favorable towards appeasement, but this was not the case for the warmonger UK.
About Germany's war against the USSR, it is difficult to say.
In my opinion, Hitler started the attack on the USSR, Operation Barbarossa, only to preclude a Soviet attack, a decision that started to develop when the pretenses of Molotov at the meeting with Hitler on 25 November 1940 became excessive in the Balkans and clearly seemed to be an attempt to encircle Germany. Stalin did not want to become a member of the Axis; he wanted to take advantage of the war to get the most out of Europe.
Therefore, had there been peace in the West, Stalin could have not contemplated entering a war alone. He could only have commercial ties and not political dominion. After all, the economic regimes of Germany and Italy were fairly compatible with some practices of the Soviet Union, and the economic relations with the Fascist regimes were excellent and could have satisfied, at least for the time being, all sides, in spite of any political differences.
Consider also that Mussolini, with the support of Japan, in 1943 was pushing Hitler for a separate peace with Stalin.
On another item: Russia has stopped a Ukrainian ship, sent some soldiers on board via helicopter, and then released the ship to return to Ukraine. What kind of war is Putin conducting? Maybe some Western leader should teach him how to wage a real war, maybe like the bombing of Tokyo in March 1945...
JE comments: Eugenio, I am compelled to "finish" your post. (!) Your rosy description of the 1938 redrawing of borders overlooks one ethnic minority: Europe's Jewish population, which was already suffering brutal oppression in Germany--and soon enough, throughout the continent. And I'm quite confident that the hypothesis of Barbarossa as a "pre-emptive" war has been put to rest. Stalin was terrified of going to war with Germany, to the point of arresting his border commanders who warned that invasion was imminent. Would he have "piled on" and joined the war when Germany was already losing it? Probably: this is what he did with Japan in August 1945.
Fast-forward to now: According to the Reuters piece below, the cargo vessel (Sukru Okan) flies the flag of Palau. The identity of its crew is unclear, but the encounter took place in English. This would not have been the case had the crew been Ukrainian: