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Template:Expulsion of Germans

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The expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II was part of a series of expulsions of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.

During the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, most of the Czech resistance groups demanded, based on German Nazi terror during occupation, the "final solution of the German question" (Template:Lang-cs) which would have to be "solved" by deportation of the ethnic Germans from their homeland.[1] These demands were adopted by the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile which, beginning in 1943, sought the support of the Allies for this proposal.[2][3] The final agreement for the expulsion of the German population however was not reached until 2 August 1945 at the end of the Potsdam Conference.

In the months following the end of the war expulsions happened from May till August 1945. These expulsions were encouraged by hate-inciting speeches made by several Czechoslovak politicians. The expulsions were executed by order of local authorities, mostly by groups of armed volunteers. However in some cases it was initiated or pursued with the assistance of the regular army.[4] Several thousand died violently during the expulsion and many more died from hunger and illness as a consequence. The expulsion according to the Potsdam Conference proceeded from 25 January 1946 till October of that year. An estimated 1.6 million ethnic Germans were deported to the American zone of what would become West Germany. An estimated 800,000 were deported to the Soviet zone (in what would become East Germany).[3]

There were substantial exceptions from the expulsions that applied to about 244,000 ethnic Germans who were allowed to remain in Czechoslovakia. The following groups of ethnic Germans were not deported:

  • anti-fascists
  • persons crucial for industries
  • those married to ethnic Czechs

Estimates of casualties range between 20,000 and 270,000[5] people, depending on source.[6] These casualties include violent deaths and suicides, deaths in "internment camps"[6] and natural causes.[7] The joint Czech-German commission of historians stated in 1996 the following numbers: the deaths caused by violence and abnormal living conditions amount approximately to 10,000 persons killed; another 5000 - 6000 persons died of unspecified reasons related to expulsion; making the total amount of victims of the expulsion 15,000 - 16,000 (this excludes suicides, which make another approximately 3400 cases).[8] [9]

Plans to expel the Sudeten Germans

The principle of “population transfer” of Germans was advocated in 1918-19 by the Foreign Minister of the new Czechoslovak State, but President Thomas Masaryk opposed it. At the Paris Peace Conference Harvard Professor Archibald Cary Coolidge submitted his report to the American Delegation proposing the separation of the Sudetenland from Bohemia and Moravia, since it appeared unwise to force 3.5 million Germans under Czech rule, in violation of the principle of self-determination (Alfred de Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam, Routledge, London and Boston p. 22). Following the Munich Agreement of 1938 and the Occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by Hitler in March 1939, Edvard Beneš set out to convince the Allies during World War II that expulsion was the best solution. Almost as soon as German troops occupied the Sudetenland in October 1938, Edvard Beneš and later the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile pursued a twofold policy: the restoration of Czechoslovakia to its pre-Munich boundaries and the removal, through a combination of minor border rectifications and population transfer, of the state’s disloyal German minority to restore the territorial integrity of state. Although the details changed along with British public and official opinion and pressure from Czech resistance groups, the broad goals of the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile remained the same throughout the war.

The pre-war policy of minority protection was now seen as useless and counterproductive (and the minorities themselves were seen as the source of unrest and instability), because it led to the destruction of the democratic régime and the whole Czechoslovak state. Therefore the Czechoslovakian leaders[who?] made a decision to change the multiethnic character of the state to a state of 2 or 3 ethnicities (Czechs, Slovaks and initially also the Ruthenians). This goal was to be reached by the expulsion of the major part of minority members and the successive assimilation of the rest. Because almost all people of German and Magyar ethnicity gained German or Hungarian citizenship during the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the expulsion could be legalized as the banishment (Template:Lang-de) of the foreigners.[10]

On 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 a letter to Edvard Beneš protesting the proposed plans.[11]

Initially only a few hundred thousand Sudeten Germans were to be affected, people who were perceived as being disloyal to Czechoslovakia and who, according to Beneš and Czech public opinion, had acted as Hitler's "fifth column." Due to escalation of German atrocities in occupied Czechoslovakia the demands of the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile, Czech resistance groups and also the wide majority of the Czechs for expulsion included more and more Germans, with no individual investigation of inference of guilt on their part, the only exception being 244,000 ethnic German "anti-fascists" and those ethnic Germans crucial for industries who were allowed to remain in Czechoslovakia. In conclusion the Czechs and their government did not want Czechoslovakia to be burdened in future with a sizable German minority.

