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

Ingomar Pust

Comments on Contemporary History
he occupation of the Protectorate by Hitler was only one of many political upheavals on the territory of former Czechoslovakia (others were the independence of Slovakia, and thus the dissolution of the Czech multi-ethnic state), but none of these developments succeeded in obtaining the still-withheld minority rights of the five ethnic groups that had been forced into this state without any plebiscite after the First World War. Even Hitler's severe warning in his "Sports Palace speech" of September 26, 1938, urging that the minorities living in that state must at long last be granted their right to self-determination, fell on deaf ears in the government at Prague.

In Professor Dr. Berthold Rubin's book War Deutschland allein schuld? (Munich: DSZ-Verlag, 1987) we learn on page 153: "... 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!" (The last sentence is always studiously omitted by other publications!)

Ultimately, the victorious powers of World War I - the midwives to the Paris treaties - were the initiating force behind this hearth of unrest in Europe (compare today's Yugoslavia!), together with the chauvinistic Czech nationalists who had had 20 years to solve the minority question in Czechoslovakia in a fashion satisfactory to all. But, idle and spineless, they wasted the time so precious to all concerned, and were not interested in a serious solution. With his well-known Eight Points, Konrad Henlein, the leader of Sudeten Germans, also attempted in vain to make the Czech government see reason at the Karlsbad Party Convention on April 24, 1938.

It should be our aim to make the facts of this ethnic martyrdom - hushed up for so long, but now beginning to break through into the light - known to the general public that is starved for truth. Cover-ups serve no-one! And truth is indivisible.

It is especially important that new editions and reprints of publications be revised to reflect historical documents that have only recently become known after having been locked away in archives for, in many cases, very long periods of time. This is the only way to do justice to history - and such revisions would be entirely unnecessary if uncomfortable facts had not been suppressed for decades in the first place.



Convention on International Law, Bonn, 1961

Excerpts from "Das Recht auf die Heimat
im historisch-politischen Prozeß", F. H. E. W. du Buy.
Euskirchen: Verlag für zeitgenössische Dokumentation GmbH, 1974.

he debates about the questions regarding the right to one's homeland were continued at the convention of experts on international law on October 28 and 29, 1961 in Bonn. The results of this convention were formulated as seven basic principles, as follows:

"I. In the recent past, and in various regions of the world, peoples and ethnic groups were expelled from their ancestral homes. These acts of violence are in clear violation of fundamental principles of modern national and international law.
"II. The expulsion of peoples or of ethnic and religious groups represents a flagrant violation of the right to self-determination. The right to self-determination has been recognized by the United Nations as a leading principle of order; by virtue of this fact, as well as through practical application by nations over the past decades, it has become a general and binding fundamental of international law. It is the right of peoples and population groups to freely determine their political, economic, social and cultural status. In this context, peoples are not to be regarded as fluctuating masses that may be pushed from one region to another for political, economic, police or other considerations, but as resident communities that are closely tied to their settlement area. Thus, the right to self-determination includes the prohibition of expulsions. Not even a conquered people may be denied the right to self-determination.
"III. The international conventions of war include the prohibition of deportation of the population of an occupied region by the occupying power. Complete agreement on this was already expressed at the 1907 Peace Conference in The Hague. Thus, Article 49 of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 about the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War did not create a new law, but rather codified existing law.
"Attention is also drawn to Article 49, Section 6, according to which an occupying power may also not deport or resettle parts of its own civilian population into a region occupied by it.
"IV. Under modern international law, no state may deport its own citizens from its national territory, nor deny them entry into said national territory. This prohibition applies also in cases of changes in territorial sovereignty. In such a case, the resident population may not be denied citizenship in the acquiring state, insofar as it had previously also held native status. This protects the population from expulsion across the newly-fixed border.
"V. The question whether expelling nations and host nations may conduct population transfers in an internationally lawful manner through national treaties cannot be answered with mere reference to the Potsdam Pact. This Pact of August 2, 1945 - whose Article XIII ordered a humane carrying-out of the expulsion of the Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary that had in fact already begun at full scale several months earlier, under the sovereign responsibility of the expelling states - had been concluded by the occupying powers, namely Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. The condition imposed therein on Germany, to accept the expelled Germans, thus does not represent an internationally lawful acknowledgment of the expulsion on the part of Germany, since Germany was not a party to this Pact.
"VI. Deportations within the boundaries of a national territory also violate the fundamentals of a modern system of government.
"International law demands that nations respect a minimum standard of human rights, and this standard is characterized by a progressive acceptance of universal human rights.
"In 1956-57 in the Soviet Union, for example, mass deportations of a state's own citizens were ruled to be an inadmissible violation of constitutional rights and to be in conflict with the principles of Marxist-Leninist nationality politics, and were reversed for a part of the persons affected.
"The legal position following from the stated principles of national and international law for peoples, population groups and their members has come to be known as "the right to one's homeland". Thus, this right is founded on positive regulations of contemporary national and international law as well as on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its violation is a crime under international law.
"Every prohibition - and thus also the prohibition of forced resettlement and mass deportations - safeguards a condition perceived by man's sense of justice to be valuable and worth preserving. In the event of attempted unlawful interference with this condition, those who benefit from the preservation of said condition have the fundamental right to demand the cessation of such interference, or - if interference has been carried through - to seek redress. In the case at hand, such a right to redress takes the form of a right to permission to remigrate, and to assistance in doing so, or alternatively as a right to claim compensation. This coincides with the decisions of the standing International Court, as these have found expression especially in the Chozow case."

