The historic Frame
Damitz is located in southern Moravia, which was a County with a
Habsburg Count. The Counts were members of the Emporers
Family or the Emperer himself and the Country was part of the Austrian Hungarian Monarchy till 1918. 1918
when the Monarchy felt apart, Czechoslovakia was founded with the content of
Bohemia with Prague as the capital of the new state, Moravia and Slovakia,
which was part of Hungary before. Within this Czechoslovakian State
were living aboaut 3,5 Million German speaking people. This Population
was later known under Sudet Germans and refused first to live within
the new state, but their democratic vote for being connected to
Germany or Austria was not heard.
Such a connection was indeed problematic, because Bohemia and Moravia
had their not changed borders for centuries and have been as a whole member
of the so called "Roman Empire of German Nation", till 1806 and
member of the Habsburg Monarchy as well till 1918. Moravia even sent delegates
to the first democratic assembly in Germany in the so called "Paulskirche" in
Frankfort in 1848, but not Bohemia. Therfore any connection to Germany
or Austria had in principle no legitimation resulting from history. But
also the demand of Czech People that the country is only theirs had
no legitimation. The new Czechoslovakian Gouvernement refused to give the
3,5 Million inhabitants of German nationality the status of "Staatsvolk",
(state people). They got only the status of a Minority. A minority which
consisted 30 % of the population.
Masaryk, the first president was
naming them Colonists even when he knew that the german speaking
population has a history of at least 800 years in this country. Most
of the towns in the country have been founded by Germans in 12/13th
The Germans had in that time after World War I no help and support in the
international policy and society so the Czech could come through with
their ideas about the new state and a strict try of Czechising the
Anyhow it forced or provoced the Sudet Germans
to more closeness and later the so called Sudetendeutsche Partei (SdP)
became the Party with the most delegates in the Czechoslovakian
When it started to settle, the Sudet Germans accepted
more and more the state, the Czech also changed their policy to more
cooperation with the Sudet Germans, Germany became again powerful in
the Thirties, many of the Sudet Germans were attracted by the
increasing wealth and also by the political success of the Hitler
Even when the Czech Administation tried now to fulfill
the basic request of the Sudet Germans step by step, such correction
of a miserble policy came too late. The Sudetendeutsche Partei came
more and more under the influence of the NSDAP.
The pressure on the Czech Governement by Germany became strong,
France and England signalized that they will not go into a war for a
country which keeps 3 500 000 of its population in a stage of
unequality. It came in 1938 to the Conference of Munich and the
respective Contracts with the result of separating the Sudetenland
from CSR and connect her to Germany.
It was insofar a disaster for the Rest-CSR, because , as I mentioned
before, Bohemia and Morava, were for centuries existing within the
A separation of the regions with german populatiaon in a modern
Industrialized Country was cutting traffic sources as well as
traditional trade streams.
Hitler Germany was it then who broke the Munich Contracts. The Western
Part of the Rest CSR was occupied by Germany and Slovakia became
independent as a Germann Satelite State.
Bohemia and Moravia became the so called Reichsprotektorat Boehmen und
Looking onto a map one can easily see that the occupation had some
strategic meaning considering that Germany was planning to go into War.
I this respect also the Industrial Potency was important.
Czech may like to hear it or not, the Czech workers worked willingly
in this system, one can call it collaboration, during the whole war.
They produced weapons -reliable and in an advanced technique. I got to
know a Czech Engineer who is still proud that the factory where he
worked and where his father was deputy director, equipped 10 000
Messerschmitt warplanes with Machine Guns!
This collaboration came to an end when the war ended.
As the polish Newspaper "Gazeta Wyborzca" mentioned recently , it is
a fact, the more in an occupied country the occupied collaborated with
the occupiers, the more it came to excesses against Germans after the
Remark: Dr Paudling from the Truman State University (USA)
is mentioning in his film about the Sudetenland that one language
(the German gh) was dominating for centuries but the second
(the Czech gh) became stronger and stronger by the time.
I would like to continue in my way: During the centuries of the
dominance of the one language the second had the opportunity or the
chance to become stronger until she reached the dominance.
But this second language needed only 25 years
of dominance to eliminate the population speaking the other language,
by killing and forced migration.
1. A historical mistake
During the nationality fights during the second half of the last
Century, the Czech side "operated" from Prague, however the German
side did it mostly from Vienna. Even when Vienna was the capital of
the Austrian- Hungarian Monarchy, it was in this special regard a place
outside the territory in question. The Bohemian Germans left
more or less Prague to the Czech side. But it was Prague where the "music
This fact mades it easy for the Czech representatives
during the negotiations for foundation of Czechoslovakia to exclude
the Sudet Germans from this negotiations.
2. A historical mistake No.2
The newly established Czech Administration followed a strict and rigid
Czech-National line limiting the German influence and also rights as much as possible.
