The Sudetenland (Czech and Slovak: Sudety, Polish: Kraj Sudetów) is the German name (used in English in the first half of the 20th century) to refer to those northern, southwest, and western areas of Czechoslovakia which were inhabited mostly by German speakers, specifically the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia located within Czechoslovakia. A proposed 1938 referendum to show what proportion of the Sudetenland’s residents would claim a German ethnic background did not take place, following Adolf Hitler’s demands at the Munich Agreement.

The name is derived from that of the Sudetes mountains – featuring in Ptolemy’s 2nd-century Geography as Sudeti montes – which run along the northern Czech border as far as Silesia and contemporary Poland, although it encompassed areas well beyond those mountains. The word Sudetenland came into existence in the early 20th century, and only came to prominence after the First World War. The German-speaking inhabitants of the region were then called Sudeten Germans (German: Sudetendeutsche; Czech: Sudetští Němci; Polish: Niemcy Sudeccy). Previously, they were known variously as German Bohemians (Deutschböhmen) and German Moravians (Deutschmährer). The German minority in Slovakia, the Carpathian Germans, are not, however, included in any of these ethnic categories. Parts of the current Czech regions of Karlovy Vary, Liberec, Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia and Ústí nad Labem are situated within the former Sudetenland.
Within the Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938)[edit]

Germans in Czechoslovakia (1918–1938) According to the February 1921 census, 3,123,000 Germans according to mother tongue lived in Czechoslovakia—23.4% of the total population. The controversies between the Czechs and the German-speaking minority (which constituted a majority in the Sudetenland areas) lingered on throughout the 1920s, and intensified in the 1930s.

During the Great Depression the mostly mountainous regions populated by the German minority, together with other peripheral regions of Czechoslovakia, were hurt by the economic depression more than the interior of the country. Unlike the less developed regions (Ruthenia, Moravian Wallachia), the Sudetenland had a high concentration of vulnerable export-dependent industries (such as glass works, textile industry, paper-making, and toy-making industry). Sixty percent of the bijouterie and glass-making industry were located in the Sudetenland, 69% of employees in this sector were Germans speaking according to mother tongue, and 95% of bijouterie and 78% of other glassware was produced for export. The glass-making sector was affected by decreased spending power and also by protective measures in other countries and many German workers lost their work.[6]

The high unemployment made people more open to populist and extremist movements such as fascism, communism, and German irredentism. In these years, the parties of German nationalists and later the Nazi Sudeten German National Socialist Party (SdP) with its radical demands gained immense popularity among Germans in Czechoslovakia. After 1933 Czechoslovakia remained the only democracy in central and eastern Europe
The increasing aggressiveness of Hitler prompted the Czechoslovak military to build extensive Czechoslovak border fortifications starting in 1936 to defend the troubled border region.

Immediately after the Anschluss of Austria into the Third Reich in March 1938, Hitler made himself the advocate of ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia, triggering the “Sudeten Crisis”. The following month, Sudeten Nazis, led by Konrad Henlein, agitated for autonomy. On 24 April 1938 the SdP proclaimed the Karlsbader Programm (de), which demanded in eight points the complete equality between the Sudetengermans and the Czech people. The government accepted these claims on June 30, 1937.[clarification needed][7]

In August, UK Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, sent Lord Runciman to Czechoslovakia in order to see if he could obtain a settlement between the Czechoslovak government and the Germans in the Sudetenland. Lord Runciman’s first day included meetings with President Beneš and Prime Minister Milan Hodža as well as a direct meeting with the Sudeten Germans from Henlein’s SdP. On the next day he met with Dr and Mme Beneš and later met non-Nazi Germans in his hotel.[8]

A full account of his report—including summaries of the conclusions of his meetings with the various parties—which he made in person to the Cabinet on his return to Britain is found in the Document CC 39(38).[9] Lord Runciman[10] expressed sadness that he could not bring about agreement with the various parties, but he agreed with Lord Halifax that the time gained was important. He reported on the situation of the Sudeten Germans, and he gave details of four plans which had been proposed to deal with the crisis, each of which had points which, he reported, made it unacceptable to the other parties to the negotiations. The four were: Transfer of the Sudetenland to the Reich; hold a plebiscite on the transfer of the Sudetenland to the Reich, organize a Four Power Conference on the matter, create a federal Czechoslovakia. At the meeting, he said that he was very reluctant to offer his own solution; he had not seen this as his task. The most that he said was that the great centres of opposition were in Eger and Asch, in the northwestern corner of Bohemia, which contained about 800,000 Germans and very few others. He did say that the transfer of these areas to Germany would almost certainly be a good thing; however, he did add that the Czechoslovak army would certainly oppose this very strongly, and that Beneš had said that they would fight rather than accept it.[11]

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden on 15 September and agreed to the cession of the Sudetenland; three days later, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier did the same. No Czechoslovak representative was invited to these discussions.

Chamberlain met Hitler in Godesberg on September 22 to confirm the agreements. Hitler however, aiming to use the crisis as a pretext for war, now demanded not only the annexation of the Sudetenland but the immediate military occupation of the territories, giving the Czechoslovak army no time to adapt their defence measures to the new borders. To achieve a solution, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini suggested a conference of the major powers in Munich and on September 29, Hitler, Daladier and Chamberlain met and agreed to Mussolini’s proposal (actually prepared by Hermann Göring) and signed the Munich Agreement, accepting the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland. The Czechoslovak government, though not party to the talks, submitted to compulsion and promised to abide by the agreement on September 30.

The Sudetenland was relegated to Germany between October 1 and October 10, 1938. The Czech part of Czechoslovakia was subsequently invaded by Germany in March 1939, with a portion being annexed and the remainder turned into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The Slovak part declared its independence from Czechoslovakia, becoming the Slovak Republic (Slovak State), a satellite state and ally of Nazi Germany. (The Ruthenian part—Subcarpathian Rus—made also an attempt to declare its sovereignty as Carpatho-Ukraine but only with ephemeral success. This area was annexed by Hungary.)

Part of the borderland was also invaded and annexed by Poland. (Source – WIkipedia)

Památník stavitelům cesty spojující šumpersko s jesenickem přes Červenohorské sedlo z roku1911.