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Sudeten-German Inferno: the little-known tragedy of the
Sudeten Germans

Ingomar Pust



The Karlsbad Program
xcerpts from Professor Dr. Berthold Rubin's book War Deutschland allein schuld: Der Weg zum Zweiten Weltkrieg. Rubin was historiographer at the University of Cologne.

Page 112: Meanwhile, the "Sudeten German Party" continues to grow. The Prague government's policy of suppression has as its result a consolidation of the Sudeten Germans, who are firmly resolved to fend off the threats to their ethnic group. At the community elections on April 22, 1938, the Party wins 91.44% of all German votes. Two days later, on April 24, the historic Party Convention takes place in Karlsbad, and Konrad Henlein announces his famous Eight Points.

"If matters in the Czechoslovak state are to progress peacefully, then it is the conviction of the Sudeten Germans that the following state and judicial order is necessary:

1. Full equality of rights and status with the Czech people.
2. Acknowledgment of the Sudeten German ethnic group as legal entity to maintain this status of equality within the state.
3. Definition and acknowledgment of the German settlement area.
4. Development of a German self-administration in the German settlement area, relevant to all aspects of public life insofar as they pertain to interests and concerns of the German ethnic group.
5. Institution of legal measures for the protection of those citizens living outside the closed settlement area of their ethnic group.
6. Elimination of the injustices inflicted on the Sudeten Germans since 1918, and rectification of the harm and damage already sustained through these injustices.
7. Acknowledgment and implementation of this matter of principle: German civil servants for the German areas.
8. Full freedom to acknowledge and maintain our German ethnicity and our German world view."

In his commentary on these Eight Points Henlein pointed out at the Conference that Czechoslovakia's obligations under international law followed from President Wilson's well-known 14 Points, from the memoranda of the Czech peace delegation to the Peace Conference, and from Dr. Benes's note of May 20, 1919, as well as from the Peace Conference's statements in this regard, and from the national treaty of St. Germain of September 10, 1919.

It is remarkable that neither Henlein's Karlsbad address nor any of the Eight Points make any mention of the Sudetenland's wishing to break away from the Czechoslovak state formation. In other words, the Sudeten Germans, despite all oppression, were still resolved at this point to remain part of this state. Ought the Czech state not to have immediately seized this opportunity which the German minority of three-and-and-a-half million offered it at the last minute? The Czech leadership would have been well advised to do so, and accepting Henlein's Eight Points would not have hurt them any. Added to this is the fact that, only a few weeks later, English and French delegations in Prague urged emphatically that the Czech state should accommodate the wishes of the German ethnic group. In this context it bears mentioning that the British Ambassador in Berlin at that time, Sir Henderson, suggests in his book Failure of a Mission (well worth reading) that the Prague government's immediate acceptance of most of the Karlsbad Program would have been quite possible. As Erich Kordt1 remarked: "There can be no doubt that, by refusing the Karlsbad Program, the Czechoslovak government played right into Hitler's hands." Thanks to the course set by Prague, the return of the Sudeten Germans to the German Reich became inevitable.

Initially, Hitler exercised restraint in the Sudeten Question. On March 29, in other words before the Karlsbad Party Convention, Henlein met with Karl Hermann Frank, Dr. Kuenzel and Dr. Kreissl for discussions in the Foreign Office in Berlin. The minutes of this discussion (Pol. I 789g (IV) Secret) contain the following passage:

"It is up to the Sudeten German Party to make those demands of the Czechoslovak government whose fulfillment it considers necessary to achieve the freedoms it wishes. The Reich Minister (Ribbentrop) stated that it could not be up to the Reich government to give Konrad Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten Germans - expressly recognized, and reconfirmed as such by the Führer - detailed suggestions as to which demands might be made of the Czechoslovak government. It is necessary to draw up a best-case program whose ultimate goal is to achieve full freedom for the Sudeten Germans... The government of the Reich must decline to appear to the government at Prague, or to London or Paris, as pacemaker or representative of the Sudeten German demands. It goes without saying that in the course of the coming discussions with the Czechoslovak government the Sudeten Germans are fully in Konrad Henlein's hands, that peace and discipline must be maintained, and that rash acts are to be avoided...

