Though the early years of World War II saw a string of German military triumphs, 1938 was probably the most successful year for Adolf Hitler. The removal of Blomberg and Fritsch ensured the total loyalty of the army, which de facto became an unthinking tool of Hitler’s will. On the international front the union of Austria and the Sudetenland with the Third Reich was a stunning coup, and one achieved without firing a shot. At home Hitler was viewed as a genius, a leader who could do no wrong and who had kept his promise to bring ethnic Germans back into the Reich.
British prime minister Chamberlain meets first with Hitler at Godesberg, then with Daladier and Mussolini at Munich, where they agree that the Sudetenland should go to Germany (see box right). This signals the collapse of the army generals’ plot against Hitler’s regime.
Nazi Party, Rallies
Party Rally of Greater Germany.
SS Totenkopf units are moved into the Sudetenland to reinforce the frontier guards and provide the cadre for the Sudeten Free Corps, whose overt mission was the protection of the German minority and covert mission the maintenance of disturbances and clashes with the Czechs.