Although the majority of inhabitants in the area were German speaking, in 1919 at the conclusion of World War One, the Treaty of St. Germain incorporated the area into the Czechoslovak Republic. In subsequent years control over the territory became a point of bitter contention between Germany and Czechoslovakia.
Matters worsened in the 1930's when, as a result of the world-wide economic depression, the heavily idustrialized area suffered massive unemployment. The laid off workers were susceptible to the anti-semitic, anti-Czechoslovakia, pro-German rhetoric of Konrad Henlen and his cohorts, who founded the Sudeten German (Nazi) Party. Coupled with discriminatory actions of local Czechoslovakian officials, publicity of the ensuing unrest caused the leaders of the western democracies to fear the possibility of war. The result was the infamous
of September 30, 1938 which sanctioned the annexation of the region into Germany.