At this convention it was determined that there are several principles of international law whose purpose it is to afford persons protection from forced resettlement and expulsion from their homeland. The term "right to one's homeland" has come to stand for the legally protected right to remain in one's domicile unmolested. This right to one's homeland can thus be regarded as the collective term for several principles recognized by international law, and accordingly, the violation of this right represents a crime under international law.

The right to one's homeland is intended to afford a person the right to remain in his domicile without undue harassment. If this right is infringed upon, he has a rightful claim to restitution, which may be understood as a right to restitutio in integrum, ie. in this case the right to return to one's homeland. If a return to one's old homeland is not possible, the injured party has the right to claim compensation.

Principle 5 makes reference to the Potsdam Pact of August 2, 1945. The substance of this Principle is legally perfect, but it would go beyond the scope of this study to examine the Pact in greater detail.

Second Convention
on International Law, Bonn, 1964

t the second convention of experts on international law, which was held on April 24 and 25, 1964, again in Bonn, the jurists debated further issues regarding the right to one's homeland. As usual, the convention was closed by recording the conclusions reached in these debates. The voluminous and very carefully worded conclusions represent another decisive stage in the academic resolution of the problems associated with the right to one's homeland. Due to their great significance, these conclusions are reproduced here in extenso:

I. 1.The condition constituting the foundation of the concept "right to one's homeland", a condition perceived by man's sense of justice to be valuable and worth preserving, consists of everyone being able to reside unmolested at his domicile and within his social unit, with the certainty of being able to remain in such condition for as long as his will is freely directed thus.
In this context, terminology is defined as follows:
a) "domicile": the place where a person regularly resides because the focus of his life and social structure is itself located there;
b) "social unit": the people whose domicile is located within a specific spatial area ("homeland") and who are linked to each other there through tradition and a multitude of social relations; [...]



God Lives: His Day Will Come!

Ten Thousand Expellees Cheer Father Reichenberger

Reprint from the "Süd-Ost Tagespost", Graz, June 10, 1952.

n Sunday the Graz Fairgrounds surrounding Industrial Hall were an unfamiliar sea of color. An observer felt transported into a great folk festival that might just as easily have taken place somewhere in the Sudetenland, in Transylvania, in Backa or in the Banat. Some ten thousand expellees, many wearing their neat and colorful ethnic costumes, had answered the call of the Steiermark "Auxiliary for the Sudeten Germans" to join together in a great summer festival to document their loyalty to their homeland, and to greet and thank the indefatigable champion of their rights, Dr. h.c. Father Reichenberger.

Father Reichenberger.
Monsignore Dr. E. J. Reichenberger,
Father of the Expelled
The faces lined by a harsh fate and a life of hard work lit up as Father Emanuel Reichenberger appeared in their midst, accompanied by Provincial Governor Krainer and Dr. Gorbach, President of the National Council, and a storm of applause greeted the Provincial Governor when he stepped up on the platform, decorated splendidly with the Steiermark flags and the coats-of-arms of the ethnic German Welfare and Cultural Associations, to address the expellees.

"Dear festival guests - or, I am sure I may say, dear fellow-countrymen! The war forged us all into a community united by suffering. You have been particularly hard-hit because you lost your homeland, but I believe I can say that you have found another home with us - a modest and poor one, perhaps, but a home nevertheless. Tens of thousands of Germans settled in the Steiermark, and my only wish is that you may feel at home here with us. I also appeal to all inhabitants of the Steiermark to do their part to ensure that everyone who comes to us in need will be made to feel at home, and that everyone do their best to help us all become an indivisible community in this land. Let us all take home with us, from this gathering dedicated to Father Reichenberger, the foremost champion of freedom and justice, the resolve to follow his example, so that after seven long years our land too shall finally become free, and true freedom and true justice shall return to us!"

The Students Still Have Ideals!

