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The sudeten Germans why did they support Hitler?

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by yswo, Mar 27, 2011.

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  1. yswo

    yswo Member

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    I am fascinated and saddened by the story of Czechoslovak pre-war world II. It seems (correct me if I am wrong) that the Sudeten Germans in general were very supportive of Hitler. I tried to look up why. I am curious because it seems Czechoslovak had a vibrant democracy but what was the economy like?

    My question is basically why were the ethnic Germans there pro Hitler was the economy bad in their region, or was the economy strong and they were drawn to Hitler's ideology?
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It was not (that much) the economy :it was the centralized policy from the Czechs,inventing a Czechoslowakian nation and,oppressing the non Czechs (from the POV of those nationalities).Already in november 1918,long before Hitler,the Sudeten Germans were asking the right for an Anschluss with Germany .This was,of course,denied by the Allies,curiously (or not)the principles for which they had fought(the selfdetermination of the peoples) did not apply to the Germans .
     
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  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    An interesting question. The political and ethnic map of Europe since the height of the Roman Empire has been in purpetual flux, with Kingdoms and Empires rising and falling, each squabbling over patches of land. The First World War and its conclusion shattered 4 great empires. Russia, Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman. In their wake came a collection of small, weak nations whose borders bore little relation to the ethnic, cultrural or even lanuage of their population.

    The Victors created bounderies that have given europe, the middle east, asia and africa nothing but heartache. Czechoslovakia was carved out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Shortly after WWI Austria had attempted to become part of Germany, with the feeling that they were more culturally in sinc with Germany. The victors had no sympathy with any plan that might make Germany stronger in any way and in fact carved up portions of Imperial German borderlands and giving them to the nations surrounding Germany.

    The Sudetenland were given to the Czech's to make them a strong buffer state on Germany's border to act as a firebreak on any future German aggression. It possessed good defensable land and added both economic and industrial strength to Czechoslovakia. The plan would work only so long as the victorious nations of England, France and Italy were willing to stand at their side.

    It somewhat hard today to understand the change brought about in Germany from economic and political basket case to world power in a single generation, and while Hitler could not truefully claim full credit, it seemed that way to much of the world. In the mid to late 30's he was 'bringing back' figuratively and litterally German's to Germany. This had appeal to anyone of German desent, especially those who were ethnicly and cultraly almost German to begin with.

    People like to believe in something bigger than themselves, and people of German desent found it easy to believe in a Pan-German Empire that would stablize central Europe and stave off the Slavic-Communistist Hordes. The reality of the threat is of no matter so long as the fear of it exists.

    Hitler's Nazi ideology preached an anti-jewish, anti-slavic and anti communist belief that struck a chord not only in Germans and ethnic Germans, but in many people in France, Britain and the US who feared the ones who were not like us, and we didn't understand. The Sudeten Germans, much closer to the source, fell especially hard for the false relgion of Nazism.
     
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  4. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    As "belasar" points out, this is a complex query. When the "Great War" ended, a great number of ethnic persons who had been sort of included into the German Reich when it coalesced under Bismarck and the "Second Reich", had never been Germans per se, they were now members of a "new nation", but they were (like our original American confederacy directly after the Revolutionary War) members of small independent states.

    I wouldn’t doubt that the German speaking minority felt "cheated" out of their own identity when their area was recognized by the new borders as being a new nation (Czechoslovakia), with a combination of Czechs and Slovaks from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire in the majority. A strong nationalist like Hitler would appeal to them, if for no other reason.

    The main problem was that the "idea" of a German nation hadn’t existed all that long when the "Great War" came to an end. The little Duchy states which had shown up after the disintegration of the "First Reich" in 1806, felt themselves to be independent states. They hadn’t semi-coalesced into a "nation" until after the Franco-Prussian War, and then not very well. Before WW1 even started the Kaiser tried, with limited success to get the military to all have the same uniform colors, and weapons. They were a polyglot of different "locales" and fiercely independent in many respects.

    The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire (the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, Heiliges Römisches Reich deutscher Nation, not the ancient Roman Empire), 800 - 1806.

    Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III in Rome on Christmas Day 800, this is normally seen as the founding of the Empire, but sometimes the year of 962 is used, that was when Otto I (Otto the Great) was crowned.

    The Empire existed almost in name only following the Peace of Westphalia at the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, but was not formally dissolved until 6 Aug 1806 when Emperor Francis II (Franz II) abdicated.

    The Second Reich was the Hohenzollern Germany, from the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War (1870 - 1871) and crowning of Wilhelm I as German Emperor at the Palace of Versailles, with Otto von Bismarck as the first Reichskanzler, to the abdication of Wilhelm II in 1919 following the German defeat in the First World War.


    Goto:

    Axis History Factbook: The First & Second Reich

    I suggest you invest in Margaret MacMillan’s; Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World to see how these divisions of "new states" came to be.