During the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, especially after the Nazis reprisal for the assassination on Heydrich, most of the Czech resistance groups demanded the final solution of the German question which would have to be solved by transfer/expulsion. These demands were adopted by the Government-in-Exile which, beginning in 1943, sought the support of the Allies for this proposal.[3] The final agreement for the transfer of German minority however was not reached until 2 August 1945 at the end of Potsdam Conference. The drafter of article XIII of the Potsdam Communique concerning the expulsions, Sir Geoffrey Harrison, wrote on 31 July 1945 to Sir John Troutbeck, head of the German Department at the Foreign Office: "The Sub-Committee met three times, taking as a basis of discussion a draft which I circulated...Sobolov took the view that the Polish and Czechoslovak wish to expel their German populations was the fulfilment of an historic mission which the Soviet Government were unwilling to try to impede....Cannon and I naturally strongly opposed this view. We made it clear that we did not like the idea of mass transfers anyway. As, however, we could not prevent them, we wished to ensure that they were carried out in as orderly and humane manner as possible..."(FO 371/46811, published in facsimile in A. de Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam, pp. 232-34).

Germans in Czechoslovakia by the time of the armistice

File:VolarydeadJews.jpg

Sudeten Germans are forced to walk past the bodies of 30 Jewish women starved to death by German SS troops

Developing a clear picture of the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia is difficult because of the chaotic conditions that existed at the end of the war. There was no stable central government and record-keeping was non-existent. Many of the events that occurred during the period were spontaneous and local rather than being the result of coordinated policy directives from a central government. Among these spontaneous events was the removal and detention of the Sudeten Germans which was triggered by the strong anti-German sentiment at the grass-roots level and organized by local officials.

Records of food rationing coupons show approximately 3,325,000 inhabitants of occupied Sudetenland in May 1945. Of these, about 500,000 were Czechs or other non-Germans. Thus, there were approximately 2,725,000 Germans in occupied Sudetenland in May 1945.[citation needed]

In addition, most of the roughly 120,000 Carpathian Germans from Slovakia were evacuated on Himmler's orders to the "Protectorate" and the occupied Šumava (Bohemian Forest) region just before the end of the war.[citation needed]

Chronology of the expulsions

From London and Moscow, Czech and Slovak political agents in exile followed an advancing Soviet army pursuing German forces westward, to reach the territory of the first former Czechoslovak Republic. Beneš proclaimed the programme of the newly appointed Czechoslovak government on April 5, 1945, in the northeastern city of Košice, which included oppression and persecution of the non-Czech and non-Slovak populations of the partially restored Czechoslovak Republic. After the proclamation of the Košice program, the German and Hungarian population living in the reborn Czechoslovak state were subjected to various forms of court procedures, citizenship revocations, property confiscation, condemnation to forced labour camps, and appointment of government managers to German and Hungarian owned businesses and farms, referred to euphemistically as “reslovakization.”

Role of the Czechoslovak army

General Zdeněk Novák, head of the Prague military command "Alex", issued an order to "deport all Germans from territory within the historical borders".

A pamphlet issued on June 5 titled "Ten Commandments for Czechoslovak Soldiers in the Border Regions" directed soldiers that "The Germans have remained our irreconcilable enemies. Do not cease to hate the Germans... Behave towards Germans like a victor... Be harsh to the Germans... German women and the Hitler Youth also bear the blame for the crimes of the Germans. Deal with them too in an uncompromising way.[12]

On June 15 1945, a government decree directed the army to implement measures to apprehend Nazi criminals and carry out the transfer of the German population. On July 27 1945, the Ministry of National Defence issued a secret order Template:Which? directing that the transfer should be carried out on as large a scale as possible and as expeditiously as possible so as to present the Western powers with a fait accompli.[13] British and American representatives[who?] were already calling for discussions about the timing and means by which the transfer was to be conducted. The Anglo-American vision was for the resettlement to start in about five years. In the interim, they envisioned only partial, internal transfers of the German population who were to be subjected to forced labour.[citation needed]

Beneš decrees

Between 1945 and 1948, a series of presidential decrees, edicts, laws and statutes were proclaimed by the president of the republic, the Prague-based Czechoslovak Parliament, the Slovak National Council (Parliament) in Bratislava and by the Board of Slovak Commissioners (an appendage of the Czechoslovak government in Bratislava).

