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Czecho-Slovakia Within.
[11]
Chapter 3

The official census of 1930 shows Czecho-Slovakia to possess some 14,500,000 citizens, of whom only 7,400,000 are Czech. Details are furnished later on in this book tending to prove that even this Czech figure is exaggerated. It suffices for the moment to accept Prague's own official figures. These show that the Czechs number 51.2% of the whole population. In considering this alleged fact it must be remembered that the census was not carried out in accordance with the tongue of the various peoples but rather on the basis of previous registration of nationality and that Czech officials were in a position to influence its results by the "gentle persuasion" they were able to exercise on the various minorities with a view to convincing them of the desirability of acquiring Czech nationality; the fact of this pressure has never been denied. The unreliability of a census of this nature is self-evident. In a case of this kind the secrecy is as essential as it is in that secret ballot which is one of the main achievements of democracy. The absence of any secrecy from the 1930 census would lead one to believe that the Czech element was not exactly under-estimated.

There are 2,300,000 Slovaks to be added to the Czechs, again taking official figures.

[12] Ethnographically speaking the Slovaks are related to the Czechs but are by no means of the same race. It will thus be seen that Czecho-Slovakia is in reality a conglomeration of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, German, Ruthenian and other component parts. The principle of self-determination has been admitted in the case of all other European minorities, and it seems a little inconsistent to deny it to those of Czecho-Slovakia.

According to the official census of 1930 the Germans with 3,300,000, or 22.3%, form the largest of the non-Slav minorities. There were in that year, 692,000 Hungarians and 13,000 Rumanians, from whose number 187,000 persons registered as Jews were excluded; 550,000 Russians or Ruthenians and 81,000 Poles go to swell the Slav elements.

It will therefore be seen that the official census shows Czecho-Slovakia to be a compound of nationalities having a Slav core with many non-Slav offshoots. The Czechs admit the legal existence of the German minority and - as mentioned above - officially list them at 3,300,000. It must be taken into consideration, however, that of the total German population in Czecho-Slovakia, almost 3 million live in definitely German territory covering some 30,000 sq. kms., which follows the German frontier. This stretch of land begins at Lundenburg, passing Znaim on the Austrian border to Bohemian-Krumau, Prachatitz (Prachatice), Bischofteinitz, Marienbad, Eger, Carlsbad, Saaz, Lobositz, and Leitmeritz to the east and south, respectively, of Bavaria and Saxony, [13] finally curving round to the south of the Reich Province of Silesia. It is characterized by the typical German cities of Reichenberg, Gablonz, Moravian-Trübau, Zwittau, Landskron, Neutitschein. According to official Czech figures, this territory harbours 334,000 Czechs, constituting roughly only 11% of the total population. It is known, however, that in these statistics Germans with a working knowledge of Czech are listed as Czechs and that the figures are greatly altered in favour of the German element if the Austrian statistics of 1910, which are closer to actual conditions, are taken as a basis.

The only true German minorities are those in the districts round Brunn and Iglau and those Germans living in Carpathia.

The foregoing facts supply all the explanation needed for the demand made by the Sudeten Germans of full equality of status with the Czechs. This equality must include recognition of German territorial inviolability, that is to say, the cessation of attempted denationalization in German-speaking areas. The importance of this proviso can be seen when it is realized that there were 25% more Czech officials in German areas in 1930 than there were in 1921, while the percentage of Germans in the whole population of German-speaking areas has decreased markedly in the same period.1

Official figures, unreliable as they are, take us no farther than 1930. To-day's position can, however, be guessed at from the recent municipal elections [14] which took place under the system of secret balloting, as is usual in all democratic countries, and may be taken as a reasonable indication of the real state of public opinion.

There were elections in 2,737 German-speaking communities; in 1,456 of these the Sudeten German candidates were returned unopposed, voting was therefore confined to 1,281 communities which correspond roughly to English boroughs. The Press of Czecho-Slovakia has not published the total figures of votes cast, in the obvious wish to emphasize the purely municipal character of the election. In accordance with that wish, local figures alone were given. It is impossible to obtain a comprehensive view of the results since each of a multiplicity of local papers was the sole carrier of its own local figures. It is true that the Sudeten German Press published a comprehensive survey of their own successes, but this was estimated in a percentage of German votes, instead of a percentage of national votes. It is, however, possible to form a reasonable idea of the results as a whole.