    Czechoslovakia and Poland, for example (both of which were not "created by decree", but recognized as nations by the peace conference) could not have survived ethnic homogeneity. The Czechs needed the mountains to the north, i.e. the Sudetenland, to protect their cities and industries in the valleys below from the historically aggressive and militaristic Teutonic peoples. Then the Poles, to be commercially viable post-war, required access to the sea. As a result, tens of thousands of those ethnic Germans living in those areas ended up in either Czech or Polish territory by border line.

    If the Allies had drawn boundaries on ethnicity alone at Versailles, as Boston University historian William Keylor points out, they would have made post-war Germany bigger than it was in 1914! And that, after four years of fighting and millions of deaths, "was politically impossible (unthinkable)."

    When you look at Europe at the end of 1919, says Keylor, author of A World of Nations: the International Order Since 1945, "it (Versailles) comes as close to an ethnographic map as any settlement before or since."
     
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  5. yswo

    yswo Member

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    I know about the demographic makeup of Czechoslovakia, and I know about the defenses that Czechoslovakia had in the Sudetenland, which Chamberlin and Daladier forced Benes to give up and caused the disintegration of the whole country. But the thrust of my question what was the economic condition of the Sudeten Germans? It sounds like from the answers above that it was more a matter of ethnicity than the economic condition. It was more a matter of them drawn to German nationalism than the economic conditions (like those that existed in Germany, which helped Hitler rise to power) that was responsible for the support of Hitler in the Sudetenland. Is this correct?
     
  6. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I get the sense that the whole thing was a manufactured crisis, manipulated by the Nazis in Germany and certain sympathetic Sudeten Germans. I came across the first page of an article that intimates that there was no real urgency on the part of the Sudeten Germans to join the Reich. Unfortunately, I am not a member of the site, so I haven't read the whole article. The first page, however, sheds some light on the topic. JSTOR: German Diplomacy and the Sudeten Question Before 1938
     
  7. yswo

    yswo Member

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    '

    Interesting Lou, would you say the same thing about the anschluss with Austria. In my mind the situation in Austria was far different than Czechoslovakia, when I talk WWII with 99% of ppl I usually know much more about it (at least the European/North African Sector less the Pacific sector), but I see on this forum I can learn a lot from people.
     
  8. yswo

    yswo Member

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    '

    Interesting Lou, would you say the same thing about the anschluss with Austria. In my mind the situation in Austria was far different than Czechoslovakia, when I talk WWII with 99% of ppl I usually know much more about it (at least the European/North African Sector less the Pacific sector), but I see on this forum I can learn a lot from people.
     
  9. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    It's my understanding that there was a fairly strong desire among the Austrians to join with Germany, but that was prior to the Nazi seizure of power in Germany. Austria had a strong Catholic tradition and found more similarities with Fascist Italy, so when the Nazis took power, there was less interest in uniting. Both Dollfuss and Schussnigg were not especially anxious for a unification with Germany. However, there were two attempted coups and revolutions in Austria in the 30s that created turmoil. The Austrian Nazis who had fled to Germany engineered those who remained behind to step up attacks. The Anschluss in 1938 was forced.
     
  10. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I just found an interesting site, which (if followed through logically) sort of shows the interests of the various ethnic groups in the Sudetenland and what drove Hitler to use it as a wedge issue. In the Sudatenland the ethnic Germans were of the "upper class", the property and factory owners while the indigenous Czechs were the peasants and laborers. The ethnic Czechs outnumbered the ethnic Germans by about 4 to 1 (or better), but the Czechs were the lower economic class.

    When the new borders were defined, the ethnic Germans who had property holdings in the area found themselves to be not only in the minority, but hated/resented for being the most wealthy persons in the area.

    The Sudatenland was inhabited by over 3 million Germans, comprising about 23 percent of the population of the area. It possessed huge chemical works and lignite mines, as well as textile, china, and glass factories, which were mostly owned by ethnic Germans.

    Early policies of the (new) Czechoslovak government, intended to correct social injustice and effect a moderate redistribution of wealth, had fallen more heavily on the German population than on other citizens. In 1919 the government confiscated one-fifth of each individual's holdings in paper currency. Germans, constituting the wealthiest element in the Czech lands, were most affected.

    (then) The Land Control Act brought the expropriation of vast estates belonging to Germans. Land was allotted primarily to Czech peasants, most often land less, who constituted the majority of the agricultural population.

    …Border forest land, considered the most ancient Sudeten German national territory, was expropriated for security reasons. The Czechoslovak government settled Czechs in areas of German concentration in an effort to mitigate German nationalism; the policy, however, often produced the opposite effect. Minority laws were most often applied to create new Czech schools in German districts.

