Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Bunkers in the woods
Czechs view the events of 1938 very differently from us Brits. For them British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's betrayal at Munich (where he agreed to Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland) still galls and is one of the most important "what ifs" in modern history. We Brits have been led to believe that there was no point in supporting the Czechs in resisting Hitler, they lived "in a far-away country" with "people of whom we know nothing" (Chamberlain 1938) and needed British help to fight - help we could not provide. But if you explore the forests and mountains that ring the Czech Republic you will find evidence to the contrary.
Near Slavonice in South Bohemia my husband and I visited some of the bunkers, which Czechoslovakia had been building for Nazi invasion for several years upto 1938. The bunkers were approximately every 100 yards apart, giving a continuous field of fire. In front of the bunkers were barbwire and anti-tank defences. These fortifications went all the way along the border. The little Czechoslovak nation was mobilised in 1938 - the army that would have faced Hitler's troops was nearly as large as the Nazi's. And as the Czechs will tell you they were prepared to fight for the country that they had so long been denied and they will also tell you that they could have won. What would the history of the twentieth century have been like if they had?