The first group of municipal elections returned Sudeten German candidates unopposed in 16 out of 69 German communities. In the case of the other 53 districts the Press published exceptionally the total of votes recorded: of a voting population of 172,553, 137,358 cast their votes in favour of the German party. Of the purely German votes the Sudeten German party obtained 121,891, or almost 90%. Of the total, 28,301 votes were given to the Czechs, a [15] proportion of some 17%; the Communists succeeded in obtaining 6,894 only, or 4%. Election results in the larger districts are given in Table III of the Appendix. In the remaining 46 communities Germans polled 70,868 votes, out of a total of 82,233 recorded, leaving to Czechs and Communists combined a scant 14% of the whole. The census of 1930 gives Brüx and Dux a very mixed ethnography. Since those days the lignite pits have brought many Czech miners to the district.

The second stage gave 373 communities to Henlein's men without a contest; elections took place in 347 communities. The markedly anti-German Prager Tageblatt estimated the German percentage of all votes cast as from 80-85% and is hardly likely to have erred on the side of exaggeration. It is a fact that the Sudeten German party polled 290,015 of the 317,405 German votes recorded. Election results of the two largest towns, Gablonz and Komotau, can be seen in Table IV. There is no need to quote further results, the high percentage of the whole clearly showing the size of the majority in the unmixed areas. The Sudeten German party polled almost 80% of the total votes cast in Eastern Bohemia.

In the final stages 1,948 German communities went to the polling booths; 1,003 of these returned only Sudeten German candidates, while of the 824,282 German votes cast Henlein's party obtained 749,820. The election results of the larger towns may be seen in Table VI. Apart from Iglau, which has always had a very mixed population, a comparison of the [16] Czech vote in 1935 with the same vote in 1938 is proof of the great influx of Czechs which has taken place in German-speaking areas during that period. There was an increase of 2,891 Czech votes in Iglau and 1,263 in Troppau over the corresponding figures in 1935. Czech votes increased by 599 in Saaz, in Leitmeritz by 499, to mention only two large centres where the Czech population has grown. As, however, all votes lost by the Social Democrats went to swell the total of the Sudeten German party, that party's majority was retained.

The increase of their votes in Troppau was 3,896, while the combined Social Democratic and Communist totals were lessened by only 552. In Leitmeritz the Left wing lost 154 votes, while the Sudetens increased their poll by 1,078. The German enclave of Stecken was carried by the Czechs, whose representation rose from eight to ten seats, the Germans losing two of their previous ten. The Czech invasion is reflected by the increased representation of their parties. In some twenty districts Czechs obtained an additional number of seats. As the nomination of deputy-mayors is entrusted to a minority, not less than 25%, by the electoral law, and as the German Social Democrats threw in their lot with Czechs and Communists against the Sudetens, a Czech will, for the first time, be seen as deputy-mayor in Troppau and probably in Saaz.





 
[17]
Chapter 4

While it is true that the German Democratic party is in opposition to the Sudeten German party as regards local politics, they are at one with them in so far as concerned their common national policy. M. Wenzel Jaksch, leader of the Democrats, stated at a meeting at Bodenbach on April 26th, 1936:

    "Ever since 1918 the fundamental problem of the co-operation of the various nationalities which go to make up the Czecho-Slovakian State has either been ignored or treated unilaterally. The Czechs claim to have fulfilled their obligations towards the minorities, but this is not so. Properly to understand our importance as a minority it must not be forgotten that there are in Europe to-day several independent States whose total populations are less than the total of the Sudeten Germans. Czech statesmen must make up their minds as to whether there is a place for the Sudeten Germans in the Republic."