    …Sudeten German nationalist sentiment ran high during the early years of the republic. The constitution of 1920 was drafted without Sudeten German representation, and the group declined to participate in the election of the president. Sudeten German political parties pursued an "obstructionist," or negativist, policy in parliament. In 1926, however, Chancellor Gustav Stresemann of Germany, adopting a policy of rapprochement with the West, advised Sudeten Germans to cooperate actively with the Czechoslovak government. In consequence, most Sudeten German parties (including the German Agrarian Party, the German Social Democratic Party, and the German Christian Socialist Party) changed from negativism to activism, and Sudeten Germans accepted cabinet posts.

    …By 1929 only a small number of Sudeten German deputies--most of them members of the German National Party (propertied classes) and the Sudeten Nazi Party (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei)--remained in opposition. Nationalist sentiment flourished, however, among Sudeten German youth, who belonged to a variety of organizations. These included the older Turnverband and Schutzvereine, the newly formed Kameradschaftsbund, the Nazi Volkssport (1929), and the Bereitschaft.

    Sudeten German nationalists, particularly the Nazis, expanded their activities during the depression years. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor of Weimar Germany. The Czechoslovak government prepared to suppress the Sudeten Nazi Party. In the fall of 1933 the Sudeten Nazis dissolved their organization, and the German Nationals were pressured to do likewise. German Nationals and Sudeten Nazis were expelled from local government positions. The Sudeten German population was indignant, especially in nationalist strongholds like Egerland.


    (the animosity between the majority Czechs and minority Germans only grew worse from then on.)

    Goto:

    Czechia (Czech Republic) Sudetenland - Flags, Maps, Economy, Geography, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System

    All additions in parenthesis are my own when see in the italics. It would appear to myself that the Sudeten Germans didn't gravitate to the Nazi party for any reason than to maintain their positions as the wealthier upper class. They (apparently) owned the land/farms, the forests, the mines and the factories. The Czechs were their laboring class which gave them wealth.
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The Sudeten Germans were part of Austria Hungary until the end of WWI . The German community never really accepted the birth of an independent "artificial" Czechoslovaquia (made with what now is the Czech Republic , including the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, Slovaquia and Ruthenia. As a result the German people, which until then was part of the ruling part of the population and their language spoken by ruling class , found themselves declassified and nostalgic of the Imperial days. The Czechs disregarded the Germans Austirans as they called them and seeked revenge from years of occupation. Being swallowed by Gemrany for them meant "freedom" and also joining Austria again (which was also annexed in 1938)

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  12. baupionier419

    baupionier419 Member

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    Dear all.
    Allow me to jump into this discussion.
    My name is martin, someone visited my site Karaus aus dem Sudetenland - Startseite and used a pic from it here in the tread. Thank you for this, your always welcome to use it and than I was interested when I found out what link it was when I analyzed the webstatistics, I came across this forum.
    This is a interesting Question and discussion I would like to follow. To my person I am German, my Father is a Sudetengerman, my family was forced with violence and cruelity with hatred to go in 1946 out of Würbenthal in Sudetenland. But this is another story to tell :)

    First of all, do you know that the french state did deny the austrian germans to join the german Reich directly after the war ? did you know that the sudetengermans therefore established a state which lasted only a couple of days? did you know that the czech marched with french political backup into the sudetengerman areas and disbanded the german sudeten state with violence, warcrimes and death to the innocent protesting people, shooting women, children, old people to death during demonstrations against the czech unlawfull occupation ? Remember the wilson 14 points plan ? It was for other people allowed ( not for germans, slovaks ,hungarians by the way) but not for us sudetengermans ?
    And what do you think after 18 years of terror and suppression, that the sudetengerman people did not hope to get relief from the german state itself?
    all you can find about the years from 1919 til 1938 in the czech parlament online archive.
    I started to collect all crimes on my site ( but far away from finish). for instant for the higher position of the state workers not a single german was employed, the german language was forbidden in schools. they closed german schools, terrorized the teachers to attend german spoken schools and so on. the business language was changed in the german minority areas to czech. They manipulated alot of votes, the first republic of czechoslovakia did not help the imprisoned german speaking soldiers in the russian pow camps after 1919. hundreds of thousand died in russia hand, the republic did not show responsiblity to bring them home. As you can see, the hatred on the sudetengerman side had risen to a alltime high level until 1938. The first republic was not I repeat was not DEMOCRATIC ! It was a french supported bastion to occupy the germans in the east to prevent them to look ever again to the west to the french borderline. I came across alot of former sudetengermans and all of them would start again against the czech when it would come today to the question to bring the sudetenland home. Interesting to say I got from a german soldier from Berlin a letter ( he was 87 years old) he was in one of the Wehrmachtdivisions that brought the sudetengerman areas home to the german state, he wrote me he would start in an instant to do it again. You can see the czech first republic state was and is hated til today. But time changed, the people changed. unfortunately nowadays the czech still close the eyes on the time of 1945 until 1965. they still deny what happened to us, what they did to us. All the warcrimes after the war in several hundred thousand times til 1965!!!, and still do not punish the murderer. but again this is another story to tell.


