The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has produced a show about that fateful night when young actor/director Orson Welles’s radio production of H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds sent so many people into a panic. AND IT’S ON TONIGHT AT 9:00pm, or 8:00pm Central where I live!
Will you watch with me?
Here’s a very tiny snip:
Should I point out that the actual anniversary is tomorrow, not today? Nah.
October 10, 1938: Nazi Germany completes its annexation of the Sudetenland.
Rather than risk possible war with Hitler’s army, European leaders Neville Chamberlain of Britain and Edouard Daladier of France, agreed with Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini in September, 1938, to let Germany take over (annex) a part of Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland, making it once again part of Germany. Nobody really asked Czechoslovakia if this would be OK, and the Czech representatives weren’t even in the room when the deal (the Munich Agreement) was signed. When Chamberlain returned to England following the signing of this agreement, he gave a speech in which he said, “I believe it is peace for our time.”
Just as the story Radio Girl is filled with lies and deception, so too were the movements of the Nazis in the autumn of 1938. Unfortunately, Chamberlain and Daladier believed Hitler in Munich when the Nazi leader promised not to attempt to take over the rest of Czechoslovakia. (Germany invaded the nation in 1939.)
Later, the truth of what Hitler had really wanted from the Munich Agreement meetings came out: “In actuality,” says C. Peter Chen, writing for the World War II Database (ww2db.com), “Hitler actually was frustrated by British and French concession of Sudetenland; he had secretly wished for resistance so that he would have the excuse to take the entire Czechoslovakia by force.”
Either way, it seems, Hitler was pushing for war. All this was happening in the weeks leading up to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. Even in Newark, New Jersey, USA, invasions from hostile armies didn’t seem to be remote possibilities at all–and that’s part of why the panic happened on the evening of Sunday, October 30, 1938.