Continuing with this story about the end of the war in Czechoslovakia, and how the Czechs dealt with their ethnic German population in the aftermath. Author Georgiy Zotov stipulates that the ethnic Germans were not innocent lambs. As proud “Aryans” they greeted Hitler ecstatically and were more than delighted to join the Reich. On the other hand, maybe people can’t really blame them for wanting out of the failed Czechoslovak state, a state that the Western “democracies” themselves had given up on, especially with Hitler promising them a better life and fairy-tale future.
On the third hand, these Germans, puffed up with the racialist ideology claiming they were better than Slavs, were quite zealous in helping the Nazis to oppress those not deemed as “exceptional” as themselves. A Sudeten German politician named Konrad Henlein headed the so-called “Fifth Column” and was rewarded with an appointment as Reichsstatthalter for the Sudetenland. Many other Sudeten Germans took up posts in the Wehrmacht and SS Divisions. As already noted, they rushed in droves to join the Nazi Party in numbers greater proportionately, than even the regular Germans in Germany proper.
Having quickly and efficiently absorbed the Sudetenland: On March 14, 1939 the German army just reached out and took the remainder of the former Czechoslovakia, losing a measly six soldiers in the conflict! The Czechoslovak army was already broken in spirit and offered virtually no resistance. The Nazis quickly established a “Protectorate” of Bohemia and Moravia and moved 350,000 Czechs to work in German arms factories. The demoralized Czechs offered no resistance in terms of any partisan activities or an active Underground, with the exception of a few isolated assassinations of German occupiers. But even the most famous incident, the assassination of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (in 1942), was not a grassroots action on the part of angry Czechs, but rather a British Special Ops affair called Operation Anthropoid.
[yalensis: One can only wonder what the Brits hoped to accomplish with this assassination, since it changed nothing and only led to mass SS reprisals against innocent Czech civilians. And, just in general terms, any “Undergrounds” in Nazi-occupied Europe were just ineffective window-dressing and mostly mythological. The sad reality is that nothing could ever defeat the mighty Nazi army except an equal and opposite army.]
And speaking of (equal + opposite) army, namely the Red Army, it wasn’t until after the fall of Berlin and just 4 days prior to the capitulation of the Reich, that the Czechs got up the nerve to rebel against the Hitlerites. One of the reason the Czechs were so timid [aside from intelligent human caution] is precisely the zealotry of the Sudeten residents. Those people were still fanatics, and the Czechs had learned not to say anything bad, or even look sideways at these representatives of “the ruling Aryan race” in their midst. Those Sudetenlanders were quick to denounce and arrest anyone who displeased them. And just because Liberation is near, doesn’t mean that a lot of bad things couldn’t happen in just the course of a few days.
Following the (mostly) Soviet Red Army defeat of Hitler, the tables suddenly turned. The Czechs instantly realized that they now had the upper hand! Czechoslovak President-in-Exile Edvard Beneš, from his safe perch in London, at once became hyperactive: Grabbing his pen, he started writing a bunch of decrees, the thrust of which was to punish punish punish the Sudeten Germans for their treachery.
[to be continued]