    to the interesting post from brndirt1

    you are wrong to say the Konrad henlein party was the german nazi party in sudetenland in 1933. The SDP the sudetendeutsche Partei was a national party but was not a naziparty in 1933 ! This was another point to suppress the people by disbanding german politcal partys. But of course they supported and got strong support from the nsdap. Later towards 1938 they were more radical and from 1938 I agree with you it was the sudetengerman wing of the nsdap. But it was a long way from the national orientated party to the NSDAP !
    I recommend the following book to understand what happened from 1937 to 1938:

    Literatur zu diesem Thema:
    Akten zur Deutschen Auswärtigen Politik
    1918-1945
    Serie D(1937-1945)
    Band II
    Deutschland und die Tschechoslowakei
    1937-1938


    The picture shows 1938 the sudetendeutsche Freikorps or sudetendeutsche Legion to welcome the german troops in NIEMES.
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudetendeutsches_Freikorps

    [​IMG]

    Greetings Martin
     
  13. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Dear Martin, I didn't say that. The text in italics is taken from the site:

    Czechia (Czech Republic) Sudetenland - Flags, Maps, Economy, Geography, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System

    And since this is far from my area of expertise I only used a portion of that site's text. I only added my own comments in parentheses to the italicized text; such as the two words "new" and "then". Also, thank you for your post very informative in itself.
     
  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Some other informations
    1) the Czechs never had the majority in the state:there were in 1921
    6.727.038 Czechs
    3.122.390 Germans
    2.010.295 Slowaks
    745.935 Hungarians
    459.346 Ruthenians (=Ukrainians)
    180.332 Jews
    75.656 Poles
    238.727 foreigners
    These figures are not unimportant,when one is reading that the Czech army would be a difficult opponent for the Wehrmacht .
    2) in september 1933 was forbidding the (Czech) Nazi party and also the (Czech )Deutsch Nationale party (the party of von Papen..)The leaders of these parties were flying to Germany .They were replaced by the unknown Henlein,who was not a Nazi (he was influenced by the theories of Dolfuss),several times he made public anti-nazi statements .
    In december 1935,Henlein visted London(for a conference at Chatham House),where he attacked Panslavism AND Pangermanism.(Some people in Berlin were not pleased).He returned to London in july 1936,october 1937 and may 1938.His first official meeting with Hitler was on 28 march 1938.
    3)In 1935,the party of Henlein obtained 66.7 % of the German votes .First,Henlein looked for an agreement with the Czechs (a transformation of the centralized state in a federal state) only the refusal of the Czechs was driving Henlein to Berlin .But after the "Anschluss" of the Sudetenland,the role of Henlein was finished:he was supplanted by die-hards as K.H.Frank .At the German capitulation,Henlein committed suicide .
    Principal source :J.Benoist-Méchin :Histoire de l'armée allemande (Tome V)
     
  15. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    Rusyns or Ruthenians are not Ukrainian. That is a common misconception.


    Dave
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    If they are not Ukrainian,they are ..? Never heard of a Ruthenian nation .
     
  17. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Ruthenia is a former Austro-Hungarian province. It neve rhad the chance to become independent and were d efacto annexed by Stalin in 1945. (so taken from Czechoslovaquia which never recovered it's pre 1938 borders despite the end of the war. )

    When Ukraine became independent Ruthenia was geographically attached to its territory and seperated from Russia , so the status quo remained and the Ruthenians got the Ukranian nationality.
     
  18. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Do you know why the French occupation forces would not let the Sudeten Germans move to Germany? Is that because refugee camps were full ? I thought the Bohemia Moravia area was liberated partly by American troops and later evacuated and left to the Russians, so I'm a bit surprised to read about French troops in the Czech republic after the Yalta treaty became effective. I know the French liberated part of the Voralberg and Tirol , and stayed there until 1955, but that's Austria, not Sudentenland, so I'm a bit confused.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. baupionier419

    baupionier419 Member

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    Hello Skipper
    The french denied after WWI in 1919 the austrian germans (included germans in hungary,moravia, bohemia as well) to join the german Reich. What you are pointing at is 26 years later the WWII, there were no french soldiers in sudetenland. and you are right it was occupied partly from americans, most of the part were occupied by the russians.
     
  20. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Ok , I see this is the Treaty of Versailles I thought you were talking about post WWII, hence my question.

    What was the reaction of the Sudeten Germans when the Americans withrew in 1945? Did they try to go with them or were they still hoping they could stay free home?
     

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