After a brief address, in which he stressed how the relations between the expellees and the local population were growing ever closer, Dr. Prexl, the provincial representative of the Auxiliary for the Sudeten Germans, presented elaborate certificates to Father Reichenberger and to Otto Hoffmann-Wellenhoff, the head of the cultural department of the Alpenland station, for their great services to the expelled. Walter Schleser, the Chair of the Expelled Students in Germany, conveyed to Father Reichenberger the congratulations of the Federal Committee of Expelled Students and the Welfare and Cultural Association of Expellees in West Germany.

In his address, Dr. Rudolf Lodgman von Auen - former Provincial Governor of German Bohemia, Member of the Vienna National Assembly, and Speaker of the Sudeten German Welfare and Cultural Assembly in Germany - recalled that on October 29, 1918 the Sudeten Germans had declared themselves a province of German Austria, but that this union was destroyed one year later, contrary to all common sense. He presented Father Reichenberger with a plaque, with the request that he would continue to bear the fate of the German expellees in heart and mind.

Dr. h.c. Emanuel Reichenberger himself then stepped on the podium, to the seemingly endless cheers and applause of the assembly. "Potsdam has legalized the robbery and theft that was perpetrated on you when Germany and Austria lay crushed and powerless - legalized it in violation of all divine and human right. For long years these crimes had to be hushed up so that the Allies of yesterday would not be insulted. Today no less, the expelled do not want hatred and revenge - it would pave the way, not for the furtherance of a new world, but for its downfall. All they seek is justice - and it is sheer demagoguery to try to slander this cry for justice as neo-Nazism or as expression of an unbridled hatred. The expellees do not demand special courts, they demand a verdict from impartial sources, they demand nothing more than that the solemn promises made in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be kept. The enormous problems created by the expulsion of millions of people cannot be solved by Germany and Austria alone; the legal obligation to solve them is incumbent upon those who unleashed this injustice in the first place: the signatories of Potsdam.

Concerns About the Younger Generation

"I am concerned about the future if we do not succeed in involving the younger generation in building our new homeland. Young people, healthy and able to work, must join in the build-up process here. If I had a decisive say I would forbid the emigration of healthy and able people. Emigration is not a solution, and the conditions under which it occurs are often much like a sort of trafficking in human beings."

Father Reichenberger concluded with the words: "God lives yet, and His day will come!"



Human Blood Dripped From the Knife of Hate

by Alexander Hoyer

n 1919, after the peace dictate of St. Germain which forcibly incorporated the German regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia into the newly founded state "Czechoslovakia", a journalist from the French publication Matin asked the first Czech President, Thomas Garrique Masaryk, whether this forced subjugation of what were then 3.6 million Germans to his small multi-ethnic state did not perhaps really represent an injustice, a political act of force, a national incapacitation.

With a disdainful gesture Masaryk replied: "Don't worry about that! In twenty years we will have assimilated them, they will speak our language and will have long forgotten their heritage."

Well, despite inhumane political, economic and social oppression the three-and-one-half million Germans living in the Czechoslovakia of those days (they called themselves Sudeten Germans) did not become assimilated at all. On the contrary. In the course of 20 years they responded to the intolerable restriction of even their most fundamental rights by uniting in a struggle of defense which, in autumn 1938, resulted in the rectification of the injustices of St. Germain through British and French(!) intervention. As per the Anglo-French Note of September 19, 1938, the Czechs had to return the German regions to the German Reich. The government at Prague expressly accepted this obligation on September 21, 1938.

The Sudetenland was free, and once again sovereign German territory after 20 years of bondage. It was the only correct solution. An injustice that screamed to heaven had been righted, and the world heaved a sigh of relief - but Czech President Dr. Eduard Benes wanted war, not this peaceful solution.

Their historical lies of 1918/19 that had enabled them to occupy the Sudeten regions had ended in failure. And this was what the Czechs, poisoned by an incredible chauvinism, could not get over. The Czech national soul seethed with rage and hate, but did not find a vent until May 1945, after the military defeat of the German Reich in World War Two.

For the Czechs it was the hour of revenge. And the Allies played the Sudeten Germans right into their hands once again. The inferiority complexes that had been growing in the Czech people for centuries pushed them to a terrible discharge of their pent-up fury.

The dreadful monstrosities mentioned in this book are a mere fraction of what happened in those days. German industriousness and German intellect, working tirelessly for centuries, had made Bohemia and Moravia an economic and cultural jewel. Having got their hands on it a second time, the Czechs turned it into a field of blood. How will it fit into the European Community now?

The screams from hell went unheard by the world, both then and today. To date, even the Federal Presidents and Federal Chancellors of Germany and Austria alike have ignored them.

How will it sound when Czech functionaries of the United Nations begin to push for the fulfillment of the Benes Decrees which are still gospel to them, and Central Europe is to be ethnically cleansed of the Germans - in accordance with their revered former President Benes's appeal: "Drive the Germans from their houses, factories and farms, and leave them nothing but one handkerchief to weep into!"

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