The Beneš decrees are most often associated Template:By whom with the population transfer in 1945-47 of about 2.6 million former Czechoslovak citizens of German ethnicity (see also Sudetenland) to Germany and Austria. However, they do not directly refer to the expulsions; its advocates[who?] argue that the German exodus from Eastern Europe was agreed upon by the Allied powers at the Potsdam Conference.

Some Template:Which? of the decrees concerned the expropriation of wartime traitors and collaborators accused of treason but also all Germans and Hungarians. They also ordered the removal of citizenship from people of German and Hungarian ethnic origin who were treated collectively as collaborators (these provisions were cancelled for the Hungarians in 1948). This was then used to confiscate their property and expel around 90 % of the ethnic German population of Czechoslovakia. These people were collectively accused of supporting the Nazis (through the Sudetendeutsche Partei (SdP), the political party led by Konrad Henlein) and the Third Reich's annexation of the Czech borderland in 1938. Almost Template:Weasel-inline every decree explicitly stated that the sanctions did not apply to anti-fascists although the term anti-fascist was not explicitly defined. Typically it was up to the decision of local municipalities. Some 250,000 Germans, some anti-fascists, but also people crucial for the industry remained in Czechoslovakia.

Incidents

In the summer of 1945 there were a number Template:Weasel-inline of incidents and localised massacres of the German population. The following examples are described in a study done by the European University Institute in Florence:[14]

  • June 18-19, 1945, in the Přerov incident, 71 men, 120 women and 74 children (265 Germans) who were Slovak Germans from Dobšiná were passing through Horní Moštěnice near Přerov railway station. Here they were taken out of the train, taken outside the city to a hill named "Švédské šance", where they were forced to dig their own graves and all were shot. They were all murdered while being transported back to Slovakia by soldiers of the 17th Bratislava Foot Regiment.
  • 20,000 Germans were forced to leave Brno for camps in Austria. Some Template:Which? sources report 800 deaths.[15]
  • Estimates of those killed in the Ústí massacre range from 30 - 50 to 600 - 700 civilians.
  • 763 people were shot dead in Postoloprty and the immediate vicinity.[15] In September 1947 a Czechoslovak parliamentary commission investigated reports of mass graves scattered around the north Bohemian town of Postoloprty. In all, the investigation unearthed 763 German bodies, victims of a zealous Czechoslovak army detachment carrying out orders to "cleanse" the region of Germans in late May 1945. Expellees who survived the massacre estimated[who?] the number of their murdered neighbors at around 800. The surprise here is that the numbers came from a Czech source, indeed from an inquiry at the highest levels of government only months before the Communists eliminated democratic opposition in February 1948.

Concentration camps

A large number Template:Weasel-inline of Germans were deported to concentration camps[16] immediately after the Soviet and Allied conquest of Czechoslovakia. According to the German "Society against Expulsion," 1,215 camps were established, as well as 846 forced labour and "disciplinary centres", and 215 prisons, on Czechoslovak territory. According to German figures, about 350,000 of the 2,750,000 Germans in Czechoslovakia passed through one or more of these institutions.

According to Alfred de Zayas:

Template:Bquote[17]

Template:Bquote

Conditions in the internment camp near Kolín, in which internees were raped and beaten and two of them were killed were investigated by the Czechoslovak parliament.[citation needed] According to a rough estimate by Tomáš Staněk,[who?] approximately 10,000 people died in Bohemian and Moravian camps and prisons from 1945 to 1948. The causes of death included epidemics, undernourishment, overall exhaustion and old age, but also ill-treatment and executions.[citation needed]

Expulsions

Germans living in the border regions of Czechoslovakia were expelled from the country in late 1945. Several thousand died violently (some sources[who?] refer to 16,000 reported direct violent deaths including 6000 suicides[7]) during the expulsion and many more died from hunger and illness as a consequence. In 1946, an estimated 1.3 million ethnic Germans were deported to the American zone of what would become West Germany. An estimated 800,000 were deported to the Soviet zone (in what would become East Germany). [4]

Act No. 115/1946 Coll.