"The task of the German envoy in Prague would be to act not so much in an official capacity as in private discussions with the Czechoslovak statesmen, to support the demands of the Sudeten German Party as reasonable, without exerting any direct influence on the extent of these demands. The discussion then turned to the expediency of an alliance between the Sudeten German Party and the other minorities in Czechoslovakia, especially the Slovaks. The Reich Minister decided that the Party must be free to maintain a loose association with other minority groups whose parallel action might be advantageous."

This protocol is interesting and historically very significant because it shows that in spring of 1938, shortly after the annexation of Austria, Hitler had no intention of uniting the Sudetenland with the Reich, but rather of leaving it in the Czechoslovak state union - albeit with the grant of far-reaching autonomy in the spirit of the Karlsbad Program. This again goes to show how very different these events would have turned out if the Czechoslovak government had been more reasonable and shown more of a statesmanlike sense of responsibility, and had accepted the Karlsbad Program, which left the Czechoslovak state wholly inviolate.



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Munich Agreement - Protectorate
he 1938 annexation of the Sudeten German regions to the German Reich proper, which took place with the participation of France and England, was thus no more than the putting-right of injustices dating from 1918. Regions that had been German for almost a millennium were included in a larger German sphere. This boundary region - the later Protectorate boundary - corresponded precisely with the linguistic boundary between German and Czech, and the votes of 98.9% of the Sudeten Germans confirmed this at the plebiscite of December 4, 1938.

Not a hair of a single Czech's head was harmed in the process. In contrast to the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans in 1945, there were also no forcible evictions. Every Czech was free to claim his right to live wherever he pleased.

In his book War Deutschland allein schuld? (Munich: DSZ-Verlag, 1987), Prof. Dr. Berthold Rubin wrote about the Munich Agreement and its consequences:

"After the Agreement has been signed by the four statesmen, England and France, in a rider clause, assume responsibility towards Czechoslovakia to guarantee her new borders, while Germany and Italy, in another rider, give the same guarantees, to take effect as soon as the matters of the Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, Carpatho-Ukrainian and Ruthenian minorities in the remainder state are settled."

The Czechoslovak government by no means carried out its own obligations, and half a year later Slovakia suffered gross interference from the central government at Prague, and the forcible dismissal of four Ministers on March 9, 1939 - the climax of the Czech-Slovak crisis.

On page 153 of the aforementioned book we learn of Hitler's September 26, 1938 speech in the Berlin Sportpalast, and his admonition to the central government at Prague to find a prompt and peaceful solution to Czechoslovakia's entire minority issue:

"... and further, I have assured him [Chamberlain] that in the very instant when Czechoslovakia solves its problems - that is, when Czechoslovakia has dealt with its minorities, and peacefully so, not by oppression - in that instant I will lose all interest in the Czech state and we will guarantee its borders. We don't want any Czechs, but we do want a full, satisfactory and final settlement of the minority question, no uneasy compromises, and absolutely no constant trouble spot at the heart of Europe!"

But the Czech government let this precious time go by unused, and could not be bothered to solve this grave minority problem, least of all as quickly as possible.

After Slovak President Josef Tiso called on Hitler on March 13, 1939 to request his aid and support in achieving independence for Slovakia, the Slovak Parliament, convened by Tiso and Dr. Durssansky, unanimously voted for independence from Prague on March 14, 1939. With that, the Czech republic fell apart and all the guarantees given by England and France lapsed, as did those promised by Germany and Italy for after the resolution of the minority problems.

