The expulsion of the Sudeten- and Carpathia-Germans

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19. The expulsion of the Sudeten- and Carpathia-Germans


Hitler compelled the Sudetengermans to follow him along his path into that most dreadful world conflagration, which ended with the defeat of Germany in 1945. But the fate of the Sudetengermans 1945/46 was not the immediate result of the German capitulation, not an act of revenge on the spur of the moment; it was a meticulously planned action, premeditated - atrocities included - by President Benes many years beforehand. And the British government, the USSR and the USA consented to his "Transfer Plans" as early as 1942/43. Benes informed the Czechoslovak underground movement in a letter of July16, 1944: "It is necessary that we proceed on our own in the first days after the liberation, that in the first days of the revolution as many Nazis as possible shall flee from us for fear of their lives, and that as many as possible of those who defend themselves and resist be slain as Nazis in the course of the revolution. Always remember, the whole nation must be prepared." In February 1945 at Yalta, Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill agreed to expel the German populations out of central, eastern and south-eastern Europe. On May 29, 1945, Vaclav Kopecky, Czechoslovak Minister of Information, declared: "We shall take this occasion of our great victory over the Germans to launch a monumental national campaign to cleanse the Germans from the peripheral regions of our country. General Swoboda will send his troops and his competent guerrilla units to cleanse these regions of Germans." In July/August 1945, the Potsdam Conference convened at the Cecilienhof Palace near Berlin. Churchill, Truman and Stalin agreed on measures the allied powers would take against Germany and thereby made themselves party to the crime of ethnic cleansing i.e. the crime of expropriating and expelling a native population from their homes for the reason of their national origin.

Edvard Benes bei US-Präsident
Franklin D. Roosevelt
im Jahre 1943
Edvard Benes bei Stalin 
am 12. Dezember 1943
Churchill, Truman und Stalin (v.l.)
während einer Verhandlungspause.
(17. Juli 1945)


More than three million Sudetengermans, regardless of background and political orientation, have been driven from homes their families had owned for centuries. Their private and public property totaling 265 billion DM (value 1981) was confiscated without compensation. Most often they were forced to leave home and property overnight with 30 kg of basic necessities. Thereby over 240,000 lost their lives. Many were slain in public massacres, committed suicide in desperation, died from exhaustion on death marches or in camps. For example, during the infamous death march of 20,000 Germans from Brünn (Brno) to Lower Austria, several thousand persons were deliberately slain or died from exhaustion. On July 30, 1945, hundreds of German workers, women and children were pushed from a bridge in Aussig (Usti) into the Elbe river and then fired upon and killed in the water. Beginning in May 1945, roughly 200,000 people - among them also Czechs and Slovaks - were interned per decree by the so-called "Peoples-Court of Retribution" and later on, more than 60,000 of them were sentenced for alleged war crimes and about 1000 were hanged. Most of the others were condemned to forced labor, some as long as twenty-three years (up to 1968). They were sent into the uranium mines of the Ore-Mountains and similar places. The expulsions alone constituted a million-fold violation of basic human rights and liberties.

Czechoslovakia paid for cleansing its country of Germans with selling its own people to Stalin. As soon as the Sudetengermans had lost their home, the Czechs and Slovaks lost their freedom. The remaining Germans were retained mostly for being indispensable technicians, others for being married to a Czech or for being antifascist. According to official Czech data their number was roughly 165,000 in 1950. Although they received Czech citizenship per decree in 1953, they were not recognized as an ethnic minority. Assimilation was the goal of Czechoslovak policy. To what this policy will lead remains to be seen.



20. After the dispersion

Immediately after the expulsion, a great number of aid-posts opened in Germany for helping the expellees in finding the whereabouts of their family members, relatives and friends, and also for giving advice and assistance as far as was possible in that extremely difficult time. Beginning in 1948, Sudetengerman work-groups and committees were formed in the western occupation zones, especially in Bavaria. The homeland association "Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft" was founded January 16, 1949, and in July its first grand-rally was held in Memmingen/Bavaria with 30,000 participants. From then on, the speakers of this association and its subgroups (especially local volunteers) have worked selflessly for the afflicted people, for peace and for harmonious relations. As early as 1949/50 they held out their hand for reconciliation.


Copyright © by  I n g e  S c h w a r z 1997 (Heimatstelle Maffersdorf) 
Copyright © by  A n t o n  M ö l l e r • 2005

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