On 8 May 1946 the Czechoslovak provisional National Assembly passed Act No. 115/1946 Coll. It was enacted in conjunction with the Beneš decrees and it specifies that "Any act committed between September 30, 1938 and October 28, 1945, the object of which was to aid the struggle for liberty of the Czechs and Slovaks or which represented just reprisals for actions of the occupation forces and their accomplices, is not illegal, even when such acts may otherwise be punishable by law." This law, which is still in force, has de facto ensured that no atrocities against Germans during the time-period in question have been prosecuted in Czechoslovakia. [5]

However, the Czech government did express its regret in the 1997 Joint Czech-German Declaration on the Mutual Relations and their Future Development: Template:Bquote

Results

The joint Czech-German commission of historians stated in 1996 following numbers: the deaths caused by violence and abnormal living conditions amount approximately to 10,000 persons killed; another 5000 - 6000 persons died of unspecified reasons related to expulsion; making the total amount of victims of the expulsion 15,000 - 16,000 (this excludes suicides, which make another approximately 3400 cases).[18][19]

Legacy

The character of the post-war deportations of Sudeten Germans has been the subject of long-running debate between Germans, Czechs and Slovaks. In 1991 President Václav Havel apologized, on behalf of his people, for massacres of Germans during the expulsion, and even suggested that former inhabitants of the Sudetenland might apply for Czech nationality to reclaim their lost properties.[citation needed] However, the Czech government never followed through on Havel's suggestion. The UN Human Rights Committee issued decisions in three cases concerning Sudeten Germans (Des Fours Walderode v. Czech Republic; Petzoldova v. Czech Republic; Czernin v. Czech Republic) in which violations of articles 26 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were established and the Czech Republic was ordered to return the property to the rightful owners. To this date (2010) the Committee's views have not been implemented.(Jakob Th. Möller, United Nations Human Rights Committee Case Law, N.P.Engel Verlag, Kehl am Rhein 2009).

Public opinion surveys indicate that the public is opposed to such measures.[20]

According to an article in the Prague Daily Monitor: Template:Bquote

Template:Bquote

Compensation to expellees

The British Foreign Office and the U.S. State Department planned a "population transfer commission" similar to the arrangement in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 to provide compensation for private property to transferred Greeks and Turks following the Kemalist war of 1919-1923. But events went faster and the expulsions began in May 1945, long before the Potsdam Conference and before any agreement on a commission had been settled. No population transfer commission with competence to evaluate the claims of the German expellees was ever established. (See Public Record Office documents FO 371/46810 and FO 371/46811). Since the Czechoslovak government-in-exile decided that population transfer was the only solution of the German question, the problem of reparation (war indemnity) was closely associated. The proposed population transfer as presented in negotiations with the governments of U.S., UK and U.S.S.R., presumed the confiscation of the Germans' property to cover the reparation demands of Czechoslovakia; then Germany should pay the compensation to satisfy its citizens. This fait accompli was to prevent Germany's evasion of reparation payment as happened after World War I.[6]

This plan was suggested to the Inter-Allied Reparation Agency (IARA) in 1945, but because of the advent of the Cold war was never confirmed by any treaty with Germany. The IARA ended its activity in 1959 and the status quo is as follows: Czech Republic kept the property of expelled ethnic Germans while Germany didn't pay any reparations (only about 0.5 % of Czechoslovak demands were satisfied[7]). For this reason, every time the Sudeten Germans request compensation or the abolition of the Beneš decrees, the Czech side strikes back by the threat of reparation demands.

Even during the preparation of the Czech-German declaration the German side avoided the Czech demand to confirm the status quo by the agreement. However, Germany adopted the Czechoslovak fait accompli and has paid compensation to the expellees. It is a little known fact that, up to 1993 the German government paid about 141,000,000,000 DEM to the expellees.[8] This averages out to about 14,000 DEM for each expelled Sudeten German (just for comparison: the still living prisoners who worked for Siemens as slave labor in Ravensbrück during the war, got only 1000 EUR(=cca 2000 DEM) in compensation). But the total amount of money given to Sudeten Germans by the German state is uncertain.

