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|The Return of Sudetenland Commemorative Medal
Die Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938
The medal's obverse (left) and reverse (right).
|Awarded by Nazi Germany|
|Awarded for||Awarded to all German military personnel who participated in the occupation of Sudetenland and the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939.|
|Established||October 18, 1938|
|First awarded||October 18, 1938|
|Last awarded||December 1, 1939|
|Total awarded||1,162,617 medals and 134,563 bars|
The Prague Castle bar (Spange Prager Burg).
Instituted on October 18, 1938, the medal commemorated the union of the Sudetenland to Germany. Once again Hitler employed skillful diplomacy, using brinkmanship as a tool to bring the Sudetenland under German control and paving the road for the annexation of Czechoslovakia.
The medal was awarded to all German (and as well Sudeten) State officials and members of the German Wehrmacht and SS who marched into Sudetenland. Later it was awarded to military personnel participating in the occupation of the remnants of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939.
It was awarded until December 1, 1939. In all 1,162,617 medals and 134,563 bars were awarded.
The so-called Sudetenland was a region comprising border areas of Bohemia with mostly German speaking inhabitants, named after the Sudeten Mountains. Following World War I the treaty of St. Germain incorporated the area together with the rest of Bohemia into the Czechoslovak Republic. This had caused deep resentment among many Sudeten Germans who wanted to be, together with the new republic of German Austria, united with Germany. Throughout the 1930s, economic troubles and unemployment drove many to the pro-German stance of Konrad Henlein and his cohorts, who founded the Sudeten German Party. In the summer of 1938, Hitler voiced support for the demands of the German population of the Sudetenland to be incorporated into the Reich. This grew to outright demand from Hitler to annex the area, and threatened war against the advice of his Generals who were sure Germany was not ready to stand up in a new widespread European conflict. Czechoslovakia mobilized, realizing that most of their fortifications and their natural barriers were on their borders and losing these would leave them defenceless. It was under these circumstances that the Munich Conference was held.
Present in Munich on September 29 were Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Édouard Daladier of France, Benito Mussolini of Italy, as well as Hitler and Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Representatives of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were not invited. Fearing another war and in the most infamous case of appeasement, the Sudetenland was turned over to Germany. On October 1, 1938, German forces entered the Sudetenland and annexed the area to the Third Reich. In order to commemorate this event, Hitler ordered the creation of the Sudetenland medal, which was instituted on October 18, 1938.
It is round and of the obverse there is a man standing of a podium with the Third Reich coat of arms and holding the Nazi flag, he holding the hand and helping him get on the podium of another man who had a broken shackle on his right hand, this symbolize the joining to the Reich of Austria. On the reverse side is the inscription "1. Oktober 1938" (October 1, 1938). The date is surrounded with the words "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer" (One People, One Empire, One Leader).
The medal was dye-struck and high in detail, with a bronze finish. The medal was suspended from a black ribbon with a red stripe in the middle, these being the colors of the Sudetenland.
Prague Castle Bar
For those who had participated in both the occupation of the Sudetenland and the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939, a bronze Bar (Spange Prager Burg in German) was approved on May 1, 1939. This Bar featured the Prague Castle on the obverse with two triangular prongs in the back, which held it on the ribbon. The bar, like the medal, die-struck and high in detail, with a bronze finish.