On November 5, 1937, Hitler met with his most trusted military advisors for a top-secret briefing.The third Reich's future, he told them, depended on solving the need for lebensraum.Where would new living space come from?Not from overseas colonies, he declared, but from those nations nearest Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.When someone protested that annexing those countries could provoke war, Hitler replied, "Germany's problems can be solved only by means of force, and this is never without risk."
In fact, the risk turned out to be less than Hitler's advisors feared.The following February, Hitler invited Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg to meet with him at his villa at Berchtesgaden, high in sation about the view and the lovely day, Hitler snapped, "We did not gather here to speak of the fine view or the weather."
Then the storm broke.For the next few hours, Hitler pounded the table and bombarded the Austrian leader with accusations.Even worse, Schuschnigg, normally a chain smoker, had to do without cigarettes because Hitler could not stand smoking.By the end of the day, Schuschnigg had been bullied into signing an agreement to bring Austrian Nazis into his government.
On returning home, Schuschnigg had second thoughts about the agreement and informed Hitler.Hitler was furious.On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria unopposed, forcing Schuschnigg to resign.Two days later, Germany announced that its Anschluss, or "union," with Austria was complete.The U.S. and the rest of the world did nothing.
Hitler then turned to Czechoslovakia.When the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up at the end of World War I, the Sudtenland, a mountainous region inhabited by 3 million German-speaking people, had been joined to Czechoslovakia.In the spring of 1938, Hitler charge that the Czechs were abusing the Sudeten Germans, and he began massing t…

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