‘A Leap into Ice-Cold Water’: The Manoeuvres of the Henlein Movement in Czechoslovakia, 1933–1938

Mark Cornwall

in Czechoslovakia in a Nationalist and Fascist Europe, 1918–1948

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780197263914
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734359 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

‘A Leap into Ice-Cold Water’: The Manoeuvres of the Henlein Movement in Czechoslovakia, 1933–1938

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The democratic bastion of Czechoslovakia, which was accused of treating its minorities much better than other east European states, was allegedly destroyed in the 1930s through the machinations of the Nazi Henlein movement the Sudetendeutsche Partei (SdP) — which acted from the start as a ‘Trojan horse’ for Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. If we turn to consider the Henlein movement of the 1930s, we can start by challenging one widespread myth in much of the historiography: that the movement would not have arisen but for the economic crisis and Hitler's accession to power in Germany. This chapter examines the divergent views of whether Konrad Henlein and his SdP genuinely sought concessions from the government which might have kept them loyal to Czechoslovakia, or else from the beginning in the pocket of the Nazis across the border in the Reich. In its struggle at home and abroad for some breakthrough after 1935, the Henlein leadership was never aiming at minority rights of a kind envisaged by the Czech authorities.

Keywords: Czechoslovakia; Sudetendeutsche Partei; Adolf Hitler; Third Reich; Konrad Henlein; minority rights; minorities; Germany; Nazis

Chapter.  9361 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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