When Czechoslovakia, whose peoples for almost a thousand years had been a part of Germany and/or Austria, became independent after the First World War, it promised to evolve into a new Switzerland, as four different ethnic groups of comparable strength called the new state their home (Czechs, Germans, Slovaks, and Hungarians). Yet, what followed was the sometimes violent suppression by the Czechs of any movement for independence among the other groups. The Germans, who, in the armistice agreement of 1918, had been promised self-determination, suffered most, as they saw their pleas squashed from day one. This ethnic conflict festered in the heart of Europe until 1938, when it came to a showdown…

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