The dwindling enthusiasm for Communism provides the Sudeten German party with a reserve of potential converts, but since the Communist party knows no nationality, many of these converts must necessarily transfer their allegiance to the Czechs. The Prager Tageblatt estimates that two-thirds of the Communist party in German-speaking areas are [18] Germans. The German political group may well be strengthened, as opposed to the Czech group, by the conversion of Left wing adherents. But a legal embargo of the denationalization of German areas is none the less necessary. National territoriality was laid down as one of the essential conditions of the Czech constitution. Unhappily this condition has been repeatedly and constantly infringed. For example, the postmasters in the German towns of Asch and Schönbach are Czechs. Transference of Czech officials to German-speaking areas and, conversely, of German officials to Czech districts, is a favourite method of German denationalization; a new principle is needed, only German officials in German areas and vice versa. If the official use of their own language is granted to minorities of not less than 15% by the new language law, many German areas will become bilingual. The Times of December 2nd, 1937, summed up the position as follows:

    "The Czechs refuse to allow the German language to be treated on a footing of equality with their own."
The Hungarian minority was also left with a grievance by the Treaty of Trianon; an area 63,000 kilometres square containing a population estimated at 1,870,000 in 1910 was ceded to Czecho-Slovakia. Of this total about 800,000 Hungarians lived in a compact area comprising less than a fifth of the whole.

The first official Czech census took place in 1921; 738,516 Hungarians only were recorded, of whom [19] 634,827 lived in Slovakia while 103,690 were recorded in the Carpathian area. These figures point to the mysterious disappearance of over 30% of the Hungarian population between 1910 and 1921. By a strange coincidence the population shown as belonging to the Czecho-Slovak group increased by an almost exactly similar percentage. While it is true that many Hungarians fled the country on the formation of the Czech Republic, yet many returned later; in any case, the official figures give the total of these emigrants as 106,841 between 1918 and 1914. These were mainly dismissed ex-Government officials and political offenders.

A "Conscription" census was held in the Slovak areas in 1919; the Hungarian population was shown as having fallen by 203,000. This census took place for the purpose of preparing military service lists; consequently the Prague authorities desired a minimum of Hungarians.

Various other official figures published in Prague show that the number of Hungarians is still declining.

Census papers in Czecho-Slovakia are filled in in a different manner to that customary in this country, where the head of the household does the work himself. In Czecho-Slovakia the task is entrusted to special commissioners. In the Slovak census referred to there were 14,100 of these commissioners of whom only 594 were Hungarians. On the basis of the previous census the Hungarian minority were entitled to over 3,000 commissioners of their own nationality. There is evidence to prove that many [20] of these commissioners used pencils in filling up the forms; this method makes possible, to say the least of it, subsequent alteration. In many cases householders were not allowed to see the completed forms and so could not tell whether the details supplied by them were entered as given. Many of the officials spoke no Hungarian, which must have made matters somewhat complicated. Hungarian Jews and gypsies were set down as Jews or gypsies without qualification of nationality, though their only tongue was Hungarian. Czech ancestry, however slight, automatically rendered a Hungarian Czech. In an English census this might be compared to entering as French any English persons of Norman ancestry.

The alteration of population ratios established by the census is shown in Table A. In comparison with 1910 Hungarian figures in the Pressburg-Pozsony area fell from 40%-16% while the corresponding Czech figure rose from 14%-51%. Though 38% of the population of Kashau was Hungarian in 1919, by 1930 these figures had fallen to 18%. During the same period Czecho-Slovakian figures rose from 14%-66%; this in spite of the fact that fifteen out of forty-eight elected Town Councillors were members of Hungarian parties and fourteen more were Hungarian by extraction. The Hungarian population of Uzhorod fell by 62%, while the Czecho-Slovaks increased by 24%.

Devious means were employed by the Czech authorities in order to decrease the apparent proportions. The 1921 census showed that 20% of the [21] population in the Pressburg area was Hungarian. In order to lessen this proportion the authorities resorted to cleavage, adding sixteen Hungarian communities to the neighbouring Galanta area and replacing them by non-Hungarian communities from the Bazin area.

By virtue of the fact that a minimum proportion of 20% was necessary in order that a minority should enjoy the right to use their own tongue for all purposes these two areas were deprived of this right. The same treatment was meted out to Hungarian minorities in Kashau, Nyitra and Rimaszombat.

Further reductions in Hungarian figures were recorded by the census of 1930. There has been a fall in Hungarian figures in several agricultural areas where it can be proved that no emigration whatever has taken place; this reduction, amounting to as much as 15%, is purely a paper one, caused by administrative action.

After the elections of 1930 the Pressburg results were challenged, the presiding authorities being accused of falsification.

During the municipal elections this summer great activity was displayed by the Hungarian parties.2




Notes:

1 See Table I, Appendix. ...back...

2See Table B, Appendix, for population figures. ...back...



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