In contrast to Germany, the issue of compensation of expellees was, at least nominally, closed by several treaties with Austria and Hungary.[9] The most important follows:

  • Treaty of 19 December 1974. According to this treaty Czechoslovakia pledged to pay 1,000,000,000 ATS to cover the property demands of Austrian citizens and waived all former territory and all other demands of country or individuals against Austria. The Austrian side waived all demands against ČSSR and pledged to not support any demands of individuals against the ČSSR related to expulsion.
  • Treaty of 3 February 1964. According to this treaty Czechoslovakia pledged to satisfy all demands of Hungary and Hungarian citizens related to confiscations by paying 20,000,000 Kčs.

Incidents

General articles

References

  1. Naše geografická situace a historie naší země od 10. století tu může býti všem dostatečným důvodem a dokladem k tomu, že toto konečné řešení německé otázky u nás je naprosto nezbytné, jedině správné a opravdu logické.[1]
  2. Edvard Beneš[2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Československo-sovětské vztahy v diplomatických jednáních 1939–1945. Dokumenty. Díl 2 (červenec 1943 – březen 1945). Praha. 1999. (ISBN 808547557X)
  4. Biman, S. - Cílek, R.: Poslední mrtví, první živí. Ústí nad Labem 1989. (ISBN 807047002X)
  5. http://www.z-g-v.de/english/aktuelles/?id=56#sudeten see also Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden, Die Deutschen Vertreibungsverluste 1958, Gerhard Reichling, Die deutschen Vertriebenen in Zahlen, vol. I and 2, Bonn 1986-86, Fritz Peter Habel, Dokumente zur Sudetenfrage, 5. Aufl. Munich 2003
  6. 6.0 6.1 P. WALLACE/BERLIN "Putting The Past To Rest", Time Magazine Monday, Mar. 11, 2002
  7. 7.0 7.1 Z. Beneš, Rozumět dějinám. (ISBN 80-86010-60-0)
  8. http://www.fronta.cz/dotaz/odsun-pocet-umrti#pozn1 quoting Beneš, Z. — Kuklík, J. ml. — Kural, V. — Pešek, J., Odsun — Vertreibung (Transfer Němců z Československa 1945-1947), Ministerstvo mládeže a tělovýchovy ČR 2002, s. 49-50.
  9. http://www.tschechien-portal.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=134
  10. Miroslav Trávníček: Osidlování s hlediska mezinárodního a vnitrostátního právního řádu. In Časopis pro právní a státní vědu XXVII (1946).
  11. Sudeten German Inferno. Part 4: The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia. Ingomar Pust
  12. Zdeněk Beneš, Václav Kural, "Facing History: The Evolution of Czech - German Relations in the Czech Provinces, 1848-1948" p.216,217
  13. Zdeněk Beneš, Václav Kural, "Facing History: The Evolution of Czech - German Relations in the Czech Provinces, 1848-1948" p.216,217
  14. The Expulsion of 'German' Communities from Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War, Steffen Prauser and Arfon Rees, European University Institute, Florense. HEC No. 2004/1. pg. 18.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Z. Beneš, et al., p. 221
  16. http://www.z-g-v.de/english/aktuelles/?id=56#sudeten
  17. Alfred M. De Zayas, "Nemesis at Potsdam: the Anglo-Americans and the expulsion of the Germans", p.125
  18. http://www.fronta.cz/dotaz/odsun-pocet-umrti#pozn1 quoting Beneš, Z. — Kuklík, J. ml. — Kural, V. — Pešek, J., Odsun — Vertreibung (Transfer Němců z Československa 1945-1947), Ministerstvo mládeže a tělovýchovy ČR 2002, s. 49-50.
  19. http://www.tschechien-portal.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=134
  20. Pätzold, Brigitte. "The German exodus" Le monde diplomatique March 2004

External links

cs:Vysídlení Němců z Československa de:Vertreibung der Deutschen aus der Tschechoslowakei es:Expulsión de alemanes de Checoslovaquia eo:Ellandigo de germanoj el Ĉeĥoslovakio ru:Изгнание немцев из Чехословакии

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