Just as is the case with regard to Slovak President Tiso, it is also alleged that it was Hitler who "ordered" the March 14, 1939 visit from the then Czech President Emil Hacha. Secretary of State Otto Meissner, who was present at that discussion, stated: "The initiative for Hacha's and his Foreign Minister Chvalkovsky's trip to Berlin came strictly from the Czech side." What is particularly significant about Meissner's report is that Hacha's and Chvalkovsky's trip to Berlin followed an explicit decision by the Cabinet when he elected, on the evening of March 13, 1939, to request a personal discussion of the political situation via the German chargé d'affaires (p. 203). The Sudeten German Social-Democratic Representative Wenzel Jaksch commented similarly in his book Europas Weg nach Potsdam: "... in view of the ever-worsening situation on March 14, 1939, Hacha felt that it was necessary to request that discussion with Hitler."

England acknowledged Slovakia's separation from the Czech whole as a voluntary act of the Slovak people's representatives. This disproves the false claims of the foreign press, that Tiso had allegedly been "ordered" to Berlin on March 12, 1939 and that Slovakia had then declared independence "under duress" from Hitler.

That same world that vented such outrage at the inclusion of seven million Czechs in the German Reich of more than 80 million had previously, and for a span of 20 years, not only tolerated the enslavement of eight million non-Czechs by seven million Czechs in the ethnic dungeon of "Czechoslovakia", but also bore the blame for the creation of this state in the first place.



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No Czechs were expelled in 1938
xcerpt from: Dr. Heinrich Wendig, Richtigstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, issue 5, pub. Institut für deutsche Zeitgeschichte, Tübingen: Grabert, 1993.

No Czechs were expelled in 1938

The expulsion of the Sudeten Germans from their homeland after 1945 is rationalized by, among other things, the mendacious claim that following the Munich Agreement of September 28, 1938, Czechs were "expelled" from the Sudetenland, which was then annexed by the German Reich. But there was never any such expulsion, and particularly not in the time from 1938 to 1945.

The fact is that in late 1918, aside from the German minority, some 160,000 Czechs lived in those regions of Czechoslovakia that would later be affected by the Munich Agreement; in May 1939, however, official statistics place their number at approximately 320,000, i.e. fully twice as many. They had come to these regions and also to purely German towns and villages as officials or teachers, for example. Their purpose was to "Czechify" these regions - to counteract their German character and to make them Czech.

After the Sudetenland's annexation many of these immigrants moved back into their Czech homeland, the future Protectorate. But not one of them was expelled. A number of dissidents - German functionaries and members of the German Social-Democratic Party - also left the once-again-German regions because they did not wish to live under National Socialist rule. Many of them then emigrated via Czechoslovakia to the West. They too were not expelled, but left voluntarily.

In a March 17, 1992 letter to the editor of the Prague daily paper Lidove Noviny, Stanislav Aust, a witness to those times, responded to an editorial in this paper in which "expulsions in 1938" had been mentioned: "As eyewitness, I must reject the lies that were contained in the article titled 'Munich and the Legal Order'. Our family was very active against Henlein, and we were not forcibly expelled; we fled out of fear of potential persecution. In Czechoslovakia proper we were registered as refugees, not as expellees. Those that did not choose to leave did not have to. Many in Trautenau weathered the occupation. Our family's house remained our possession, and the German tenant continued to pay his rent regularly. It was June 1945 before the house was taken from us, by a member of the Revolutionary Guard, and my parents had to go to great trouble to get the house back. The claim that the property of Germans who had remained loyal to the Republic was not confiscated (in 1945) is more than ridiculous." (From the German translation in Deutscher Ost-Dienst, no. 12 of March 27, 1992.)

Soviets storm the Moravian capital city Brnn
Soviets storm the Moravian capital city Brünn

Notes

1Diplomat in the Foreign Office since 1928; 1936, First Diplomatic Secretary to Ribbentrop in London; 1938-1941, Chief of the Ministerial Office in the Berlin Foreign Office. At the Nuremberg Tribunal he admitted having stood in active opposition to the National Socialist regime since as early as 1936. [In this context, see also our publication Worm in the Apple! -Scriptorium] ...back...



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Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia