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

Ingomar Pust

Establishment of the Protectorate
n the early morning hours of March 15, 1939, the German troops moved into Czechoslovakia. There were no incidents of violence whatsoever, neither with the Czech army nor with the civilian population. The Czechs received the German soldiers in silence, but without resistance, while the German inhabitants in Prague, Brünn and other cities with a sizable German minority greeted their fellow-countrymen with cheers of joy. The next day, on March 16, 1939, the "Decree Regarding the Bohemian-Moravian Region's Status Under National Law" was proclaimed.

The degree of freedom and independent existence which the German Reich allowed the Czechs in the Protectorate becomes evident from "Neues Staatsrecht II", issue 13/2, by Dr. W. Stuskart and Rolf Schiedermair, respectively the Secretary of State and the Assistant Department Head in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, on p. 90 of the 19th edition published by Verlag Kohlhammer in Leipzig in 1944:

"Administration of the Protectorate.

It is part of the National Socialist view of people, ethnicity and race, to respect the ethnicity of foreign peoples. From this view, which is fundamentally different from that of the ruling power in former Czechoslovakia, it follows that the Reich guarantees the Czech people the autonomous development of their national life in accordance with their own unique nature.

1. The Protectorate is autonomous and administers itself. Within the framework of the sovereign jurisdiction to which the Protectorate is entitled, it exercises its autonomy in accordance with the political, military and economic interests of the Reich (Article 3):
i. Besides the head of state, the Protectorate has its own government, and other branches and divisions to exercise its sovereign rights. It is also up to the members of the Protectorate to determine their form of government. The Czech people may create for themselves the form of government which best suits their national character.
ii. The Protectorate has its own flag.
iii. The autonomous administration is carried out via the Protectorate's own authorities, with their own officials. These officials are not Reich officials: they are not sworn in with an oath of allegiance to the Führer.
iv. The Protectorate has its own legal system.
v. The Protectorate may muster its own units (7,000 men) to maintain internal security and order."

In essence, what the Czechs in the Protectorate were legally guaranteed was exactly those rights which the leader of the Sudeten Germans, Konrad Henlein, had requested in his well-known Eight Points on April 24, 1938 in the 44-member Parliament at Prague, but had never been granted.


ll the world likes to publicize and draw attention to this major German crime of the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice near Kladno. Erich Kern, author of the book Deutschland am Abgrund, comments as follows (p. 160):

SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich
"On September 22, 1941, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, had come to Prague. In an astonishingly short time he had won the Czech workers' and peasants' trust, and strove systematically for a complete reconciliation between the German and the Czech peoples."

In his account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, British historian Alan Burgess - who is otherwise exceedingly pro-Czech - describes the situation as follows:

"The Western powers could no longer expect that resistance would continue. With each passing day Czechoslovakia slipped further into the Nazi camp... The Czech secret service saw only one means left to it to interrupt the course of events and to show the world that Czechoslovakia was again on the side of the Allies. While the sham regime bowed and scraped before the Nazis and accepted their caresses, as it were, partisan paratroopers were to drop unnoticed from the sky and to abruptly chop off the caressing hand. Such an incredible provocation would show the Germans that they were dealing with a defensible people who were far from defeated."

Heydrich had to die.

Jan Kubis and Joseph Gabcik were citizens-in-exile of Czechoslovakia and had fled to England. They had been trained as paratroopers, for which reason they were chosen to carry out the assassination of Heydrich in the pre-noon hours of May 27, 1942 in Prague.

A general state of emergency was declared that same day, and a curfew was imposed for the hours from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Nine days after the attack, Heydrich succumbed to the injuries he had suffered from the hand grenade shrapnel. The officially recorded cause of death: anthrax???!

Lidice was chosen to be made an example of, even though neither Kubis nor Gabcik had gone into hiding there. Some of their accomplices came from Lidice, but had had nothing to do with the assassination.

In the early morning of June 10, 1942, 30 Czech gendarmes of the Prague police, acting on German orders, executed 174 men aged 16 years and up. The women and children were sent to the concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Auschwitz. In this context it is alleged time and again that Lidice was destroyed by the Waffen-SS. That is false. In fact, not so much as a single unit of the Waffen-SS was used against Lidice! (Kern, Deutschland am Abgrund, p. 165.)