Of course the German population tried at first, not to become included
into this new state which apeared as not to be theirs. After many
unsuccessful attempts in direction to become connected either to Austria
or Germany they eventually tried to reach at least some cultural authonomy.
Even this was rejected by the Czech Authorities. Germans were
underrepresented in all gouvernmental and administrative offices. In the
first years the german language was not accepted as the second language
of the country (when we do not count the Slovak language in this respect).
The Czech administration made big efforts to make the Germans feel as to
live in a country were they were not permitted to identify themself with.
Anyhow when the Czech Gouvernement ordered a mobilisation of the army in
the weeks before the Munich conference, most of the Germans were
obeying and joint the Army, knowing that they were called to defend a
country which keeps them as second class people.
3. The Munich Contracts
This polilicy made by T.G.Masaryk and by E.Benesh, had an unifying effect on
the Sudet Germans. The political organisation of the Germans had
before a "normal" spectrum of parties- Christian, Social Democrats,
Party of the small farmers etc.. Step by step the Sudetendeutsche
Partei (SdP) of Peter Henlein became the Party of the Germans and
finally the largest within the Czechoslovakian Parliament. In the last
election for the comunal parliaments the SdP reached 87% of the
Sudet -German votes.
When Hitler finally got interest in the "Sudetendeutsche Frage" the
Czech policy of the 1920th and early 30th made it easy, to make himself the
surveyor and protector of the Sudet Germans. It was too late for the then started
corrections by the Czech Administations .
The Sudet Germans did not trust the administration anymore and its
majority was attracted by the New Germany of Hitler and the possibility
to live in a country of their nationality.
It is also a matter of fact that
the unwise policy of Benesh as the succeder of T.G. Masaryk influenced
the former guaranty powers England and France not to support the CSR.
The british Premierminister Chamberlain mentioned in his speach on
24.3.1938 that any british support to Czechoslovakia "depends on
substantial concessions in favour to the Sudet Germans", and the
Minister of Foreign Affairs Lord Halifax declaired to the french
Embassador "that it is for british people impossible to fight for a
country just to prevent a population of 3,461 Million people to gain
4. The Munich Contracts 2
On international pressure the Benesh administration made in 1938 prior
to the following Conferences in Munich and Bad Godesberg plans
to fulfil the Sudet-Germans requests for equality and for full rights
within the CSR. At this time the Czech Gouvernement became under
pressure not only by the Sudet-German Question but also by the radical
program for Authonomy by the Slovaks dated 4./5. of May 1938.
It was then obvious to the world that the whole structure of the CSR
was put into question.
The SdP as the representants of the Germans
but was at this time not anymore free for negotiations and decissions,
the party was already remote controlled by Hitler-Germany.
Independent to the international Contracts and the nogotiations before,
Hitler has anyhow made the decission for a military attack to the CSR
latest on October 1st 1938.
Such an aggression would have been impossible if Benesh would have
made the concessions of 1938 already in i.e. 1935.
5. The Benesh-Stalin Contract
In his exile Benesh fought to get the permission for the forced
migration of the Sudet-Germans after the war by the Allies. In 1943
he got the permission from Stalin due to a contract which granted the
Soviet Union essential influence to the after war Czechoslovakia.
As a result Czechoslovakia had to rejected the offer to participate the
"Marshal Plan" in 1947 which separated the CSR already from the
after war reconstruction of the Western European Countries, including
Germany. The result of this first separation was eventually the
Comunist "Putsch" of 1948.
6. Resume to the "essentials"
When the time came, the Sudet Germans were integrated into the West
Germany society. They had a substantial share to the political
stability of West Germany and also they worked hard for and shared
the so called "economic miracle". I do not believe that many of
them would be attracted to return to their original homelad.
Czechoslovakia came however under Communist Rule and had to bear
this for 42 years. The prewar CSR was one of the leading industrial
states in Europe and had also a leading position after the war which
they lost step by step during the "communist time".
As its fate the Czech Republic is now again and still more than halfway
surrounded by 100 Million of German speaking people in Germany and
Austria and is faced with a substantial economic backwardness.
I am somehow afraid that in the heads of the Czech leaders is still
some of the ignorance of Edvard Benesh: The Czech Republic could
make with very little concessions the Sudet-Germans in Germany
silent in the time after 1990 make them even easily friends and
sympathisants, may be just with words or a declaration.
It refused, so the demands increased and are obtaining more and more
international attention. It is quite another level but the ignorance
reminds me on 1938 and the time before.
It is not my intention to find an excuse for the criminal policy of
Hitler-Germany. I think about this fact has been written a lot and
it is documented clearly.
What I want to explain is my
point of view to the stubid and ignorant policy of the Czech leaders.
The Czech people had suffered more and longer under this policy than
the Sudet-Germans and they will still be faced with long lasting
economic and cultural disadvantages.
August 2000, Gerhard Hanak