Wenzel Jaksch's Appeal to Benes
n June 22, 1942, after plans for the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans had become known, Wenzel Jaksch (a Sudeten German Social Democrat in exile) wrote the following letter to Dr. Edward Benes, the Czech President in exile in London:

"Dear Mr. President!
For reasons I hardly need spell out, I have waited until this day to convey our resolutions of June 7, 1942. Let me assure you that the recent terrible events in our homeland have greatly dismayed us as well. Nothing has changed in our feelings of friendship towards the Czech people, and we mourn their casualties as though they were our own. For this reason I ask you, Mr. President, to please take note of our protest, a transcript of which is enclosed. It was announced in a radio broadcast and is surely also made in the name of our best comrades, who have been the target of harsh persecution since October 1, 1938.
However, grave circumstances compel me to try with this letter to achieve a political clarification which can be postponed no longer. Our political resolution records the utterly negative results of all discussions held to date.
It expresses our representatives' profound embitterment at the kind of treatment our movement has experienced since Munich. The degree of dismay which the current propaganda for a mass transfer of the Sudeten Germans has called forth in our ranks is difficult to describe, Mr. President. Naturally such measures would be directed at the population of entire regions, and thus would also affect circles that held out heroically in the conflict with Nazi Fascism both before and after the decision at Munich.
Our people are well acquainted with struggle and hardship and they have not failed to notice the difference between the English proposal of punishment of the guilty, and the intent of Czech policy to achieve gains in national power far beyond any settlement of affairs with the Nazi criminals. Given the deep roots which our working population has in their homeland, it is clear that the evacuation of entire regions could be arranged only with brute force and against the unanimous resistance of all political forces that will be present after the collapse of Nazi rule.
Dear Mr. President! It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of the full extent of our concerns. The sooner this is made clear, the better: the program of population transfer will be a dangerous cue for the outbreak of a civil war along the Bohemian and Moravian linguistic border. There are other ways to atone for the Nazi crimes. There will be a reckoning-up in the Sudeten region as well - our dead, and the many thousands of our best men who survived the horrors of the concentration camps, vouch for that. Settling the account with the Nazis will offer no grounds for the inevitably indiscriminate expulsion of the population of entire border regions. A population transfer would be an indiscriminate revenge, and I wish to put this to you quite openly, Mr. President: that would mean the destruction of any and all foundations for democratic cooperation for a generation to come.
In light of these dangers it is not an easy decision for us to abandon the moral legacy of a long period of national cooperation.
Many things may be forgotten today, but the annals of history show that a million Germans stood by the Czech people in the fateful years of 1937-38.
The fact that the Catholics and the Landbund Party capitulated after the collapse of Austria warrants a more lenient judgement if one considers how demoralizing the attitude of large Czech parties was to the German population. The heroism of our working people has made up for many of the weaknesses manifested in other sectors of the activist camp. Our population can face the Czech people with the clearest conscience in the world. Their casualties, and the activities they continue to pursue despite constant persecution, are points in their favor which cannot be ignored in drawing up the final account of the battle against Hitlerism. Permit me, Mr. President, to summarize these thoughts into a single argument:
We believe we may take some of the credit for the Czech democracy having fallen heroically.
In his most recent book, Dr. Hodza has admitted that as early as autumn 1937 he had offered Henlein the right to hold community council elections and thus relinquished the entire self-administration of our border regions to him. If our party had not decided to participate in local elections anyhow - virtually alone, and despite the danger of internal betrayal - the international propaganda war and the fate of Czechoslovakia would already have been lost in spring 1938. It would then have required no Runciman mission and no decision at Munich, and even the last heroic gesture of the September mobilization would have been denied the country. Any objective analysis of these tragic events will confirm that our organization still held the Sudeten region politically when the state bureaucracy had already more or less given it up.
These are the reasons, Mr. President, why my comrades are deeply embittered by the lack of response which the good will openly shown by their legitimate representatives has received abroad.
In the consciousness of duty one hundred percent fulfilled, they do not care to be discriminated against in comparison to Slovak representatives in government or in the council of state - representatives whose authority is no greater than our own. In this context, dear Mr. President, I refer to the exchange of telegrams in London on September 27 and 28, 1941, to illustrate how a token of honest good will remained unanswered and how a fund of personal trust in the hearts of worthy people was destroyed. Perhaps I may add, and not without justification, that I despair at how Czech policy is tending towards a dictatorship directed against old allies who had stood by the Czech people when they had been abandoned by all their other friends.
I may summarize this inducement to our latest resolution with the following observation:
The wholly negative position taken by the instruments of the temporary Czechoslovakian state in matters of mutual agreement, even in terms of political and economic interim solutions, deprives our attempts at rapprochement of all foundations.
The program of population transfer lies outside the principle of continuity in national law, in whose name the Czechoslovakian government has thus far claimed the loyalty of the democratic Sudeten Germans abroad.
Our resolution is an appeal to all responsible elements of Czechoslovakian government not to consider exclusively a violent solution with which they will drive those democratic Sudeten Germans who still feel ties to their homeland into a conflict that may have disastrous repercussions for both sides.
Dear Mr. President, I am well aware of the implications of this observation. Permit me to express my highest regard. I am, Mr. President, your humble servant

Wenzel Jaksch."

A transcript of the original letter is reproduced on pages 255-257 of Verheimlichte Dokumente by Erich Kern.

The bodies of murdered Germans lie in the streets of Prague.
The bodies of murdered Germans lie in the streets of Prague.

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